17 Reasons Why Bouldering Is So Popular

The climbing industry has been booming since 2016 and it is becoming more and more popular. One of the biggest growing activities in the climbing industry is bouldering.

Bouldering is when you climb up to 12-15 without any routes. In comparison to sport climbing, the routes usually require more technique and strength.

Bouldering is a climbing sport that has been around for over a century and with more indoor climbing gyms opening around the world, it is likely to continue to grow popular as it becomes more and more accessible.

There are many reasons why bouldering is enjoyed by so many people and why it is becoming more popular and here are 17 reasons:

1. It’s a fun way to workout

One of the biggest reasons that people get into bouldering is that they want to work out more often or they are bored with their current workout and find bouldering as a fun full-body workout.

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Because bouldering requires you to use your toes all the way to your fingertips, many climbers get stronger within a couple of weeks of training and they can feel the progress every time they start a new bouldering session.

In addition, bouldering is a great way to get your heart rate up for cardio while also being able to keep their breath under control.

If you want a fun way to workout, consider bouldering. If you want to become stronger, then practice boulder problems that require strong and dynamic movement.

If you want a fun way to build your cardio or endurance, consider bouldering a bunch of problems that are slightly below your skillset.

2. It’s a good way to clear your mind

According to Vertical Mind, bouldering helps people get into a “zen” state of mind much more frequently and easily than of any other sport. 

The mental focus required to move your body through each problem is something that helps clear your mind and focus on only climbing.

This is also why many climbers consider bouldering as a means of meditating and helping them get through mentally tough times.

In addition, the zone that you are able to get into mentally is also related to your mind’s ability to process emotions more clearly, and thus when you are done with your bouldering session, you feel more mentally refreshed than when you started.

3. It’s a fun way to improve your problem-solving skills

Bouldering is highly problem-solving oriented. Each route is considered a problem and you have to use your knowledge of climbing, your bodily limits and your mental strength to work through how to move and where to go to get through the problem.

This mental side of climbing, especially in bouldering, makes it a fun way to build problem-solving skills.

In many cases, climbers find themselves better at problem-solving even after just one climbing session that required a lot of problem-solving to complete the problems.

After trying the solution they created, they get immediate feedback for if it was the right solution. If it was right, then they know what worked and can use that in future problems.

If the solution was wrong, then they immediately know it was wrong and are able to re-evaluate what they did and consider different tweaks to try until they get the right solution.

4. People enjoy how social bouldering is

In comparison to many sports, including sport climbing, bouldering is highly social. 

Unlike basketball or soccer, the people you are climbing with are all on the same team so instead of being competitive with each other directly, you are all trying to beat the wall and make it to the end of the climb. This creates a comradery between climbers.

There are climbing competitions in which you are trying to boulder better than the other climbers, but even in those situations, there is a sense of community. You want to climb better than them but you also want them to reach the top as well.

For the majority of people that boulder, they don’t do competitions so the social side is more about figuring out how to get to the top of the rock face instead.

Plus, you spend a lot of time in proximity with people so you can continue being part of the conversation even if you are climbing.

Most climbers don’t talk while they are on the wall but they are likely to still hear you since they only get up to 12-15 feet off the ground. Well within earshot of everything your friends may be saying.

5. You don’t need very much gear (just a pair of shoes)

In comparison to sport climbing, which requires a rope, belay devices, carabiners, quickdraws and harnesses, and should all be purchased brand new to ensure they are safe to use and will save your life if needed, bouldering doesn’t require near as much gear.

The cost of gear is a big reason for many climbers to love bouldering. For anyone that wants to try bouldering, all you need is a pair of climbing shoes, which can often be rented or bought used if you need to save money.

The minimal gear of bouldering makes it easy for anyone new to climbing or new to bouldering to give it a try at a local gym, which most big cities have bouldering gyms.

For those that want to boulder outdoors where the rocks are free to climb, it is ideal to also purchase a pad for safety. Also a piece of gear that you can buy used.

The pads last years and you don’t have to worry about replacing them as long as you keep them away from dogs that like to chew furniture.

6. You get immediate feedback for skills

Sometimes climbers have coaches to help them see things that they don’t notice while bouldering, but compared to every other sport, it is much easier to feel and listen to their body for feedback.

In many activities, it may take a few tries before you can figure out if it is working and what isn’t working when you try different techniques or skills.

In comparison, bouldering forces you to be very aware of your body and if you do a technique incorrectly or you do the wrong technique at the wrong time, you will feel it and notice immediately.

The feedback is usually falling off the wall but with the feedback, you can immediately get back on the wall and try something different.

When you get it right, you will know if it is right and you can then replicate that new found skill immediately.

7. It’s rewarding

Bouldering has been known to be very rewarding for many people.

The skill and strength that you need to be able to reach the top of a new route or your first route at that level makes you feel like you are on top of the world.

When you reach a certain level, the moves you need to be able to do get harder and you have to grow and become better to continuously reach the next level.

Like a weightlifter that makes a new personal record, climbers have personal records for the grades of climbs that they are able to complete and/or how many at that grade they can do in one climbing session.

This leveling system is very rewarding because it makes you feel accomplished. You did accomplish something amazing.

The feeling of accomplishment that you get when you reach the top is only part (though a big part) of the reward you get while bouldering.

In addition, with continued climbing your body gets stronger and your mind gets stronger which is also very rewarding for many climbers.

8. Celebrities are doing it

It seems that more and more celebrities are showcasing their climbing skills and thus, it is making bouldering more popular. 

Celebrities like Jason Momoa has been known to use bouldering in his daily workout routine for many of his roles.

He also has a large bouldering wall in his backyard that he and his kids have posed on for magazines and social media.

With celebrities getting more interested in the sport, more “normal” people are considering trying bouldering to see what the hype is about.

This is helping bouldering become very popular.

9. You can do it by yourself

There are a few sports that you can do all by yourself and get the full benefits of training. Bouldering is one of those sports.

It isn’t like shooting hoops by yourself and you don’t have someone guarding you so it isn’t the same. Bouldering is between you and the wall so you don’t need anyone else to get the full effect of bouldering.

If you are bouldering outdoors, it is recommended to have a spotter. However, with the growing number of bouldering gyms you often don’t need to worry about your buddies’ work schedule to fit in a fun climbing session, you can do it by yourself.

This makes it so that you can do it practically whenever you want.

10. Bouldering makes you feel free

Bouldering doesn’t have ropes or gear that you attach to yourself so each movement you make feels free.

The possibility of falling and when you make big moves that require a lot of force and movement, the air across your face without any gear around your waist makes you feel like you are defying gravity.

If you’ve seen Free Solo then you probably already have an inkling of how bouldering makes you feel free.

Unlike Free Solo, however, bouldering only goes up to 12-15 feet high and with falls on mats, injuries are less likely.

11. The bouldering community is supportive and chill

One thing that boulders often mention when they talk about why they love climbing is because the community is extremely supportive and “chill.”

The bouldering community wants you to succeed and they let you know by cheering you one.

This is the case for indoor and outdoor bouldering. Often times someone will watch the climber to see how they do it because they too are trying to complete that climb.

And instead of secretively figuring it out and climbing in privacy, often times boulderers will work together to get through the climb.

This is also the case when someone that isn’t at your same level of climbing, higher or lower level of climbing, they can tell if you are trying your hardest and often will cheer you on and encourage you to keep going.

I love seeing this in bouldering competitions because even though the competitors want to climb better than you, and maybe even if they weren’t able to finish the climb, it is exciting to see someone make it to the top. So even competitors get excited to see you succeed.

12. You can make up for lack of strength with technique

Climbing is meant for every body type, even those that aren’t the strongest. 

If you see someone with super big arms, they might be able to campus up a climb, but someone that is weaker and knows technique will be able to complete the climb.

This is super encouraging for people that are average because they can do just as difficult climbs as the strongest person in the gym if they are better at technique.

The technique is something that is learned and practiced so anyone can get good at climbing techniques.

13. It has a risk factor that creates a natural high

As with all extreme sports, the possibility of falling, though it is unlikely to cause injury (as long as you have pads and fall properly), creates a natural high.

The “high” comes from the adrenaline rush that your brain creates when it recognizes that you are doing something risky.

The great thing about bouldering is that you can get that adrenaline rush without being in extreme danger.

This high is often part of the reason that people become hooked on bouldering because their brain wants to seek that feeling again.

Bouldering is also known to release other endorphins that make them feel happy and accomplished. Something that is difficult to achieve from other activities.

14. It makes you feel connected to other people

When you do the same activities that other people do, it helps you feel connected to them.

This is a connection that can be between you and your girlfriend or even with a celebrity like Zac Efron and Jason Momoa that often climb to exercise and let off steam.

This connection can feel good and make you feel like you have a bit of a relationship with that person or feel connected with that person through bouldering.

15. Bouldering is becoming an Olympic sport

One of the reasons that bouldering is so popular is because it is part of the Olympic climbing event that is being hosted in 2021. The debut will further create a sense of pride in the sport as well as validate it as a sport. 

Being in the Olympics will likely increase the number of people that are familiar with the sport, which will make it even more popular.

16. Bouldering gyms are opening up around the world

Almost every country has at least one bouldering gym and many major cities in the US and Europe have multiple gyms open.

This accessibility makes it easier for people to try it out and thus it makes bouldering more popular.

The activity has gone from being just something that dirtbags that live in their van do to something that everyone can do with the comfort of AC and safety pads.

In fact, bouldering is a highly recommended activity for dating between all relationship types such as heterosexual or other.

17. It’s becoming Collegiate

Though the college circuit for bouldering teams is limited, it is becoming a popular recreational facility in colleges and universities.

Any time a sport becomes accessible in a college or university, it becomes more popular in the community.

Many colleges and universities have added climbing walls and bouldering walls to their recreational facilities to increase the attractiveness of their facilities.

As a consequence, the communities that the universities are in start climbing and bouldering more, thus making the sport more popular.

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