If you want to get strong, you need to live in Europe.
It’s this phrase that is almost recited like a mantra.
You read it in climbing magazines, hear it from climbers, coaches, parents. It’s almost as if some sacred pilgrimage of climbing is necessary to earn the approval of the rock gods.
I don’t believe it, and more so, I refuse to believe it.
I mean sure, climbing with the best and climbing in the best gyms is a good way to go about it. And I agree that if you lived in Europe AND devoted your time to training and climbing, you would become a better and stronger climber, but there is no elixir from some mountain stream found only in the foothills of southern France that will do it for you.
People move to Europe and come back stronger and wiser climbers, more because they have made a decision to leave all distraction behind and focus solely on a single purpose, than because they are in Europe. They leave all friends, family and homely feelings behind and plunge themselves into a world built around climbing and training.
Improvement comes from hard work, good planning and a continuous effort over and extended period of time. Physiologically, getting stronger is a simple matter of stimulating the correct muscles in the correct way to cause your body to make adjustments to it’s internal structure to cope with the increase in load.
However, whilst fitness is simple, I will go so far as to say, the Europeans have us in the realm of movement. The gyms in Europe offer a lot to inspire you!
Climbing after all is problem solving. It is a 3D puzzle, in that you must figure out how to use your hands and feet to manoeuvre yourself from point A to point B. Puzzles become easier if you have done them before, so the key is to already have done the puzzle (or something similar) before you are confronted with it. So when the holds demand a crossover with a reverse flag, your muscle memory takes over and all you need to worry about are the slight differences in hold orientation, shape and sizes.
So just like I talked about in my post ‘Boulderwelt and the future of climbing’ these holds and this setting is what Australia really need and it is great that we are beginning to see it! It is now time for our coaches to grasp this opportunity and look at how we approach movement so that maybe we can change the mantra to be ‘if you want to get strong, you have to move South!’