• meagan martin
TBP 104 :: How Meagan Martin Juggles Pro Climbing, Ninja Warrior, Modeling, and Coaching 2018-05-22T10:35:08+00:00

Project Description

Date: May 2nd, 2018

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About Meagan Martin

Meagan Martin probably needs no introduction seeing as how my grandmother knows who she is, but here we go.

Climbing

Meagan Martin is a professional climber who frequently competes at U.S. National events and World Cups in all disciplines, including bouldering, sport, speed, and deep water soloing. She recently came in 2nd at the Tuck Fest in North Carolina in their deep water solo competition (Kyra Condie got 1st place and Paige Claassen got 3rd). She was ranked 7th overall nationally for the 2017/2018 U.S. bouldering season. She’s also a great outdoor boulderer, having sent up to V12.

American Ninja Warrior

Meagan is also one of the best American Ninja Warriors, male or female. She’s known as the SheWolf (she’s part of the U.S. Wolfpack), and she’s considered to be the best female on the American Ninja Warrior circuit, having made it far into stage 1 of the National Finals (Midoriyama) two years in a row. Find out more on the Wolf Pack website.

Modeling

Meagan is also a model for one of my favorite athletic clothing companies: Athleta. If you get their catalog you’ll see photos of her here and there. Her current aspiration is to become an actress, and she’ll tell you about that in the interview.

Coaching

Meagan is ALSO (omg) a kids climbing coach at ABC Kids Climbing in Boulder. She’s worked with Robyn Erbesfield for quite a while coaching some of climbing’s best, including Brooke Raboutou.

I wanted to have Meagan on the show to talk about how she manages all of her roles and how she maintains her fitness, power, and strength with climbing when she’s busy doing so many other things.

Meagan Martin Interview Details

  • How the world cup in Switzerland was last month
  • How she preps for American Ninja Warrior
  • How she deals with nerves before comps and on ANW
  • How she got so powerful
  • How she feels about body image and diet
  • How she’s feeling the effects of travel and getting older

Meagan Martin Links 

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Transcript

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today we’re on episode 104 of the podcast and I’m talking with my friend Meagan Martin.

Meagan Martin is, I know that you’ve heard her name, an American Ninja Warrior. She’s one of the best ninja warriors, having made it far into stage one of the National Finals two years in a row on the show. She’s famous in that way but she’s also a really good rock climber, which lends itself to her abilities as a Ninja Warrior.

She competes in World Cups, she competes in Nationals, she competes in bouldering, sport, speed now, and deep water soloing. She just went to the Tuck Fest in North Carolina and got second place there at the deep water soloing comp. She is often on the podium. She was ranked seventh overall nationally for USA Climbing for 2017/2018 and she’s climbed up to V12 outside.

She’s got a really powerful style to her. She’s a really positive person. I love hanging out with her because she’s so positive and humble and funny and giggly and she’s just really fun.

I wanted to talk to her about what she’s been up to, how she juggles all of this stuff, and how she became so strong and powerful to begin with. I really hope that you enjoy this interview with Meagan Martin. I’ll talk to you on the other side.

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Meagan. Thanks very much for talking to me today.

Meagan Martin: Thanks for having me.

Neely Quinn: Tell me, if anybody doesn’t know who you are, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Meagan Martin: I am a professional climber, I’m 28 years old, I live in Boulder, Colorado currently. I also do that show American Ninja Warrior from time to time and I sports model and I coach at ABC.

Neely Quinn: That’s the most varied resume I’ve ever heard of.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I spend most of my time on an airplane.

Neely Quinn: So you do American Ninja Warrior, which I think a lot of people probably recognize you from. I want to talk about that but I also get my Athleta magazine, or catalogue, strictly so I can see you in it. I open it up and I’m like, ‘Where’s Meagan?’ [laughs] Then of course, we all love watching you compete at climbing.

Where do we begin? I want to talk about how you manage all of this stuff and how you stay so strong for all of these different things.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, it’s mostly juggling a lot. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I think it’s kinda hard. It’s nice because everything is kind of intertwined in a sense, like if I need to look good on a photo shoot I workout enough that I don’t have to worry about it. Climbing always keeps me strong so when it comes time to do the Ninja stuff at least I already have a base endurance level and strength level, I just have to practice my agility stuff a little bit. It can be – like right now, I don’t know the last time I’ve been on a real training cycle so I just feel like a chicken with my head cut off running from place to place, not ever really sure if I’m ready, so [laughs] sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad.

Neely Quinn: But not only do you do bouldering comps, you were just out at the – what was it called?

Meagan Martin: The Tuck Fest.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, the deep water soloing.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, after being back from Switzerland for like two days. That was really fun. I was not sure which time zone I was on.

That one’s nice, too, because there’s no clipping involved so it’s almost like a long boulder because you don’t ever have to pause to clip, which is nice. I feel like sometimes that can be difficult when it comes to sport climbing. I was like, ‘I don’t know the last time I’ve done more than 10 moves so this will be really interesting.’ I think it was rope Nationals but I wasn’t very prepared for that, either, this year, so I was like, ‘I hope this goes well.’

Neely Quinn: How did it go?

Meagan Martin: Good. I got second.

Neely Quinn: You got second?

Meagan Martin: [laughs] I’m happy with that for sure.

Neely Quinn: Okay, let’s talk about that. You haven’t clipped – I mean, when is the last time you did routes at all?

Meagan Martin: I think rope Nationals. Was that the beginning of April or the end of March or something? I don’t know.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so it’s been like a month. In the meantime, what have you been doing? How did you possibly – how long was that wall, actually?

Meagan Martin: It was only 45 feet and I think they set to about 40 feet, so it was a pretty good size. It was actually interesting because it did have a lot of moves on it. Like, the Psicocomp usually – that wall is taller but I feel like there’s a lot of bigger moves whereas this was more technical, which was interesting to be racing on a technical route. It’s a little different. I was definitely pumped every time.

You know the Pusher ‘Boss’ hold? That was the finish hold, which is kind of aggressive.

Neely Quinn: Makes it really exciting for some people.

How would you say that you did so well? How did you do that? Tell me what your secret is.

Meagan Martin: I think that, for that competition in particular, because bouldering nowadays is a little bit more power endurancy versus just power, and sport climbing is becoming more power endurance based as well, I think they transfer a little better than they used to. Having just done a qualifier at a World Cup and having to be on five boulders keeps me in better shape than I realize. Still, I think it’s hard to avoid the flash pump and you can only do it so many times. My recovery might not be as good but I knew that I could do the moves as long as I could stay calm and get to the top of the route. On all my races I thought I’d be okay to make it into the last bracket with Kyra, who I figured was gonna win because it’s so her thing.

I actually, when we got out of the pool before our last race, the water was so cold and I was so pumped and so tired I was like, ‘Can we be done? Can we just say Kyra won because she’s gonna win anyway? Do we have to go again? Is it necessary?’

Neely Quinn: Then she won.

Meagan Martin: I started the climb and the right side was a little more wet. I had been climbing on the left side the whole time because the higher seed goes on the left side, but since she had the highest seed then I was on the right side for the last race. I started slipping at the beginning and she lost me at that point already. I was just trying to catch up and then I got to the jug and I could have kept going but I was like, ‘I’m just going to wait for her to finish. I don’t want to do those last crimpy moves again. I think I’ll just wait and celebrate her winning from the jug.’ [laughs] So then I was like, ‘Okay cool, we’re done. Yay!’

Neely Quinn: Yay! Time to be warm!

Meagan Martin: Yeah. It was so cold.

Neely Quinn: I mean, it’s pretty awesome. I think that you’re a pretty speedy climber as well. Obviously Kyra is like a lightning bolt but that’s one of your strengths in bouldering and in Ninja, too.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I do have the fast-twitch muscles, which sometimes come in handy like qualifier number one at bouldering Nationals this year. I finished it in the last 10 seconds so every now and then you have to be able to climb a little speedy when you need to, which can be stressful sometimes.

Neely Quinn: Did you compete in speed?

Meagan Martin: My gosh, I did! For the first time ever! I learned the route a week before and I practiced one time on the 15-meter, one time on a 10-meter, and one time on a 5-meter [laughs] and then competed and I got 14th in speed. Fourteenth or 15th, something like that.

Neely Quinn: Nice work.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I was really excited. I think my time was like 13-something and my second run was going to be way faster and then I fell, but I was really excited.

Neely Quinn: I mean, is that something that you’re going to keep doing?

Meagan Martin: Well I haven’t yet but I ideally would. I want to if I can. I would like to do all three disciplines at World Championships this year so I applied for everything. If I get to do that then yeah, for sure I’ll definitely keep doing it.

It is actually really fun. You do it and then you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to get my time down,’ and you just keep doing it, which is pretty cool. It definitely takes a lot of practice so going into that having just learned it was kind of funny. I was happy that I still did okay.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, you did great.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I was excited.

Neely Quinn: How did sport Nationals go for you?

Meagan Martin: Oh my goodness. [laughs] It was not the best. It was pretty funny, actually. This was the hardest I think it has ever been to get into semifinals at sport Nationals, which was interesting.

On my first route I kind of made a silly mistake. I do this this thing sometimes where I know the beta because we see people do it beforehand for the flash format and then I get up there and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this instead.’ I did something like that and had to clip kind of awkwardly and then threw my foot up and it slipped before I was going to the next move, so I fell a little lower than I should have on that route so then the next route became super important.

They gave us a slab, which was terrifying. I actually climbed really well on it, which was good, and then I made it so semis. Then we all previewed the semifinal route and we all had these ideas of what we were going to do at the beginning and I get on the wall and all of a sudden, what I was going to do or what I had talked about with some of my friends did not feel right. I still kind of stuck to it and I clipped off a bad crimp, kinda lost control of what’s going on, and there was this one move at the beginning that was kind of cruxy and everyone kind of fumbled it a bit. Only me and one other girl actually fell there. I fell and I was so embarrassed because it was at the third clip. I was like, ‘Okay? And is there somewhere I can hide now?’

Neely Quinn: Aw.

Meagan Martin: It was kind of funny but eh, it’s okay. It happens but it was definitely not the best. It was kind of bad because the rest of the route looked so fun and really powerful, so I was kind of bummed that I just freaked out and messed up. It happens.

Neely Quinn: It’s okay.

Meagan Martin: It was fun. I got to commentate finals a little bit which was really fun.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I heard that went really well.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, it did. I was excited that people liked it because I would really love to commentate the Olympics so I was really excited that people were psyched. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I think that your experience being a competitive climber and in front of a camera all of the time really lends itself well to that.

Meagan Martin: Right? I think it’s a pretty good match. It would be fun to get to do more of that but it is hard because if you’re competing then how do you get to do it?

Neely Quinn: You’re like, ‘Wait, wait, hold on a sec. I’ve got to go climb.’

Meagan Martin: Right? I can’t be like, ‘Hey guys, can I please commentate at this competition?’ Then I make finals and I’m like, ‘Just kidding! I can’t do it.’ [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that could be an issue. You’ll just have to retire.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, which I probably will in a couple years anyway because I’m getting old.

Neely Quinn: Okay, tell me about that.

Meagan Martin: Well, I mean just that I don’t think I’ll do comps for more than a couple years, just because it’s a lot and I think it’s hard when you’re older and you’re competing against people that are much younger and they’re always fresher. It’s just hard to keep up, I think. There’s so much else that’s going on and your body is – I’ve noticed my body is starting to fall apart a little bit. That’s a little bit difficult, I think, to deal with.

Neely Quinn: What do you mean?

Meagan Martin: It takes me a lot longer to warm-up these days. I feel like I get dehydrated really easily. Things are just always hurting and just not working the way that you want them to work sometimes.

Neely Quinn: Do you feel like that stuff affected you in the comps that you just recently did?

Meagan Martin: I mean, yes and no. I think it does a little bit but with adrenaline and stuff it kind of goes away. It’s just I feel really drained a lot and I have a hard time recovering sometimes. I think just in the last couple of years, just getting older, I think it’s hard when other people are still teenagers and don’t really have these issues. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: And they’re not trying to juggle like six different jobs across the world.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, and also pay bills and feed themself and take care of everything. My room was a legitimate mess for a month and a half because I hadn’t been home and it was a disaster. There were always open suitcases and clothes everywhere because I would come back and leave, come back and leave, and it’s just hard to manage the little stuff at home. I don’t know the last time I cooked a meal.

Neely Quinn: Really?

Meagan Martin: Yeah. I’m just not home long enough. I don’t buy groceries and it’s just easier to go pick food up because it’s just easier. It’d be nice to have my mom hanging out and doing things for me. That’s all I have to say. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Yeah, have her there to clean your room for you.

Meagan Martin: How nice would that be? Do your laundry and make your breakfast. I really miss those days and everybody deserves those days. I’m just past them so it’s hard.

Neely Quinn: Jetlag itself must be really difficult.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, and also there aren’t that many girls that are competing. Alex and I are constantly the oldest people – not people, the oldest women that are competing at these competitions often, so it’s not like there’s a bunch of us. It’s the two of us, really.

Neely Quinn: That’s so crazy that 27 is old.

Meagan Martin: 28.

Neely Quinn: You’re 28?

Meagan Martin: Yeah. She’ll be 29 in August and I’ll be 29 in September.

Neely Quinn: Oh yeah, you’re 28. You told me that in the beginning.

Meagan Martin: It’s okay. Angie really doesn’t compete that much anymore, Emily random did Open Nationals and she was like, ‘I don’t know how you guys do this all the time.’ I look at people like Kyra and I feel like I’ve been competing with her for the last few years and she’s only 21. I forget all the time. I’m like, ‘Oh, you must be 24 at least,’ or something and she’s like, ‘No. 21.’ She’s young.

Neely Quinn: I know. She’s still young enough where she can train three days on, one day off.

Meagan Martin: I do that still. I just had three days on and I feel terrible today. I woke up this morning and everything hurts so bad right now.

Neely Quinn: What do you think about that? Do you think it warrants a change?

Meagan Martin: In the competitions?

Neely Quinn: No, for you. Like in your training schedule.

Meagan Martin: Oh. See, I think because I’m gone so much I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m here for seven days. I need to make sure I do train,’ because I don’t always get to. So yes, I would say that, but I would have to be here long enough in order to change my schedule.

Neely Quinn: Or have a schedule.

Meagan Martin: Or have a schedule, yeah. I don’t have any normal schedule. It’s all just all over the place all of the time.

Neely Quinn: Girl…

Meagan Martin: July is a pretty free month, currently, so I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’ll be good for you.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, to relax a little.

Neely Quinn: Can you tell me a little about what happened in Switzerland when you were just there?

Meagan Martin: What was really cool, actually, kind of crazy and cool was that there were 100 women competing and only 95 men. I think this is the first time there’s been more women than men, so it was kind of insane.

I didn’t have a terrible round. I didn’t have an amazing round. I personally did not enjoy the boulders I got, as far as the women representing the US, two of us were on the same side. I was on the same side as Lisa Chulich and then the rest of the women were on the other side so we didn’t have any of the same boulders, just Lisa and I did. I thought our boulders were not the most fun ones that I’d ever done.

They were the – well, I misread the first one so that’s my fault, but the second one was just not fun at all, and then our third boulder had a cool jump but the rest of the boulder was like a V4 so it seemed kind of like a waste. Then, our fourth boulder was actually pretty cool, it was just really hard, and our fifth one was really hard, too, since no one actually did it. When I got down and looked at the other side of boulders I was like, ‘Oh, those look like a lot more fun.’ They actually all got done so that was – it’s always a good experience but World Cups are so hit or miss. It was interesting.

I don’t really like to complain about the setting because I know that setting is kind of the hardest job when it comes to climbing, because someone is always going to complain. I definitely would never want to do that job. I think it’s very difficult to make everybody happy and to create something that flows. It’s very hard but it was interesting because a lot of people were publicly complaining about the setting so I felt a little bad for the setters. Even just in the later rounds, too.

What was interesting, too, is that because of the way they’re doing the live streaming now they do the women first and then the men. For finals, the women’s’ boulders were really easy so it came down to flashing, so that it could start in time for the men’s’ boulders to start actually at 8:00 or whatever it was. The mens’ round was definitely really exciting to watch, more than the womens’, because it was like, ‘Oh, everyone just has to flash these boulders in order to win.’ Meh. Hopefully they get better with that. I don’t know.

Neely Quinn: So how do you feel about your performance? Can I ask you about how you prepared for it?

Meagan Martin: Yeah, so I would say prior to the competition, I was at an event in Memphis, actually, and I flew straight from that to Switzerland. In the weeks before I had just been climbing as much as possible. I go to CATS, usually on Tuesday nights, if I’m in town. Chris Danielson makes up rounds for us to practice so that we practice onsighting. We only get three tries on each boulder, just to practice being efficient and whatnot.

I think the biggest mistake I made, too, going to the competition was because I was at this other event, it was a brand new gym and I climbed for two days on brand new holds so I came to the competition with very thin, terrible skin. They used all Cheeta holds at the competition so I was having problems with my skin sweating and then bleeding by the end of the round. That’s just not ideal but that’s kind of my fault, too. It is definitely my fault. I should have been a little more conscious about that but I have an issue, too, when I go to a new gym I just want to climb everything. Lesson learned. [laughs]

When they give you all those holds and they’re so textured, you really need to be able to squeeze everything. It doesn’t help if your skin is thin. I talked to Leah Crane and she was like, ‘Oh, I took a full week off before this competition.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that might have been a good idea. That was smart. Okay, noted.’

Neely Quinn: What do you think about that? What do you think about taking a whole week off before a comp?

Meagan Martin: I said that to somebody recently and they were like, ‘What? That’s so long?’ I was like, ‘Is it, though?’ I used to think a day or two felt like – a day felt good but two days felt like too much but now I’m like, ‘Oh, a few days and I actually feel great after that,’ so I could see myself doing a whole week because that comes back to just being older and actually maybe needing all those days to recover.

Even four years ago I’d be like, ‘Oh, two days off before a comp? That makes me feel weird. I feel like that’s too many days.’ But now I’m like, ‘Yeah, two, three, four days – that’d be great.’

Neely Quinn: That’s so interesting how it’s shifted so, kind of, rapidly for you.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, and maybe it does have to do with just being kind of run down and moving so much and doing other things, too, but I do just notice that rest actually feels better than I used to think it did.

Neely Quinn: So you have July coming up where you’re going to just chill but in the foreseeable future is there any time where you’re going to be able to have a regular schedule and routines?

Meagan Martin: Hopefully. I should have – nothing before July because I have a really heinous travel schedule until then. Actually, I should have a couple weeks here between the 6th and the 17th, hopefully, which will be nice. Then hopefully the fall. I don’t know, though. It depends on when all the comp schedules come out and what’s going on with everything else. I get random calls like, ‘Oh, are you free this date? Okay, we need to do this.’

Neely Quinn: You can’t really make plans.

Meagan Martin: I mean I do, but when I make plans – my one thing is always when I get called to do a photo shoot, I might have to bail. That’s usually the only thing I’m going to bail for because I need to make money. [laughs] Definitely not turning that down, plus it is really fun, which is great.

Hopefully the fall will be kind of chill. I’m planning on moving, though, to LA so that’s going to be interesting, too.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Tell me about that.

Meagan Martin: Well, I’ve always wanted to be an actress so I figure that I need to start making some real steps towards that so I’m going to move to LA when my lease is up and try to get into a little more of that stuff.

Neely Quinn: I mean, that’s exciting.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I’m really excited. It’s always been a goal/dream of mine. Most people who know me know I’m constantly singing and dancing and being weird and quoting movies. You probably don’t want to watch a movie with me, actually, if it’s one that I know really well because I have a hard time not saying all the lines.

Neely Quinn: And of all the people I know, you really don’t mind being in the limelight, which I think a lot of people hate.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, it doesn’t really bother me. Being in front of a camera really doesn’t bother me at all. I definitely feel really comfortable in front of a camera. The only time I feel uncomfortable in front of people is if I have to talk to people about what I think or if I have a speech that I wrote or a presentation that I created, then I’m nervous. But if you gave me your presentation I’d feel fine. I just don’t want to have to do my own stuff. That’s scary.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I guess that’s the epitome or definition of an actress.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, doing what other have prepared/performing what other people have prepared.

Neely Quinn: I mean, while you’re trying to become an actress in LA are you going to stop competing?

Meagan Martin: No. I still want to, for the next two years, compete so I’ll try to do both. I’ll just continue juggling. Isn’t it funny? I don’t actually know how to juggle in real life, though. The actual act.

Neely Quinn: I think you should definitely take up that hobby as one more thing to put on yourself.

Meagan Martin: One more thing to add to the list. I started taking hip hop classes. If you ever want to come, Wednesdays at noon.

Neely Quinn: I’m terrible at hip hop and I have gone to those classes.

Meagan Martin: Shannon goes, Shannon Foresman. I got Angie to go to one. She’s never coming again. [laughs]

Neely Quinn:  I could see that.

Meagan Martin: She was like, ‘I literally don’t ever want to come again.’ I still invite her. Oh well.

Neely Quinn: I would love to talk a little bit more about American Ninja Warrior because that’s coming up soon, right?

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I actually had a nightmare last night. It was great. They’ve been filming since the beginning of March, I think, and the premier is May 30th. I compete the 25th and 26th in Minneapolis.

Neely Quinn: Of May.

Meagan Martin: Yes. I went and practiced Ninja stuff on Monday of this week and yesterday. Before that it had been a month ago. [laughs] Actually, this week felt really good. I was surprised that I felt as good as I did since I haven’t been able to do any of that stuff.

Neely Quinn: Where do you go for that?

Meagan Martin: I go to a couple places. There’s this guy named Bart Copeland who owns a concrete business in Denver and at his office, underneath the office, he has this whole Ninja setup that is sometimes borderline sketchy but whatever. I feel like I always come back with a scrape or a bruise but it’s fine. It’s great because it’s in Denver. It’s not that far. Then there’s a gym in Castlerock that I go to called Ninja Intensity. That’s an hour away so it’s quite a commitment to go.

Neely Quinn: I thought there were places in Boulder.

Meagan Martin: Apex used to be right in Boulder next to the Sportiva office but then Sportiva bought that building so now they’re in Louisville. They’re more of like a parkour gym. They don’t actually have so many obstacles so I haven’t been to the new one yet because it just seems like – if it was right here I would probably go more but since it’s still in Louisville – I know that’s still not that far away but it’s far enough away and it doesn’t have everything that makes sense to be working on. I just go to these other places instead.

Neely Quinn: How do they know what obstacles? Like, how do you guys know which obstacles to practice? Do they tell you anything in advance?

Meagan Martin: No. The way it works is there are certain obstacles that are supposed to be on every qualifier course. You can always expect to get a warped wall in the qualifier, you can always expect to have the steps at the beginning which, in recent years, they’ve changed the steps a little but it’s the same kind of thing, then you know you’re going to get a balance obstacle so people just practice different balance obstacles. You know that in the city final there will be the salmon ladder, and then everything else is who knows?

People will build obstacles that they’ve seen in previous years, people will come up with their own obstacles, and you just try to mimic what would be on the course. You would do some sort of agility thing first and then a semi-upper body or coordination thing next, and then a balance obstacle, then upper body, upper body, warped wall, then three upper body obstacles, then I don’t know. Just based off what you’ve seen before. You just try to kind of practice that and when we’re making stuff up, it’s always you’re trying to make it a lot harder than what you would get. Really, what you’re getting isn’t always the most difficult, it’s just can you do it in the middle of the night and when you’re nervous and if there’s rain? All that other stuff.

The courses that are made up that we do are too ridiculous for that to be on the show. They wouldn’t get enough people to finish, I think.

Neely Quinn: What kinds of things are you practicing right now?

Meagan Martin: When I go to that guy Bart’s house, he has mostly upper body stuff so I’ll just do all the stuff that he has there. I’ll make sure I do the salmon ladder and the cliff hanger and the floating pegboard and slackline. They came up with this new thing the other day. It’s so sketchy. It has this long metal bar halfway on the slackline, halfway on the ground, and you had to walk on it and then there was a little long, metal pole with things on the end and you had to kind of pole vault jump. You’d jump on it. It was so sketchy.

You would jump on the bar that’s on the slackline a little while you’re holding onto the pole vault thing and then fling yourself to a bed. So sketchy. [laughs] I did it and I was like, ‘Huh! Okay.’ I was a little nervous because it’s really far away so we did stuff like that.

I feel like whenever someone makes something up and I’m like, ‘Uhh,’ as long as I feel that feeling I’m like, ‘Okay, I should probably do this because when I look at the course and I feel that way I know I’m going to have to just do it anyway.’

Neely Quinn: If you feel intense fear?

Meagan Martin: Uneasy and scared, yeah. Sometimes I actually – there’s been a couple times where I’ve been actually terrified that I’m going to hurt myself. You just kind of ignore it. Sometimes I do hurt myself. I ate it about a month ago. I ate it so hard. I fully fell on gravel and had these bruises on the side of my leg. It was really bad. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I mean, how do you – okay. There are a lot of people, including me, in this world who would be faced with those obstacles and be like, ‘No. Not a chance.’ Why do you think you’re able to be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll try that?’

Meagan Martin: I don’t know. I think I’m more afraid of being on the show and being scared and not going for something so then if I just do it in practice, I feel like I’ll be more used to just going for it so that it’s not an issue when I’m on the show. I’m just competitive. There are certain things on American Ninja Warrior that I want to do that I haven’t done so I’m competitive with myself to do better. I’m just trying to prepare myself to be able to do better, I guess.

Neely Quinn: Do you have specific goals that you want to reach this year?

Meagan Martin: Yeah, I would like to finish the qualifier and the city final and then this is where it always gets tricky and I say, “I want to finish stage one,” but then I want to finish stage two, and then I guess I really want to finish stage three, but then I really don’t want to do that rope climb so it’s kind of funny. [laughs] I should really just say I want to finish stage four, too, even though I really just don’t want to climb that rope.

Neely Quinn: What do you mean? Why?

Meagan Martin: Stage four is the rope climb and then you win all the money and everything. I don’t like – it’s just nauseating. You’re going to feel sick, it’s not going to feel fun, I don’t know. Climbing up a rope as fast as you can and it’s really tall? That sounds terrible to me. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: That’s so funny. Of all the obstacles, that’s the one you hate the most?

Meagan Martin: That’s the one I just don’t want to do. It’s like last year, they did this for the special, which I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say but I’m just going to say it anyway because it will air at some point. They did this giant spider climb and they put eight of us girls in it or something. I was like, ‘I don’t really want to do this. This is like conditioning. I’m going to feel so sick at the top of this tower.’ It’s a 50-foot spider climb and I did feel sick every time. I thought I was going to throw up and I thought, ‘This is awful. I don’t want to be doing this. This is not fun at all. Can’t we swing to something? Or jump around?’ I just don’t like conditioning.

Neely Quinn: That’s so interesting. How is that different from doing the deep water soloing you just did?

Meagan Martin: It’s kind of not and I was over it at the end. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this round.’ I was like, ‘I don’t feel great anymore. I think I’m done.’

Neely Quinn: Yeah. You’re more of a power athlete than an endurance athlete.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, but I’m still competitive so I’m going to end up trying it, I just don’t want to do it. I’m just waiting for it to be done.

Neely Quinn: I feel like part of your try-hard must come from – you were a gymnast when you were a kid.

Meagan Martin: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: How long did you do that?

Meagan Martin: Basically since I could walk until I was 10, so nine years or something. I walked at nine months.

Neely Quinn: Nice.

Meagan Martin: The whole beginning of my life. My mom was a coach so I was in the gym from the very beginning. We didn’t go to daycare or anything. We just went to the gymnastics gym with her.

Neely Quinn: I feel like that’s funny. My mom was a waitress and I just went to the bar with her.

Meagan Martin: Daycare is expensive. I get it.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it is. I always am jealous of former gymnasts because I feel like you’re taught how to just take risks and go for it because you have a spotter there and they’re probably going to catch you, at least in the beginning. Do you feel like that helped you with climbing and with Ninja?

Meagan Martin: I would say yes, probably, except the funny thing is I quit gymnastics because I developed a huge fear of tumbling backwards. I dealt with it for an entire year and a half, I think, of me trying to practice and not doing my skills at practice because I was so terrified. Then going to the meet and somehow doing them but it was just emotionally too much to deal with because I was terrified out of nowhere. I had to change so many things. I had to still do a back handspring on beam but instead of a flight series that went backwards I did aerial, aerial, and then I had two front tumbling passes and one backwards tumbling pass on floor because I just couldn’t do it.

In a sense, yes, because I had to deal with that, but I’ve never felt that same kind of fear. I feel like with climbing I don’t feel like I feel that fear at all. Ever, I guess. Maybe highballs a little bit but you have no choice but to go up at that point so I think it’s safer to keep going. With Ninja, at least on the course on the show, I haven’t really felt that kind of fear.

Neely Quinn: Do you feel like the audience bolsters you?

Meagan Martin: I feel like yeah. I like to have an audience though I don’t really notice the audience. I notice the people that I know and I can hear them and I think that’s helpful, even with climbing, too. I can hear certain voices and stuff.

I think I like the audience in climbing a little more, [laughs] actually, because sometimes that’s fun. Especially in finals at a climbing competition because that’s the main event so it’s fun to have the audience and interact with them. On Ninja Warrior you don’t really interact with the audience as much. I guess I do a little bit during the qualifiers and city final. After each obstacle I do a little but in Vegas you really can’t because there’s a clock so you’re kind of focused on not running out of time.

Neely Quinn: Oh yeah.

Meagan Martin: But in the qualifiers and city finals, between each obstacle I wave to the crowd because I’m weird.

Neely Quinn: That’s part of why they love you. You’re so friendly.

Meagan Martin: I put my hand out like, ‘Hey!’ Just thinking about it, who does that? But yeah. [laughs]

I also think it’s weird traveling and stuff because people will recognize me from the tv show and every now and then from climbing, which I think is pretty cool sometimes. I talk to a lot of strangers on a regular basis but then it’s weird because I still talk to people in the elevator. I just weirdly talk to strangers. I don’t know why. Every time I do it I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m my dad. Stop! What are you doing?’

Neely Quinn: I think that’s what makes you so likeable. You’re just so outgoing.

Meagan Martin: Thanks. It can be weird though, sometimes. I jump into people’s cars. [laughs] It’s so bad. I was waiting for a flight the other day and this guy and this girl were talking and the dude was like, ‘Ugh, you have the worse seat. 1A? You’re in the very front.’ I turned around and was like, ‘Actually this is the best one. If you’re shorter you can put your feet up.’

Neely Quinn: They were like, ‘Uh, thanks?’

Meagan Martin: ‘Why is this girl talking to us? Why was she listening to our conversation?’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is so embarrassing. I need to stop.’ I have a problem. It’s okay, though.

Neely Quinn: When you’re traveling this much by yourself you’ve got to talk to somebody.

Meagan Martin: That’s true, and it’s better to do that than talk to yourself which I also do sometimes.

Neely Quinn: Don’t do that on an airplane.

Meagan Martin: I’m strange.

Neely Quinn: It’s okay. I have some more questions for you about training and stuff. One of them is: you’re a pretty powerful person in general. Obviously this has been beneficial for you in probably gymnastics and then obviously in bouldering and then in Ninja. How do you think you got so powerful?

Meagan Martin: That is a really good question. I’m guessing I was always powerful from the beginning with gymnastics. I’ve always had a lot of upper body strength so then when I started climbing I was already pretty strong and I think my climbing style developed into a powerful style because I was strong and I didn’t know how to use my feet or have any sort of technique, so I just accidentally became powerful because I was already strong.

In the long run, it’s kind of detrimental to your technical development. I had to work on that so much the last four or five years or whatever. I guess that would be it. Just from being strong already and figuring out that I could get up the wall by jumping to something or going dynamically – a little more dynamic than static to a move and knowing that I could hold on and stuff. When people do set powerful boulders I’m psyched if there’s a campus move, which is interesting because I don’t actually campus ever. I just think from all the years when I just campused on boulders because I didn’t know how to keep my feet on I just was able to be good at campusing and stuff on boulders. I don’t ever do a campus board workout.

Neely Quinn: Is that something you would consider doing? Or is it something that you just feel like is not necessary?

Meagan Martin: I don’t know. I want to say yes because I watch other people doing them sometimes on Instagram and I’m like, ‘Oh, should I be doing that? Would that make me stronger?’ And then I’m like, ‘Meh. I’d rather just be climbing.’

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Meagan Martin: It goes back to my not wanting to condition thing. I have an issue.

Neely Quinn: That’s so interesting. Have you ever used a hangboard?

Meagan Martin: I mean I have before. I just don’t on a normal basis by any means.

Neely Quinn: Have you ever lifted weights?

Meagan Martin: In college I had to for track but after my freshman year I gained so much muscle I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not doing this anymore,’ so I used to walk around the weight room and pretend to lift and just do pull-ups and leg lifts and stuff like that because I got too heavy.

Neely Quinn: Really? How did that happen? What were you doing?

Meagan Martin:  I put on so much because our conditioning coach was also the men’s’ basketball conditioning coach. What he had us do I don’t think was 100% beneficial for a pole vaulter. I gained so much muscle because I put on muscle fast and we were doing like Olympic lifting. Benching and jerks and cleans and squatting and all that stuff.

Neely Quinn: Like high reps?

Meagan Martin: Yeah, usually. It depended on the week. We’d have max stuff that we had to do at times. It just really threw off my timing in my jumping so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not doing this anymore.’

Neely Quinn: Oh, because you had so much more weight on you.

Meagan Martin: Yeah. I’m already heavier than – not that I’m fat or anything, I just have a lot of muscle so I weigh a lot. To add more to that, it just wasn’t transferring well so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not doing this. I’m just going to do body weight stuff,’ and then if he asked me to do something I could still do it to show him that I could. I could already bench more than everybody so it didn’t matter but I don’t lift any weights now.

I do Orangetheory, that cardio class, and there’s light weight stuff in there and TRX stuff. I haven’t even done a class in a month because I haven’t been here. [laughs] That’s more because I just need to be better with cardio in general. I hate running so I need to be in a group environment in order to do it.

Neely Quinn: Right. Yeah. Do it so you don’t get nauseous on the spider climbs.

Meagan Martin: Exactly, even though I think I will always get nauseous.

Neely Quinn: Can we talk about your feelings on – so, this is sort of a touchy subject but it’s kind of been coming up in the podcast and it’s something I want to touch on a lot. In climbing, a lot of people think that the smaller you are, like the skinner you are or leaner, the better you’re going to climb. Can you tell me your thoughts on that?

Meagan Martin: I think that it is definitely true in a sense. I think that, obviously, the lighter you are the longer you can hold on, the easier it is to hold on to smaller holds and even if you’re doing dynamic movement, if you’re flying out on a small hold you can pull it back in easier because there’s nothing really taking you out.

I do think there’s some truth to that but I do think it’s annoying. [laughs] I think it kind of sucks because I think that everyone should choose to be healthy rather than choose to be unhealthy in order to do something physical.

It stinks that that is what people think but what stinks more is the fact that you see results. You will do better for a while until all of a sudden you can’t do anything anymore, right? Because you don’t have enough nutrients to continue to perform. It kind of sucks. I already outweigh everybody by like 20 pounds anyway so if I lost 20 pounds, which would be a lot for me, I would still be heavier so there’s no point in doing that. [laughs] I’d be really grumpy so that wouldn’t be fun either, for anybody. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have a different body type than a lot of people, especially in climbing, and it does help in certain things like being powerful so that’s cool. Just having leg muscles to stand up and push and whatever.

I mean legs in general – it’s crazy. So many climbers don’t even have leg muscles. Guys and girls. When I jump to something and fly out there it’s so much pulling me that I have to be able to bring it back in, so I have to keep my core very strong I guess.

Neely Quinn: How do you do that?

Meagan Martin: I think just climbing a lot helps because your core is always engaged. Your body gets used to dealing with weight. I think it’s good for people to recognize if you have a different body type you’ll never look like someone else. It’s just impossible, you know?

I am shorter and stockier, I guess. I don’t have long limbs and it’s just my legs are never going to be tiny. That would never happen unless I was dying, and that wouldn’t be good. You just have to come to terms and work with what you’ve got, I think. It would be cool if more people did that but I don’t know.

Neely Quinn: It’s really good to hear this from you. I think a lot of people need to hear this.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, because everybody is built differently. You can’t just – it’s crazy because someone was saying this to me the other day. A very good climber was telling me that specifically coaches that she knew were telling the kids that they needed to lose weight. Well, not even kids but these other students. They needed to be lighter in order to perform better. The fact that anyone ever tells somebody that is insane. That’s ridiculous. You can also just get stronger.

Neely Quinn: Novel concept.

Meagan Martin: Right? I just think that’s crazy but people do that in gymnastics all the time, too. There are so many gymnastics coaches that are like, ‘You need to lose weight.’ I think to tell anybody that they need to lose weight is insane because it’s such a slippery slope.

Neely Quinn: Did anybody ever tell you that?

Meagan Martin: Surprisingly no, [laughs] which is really lucky. My mom, being a gymnastics coach, she was always very conscious about that and there were certain colleges that she wouldn’t suggest kids go to because she knew that that’s how the programs were run. She really paid attention to that kind of stuff. She’s never ever told me or my sisters that we needed to be on a diet or lose weight. She was always trying to get us to eat healthy and she wouldn’t buy us bad cereal, which was always annoying, but I felt like I grew up with a very good body image. It was positive body image feelings, I guess, and my feelings toward food are very healthy.

My dad always says that as long as you’re enjoying what you’re eating it sticks to you less and I just think that is a great way to think about things. ‘I’m going to eat this yummy steak today and it’s going to be great and I love it and I’m happy.’ But it’s true because stress causes weight gain, so if you’re stressed about what you’re eating it does make sense. I’m always happy when I’m eating or drinking things, I guess. [laughs]

That was the other thing. I think I drink a glass of wine almost every night, which is good for you. Red wine is so good for your heart. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s great. What else do you eat? People are probably curious. What is your diet?

Meagan Martin: I really like to have greens in every meal if I can. That’s the one thing I try to do. I try to add spinach or kale to everything. I really like eggs but I try to just have a balanced amount of carbs, fat, protein, and greens in every meal. Sometimes I eat fast food. It’s not very good for you.

Neely Quinn: Where in the world?

Meagan Martin: In Boulder. I’ve been to the McDonald’s in Boulder a few times. [laughs] I have a huge sweet tooth and I love dessert. I’m pretty sure I eat it everyday. I’m fine with that. I feel like I workout so much it doesn’t matter.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Meagan Martin: I don’t know. I feel happier.

Neely Quinn: Have you ever tried to restrict?

Meagan Martin: No.

Neely Quinn: Good for you.

Meagan Martin: I don’t think I could do it. [laughs] Also, I think that if I did I would just want everything I was telling myself I couldn’t have and then it would backfire. I think it would be hard.

Also, one thing that I do that I think not everybody thinks about is when I’m full, I just stop eating. I think it’s easy to be like, ‘Oh, I’ll just take one more bite,’ but if you’re full you should just stop. I’ve gotten pretty good at that.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s more of a skill than people think.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, because especially if you’re looking at your plate and you’re like, ‘There’s barely anything left,’ that one bite is going to put me over the edge and make me feel sick so it’s better just to stop. If you just take that moment and feel like, ‘Oh, I’m full,’ and stop and then you let it last for five minutes, then you’ll really realize that you are full. Stop eating for a second. I think that that’s definitely helpful. I don’t really overeat.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s huge. That’s one of the ways I lost weight after I gained my freshman 30. I was like, ‘I’m just gonna stop eating when I’m full.’

Meagan Martin: It’s such a basic concept but people don’t do it. They just keep going. There’s this idea that we need to make sure that we eat all of our food, right?

Neely Quinn: Right, because there are starving children in Africa.

Meagan Martin: Exactly, but you can also have leftovers or you can give your food to the homeless after dinner.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, totally. I have a question about your fueling for American Ninja Warrior because I have a client who’s training for it. I told you about him. When you compete it’s in the middle of the night, right?

Meagan Martin: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: How do you do that? Do you just stay up all day and all night and eat through the night?

Meagan Martin: You mean the night of?

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Meagan Martin: I try to sleep in that day as much as I can and then I try to have, around 4 or 5, a pretty big meal. It depends on what time. You have two different call times. It’s either 6pm or 12am so it would depend on my call time. If it was 12am I would have a pretty big meal and then probably try to have another one around 11 or 12 because if your call time is 12 you’re probably not going to go until 3 or 4 in the morning.

Usually that would entail pasta. I like to go with pasta when I’m trying to have something that fills me up, then I bring snacks. Lots of snacks. They’ll feed you at midnight if you haven’t run yet, or if you have even, but it’s a sandwich. It’s not amazing so I bring PowerBars.

I really love PowerBars. I know most people don’t like the actual PowerBar. I don’t know why I think they’re so good. It’s me and the Rabatous. We’re the only ones that like them. I don’t understand but they’re so good. I love them. I know energy bars have progressed so much in the years but I just love PowerBars.

I like green peppers so I’ll bring those and lots of water. I just try to make sure I eat enough because you’re nervous, too, so sometimes it’s hard to eat when you’re nervous. I just try to make sure I have enough fuel and that I’m drinking enough water and that I’m not warming up too soon.

It’s kind of tricky and it changes every time so you never know. When I competed in Indianapolis two years ago we had three rain delays. I had a 6pm call time so I should have gone around 10 or 11 and instead I went at 4 in the morning. I was just trying to deal with everything and just trying to stay calm and whatever.

Neely Quinn: Why do they do that? Is it just because it’s dark?

Meagan Martin: Why do they do it at night?

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Meagan Martin: It definitely looks cooler at night because then they can have all the lights, plus continuity-wise it’s easier because you don’t have the different levels of the sun coming in. That’s why. With something like a rain delay they can’t do anything about that. Ideally, they don’t want it to be raining and it just kind of sucked and everyone just had to deal with it.

Neely Quinn: Did you sleep before your 4am call?

Meagan Martin: I was on set from 6pm to 5 or 6am or something but I would sleep at times.

Last year was weird. When I got to set – because they do a walk-through at the beginning where they have someone demonstrate each obstacle and you have to raise your hand to say that you understand what’s going on for the camera. You understand the rules and what they just showed you and whatever. During that time, I began to get a migraine. I was like, ‘Oh my god. No.’ I took two Excedrin and then went to sleep for an hour or two then didn’t have a migraine anymore.

If you’re going to go later and they don’t start till dark, you can time it to where if you need to sleep you can sleep a bit. You just have to make sure you have blankets and some people bring hammocks and crash pads and stuff. It’s weird. You’re just kind of zombie-ing through the night trying to figure out how to stay rested and fueled and hydrated.

Neely Quinn: It’s different than any sport. I don’t know of any other sport where they compete in the middle of the night.

Meagan Martin: Yeah, it’s definitely different. That’s when I feel the best about going back to climbing competitions. I’m like, ‘This is so nice! It’s daytime, we have a running order, I have five minutes on a boulder, there’s no camera, this is so fun and chill.’

Neely Quinn: I have one last question for you and it’s about nerves because you say that you get nervous but you don’t ever seem nervous when you’re competing. Can you talk about how you deal with nerves?

Meagan Martin: Yeah. I definitely get nervous. It’s the worst a week or so before whatever I’m doing. Once I get to where I am I feel a little bit better but I have nightmares. I get really scared of it sometimes. I think the day of competitions I still am nervous. My stomach will hurt a little bit and I’ll have butterflies but always once I start, I feel a little better.

On Ninja Warrior, I’m still pretty nervous when I walk up the steps and before they do the countdown clock or whatever I’m still pretty nervous, but once I start going and once I’m through the first obstacle I feel a lot better, although there’s always another obstacle later that I’m really worried about. I’m just trying to get through the ones until I get to that one and once I’m through that one I feel amazing.

For climbing, once I turn around and look at the first boulder I think I feel better. It’s like the fear of the unknown is what gets me but once I can see what’s going on I feel a little bit better. Then adrenaline takes over and you just attack. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: So you’re not really nervous once you see the first boulder.

Meagan Martin: No. I hope I turn around and it’s something I like and I can figure out but I’m more nervous of not knowing what I’m about to get than I am once I turn around. I’m in go mode. I’m solving the puzzle. I’m ready to try and I hope it all works out in one try. When it doesn’t then I’m like – I guess I can get a little nervous.

Back to that first boulder at bouldering Nationals this year. There was this move to this corner and I kept falling on it. Every time I would just get back up and I would keep trying because I knew I needed to do the boulder. I finally stuck the move and I had only 40 seconds to finish the rest of the boulder so I had to pull it together, but I was definitely nervous I was going to run out of time or I was going to slip or something but I just kind of kept moving. That can be kind of stressful.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Meagan Martin: A last-minute send. It’s still better than not sending so you’re still psyched. You’re like, ‘Okay good. That was stressful but it’s okay. It’s fine.’ I think especially with bouldering, after every boulder just letting it go and moving onto the next one and hoping it’s going to suit you better or you’re going to figure it out faster or you’ll enjoy it more.

Neely Quinn: Keeping an optimistic outlook.

Meagan Martin: Yeah. Nothing is ever over until it’s over so you’ve just got to stay in it until it’s actually over. Then I think that’s when you get the best results.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and I think that pretty much sums you up right there.

Meagan Martin: Positively.

Neely Quinn: That’s great. It’s been really awesome talking to you. I think you’ve given us a really good overview of how you prepare for things physically and how you prepare for things mentally and I think that a lot of people will be psyched to just get to know you a little bit better, so thank you.

Meagan Martin: No problem. Everyone is going to realize that half the time I’m just winging it. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Well, good luck. Well, I’ll see you tonight at the Front but good luck at Ninja and everything else.

Meagan Martin: I’m excited. Thank you.

Neely Quinn: I hope that we get to see you acting in movies. That would be amazing.

Meagan Martin: Me too. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Neely Quinn: Well thanks, Meagan.

Meagan Martin: Thanks, Neely.

Neely Quinn: Alright. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Meagan Martin. You can find her on Instagram @meaganmartin89 and in the show notes for this episode I’m going to put a bunch of links to videos to her and websites that she’s on so that you can learn more about her if you’re interested.

Coming up on the podcast I actually have nobody. I have nobody scheduled for an interview except for Esther Smith in a few weeks but until then I’m out of interviews. I am doing a call for recommendations from you guys. I want you to tell me who you want to hear from. Email me at neely@trainingbeta.com. Please let me know who you want to hear from and I will reach out to them if they seem like a good candidate and hopefully do an interview with them.

Other than that, I guess just know that if you want help with your training we have really structured, fun training plans for boulderers, for route climbers, for people who just want to train finger strength or power endurance or whatever it is that you want to train. You can go to www.trainingbeta.com and at the top there’s a tab called ‘Training Programs’ and you’ll find everything in there.

We really, really appreciate your support so thanks for listening all the way to the end and I hope to hear from you. Again, my email is neely@trainingbeta.com. Please let me know who you want to hear from. Talk to you soon.

[music]

TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. Check out our blog, our interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, our rock climbing training programs, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.


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