Q. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and congratulations are in order as Stair Climbing was recently recognised as an official sport by the Australian Government! For those who may not know much about it, what exactly is the sport of Stair Climbing?
Thank you! We are excited about the future of our sport and look forward to people recognising the benefits of stair climbing and taking part in events.
Stair climbing also known as Tower running is a quirky world recognised sport which is low impact and can be done by anyone!
Most people get a little frightened at the thought of stair climbing. The usual comment when we say, ‘take the stairs’ is…… "oh no! I get puffed out doing one floor to my office!”. Yes, we all get puffed out doing stairs but doesn’t that tell you something? If it’s challenging you, doesn’t that mean if you push yourself, you’ll just get fitter and stronger?
Little known fact is that stair climbing burns double the calories compared to running and it can be done indoors or outdoors! All you need are stairs!
The advantage of stair climbing is that it is both an aerobic and aneorobic activity. Simply, when you climb stairs, it burns calories and because you are fighting gravity, it builds muscle mass!
Q. I think the first time I ever came across Stair Climbing was a few years back when I saw people running up Melbourne's Eureka tower. Since then, the sport seems to be going from strength to strength, and is becoming particularly popular with runners. What do you think is leading to this growth and why is it becoming so popular?
Eureka is the biggest climb in Australia. We also have events in other states. Sydney Tower stair climb, StepUp for MS in Perth, River to Rooftop Brisbane, Climb for Cancer Brisbane and Vertical Night sprint which had it’s inaugural climb this year. We also have the Stadium Stomp series in each state.
We are seeing a few smaller events emerging in Satellite cities such as Geelong and Woollongong which is heartening and means more people are able to participate in events which gives them a goal to train towards.
It’s interesting when runners do their first stair climb, runners think it’s going to be easy because they have a high level of fitness. Most runners I have spoken with after events are surprised at how tough they found the climb. Why? A lot of people (not just runners) start by running the stairs and quickly find out that they can’t maintain that pace. A stair climb is deceiving as it’s not as long as a marathon but it’s just as gruelling.
There are few athletes that can maintain running stairs for the entire race for example, the 88 floors of Eureka. (Mark Bourne, who holds the record for Eureka is one of the few in the world). The other reason is that some runners may have aerobic fitness but don’t have the anaerobic fitness needed.
The fantastic thing is that runners who find stair climbing challenging embrace the sport and use it to get to that next level so it improves their running. We have cyclists who also use stair climbing as a means to improve their performance.
Q. I’m curious, do you look at stairs differently now than when you used to? Do you ever find yourself looking at a set of stairs and thinking "I'd love to climb those?"
The brain of a stair climber is definitely re-wired!!!! On the many social media sites, we post pictures of stairs, stairwells, buildings, building under construction……..it is insane how obsessed we become!
I was away with my family for a few days and the accomodation was a 22 floor building. After discovering the gym had a step mill ( very unusual in a gym let alone a small hotel gym), I followed my stair discovery nose and found the stairwell. I was is stair climbing heaven!!!! Each morning I did the 22 floors 4 to 7 times.
Stair climbers will say the stairs are their happy place and for good reason. On the stairs, you push yourself. Any anger or frustration is fuel for climbing and if we are in a great space mentally, it’s fuel to push ourselves further! Everything is used on the stairs…..happy, sad, anger, frustration, contentment…every emotion is a reason to use those stairs.
Only when you begin stair climbing are you able to understand the satisfaction at the end of a stair training session and the sense of achievement when you complete a stair climb and look out at the city from the great height of the building with that all important medal hanging around your neck!
We often pose the question on social media “What is your stair climbing bucket list?’ Most will say Empire State Building, EiffelTower and Burj Khalifa but locally, people want to climb Eureka and Sydney Tower. All these buildings are unique as the stairwells vary in gradient, amount of stairs and age of building.
There are amongst us stair climbers who make it their mission to seek out stairwells. Most stairwells are not accessible but the few that are, there will be a stair climber training in there! So when we say, ‘ I’d love to climb those”, we seek out the doorway that leads to the stairs and if it opens, in we go!
We have a gradient measuring app on our phones and will check how steep the stairs are and what the depth of each step is. Yep……a little stair crazy we are!
Q. If someone is thinking about trying the sport, where would you recommend they start? Perhaps they're not ready to enter an event just yet, how would they dip their toes in?
The easiest way to start is simply do a few stairs each day. Our website, StairClimbing.com.au, has a geo map with accessible stairs throughout Australia. We continually add locations as we find them.
If you have stairs at home, climb them a few times a day. If you can, do 2 to five laps each time ( laps being up and down). If there is a stairwell you can use, start by doing as many floors as you can. That might be one or two floors to start with so, do one or two floors a few times a day. If you can do more floors and repeat, go for it!
Be prepared for DOMS especially if you are doing stairs up and down. We prefer to do stairs where there is a lift we can take down and then repeat. Descending stairs is particularly hard on the calves but you get used to it.
We also train in gyms using a step mill if available or use a treadmill on incline. Squats and lunges are a definite to strengthen quads and glutes.
Upper body exercises are also a recommended. As you get more involved the sport, you learn the techniques to become more efficient and one way is using the hand rail to take pressure off your legs.
Our website has training schedules for beginners, intermediate and advanced. We also have a range of step mill workouts to make your training more interesting and beneficial. Stair Climbing Australia is on Facebook and we are @stair_climbing_australia on Instagram.
You can also view footage of this years events by subscribing to our Youtube channel , SCA Stair Climbing Australia.
We are always happy to answer questions and look forward to having people become our partners in climb!