Cara and her family outside the Virginia Beach Rock Gym
Climbing gyms are perhaps the most valuable tool that we climbers have to build strength, improve technique, and prepare us physically and mentally to get out and crush on real rock. Gyms are probably where most of us started, and where a lot of people will end up staying, as indoor climbing quickly becomes a sport of its own. So while we love spending hours in these buildings with ever-changing routes, perfect conditions year-round, and an atmosphere that encourages and builds our beloved community, it’s easy to forget that climbing gyms are a business, and running one takes a lot of hard work. While it’s still a very male-dominated industry, more women are taking leadership roles in building these places up. As business owners, climbers, and very often wives and mothers, they juggle more than we would ever guess from the outside. Blending your passion and career is tough, but those who take it on are strong, confident–and they’re a force to be reckoned with.
I had the chance to sit down and chat with Cara Dozier, co-owner of the family-owned and operated Virginia Beach Rock Gym in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and one of those very women making an impact in the climbing community. Cara’s personality exudes kindness, warmth, and a very notable confidence, which serves her well in dealing with the challenges of owning a rock gym in a place as foreign to climbers as Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach isn’t exactly known for its climbing–it’s flat, featureless, and the closest elevation gain is about 4 hours away. Despite those challenges, Cara has spent almost her entire life helping to build the passionate and eager climbing community that exists here today.