How climbing chal­lenges body and mind


Climbing – a sport that has found a considerable number of followers. Not only is the number of climbers steadily growing, but climbing and bouldering halls are shooting up everywhere. This is no surprise, since climbing trains the whole body, can also be practised indoors in halls and there's something in it for everyone.

Indoor climbing in Switzerland

There are over 50 climbing and bouldering halls in Switzerland. Growing in popularity, they are constantly developing their offerings. It’s therefore hardly surprising that there are now climbing walls where climbers can use a tablet to select a route that corresponds to their level of difficulty. After a few seconds, the route is illuminated on the wall by LED lights.

From a marginal phenomenon to a mass sport

Even though this is still rare and only exists in this form in a few Swiss climbing halls, it shows how important the sport has become and how there's something in it for everyone. What began with a fringe group of infatuated climbers has evolved into a high-profile sport.

We would never have found a girlfriend. We stank. We didn’t wash. And I wasn’t interested in it anyway.
Jerry Moffat, one of the best climbers of the 80s and 90s, talking about the beginnings of the climbing scene.

But that was a long time ago. Climbing halls have since established themselves as worthy alternatives to the gym, and have gathered a broad following. In contrast to the wide range of short-lived sport trends that pop up every year, climbing has been steadily growing for 20 years. What makes this sport so successful and at the same time suitable as a mass sport?

Climbing and boul­der­ing challenge the body

Climbing and bouldering combine many physical abilities. Because the sport requires entire muscle chains, it trains the whole body. Furthermore, climbing doesn’t function without coordination and a high degree of body tension and flexibility. At the same time, it mustn’t be forgotten that climbing is also mentally demanding – or as German climber Wolfgang Güllich said: «The most important muscle used in climbing is the brain.»

What is bouldering?

Bouldering is climbing «in its purest form, without a rope and hooks». This is climbing practised at a height from which you can jump. For this reason, it’s also possible to practise it alone. If you fall while bouldering in the hall, you fall softly, as there are thick mats below to catch you. Besides the height at which it's practised and the safety technique, bouldering also differs from climbing in terms of the amount of strength required. Whereas with climbing you can take a break at certain points, and it's mostly muscle stamina that is required, the focus in bouldering lies on muscle strength and body tension.

Climbing and bouldering hall memberships

How does CSS make a contribution?

CSS supports you financially with your seasonal or annual membership. As part of the Health Account Bonus, you will receive 50%, up to CHF 100, of your climbing membership – no matter in which public climbing or bouldering hall in Switzerland.

Health Account Bonus

Other benefits of climb­ing and bouldering

  • For all age groups
  • Difficulty level is adaptable, depending on the climber’s level
  • Comparatively cheap
  • Muscular imbalances are almost impossible – entire muscle chains are trained and therefore the whole body
  • The risk of injury is low compared to ball sports or mountaineering – although it's slightly higher with bouldering than when climbing with ropes.

Climbing as mental training

Mental training is an integral part of training for many professional climbers, even for those who are exceptionally talented like the Czech Adam Ondra, one of the best climbers in the world. Tackling the most challenging climbing walls, he demonstrates the perfect interplay of body and mind, conquering routes that have never been climbed before. Even if this is not what amateur athletes or «fitness climbers» are looking for, they appreciate climbing for the way it trains their concentration and body control and constantly provides them with challenges.

The most important muscle used in climbing is the brain.
Wolfgang Güllich, a German climber

Uses in therapy

Enthusiasm for climbing is also shared by therapists, who use it to treat multiple sclerosis, geriatric diseases, chronic back pain or depression. Even though the effect has only been proven by small studies so far, many therapists already swear by its effectiveness.

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