Corey and Ahna Porter are husband and wife, best friends, and co-own Evolution Boulders. Evolution Boulders just opened its doors on July 29, 2023, in Manassas, VA. It's a 20,000 square-foot bouldering-only facility that focuses on excellent setting as well as a warmly welcoming environment. The duo are first time gym-owners who started out as a teacher and a nurse.
Corey: "I taught High School Physics and Math for 10 years. I've always had a passion for teaching; I've always loved helping guide people towards discovering their strengths and watching as they find what brings them joy. I started to find more and more things I wished I could do better, and felt limited by the industry. Opening Evolution Boulders allowed me to focus my interests and abilities not only on helping new climbers grow but also on employees who wish to grow professionally within the climbing industry."
Ahna: "I love cats, foraging for mushrooms (poorly), oil painting, when people laugh so hard they wheeze, and peeling the plastic off of new electronics. I'm 35 years old, and have spent 11 of those years as an ICU nurse. My favorite thing about nursing is getting to see first-hand how amazing and resilient human beings are. While working through the pandemic, I got to see that resiliency in myself and my coworkers. Like Corey, I also began to wish I could use my talents and abilities in new ways. When we started discussing opening Evolution Boulders, I thought it would be an incredible way to combine his love of teaching with my love of fostering health, and combined we could create a climbing community that focuses on inclusivity and growth."
How did you start climbing?
Corey started climbing on a whim when he first moved to Northern Virginia to move in with Ahna when they first started dating. Ahna wasn't much of a climber but has been a lifelong camper and hiker and lover of all things dirt and outdoors. Thankfully, she encouraged Corey to stick with it!
She didn't need to try too hard though because Corey fell in love with climbing HARD from the get go. Ahna wasn't too into climbing at the time, and when she would tag along with Corey she often found that she had very few places to hang out and warm up to climbing.
"These experiences heavily shaped the way we thought about our physical gym design. We deliberately planned out lounge spaces while we designed the layout of our climbing walls. The lounge areas are designed to be 'cozy with plants and coffee tables and carpeting. The walls themselves are organized in a way that lets light stream through the gym, making it feel spacious and bright" says Ahna.
Corey adds that "We've had a lot of people say that they've never been to a gym that seems to have thought about keeping things bright and open before, but it plays into our goal of making sure people feel comfortable and welcome in our space."
What impact has climbing had on your life?
"Opening Evolution Boulders was a massive leap of faith for us, but it's an absolute dream come true. Having the opportunity to promote health, personal growth, and a welcoming community through climbing is something we will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to do. We have grown tremendously as people through the hard work it took to create this gym and have learned how well we compliment each other as partners" Corey said.
Ahna commented, "You know how building Ikea furniture together is like the litmus test for whether or not your relationship can survive? This was kind of like a more intense version of tha. And we rocked it! It's been amazing getting to create such an amazing space for the climbing community with my best friend."
What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
We both love spending time with our two kids. It's an honor to get to be a part of helping them grow into the amazing little humans they are.
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
We're all trying to do our best with what we've been given. A little kindness goes a long way.
Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?
We LOVE a woman-owned company, especially one that promotes such a warm and welcoming community of climbers! Excellent vibes, 10/10 :)
Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Stories here.
We hope you have enjoyed these sneak peeks into climbers' lives. We're on a mission to share diverse stories about rock climbing. Let's push the boundaries of who we know as climbers. Let's use our energy and passion for the outdoors to love our environment and inspire one another.