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A climbing wall at Momentum Katy

Is rock climbing poised to be the next big sport? The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will feature indoor climbing for the first time, but Houston-area residents can get in on the trend early thanks to a massive new climbing gym opening this weekend in Katy.

Momentum Katy is the first Texas location for Momentum Indoor Climbing, founded a decade ago in Salt Lake City. It joins already-established gyms like Texas Rock Gym in Spring Branch and inSPIRE in Spring, which opened last year. Features that set Momentum apart include some of the tallest walls in Houston; a full gym including yoga classes, kettlebells and barbells; and a focus on climbing programs for kids.

“One of the things that’s really important to Momentum is teaching you the experience of climbing,” said general manager Rees Williams.

Momentum wants its climbers to go beyond training the same routes over and over again in the safety and comfort of an indoor gym. The facility employs full-time route-setters who regularly come up with new, challenging routes for all levels, and it also encourages its climbers to get out into the real world and climb in nature.

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The world's first REI Co-op is at Momentum in Katy.

That’s also the idea behind the gym's new partnership with outdoor retailer REI. Of Momentum’s four gyms, the Katy location is the first to include an REI boutique, called REI Co-Op Climb, focusing exclusively on climbing gear and related accessories; the Co-Op, by the way, is also the first REI location in Katy. REI already has an extensive roster of climbing classes scheduled for Momentum and plans to offer future climbing field trips to places like Austin that have real-life outdoor rocks to climb.

“What we’re really excited about is partnering with a company that shares our values,” Williams said.

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At 36,000 square feet, the gym is truly massive, and it's divided up into several sections. Aside from the adjacent weight-lifting area, there are two separate rooms for kids, a dedicated bouldering area (bouldering is a form of climbing that uses minimal gear and shorter walls), and an auto-belay wall which allows people to climb without the need for a safety partner, plus a room where climbers can work on grip and technique.

Perhaps one of the things the gym's best known for is its kids programming. Momentum Katy offers climbing classes for kids as young as 3 years old. Williams himself started climbing at a young age and says it changed his life.

“I went to a birthday party at 11 years old, and I was hooked. That Christmas I got a chalk bag for Christmas, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Momentum Katy’s grand opening takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will include games, a raffle and food trucks. On both Saturday and Sunday memberships will be available at a discount. Don’t want to make the trek to Katy? Momentum is planning to open a second Houston gym dedicated to bouldering on Silver Street in October.

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