Climbing as a mass sport
There are over 50 climbing or bouldering halls in Switzerland. They enjoy growing popularity and are constantly developing their range of products. It is therefore hardly surprising that there are now climbing walls for which climbers can select the desired level of difficulty using a tablet. After a few seconds, the selected route is illuminated on the wall by LED lights.
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 it has adapted to the masses. 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 either," was how Jerry Moffatt, one of the greatest climbers of the 80s and 90s, described the beginnings of the climbing scene.
But that was a long time ago. Climbing halls have since established themselves as a worthy alternative 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 challenges the body in many different ways
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.”
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.
Climbing and bouldering offer the following further advantages:
- Possible in a hall all year round
- For all age groups
- Difficulty is adaptable, depending on the climber’s level
- Comparatively cheap
- Muscular imbalances are almost impossible – entire muscle chains are trained, i.e. the whole body
- The risk of injury is low compared to ball sports or mountaineering – although it is slightly higher with bouldering than when climbing with ropes.
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.