Colorado’s First and Only Black-Owned Indoor Climbing Gym Takes On Mental Health for Youth

Aman Anderson is the owner of the only Black-owned climbing gym in Colorado and the second Black-owned climbing gym in the nation. Beast Fingers Climbing is more than a climbing gym, it is a space that helps youth with mental health and stress relief.

Anderson, 34, who is originally from Orlando, Fla. was introduced to rock climbing in his early 20s. “At the time I was working in Washington, D.C. as a product designer and a buddy of mine introduced me to the sport,” Anderson says. He fell in love with rock climbing instantly, and he would later devote his life to it.

In 2015, Anderson moved to Colorado for work and used his creativity and design skills to make a rock climbing module for climbers called Beast Fingers. This device would grow with the climber and help them improve their climbing ability.

“My job wasn’t so thrilled I was creating a product on the side, so I quit.” Anderson got certified through the USA Climbing Association as a rock climbing coach for adults and kids. He opened the Beast Fingers gym in 2019 and has welcomed many kids in the community. “We have a diverse group of kids, from kids who are experiencing homelessness, anxiety, and  behavioral issues to kids who are not familiar with [the] sport to kids who are big climbing fans. It is also nice to see Black and Brown kids taking up the sport,”
Anderson expresses.

Beast Fingers Climbing serves kids ages 3 to 18. There is a recreational track and a competitive track on site. Many students have made it to state and national competitions under
Anderson’s coaching. 

Anderson’s focus on mental health and mental wellness is what makes Beast Fingers like no other climbing gym. He has a sports psychologist on staff that helps students with anxiety or stress that they might be going through outside of the gym. Brain breaks and mental games are given to students to relieve stress and help them control any anger or anxiety. “Parents will tell me that their child’s behavior has improved once being on the Beast Fingers Kids climbing team.” Students at Beast Fingers use a program called Mightier, which helps kids analyze their emotions and feelings and also helps with stress and anxiety.

Anderson credits his father’s coaching style as the reason why he is such a great coach himself. He not only serves as a coach to his students, he also develops personal bonds with the kids. “I ask my students about their future, goals and ambition. Our students really enjoy that attention and care and their behavior improves.”

Beast Fingers and Anderson have been making noise in the rock climbing world. USA Climbing has even talked to him about how to diversify rock climbing by “exposing the sport to people of different classes and races.” Beast Fingers serves as a safe space to BIPOC climbers as well. From music to even food vendors, Beast Fingers introduces culture and heritage into the world of rock climbing. “We recently hosted a competition and Lil baby was playing on the radio and there was an African food vendor out front,” Anderson laughs. 

As an African American climber, Anderson rarely sees climbers who look like him. But his presence alone has brought Black students to Beast Fingers and to the sport of rock climbing. Anderson explains his skin color as a rock climbing coach has made people in the Globeville community comfortable. Globeville also brings a sense of nostalgia for Anderson, because it resembles his hometown.

He has one student that is 5th in the state, one regional champion, and many Divisional and National championship appearances. Students who have graduated from the program have gone to college and even pursued careers in psychology. “A former student was inspired to be a psychologist due to the mental strategies he learned here at Beast Fingers,” Anderson notes. 

Anderson looks forward to the future for Beast Fingers Climbing. He is planning to host their annual youth competition and is working on renting high school football fields to have a wider space for future events. Beast Fingers is a force to be reckoned with; it exposes kids to the sport of rock climbing while helping kids become aware of their challenges and learn how to overcome them. 

Beast Fingers Climbing is located at 5280 Broadway.

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