Before we provide solid reasons to practice the sport, we explain, as a little warm-up so to speak, what is behind the term and what makes the difference to sport climbing. Afterwards, with maximum power, well warmed up and with the appropriate previous knowledge, you'll go to the wall in six moves ...
Bouldering originates from the word boulder - so the sport is already as good as explained. Because: bouldering means climbing on boulders or artificial walls at jump height - which is why you won't need a rope or harness, and no partner in the climbing gym either. By the way, bouldering has been around for a long time, and by the 1950s at the latest the sport had made a huge leap forward. Because at that time the US-American John Gill revolutionized climbing. He is considered the father of today's bouldering sport.
In the 1970s, bouldering became a separate discipline of sport climbing. Since the 1990s, indoor sports have been growing in numbers and have been experiencing a real hype since the 2000s, especially in the cities and metropolitan areas. This summer bouldering is part of the Olympic Combine, the lympic climbing triathlon consisting of lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Anyone can boulder! The rules are simple, you learn the technique by trying it out. Furthermore, no specific safety instruction or know-how is required to practise this sport. The only equipment needed is a pair of climbing shoes, which are available for rent in every gym, and some magnesia for the hands. A special and possibly expensive outfit is also not necessary, the good old gym trousers and T-shirt are sufficient.
Classic sport climbing is different: Here the athletes need a climbing partner who A) has experience and sufficient belaying and rope technique and B) has time. In addition, the necessary equipment for sport climbing is more extensive: you need climbing shoes, climbing harness, belay device and rope. And very importantly, you have to be able to handle the belay device and rope, i.e. you have to get a sound instruction from an experienced climber or even better, take part in a training course, otherwise the risk of accidents increases exponentially.
While in the fitness center weights are being lifted, in the bouldering gym only the own weight is used, in combination with tactical considerations. It is necessary to hold holds with finger, arm and leg strength, to kick and to follow a line, a route with logical tricks and knacks. Depending on the difficulty, visual pre-planning as well as technique and trick or ingenuity are strongly demanded.
Bouldering requires a flexible, supple body, coupled with a good maximum power, which can be called up in a few, powerful sequences of holds. Well? Right. We have arrived at the trend and at the potential for addiction: bouldering beautiful, intelligently bolted routes is challenging, and when the first small or big successes appear, it makes you hungry. Hungry for more, for harder, for more difficult. And then, as if by magic, a few yoga sessions are inserted to make the body more supple and the fingers are trained in the office with the help of a tennis ball.
All with the aim of experiencing this unique symbiosis of aesthetics, power and dynamics even more intensively. Whoever has ever watched boulderers at a competition, how they almost effortlessly jump on the holds and bend their bodies like artists of the Chinese State Circus, knows what we are talking about.
"How do you make the train? How do you climb? How can you hold this? You gonna jump on the next handle or what?" Bouldering is interactive and therefore THE location to meet new, like-minded people. The handles act as a communication anchor or source, so to speak. Especially in the growing cities with their anonymity this sport is an oasis of communication and getting to know each other.
Bouldering in the gym does not require a partner, nor does it require you to register in advance or reserve a court. Thick, soft mats replace the spotter, i.e. partners that are irreplaceable on the boulder outside. The walls are all at jump height, from three feet to 15 feet. Those who don't dare to, find another route, close to the ground. A session can be perfectly integrated into everyday life. From the office to the gym, or from the gym to the office, without having to coordinate the timing with a sports partner. Individuality in its purest form.
Even beginners and newcomers can easily go to the bouldering gym, pay admission, organize rental shoes and get started. Because the grasping is stored in the head as a natural reflex. The colours show the way, the rest is up to you and of course with the help of communication with like-minded people.
The sport, when practiced in the gym, requires only climbing shoes and a chalk bag with magnesia. When buying climbing shoes you should pay attention to a good fit. The shoes should fit compactly, both at the heel and at the toe area, in order to have a good feeling when you start. You should take a lot of time when trying them on and try them out on the climbing wall that good sports retailers provide for testing. Climbing shoes are worn without socks to allow perfect power transmission.
Tip: If the rental shoes from the gym fit well, ask specifically for this model in the shop, this makes the search much easier. The chalk bag with magnesia is indispensable for bouldering. Sweaty hands make gripping difficult, the white magnesia powder absorbs the sweat - for perfect grip on the handles. As far as clothing is concerned, comfortable sports trousers or tights and a shirt that fits well, does not slip and follows all movements are sufficient. A warming fleece jacket or hoodie helps to keep the muscles warm between the bouldering sessions.
Good bouldering facilities employ route builders who know their craft and make sure that even beginners have fun without being overwhelmed. The boulders are sorted by colour and correspond to different difficulties, ranging from easy to very difficult. Anyone can try anything. However, a slow increase in difficulty is recommended, because with each bouldering session the muscles are trained and strengthened - important if you want to get into more difficult routes. The technique as well as the necessary dynamics and physical exertion are learned through play. But also while watching and actively asking questions.
The training effect of bouldering is outstanding. Already after a few weeks you will feel a different body feeling: The body becomes firmer and muscles are built up. Those who feel like more will automatically go to the Campusboard and include sit-ups for the core in their training. You can also automatically focus better, a consequence of memorizing grip sequences and calling up climbing techniques to the point. Bouldering is only possible when body and mind harmonize and interact with each other in the here and now.
Especially in big cities and urban areas there are great climbing and bouldering facilities. In Germany they are either operated by private persons or they are so-called DAV climbing facilities. Both are open to everyone, but members of the Alpine Club get a reduced entrance fee in DAV climbing and bouldering facilities. The prices are usually between 10 and 15 euros. Anyone who visits such a facility often will benefit from monthly or annual stamps, which are offered in all climbing gyms.
A price check on the respective homepage in advance is worthwhile in any case, not least because some operators offer a happy hour tariff, for example. Otherwise the bouldering facilities are built according to the latest guidelines and equipped with ergonomic grips and steps. Recently, more and more facilities are offering a training area where athletes can prepare themselves specifically with the help of climbing specific training equipment.