An afternoon of rock climbing and yoga, followed by lively conversation over a coffee or glass of wine, with a healthy snack on the side. It sounds like a weekend date with a few friends, but thanks to the informal partnership between ARC Climbing and Salute Coffee Company in Sudbury’s south end, this could be your next business meeting.
Tammy Gardiner organizes meetings for Sunlife Financial’s Sudbury offices and chose ARC for the business’ annual general meeting in early 2015. Usually, they host a dinner and dance but this year she wanted to do something a little different. An employee with a membership at ARC recommended the facility, and the climbing studio was able to adapt their programming for the 20 employees who went.
“It was very empowering. There were mixed reactions from people who were going, because they were afraid of heights,” said Gardiner. But most people adjusted quickly, “because that person on the ground really instilled in us the confidence that we wouldn’t get hurt.”
The Sunlife meeting, and inquiries from mining and construction companies, made the ARC management realize the demand for alternative team-building experiences in the city. The rock climbing, yoga and fitness studio is developing more formal corporate programming and aims to increase these bookings in 2016.
“It’s growth from current group bookings, to make it more experiential,” said Laura Schmidt, programming manager and instructor at ARC. “A lot of the tools they use on the walls they use at work — patience, perseverance, communication.”
The nature of the activity also acts as an icebreaker, which Schmidt says is useful for conferences that bring together professionals from out of town.
“We had one regional meeting and people from all over came, and nobody knew each other,” said Schmidt. “There’s such a social element of climbing, the physical activity is key – it’s something you don’t get in an office.”
Schmidt is a certified personal trainer, and part of the team that includes trained rock climbing and yoga instructors, personal trainers, and naturopaths.
“We can tailor the programming to their needs; for example, the team building and morale, but we can also do health and wellness,” said Schmidt.
The facility can hold up to 70 people if it is booked exclusively. ARC’s 7,000-square-foot custom climbing routes have walls up to 35 feet high, with a cedar-ceilinged, 900-square-foot yoga and fitness studio. A business can get two hours climbing on the wall, or a split of yoga and climbing for $35 per person. The fee covers all the required equipment.
A five-minute drive down the road, you’ll find Salute Coffee Company, opened by Tania Renelli in December 2014. ARC’s coffee-slinging neighbours recently renovated their upstairs to accommodate business meetings and presentations. The two businesses realized the complementary nature of their offerings over casual conversation, and work together to encourage cross bookings.
“A meeting space in the South End with fresh, healthy, quality food options: we thought there was a need so we built it,” said Renelli. “It’s an attractive space with lots of natural light and it’s really nice after a meeting to be able to pop downstairs for a glass of whiskey or wine.”
The Salute space is available for $50 an hour, and can fit 16 people comfortably. It is equipped with a large TV screen and HDMI ports. Users can access the café menu for refreshments, which include an assortment of premium coffee and tea beverages, along with in-house baked goods, gourmet sandwiches and soups, all of which prioritize local ingredients.
Schmidt hopes the partnership and programming developments will provide a healthy alternative to the typical business gathering.
“We really want to encourage health and wellness in the business community,” she said.