How Rock Climbing and Bouldering Have Become a Mainstream Sport for Everyone

rock climbing vs bouldering gym

Rock Climbing Vs Bouldering Gym

rock climbing vs bouldering gym

Rope climbing and bouldering gyms have been opening all over the country at feverous rate as the sport of rock climbing has become wildly popular in the last decade. What was once a fringe sport for the modern-day, counter-cultural, new-aged beatnik generation has hit the mainstream.

While this is a double-edged sword for outdoor climbers—as once empty outdoor climbing crags have become overrun by larger and larger climbers creates new access issues (shout out to the Access Fund—a group advocating for the protection and preservation of our outdoor climbing spacing and working to educate the large numbers of new climbers on the scene about leave no trace and crag ethics).

Why Did the Sport of Rock Climbing Blow Up?

In the opinion of this rock climbing blogger, the media coverage of two significant rock climbing achievements of mega proportion by two of the best rock climbers in the US and the media coverage of these feats propelled climbing into the forefront of the minds of not only the American youth but the American public at large and both centered in Yosemite National Park in California (a rock climbing mecca): the send of the unclimbed Dawn Wall face on El Capitan by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson and the free solo of El Capitan.

Mainstream media and news outlets latched onto Caldwell and Jorgeson’s journey on the Dawn Wall and captivated the American public—a multi-year project beginning in 2015 that took 7 years to accomplish—and two years later Honnold would blow the sport up with his free solo of Freerider (5-13a VI). Honnold became a household name, famous climber, mountaineer, photographer, and filmmaker Jimmy Chin would earn multiple Emmy Awards (it swept ALL 7 categories that it was nominated for). The American public ate it up and soon, every non-climber would be asking every climber they happened upon if they had seen “Free Solo”. Fast-forward, and now climbing is an official Olympic sport.

The Explosion of the Climbing Scene in the Concrete Jungle

It is not a secret that climbing takes fitness and strength, but it is this climber’s opinion that rock climbing’s best kept secret was how fun it is. But the cat is out of the bag. It seems like everybody and their mother these days has caught the climbing bug. The rock climbing gym has provided many a perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the sport. Some of these gyms offer bouldering—which involves shorter climbs that build powerful movement with no ropes—and others have taller walls to accommodate roped climbing (and of course some offer both).

From 2015 to now, we’ve seen an explosion of climbing gyms in cities all over the US. From Conrad Anker’s investment in Memphis Rox to the Sender gyms in California to Brooklyn Rocks in NYC and Vertical Rock in Northern Virginia, climbing gyms have become a fitness fixture of communities across the US.

Urban Gyms Become a Top Fitness Choice for American Youth

It is no surprise that kids of all ages across the country are discovering climbing. The sport is just cool. Whether you stick to the gym or graduate to climbing outside, climbing builds strength, coordination, balance, and discipline.

As climbing access increased, the sport became more and more accessible to populations situated away from the outdoor crags. The gyms have become a great place for the whole family to pick up a new shared hobby and keep fit. Children in particular stay more engaged and committed with fitness activities that they enjoy. Getting your kids, a membership to a bouldering or rock climbing gym.

Living in the Greater Manassas or Tysons Corner Area?

Interested in checking out a rock climbing gym? If you are local to the Greater DC area, Vertical Rock and Fitness offers both roped climbing and bouldering between our two locations. Visit our website to learn more.