The Benefits of Bouldering
Ten reasons why bouldering will rock your world.
What if I told you, the biggest thing in climbing right now, is climbing without a harness or rope?
Chances are you picturing Alex Honnold thousands of feet off the ground performing a death-defying stunt. Now, what if I told you’d be no more than 12-14 feet from the ground, surrounded by large gymnastic mats?
Enter the sport of bouldering.
With bouldering gyms opening up in every major city around the world, the sport is rapidly becoming a mainstream activity. Gone are the days of dingy walls in desperate need of a deep clean, as modern bouldering facilities are an oasis of obscure holds and enthusiastic crowds of all ages.
Though bouldering initially derived as a way for alpinists to hone their technical rock climbing skills low to the ground, it eventually diverged into its own sport in the decades to come. However, it wasn’t until the ’90s that bouldering really came into its own, with climbers focusing solely on this discipline, both competitively and outdoors.
So why the interest? Is it as contrived as it looks? So glad you asked! With nothing but a pair of shoes and a chalk bag in hand, here are 10 benefits of bouldering to get you hooked on this sport.
1) It’s Super Social
Finding common ground with someone half or twice your age has never been easier.
Bouldering is a great way to get out of the house and meet new people. With the pretense of climbing, and by working on bouldering routes together, it’s easy to chat up a storm while you trade burns on a climb.
2) A low barrier to entry
Get up and climbing in under 15 minutes!
Of all the climbing disciplines, bouldering has the lowest barrier to entry.
No need for gear or instruction, besides a short orientation from a gym staff member and a pair of trusty climbing shoes. Bouldering, particularly indoor bouldering, is the quickest way to get involved in the sport without having to dish out some serious cash.
3) No Partner Needed
No climbing buddies? No problem! Start climbing on your own terms
While most other forms of climbing require a partner, bouldering can be done alone. That means, you don’t have to be entirely reliant on another person’s schedule and aren’t at the whim of their busy life.
Climbing partner can’t make it? No problem, the session is still on!
4) A mental challenge
Bouldering is far more than your average workout.
Bouldering, in many ways, is just as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. A bouldering problem, is in essence, a puzzle that you use your body to work out.
For many new climbers, this may be about learning to take controlled and unexpected falls or learning to trust your feet.
For the more experienced climber, it’s about tapping into a flow-state by dialing in your sequence and executing smoothly. The mental game of this sport is hidden in practically every aspect.
5) Find Your Style
There is no right or wrong way to climb.
As an individual sport, bouldering brings value to different people for a mix of different reasons.
Looking to gain confidence through physical fitness and goal setting? Looking for a reason to socialize on a Wednesday night? Motivated by a progression through grades? Maybe you enjoy organized competitions? Bouldering has it all, and best of all, you get to pick and choose your motivating factors.
6) Be rewarded through progression
Feel the self-satisfaction
There are few activities in day to day life where we can see concrete progress. Bouldering on the other hand gives you tangible benchmarks allowing you to measure your progress through every session.
It’s the feeling you get when you top out a boulder problem you never thought was possible that keeps a lot of us coming back for more.
7) A variety of movement like no other sport
Expand your climbing vocabulary
Whether it’s dynamic coordination moves, scrunchy pull-throughs or balancy footwork, bouldering provides endless possibilities and challenges through the vocabulary of movement.
In bouldering, you’ll constantly be developing a greater understanding of physical awareness and positioning.
8) A welcoming environment
Looking for some help on a tricky move? Not quite sure how to execute a sequence? Don’t be shy! The best way to pick up techniques and tips (or as we climbers like to call it, “beta”), is to observe and ask questions.
You’ll find very quickly that climbers are a welcoming bunch who are ready to share their contagious love for the sport, no matter what grades you climb.
9) A full-body workout
This is as close to a full-body workout as it gets. Strengthening? Check. Flexibility? Check. Power? Check. Mental stimulus? Check. And best of all, it’s buckets loads of fun.
10) Get outside
A great excuse to hang out in the woods.
Most climbers nowadays get their start in the gym, while some of us may eventually wander outside to try some ‘real pebble wrestling’. Rediscover your child like wonder by exploring what your local area has to offer, and feel the benefits of the fresh air. Just remember to leave no trace and be respectful of your surroundings.
If you are just getting started remember to pace yourself. It’s easy to over do it when you’re riding that beginner’s high, just knowing you’ve finally found your thing! Make use of the community around you and seek out the wisdom of experienced climbers, as they’ll be able to help you make the most of your growth.
Most of all though, don’t take yourself too seriously; it’s pebble wrestling after all! As hikers and passer-byes like to point out, there’s usually an easier way to the top.
What the uninitiated may not realize, is that the steep corner with big holds, or the vertical face with small edges drives a more creative, rewarding challenge. After all, it’s not really about getting to the top of the wall. It’s about all of hidden benefits, the moments in between and the satisfaction of a time well spent.