Everything You Need to Know About Bouldering
We all have at the very least a decent, generalized understanding of rock climbing. You essentially do as the sport’s name implies: you climb rocks. One hand up, one foot up, and pull. You navigate ledges and other openings on a rock face to get to a certain desired location. And that’s that.
Well, not exactly. While it all may seem relatively straightforward, there is a surprising amount that people may not realize about the sport. For example, there are actually several types of rock climbing! Rock climbing can be divided into two main categories: free climbing and aid climbing. From free climbing, there are further subcategories, like roped and unroped.
Beneath the subcategory of “unroped” falls the climbing types called free soloing and bouldering. Bouldering is one of the most popular forms of rock climbing today, whether it is done outdoors or in a bouldering gym, which is the one we’d like to spotlight today.
The Difference Between Free Soloing and Bouldering
Before diving headfirst into the intricacies of bouldering, we’d like to explain the difference between free soloing and bouldering, as they are sometimes confused for one another.
As the subcategory in which the two fall suggests, both free soloing and bouldering are completed without the assistance and safety of ropes and other pieces of equipment. However, free soloing is done anywhere– more specifically at unsafe heights. This makes free soloing significantly more dangerous than bouldering.
Bouldering, on the other hand, is a form of rock climbing that lacks climbing equipment, too, (except climbing shoes and maybe some chalk) but is completed on small rock faces or artificial rock walls. When done indoors, there is also a crash pad to protect your fall. Overall, it is a safer option in comparison to free soloing.
The Benefits of Bouldering
Now onto bouldering. You may be wondering why would someone choose to do bouldering instead of rock climbing in other forms that have harnesses and ropes for safety and protection? Well, because there are a load of benefits to reap from doing so.
1. Excellent Cardiovascular Exercise
Bouldering is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise! By partaking in such an activity, you can drastically improve your heart and lung health. However, some argue that it’s an even better cardio workout than other forms of rock climbing.
Without the need for heavy or awkward equipment, you simply rely on your body to do the work. That can make your climbing experience significantly faster as you aren’t feeling “bogged down” by all the gear. Plus, this form of rock climbing sometimes requires more dynamic movements, like jumping. Altogether, it’s an excellent form of cardio.
2. Great Strength Building Workout
While it is an excellent sources of cardio strengthening, bouldering is also an excellent way of building overall strength! It efficiently tones the muscles throughout your body, as it is a sublime full-body workout. While it does tone all of your muscles in the body, it especially caters to your larger muscle groups, like your back, chest, core, quads, shoulders, legs, and arms!
3. Strengthens Your Brain, Too!
It’s undeniable that bouldering (and other forms of rock climbing) can really sculpt your muscles and strengthen them– both inside and out. And, yes, that even includes your brain!
Bouldering drastically improves your mental grit, too, as a ton of thought processes need to occur with each and every movement you make. You also improve your mentality in terms of pain tolerance, self-determination by pushing yourself to new “heights,” and problem-solving skills.
Bouldering can, as you might have already guessed, occasionally be a little scary. You might feel as if you get “stuck” in certain locations. By tackling the fear of falling or being stuck in an undesirable location, you are seriously increasing your self-confidence, critical thinking skills, and stress maintenance.
4. Improves Your Balance
By continuously suspending yourself in somewhat awkward situations and keeping yourself steady throughout the bouldering experience, you can easily improve your balance! This is because, without proper balance, you can slip and fall.
By working on your balance to stay on the rock face/climbing wall and making your way to your desired destination, your balance naturally improves itself over time!
5. Improves Flexibility
One of the most important pieces of the physical fitness “puzzle” is flexibility. While it may seem unimportant to some, it is actually one of the most vital parts! By improving your flexibility, you are improving your overall physical health, decreasing the likelihood of injury, and improving your mobility.
Fortunately, bouldering hones your flexibility skills and improves them overall. This is because you are constantly “stretching” your limbs and body into unique positions and, gradually, your body adjusts and can be more flexible with the movements you make– on and off the rocks!
6. Increases Body Awareness
Many people, especially adults, assume that they have complete control over their bodies and full awareness of it. However, that isn’t always the case (yours truly was once widely known as a klutz). Bouldering allows you to increase your body awareness as every single movement you make is well-thought out and needs to be executed sufficiently.
7. Boost Your Teamwork Skills
Bouldering, like most forms of rock climbing, require the work of a team to accomplish your goal. Therefore, when you are bouldering (either in the great outdoors or in a bouldering gym) you are working alongside others, which will undoubtedly assist in sharpening your teamwork skills.
8. Build Relationships
Whenever one indulges in a sport or activity with others, the possibility of building relationships is present. However, it is especially so in bouldering. This is due to the fact that you all have a unique mindset and common hobby that you can share together, which will then likely lead to strong relationships of all kinds!
Where You Can Go Bouldering in Philadelphia
If you are in the Philadelphia area and wondering where you can indulge in such a unique and thrilling experience, we have the answer for you: us here at Reach Climbing & Fitness! We have a slew of classes for rock climbing– and that includes bouldering. Check out all of our offerings at our state-of-the-art bouldering gym. We can’t wait to help you reach, climb, and get fit!