By: Julie Folk
Stair climbing is emerging as both a sport and a work out. The fitness benefits are unbelievable, and it’s amazing how much fun you can have on flights of stairs.
Folgering, the head of Stair Climbing Canada, invited me to try the stairs one nice weekend in February. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I knew it would be tough but wasn’t sure what the workout would be like or how long it would take me to tire out. Turns out, not too long. As Folgering describes it, stair climbing is an entirely different sort of training. It’s cardiovascular, but it’s also hugely beneficial for core and lower body strength training.
“Stair climbing is really an easy thing to do anywhere, anyplace, anytime, by anybody,” he said. “You can really push yourself as hard as you can. It’s a very natural movement of the body, so it’s a really safe and really efficient way of getting a great workout. The great thing about stair climbing is it burns so many calories you don’t have to do it very long to see great results.”
On this particular day we performed sets that included slow, technical stair climbing to learn and improve the movement, sets incorporating squats and strength work, and sprints. This is the type of workout the meet-up group – which meets three times a week at the Delta Hotel in downtown Regina – partakes in.
Glenn LaPointe is one member who has incorporated stair climbing into his workout routine. Almost six months ago, LaPointe decided he needed to turn his life around. He quit smoking and began exercising. In addition to gym workouts, he incorporated stair climbing, and has seen a significant improvement in his cardiovascular endurance as well as muscle strength.“It all started here,” he said. “Trevor got me into it. Once I started stair climbing, I’ve incorporated it at work where I always take the stairs, never the elevator. I sleep better at night. The wheeze (from smoking) is gone and my cardiovascular keeps increasing.”
There are those who stairclimb for fitness, and others who stair climb competitively. The sport began in the mid-1970s in other parts of the world, particularly the United States. People were climbing the stairs of buildings around the United States, including the Empire State Building in New York City. The sport grew in the 1980s and ’90s, and associations began organizing races, in particular to raise money for charities. The number of competitive stair climbing athletes continues to increase, and Folgering is hoping to grow the sport in Canada.
As the founder of the Canada Stair Climbing Association, Folgering began the association while he was living in Toronto. It was there he first climbed into the sport.
“In 2006 I was a personal trainer in downtown Toronto,” said Folgering. With the owners of the fitness center he was working at, they decided that to get in better shape they would climb the stairs of their apartment building.
“We went to our apartment building, climbed up and down the stairs, and I was hooked. It was phenomenal. It was the best workout I’ve ever had. I changed my training and focused more on stair climbing. I found out there were races at the CN Tower, and started training for them.”
In 2006, Folgering climbed the CN Tower stairs in 14 minutes and 49 seconds. Four years later, he climbed it in 11 minutes and 19 seconds. He was most recently the top Canadian and 29th overall at an unofficial world stair climb championship at the Empire State Building. He is continuing to grow the sport in Regina, and will be holding a few events to spread the word. On April 3rd, there will be stair climbs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Cornwall Center. Groups of five will climb the two sets of stairs in three- to five-minute intervals, with prizes going to the top three finishers.
There is another event that will be scheduled at the Delta Hotel later in the year, which will include all levels of stair climbers competing in various categories.
For anyone from competitive stair climbers to cross training athletes to fitness enthusiasts, stair climbing is greatly beneficial. It needs to be tried to truly understand what it’s all about. And as I can attest from just 30 minutes on a Saturday – it’s a leg and cardio workout like you’ve never had before.
For more information please visit www.stairclimbcanada.com