5 reasons to start rock climbing

rock climbing
Rock climber Sierra Blair-Coyle aims high; photo courtesy of Blair-Coyle

If you can’t find Sierra Blair-Coyle, you might try checking the tub. “My sanctuary is my bath,” she explains of her hiding spot. “I read in a book once that you can’t do homework, clean, or deal with problems in a bathtub. So I just read for fun and forget about everything else.” And if the Arizona native’s bathroom sentiment sounds cliché for a college student, rest assured she’s got enough on her plate to warrant a little rest and relaxation: at just 19 years old, Blair-Coyle is one of the most focused professional climbers on the competitive circuit. After becoming the youngest climber to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, the U.S. Bouldering Team member nabbed two national championships as a junior, a first place at last year’s Kunckledragger’s Ball bouldering competition, and a sixth place finish at the 2013 Portland Boulder Rally. Oh, and she’s also a student with a full scholarship to Arizona State University. Here, we caught up with Blair-Coyle between training and homework to talk motivation, her super-food obsession, and five reasons why everyone should try rock climbing.

For me, winning a competition feels like a true accomplishment. It makes me feel like my hard work has paid off and that I climbed to the best of my abilities.

I made rock climbing my career because I am absolutely in love with climbing. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not excited to hop on the wall at night. I am incredibly lucky that my passion is also my job.

When I feel like I just don’t want to climb I head into the gym anyway and meet up with my friends. I have a rule that I can’t wuss out of my workout until I’ve done my entire warm-up. After my warm-up I am always psyched and feeling ready to climb.

The scariest part about rock climbing is the mid-air moment where you feel like you are totally going to eat it!

rock climbing
Sierra Blair-Coyle, 19, aims high; photo by ESG Photography

My best tactic for staying calm under pressure is to count backwards from 10. It helps to concentrate on something else in a high pressure or stressful situation.

The gnarliest injury I’ve ever gotten from rock climbing was a bulging, torn, and herniated disc in my lower back. We still don’t know how it happened, but it was painful and changed my perspective on climbing. My injury really taught me how to appreciate the days when I was feeling good.

My biggest inspirations are my parents. I hope to be as amazing as they are one day!

The thing that still scares me is a mono pocket. I’m always scared of hurting my fingers!

My fave post-climbing meal is a roasted vegetable salad with chicken.

My go-to deodorant is Jason’s Purifying Tea Tree.

My latest health obsession is Vitamineral Greens. I have them every day and I feel like my skin glows from them.

My New Year’s resolution is to be able to do a one-arm pull-up. I am nowhere near close to being able to do one, but I have a whole year to figure it out.

For me, I hope life after rock climbing involves more climbing. I am always going to be climbing no matter what.

rock climbing
Rock climber Sierra Blair-Coyle bouldering; photo courtesy of Blair-Coyle

Five reasons everyone should try rock climbing:

1. Climbing is a unique workout. There is always a different challenge to be conquered and new friends to be made.

2. You will have fun. Rock climbing is a big social scene at bouldering gyms these days. You’ll see 50-plus people in a gym on any given night, climbing together, hanging out, and then grabbing a bite to eat afterwards.

3. There isn’t any feeling quite like conquering a route or a climbing problem. Reaching the top is amazing. If you climb, you can reach the top on a daily basis!

4. Climbing is a complete body workout. There isn’t an inch of your body that won’t be toned.

5. Climbing burns 500 to 700 calories an hour. If you are looking for a fun way to burn calories, climbing is your go-to activity.

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