Climbing health club to open on the finish of summer time | Information


When Recreate Climbing and Fitness Gym opened on January 17th, two dreams came true. For Butte resident Jen DeLong, it was opening a climbing gym and for Butte resident Lisa Howell, owning a business.

DeLong and her husband Matt DeLong have always loved rock climbing. When they moved to Butte, one of Jen DeLong’s reservations was that there wasn’t a climbing gym there. She and Howell had seen each other close to Butte, but they didn’t reconnect until years ago when they met at Jen DeLong’s cousin’s house on the way to a Garth Brooks concert.

Jen DeLong and Lisa Howell, co-founders of Recreate Climbing and Fitness Gym, are photographed on the climbing walls under construction at the new gym in Butte. The couple remodeled a historic building on Utah Street.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

DeLong wanted Howell to open a climbing gym with her for years, but Howell, a dental hygienist, wasn’t quite ready. When COVID-19 struck and the practice where Howell worked was closed for a few weeks, her world was rocked. It also gave her time to work on her mental and physical health and to re-evaluate her life, career and what is best for her family.

Rebuild in Butte

Lisa and Brian Howell and Jen and Matt DeLong are photographed in the fitness facility at the top of the Recreate Climbing and Fitness Gym on Utah Street in Butte.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

Howell also had a shoulder injury around the time, and DeLong, a health and life coach, began working out with her several times a week. According to Howell, her shoulder pain went away as she continued to exercise and avoided surgery.

People also read…

“I saw (Jen) working out in her basement more than three times a week. And the injury, the pain started to go away,” Howell said.

DeLong said that throughout her education she felt Howell, who was also once a hygienist, wanted to own a business. Howell soon realized it himself.

Rebuild in Butte

From left: Lisa Howell, Jen DeLong, Matt DeLong and Brian Howell are photographed on the climbing walls being built at the new Butte gym.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

Howell and DeLong were both Montan born and raised and lifelong athletes, but Howell had no climbing experience until DeLong took her to a climbing gym. They continued and the idea continued to grow.

Last year they had what they call “a god moment.”

They were scouting for the right location for their gym when Howell drove past the building at 1101 Utah Ave.

Howell said she saw the building and knew it was supposed to be her gym. But it wasn’t performed – until two days later it was. DeLong found the listing online and sent it to Howell, who had not told DeLong about it.

They closed the building in August and opened a non-climbing gym on the second floor early the next year. Although the ultimate goal was a climbing gym, they decided to wait because they were initially unsure of how much interest a climbing gym in Butte would generate.

Over the past few months that they’ve been in business, DeLong and Howell found that many people were enthusiastic and supportive.

“The climbing community is great,” Howell said. “Climbers show up here regularly and say, ‘Is it open yet? Is it open yet?’”

Rebuild in Butte

Lisa Howell and Jen DeLong demonstrate some of the fitness equipment they use in the upstairs section of their new Butte gym. “We do functional fitness, so we really want people to have fun while they’re working out,” says DeLong.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

“It’s just an honor to have a community,” DeLong said. “And to see our vision as a mindful approach to fitness and where people really see that they’re being built from the inside out.”

The gym’s name is pronounced rec-ree-ate, like recreational activity, DeLong and Howell said, though some people call it ree-cree-ate. DeLong said they don’t have a problem with that, however, because part of the gym’s mission is to empower people to re-create themselves.

The non-climbing part of the gym includes a bridge, climbing ropes, sleds, showers and a dry sauna, among others. Howell and DeLong took special care in the design of every part of the space, from the fitness equipment to the paintings in the bathrooms. This portion also offers classes from registered trainers and has very little open gym time. There are yoga classes, kids’ events — like a speed and agility camp for elementary and middle school students this summer — and team training, which is a key thought in both the non-climbing and climbing gyms.

Rebuild in Butte

The sauna at the Recreate Climbing and Fitness Gym in Butte.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

Team training is all about group training, and DeLong and Howell believe it’s the best way to stay motivated and get fit, regardless of experience level.

“We wanted it to be really nice,” Howell said. “Butte deserved this.”

The Bridge is a spartan racing style device similar to that used in the reality TV show American Ninja Warrior. DeLong competed in her first Spartan race at Big Fork last summer and was inspired by the experience.

Another core tenet of both parts of the gym is functional fitness, which becomes strong enough that you can apply it to everyday life.

“It helps you do real things in life,” DeLong said. “So our vision is what we do here will help you out there.”

The Recreate logo features a mountain with the slogan “Climb your mountain”. The message is, if there’s a fitness-related goal or dream that a client wants to achieve, DeLong and Howell want to help them.

The climbing portion of the gym is underway, with DeLong’s husband Matt and Howell’s husband Ryan Howell working on building the actual walls.

Unlike climbing gyms that require harnesses and ropes, Recreate’s gym is designed for bouldering, which is like rock climbing except you only need climbing shoes and chalk.

Rebuild in Butte

Ladies showers at Recreate Climbing and Fitness Gym in Butte.

Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard

The Howells and DeLongs estimate the climbing portion of the gym will be complete by August. They had hoped to get it ready earlier in the summer, but due to a delay in some gear, like the 12-inch high mats that climbers can safely fall on.

Sport climbing made its debut at the 2020 Olympics, with bouldering being one of the three designated disciplines.

DeLong and Howell’s plans include a storefront next to the bouldering gym that will sell bouldering gear like chalk, branded items like t-shirts, and more.

While pricing for the climbing gym is yet to be determined, Recreate offers three different membership options: a $120 10-workout punch pass, which is a limited-time offer; a 30-day membership for $109; and an Autopay membership for $89 per month with a one-time signup fee of $49.

With the opening of the bouldering gym, there will be a one-time use day pass, a recurring monthly membership for the climbing gym only, and a recurring monthly membership for both gyms.