Date: April 2nd, 2019
About Shaina Savoy
Shaina Savoy is a 25-year-old climber living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I met Shaina a couple years ago when she started dating my friend, Jonathan Siegrist, and since then I’ve spent a good bit of time with her. In that time, I quickly recognized her finesse on social media (@shainasavoy) and asked her to manage the TrainingBeta Instagram account @trainingbeta.
She quickly helped us grow and engage our audience because she’s, well, engaging. She’s sweet, always up for an adventure, contemplative, fair, and a savage climber herself. People like to know what she’s up to, partly because she’s ascended the ranks as a climber very quickly. We all want to know what her secret is! And that’s why I interviewed her. Having watched her go from sending her first 12a to sending her first 13a six months later, I was impressed to say the least.
In this interview, we talk about how she had the courage to make such big goals for herself, how she managed to pull them off, how she trains, and some of the emotional struggles she’s faced around not feeling good enough in climbing. She’s pretty hard on herself, as so many of us are, and we dive in pretty deep about how she navigates self deprecating thoughts around climbing. This is particularly difficult when you’re constantly comparing yourself to your climbing partner, who happens to be one of the strongest climbers on Earth, so we talk about that too.
We also talk about her diet, which has evolved from vegan to pescatarian for health reasons. She discusses how difficult it was–and still is–for her to start eating fish, but why it’s been worth it.
Shaina Savoy Interview Details
- How she got so dang strong in only 3.5 years
- Her training schedule while she’s at home in Vegas
- How being on the road helped improve her climbing quickly
- How her body has changed since starting climbing and eating fish
- Her process of projecting routes outside
- Finger care tactics for trigger finger
- Tools for checking self-hatred/ego/entitlement in climbing
Shaina Savoy Links
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Do you want a well-laid-out, easy-to-follow training program that will get you stronger quickly? Here’s what we have to offer on TrainingBeta…
- Personal Training Online: www.trainingbeta.com/matt
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- For Route Climbers: Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities
- Finger Strength : www.trainingbeta.com/fingers
- All of our training programs: Training Programs Page
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Photo by @MikeHopkins of Shaina on Colloidal Impact 12b in Lake Louise, Canada
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 I want to remind you that the TrainingBeta podcast is an offshoot of the website trainingbeta.com which I created to have a space that’s completely dedicated to training for climbing.
Over there you’ll find training programs, blog posts that are done by trainers and climbers in our community, we have training videos, and I do nutrition consulting with people, specifically climbers, to optimize your diet to help you climb and recover better. Matt Pincus does online training with climbers all over the world and he will create individualized programs for people who are trying to reach a climbing goal.
You can find all of that at trainingbeta.com and you can find us on social media @trainingbeta and we also have a training forum on Facebook. It’s a community page and you can find that at trainingbeta.com/community.
On today’s episode I talked to Shaina Savoy, who’s a friend of mine. I met her a couple of years ago because she started dating my good friend, Jonathan Siegrist. We quickly became friends and also I asked her to be our Instagram manager for TrainingBeta because she’s really good at social media and I am not. She’s done a really good job over there putting up interesting things and keeping people psyched on training.
I wanted to talk with Shaina on the podcast not only to just showcase her as part of TrainingBeta but also because I’ve watched her grow as a climber really – a lot – over the last couple years. She started out climbing – I mean, when I first met her she had just done her first 12a and then in the same year she did her first 13a and went on to do many more of them. Her progression was really fast and I wanted to know how that happened.
We talk about how it was living on the road with Jonathan and climbing all the time and some of the emotional struggles that she had climbing with professional climbers all the time, which I understand, too, and how she deals with those emotional struggles and how maybe we all can do a little bit better with our sense of self-hatred sometimes and letting our egos get in the way and stuff like that. We had a nice conversation about that and we also talked about her diet because when I first met her she was full vegan. Now she’s pescatarian and she’s definitely noticed some differences in her health and her energy and her climbing because of it. We’ll talk about that and just her training in general.
Here’s Shaina Savoy. I hope you enjoy this interview and I’ll talk to you on the other side.
Neely Quinn: Welcome to show, Shaina. Thanks very much for talking to me today.
Shaina Savoy: Thank you for having me here, Neely.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. For anybody who doesn’t know who you are, can you tell us about yourself?
Shaina Savoy: Yes. My name is Shaina Savoy. I am from Atlanta, Georgia originally and I live in Las Vegas, Nevada now.
Neely Quinn: Cool. What brought you to Las Vegas?
Shaina Savoy: The climbing here, really. A lot of things have brought me to Las Vegas, actually. It’s an amazing place to be. The airport is pretty close – it’s about 20 minutes away from our home – Red Rock is about 15 minutes away, there’s a ton of limestone climbing, and just the city itself is really fun and weird and awesome.
Neely Quinn: Yes, having lived there myself a little bit I totally agree with all of those things.
Shaina Savoy: I just rode the roller coaster for the first time.
Neely Quinn: You did?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah. It was amazing.
Neely Quinn: Nice! When did you do that? I was just there last week.
Shaina Savoy: I rode it on Friday, I think.
Neely Quinn: I mean, I’ve never ridden it. Tell me about it.
Shaina Savoy: It was really scary and it was really fun. That’s all I know. That’s about it. It’s a roller coaster. They’re all about the same. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: Cool. So you started climbing in Atlanta?
Shaina Savoy: Yes.
Neely Quinn: Did you just start in the gym?
Shaina Savoy: I did. To give you background I started about 3-3.5 years ago. I originally was into backpacking and hiking and that sort of thing and I used to go to this place in North Carolina called Linville Gorge. There’s a bunch of multi-pitch there and I would see these people topping out at the top of the cliff where I would be camping and I thought it was the coolest, most extreme thing I’d ever seen. I was like, ‘I’m going to get a gym membership,’ and then one day I got a gym membership and I started climbing.
Neely Quinn: And then what?
Shaina Savoy: I probably climbed mostly in the gym in Atlanta for a year or year and a half. A year, I guess, and then I started having some outdoor climbing experiences and it just kind of took off from there.
Neely Quinn: And then?
Shaina Savoy: [laughs] And then what happened? A lot of things happened. Eventually I got really into – well, at first I thought I was really psyched to be this big wall climber and I still think that’s really cool and eventually maybe I’d like to do some big wall stuff, but I just got introduced to sport climbing outside. I came to Las Vegas for a month and I climbed some limestone here and I got really psyched and I sent my first 12a at that time and from there I got so overstoker and I just started sport climbing a bunch.
Neely Quinn: So you climbed your first 12a in the time I’ve known you, which – how long have we known each other? How long have you been with Jonathan?
Shaina Savoy: We’ve been together two years.
Neely Quinn: Oh my gosh. That’s a long time. So I met you two years ago-ish, when you started dating my good friend, Jonathan Siegrist, your boyfriend. I remember he was so psyched for you and you were so psyched when you climbed your first 12a. You had only been climbing for a year and a half at that point. That’s pretty amazing.
Shaina Savoy: Well, I guess so.
Neely Quinn: Part of the reason I wanted to talk to you is because you just flew through grades and over the last year and a half have climbed now a good handful of 5.13s.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, so after I climbed my first 12a I just got really excited and I just kept wanting to push my limits. I kept going on these climbing trips with Jonathan and I got a lot of experience climbing in different places and one day I jumped – I think this was at Ten Sleep – on Dances with Cows, actually. I did all of the moves and I got really excited and was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this grade was possible for me. I think if I train properly or correctly I can maybe climb this one day.’
Neely Quinn: And then the following summer you went out and did it but in that time you climbed a bunch of 13a’s all over the world, basically. Tell me about that – you do your first 12a, you realize that maybe 13a is possible for you, what happened in between there? What do you think changed for you or do you think you have just always had this gift/talent that just needed to blossom [laughs] given opportunities?
Shaina Savoy: I’m not 100% sure. I definitely worked for it.
Neely Quinn: I’m not saying that you didn’t. I didn’t mean to imply that at all.
Shaina Savoy: No, I didn’t mean it that way. I mean I spent a lot of my time bouldering indoors. When I first started climbing I probably bouldered maybe 75% of the time, I think, and so I think that gave me a lot of strength and power and once that built up over time and I started trying sport routes I was like, ‘Oh, I can do the moves on these hard sport routes.’ Eventually – I’m trying to think. I guess after I realized that it was possible I told Jonathan, “I want to climb 5.13 by the end of this year,” and that was in the summer. I was like, ‘I’m going to do it.’
We planned a trip to Siurana for that October. We planned a month-long trip and I was like, ‘I’m going to climb my first 5.13 here,’ and I ended up climbing two that month. That was pretty awesome.
Neely Quinn: Woah. That wasn’t even four months from – what happened? How did you do this? Everybody wants to know. What happened?
Shaina Savoy: I don’t know. [laughs] From then I just spent a lot of time training inside. I just got really focused. I was bouldering a lot and I was doing a lot of 4×4’s and that sort of deal. I was running a lot at that time and I was doing some core but otherwise I wasn’t hanging on a hangboard. I never touched a hangboard until maybe six months ago. I wasn’t using a hangboard and I wasn’t on a campus board, I wasn’t even really doing pull-ups or anything like that. Maybe here and there I would do pull-ups or some push-ups, just very simple exercises, but for the most part I was strictly climbing.
Eventually I started climbing routes more and more because my endurance is actually pretty bad as a boulderer. I really hate saying that I’m probably more of a boulderer at heart, I think physically, because I just love sport climbing and that’s all I want to do.
Neely Quinn: But physically you feel like you have more strength and power than endurance. Is that what you mean?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah. Jonathan would definitely agree.
Neely Quinn: So then how did you turn that into – I mean, obviously you have some endurance having sent some of these routes so how did you train that?
Shaina Savoy: I climbed routes in the gym a lot. I think in the month leading up to Spain I was trying to climb routes like 75% of the time and just boulder here and there. I think that helped me a lot but I also think just climbing outside on different terrain. I spent a lot of weekends traveling in between my work schedule to go climbing with Jonathan wherever he was at the time and that led me to a lot of different places. I’m really lucky in that sense that I got to go climb at so many different cool cliffs.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, like what kinds of places did you guys go to?
Shaina Savoy: We went to Rifle, I went to the Fins, I went out to Estes Park and bouldered there, I went to Utah. I just kind of went all over the West.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, you just fast-tracked your climbing trips. [laughs] In a short period of time you got to experience what for a lot of people would take years to do.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, for sure.
Neely Quinn: And you feel like climbing on all the different terrains helped you understand climbing better?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, it definitely helped with my confidence. Just being on the rock and making moves and just understanding where to go, basically.
Neely Quinn: So for somebody to say to themselves, “I just climbed my first 12a. I’m going to climb 13a by the end of the next six months,” that’s a really ambitious thing for anybody to say and I’m wondering if that’s just characteristic of you as a person?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah. I definitely get ahead of myself sometimes. Sometimes it works out for me but when I get really excited about something I tend to just want to totally dive into it completely and immerse myself in it in any way that I can.
Neely Quinn: Do you feel like there are any drawbacks to being that ambitious?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, sometimes. I hold a lot of expectations on myself and they don’t always pan out. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: And then what happens?
Shaina Savoy: And then you hate yourself a little bit for a minute but then you get over it and it’s okay.
Neely Quinn: I know that I’ve struggled a lot with that, especially in the past, like really really hating myself and getting mad and disappointed and ashamed and all of those things. Do you feel like you’ve changed in that regard? Are you being a little bit easier on yourself? Tell me about the evolution of that.
Shaina Savoy: I think that’s quite a lengthy question. I’ve had to actively work on that for a while now. I think being around Jonathan so much with him being a professional climber and hanging out with a ton of other professional climbers – for example this summer I went to the Fins. I was there with Jonathan, obviously, and Paige Claassen. Paige was there with Arjan and Melissa La Neve was there and Elin [spelling?]. I don’t know here last name. Oh, and Tara Kerzhner. They’re all 5.14 climbers and the hardest thing I had ever climbed was a 13a and they’re all amazing people. I’ve never been around these people and felt judged in any way for failing on anything. Everybody is really supportive but there’s definitely a sense of expectations that I hold on myself and I think that could be overwhelming sometimes.
I know I had a goal this summer while I was the Fins to climb my first 8a, a 13b. I did do it and I was really excited and that month I actually climbed three 13a’s and the 13b.
Neely Quinn: That’s awesome.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I was super psyched and it was an amazing trip for me. It was very fruitful but there were a lot of ups and downs where I was trying something and I was like, ‘Okay! I’m sending!’ and my foot would slip or I would make a stupid move and then I would fall. I would get so mad at myself because I just had this sense that I – what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s just an ego thing where I’m like, ‘I deserve to send this!’ and ‘I should be sending this! Why am I so weak? All of these people are climbing 5.14 and I’m just falling on this 13a and it’s totally ridiculous.’
I think for a while that really got to me over time because I got to Las Vegas and last year I decided to go traveling for about six months. I started traveling in June to the end of December, basically. I’m incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to do something like that and Jonathan and I just travelled around to all these amazing places and just climbed but it definitely gave me this totally unrealistic view of climbing and life in the world. I was like, ‘Oh, my life is climbing now.’ I was like, ‘Why am I not climbing harder? I’m doing this professional climbing thing.’ Then I was like, ‘Wait! I’m not a professional climber.’ [laughs]
Neely Quinn: That must be a little bit confusing because you’re enmeshed in this world where it is your life and you don’t have much else to do.
Shaina Savoy: And climbing means just as much to me as it does to Jonathan, you know? I mean obviously it’s his career so it’s a little different
Neely Quinn: But it seems like it does. You think about it as much, you talk about it as much, you do it as much so it’s like the same but not the same. So what happened? Do you want to become a professional climber?
Shaina Savoy: No, probably not. Not really, no.
Neely Quinn: Why not?
Shaina Savoy: I don’t know. Well, you already know this because I talk to you but I am really interested in nutrition so I’m pretty psyched on being a nutritional therapist.
Neely Quinn: When did you realize that? It seems like you had a lot of existential thoughts when you were on the road like, ‘What am I doing?’ I’m assuming these things came up.
Shaina Savoy: It was 100% like that and it was funny because I saved up my money to do it and I was like, ‘I’m young and I want to do this thing and this is the time to do it and I’m going to allow myself to do it and have fun and enjoy it. At the end of it I’m going to settle down again.’ It was really hard for me. It was really hard, actually. I know that sounds so ridiculous but for me it definitely made me feel like I was questioning my purpose in life a little bit because I was like, ‘I’m not a professional climber and this is all amazing but I’m not doing anything here that is enhancing my future in any way.’
Neely Quinn: Like your career future.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, totally. I had wanted to do nutrition for a long time so I think that solidified that. I was like, ‘I’m just going to go to school.’
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and now you’re applying to school.
Shaina Savoy: Yes.
Neely Quinn: And you’re doing that from a distance, right?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I’ll be doing everything online.
Neely Quinn: And you’ll end up being a nutrition therapist like I am?
Shaina Savoy: Yes.
Neely Quinn: Cool. Why is it so important to you? This is sort of a tangent but I’m just sort of curious. Why nutrition? I know why it was important to me but why you?
Shaina Savoy: I struggled with food in the past, like my relationship to food, I guess. I just realized that when I started climbing and when I started climbing harder, or when I started climbing in general, I realized my body needed different things nutritionally. When I started climbing harder I was like, ‘I’m not fueling my body and I can feel that I’m not fueling my body properly.’ I just think that I really love food and I love how it’s healed me in a lot of different aspects in my life and I think everybody deserves to feel that way.
Neely Quinn: That’s exactly how I feel, too.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Neely Quinn: It is! It’s magical when you discover it. ‘Oh my god! It’s this thing we do all the time and it can change my life!’
Shaina Savoy: Yes, and with any awesome new discovery you want to share it with people.
Neely Quinn: So what kind of changes did you make in your own diet to help you?
Shaina Savoy: I initially was a vegetarian for about eight years. I actually ate a vegetarian diet up until about a year ago and about a year ago was when I realized that I needed more protein in my body and I started eating a pescatarian diet. I started eating fish.
Neely Quinn: And you feel like that changed things for you?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I definitely feel a total difference in my energy levels and I still eat tofu and tempeh and things like that but too much of the soy makes me feel kind of sluggish and bloated and stuff and just not that great. I definitely feel like I have a lot more energy.
Neely Quinn: I think a lot of people go through this and they’re vegetarian and they think that they should eat meat. I encourage people to eat any kind of animal products because it’s so easy for us to use. A lot of times people have a real emotional response to eating it for the first time and even continuously. I know that you had some of that so I think that some of the audience would probably really appreciate how you’ve dealt with that.
Shaina Savoy: Man, I feel like it’s been a while. Emotionally, it was really weird and hard to start eating fish. The other thing is that I grew up eating – my parents are very steak-and-potatoes people so I grew up eating meat but we never ate fish. They never cooked fish for me so seafood/fish was a totally new world for me, actually. Maybe that sort of helped because I didn’t have any background eating it in the first place.
I think that I just told myself that this is going to be good for me and as long as I’m eating fish that are sustainably caught and sourced then I can feel a little bit better about eating fish.
Neely Quinn: You have issues with the actual killing of the animal, too, right?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I mean for sure. I stopped eating meat initially because I didn’t really like meat. My parents had to force-feed me meat because I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like the thought of eating flesh from an animal. I really loved animals and I think it really creeped me out over time so that’s kind of why I stopped. Then I got really into environmental science and I learned about impacts on our planet and that just kind of solidified those reasons not to eat it, I guess.
Neely Quinn: I feel we have similar histories. I went vegetarian when I was 12 and stopped when I was 23. How old are you now?
Shaina Savoy: I’m 25.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, so it’s similar timelines. I had to force myself to do it, too, and made sure that all the meats that I eat are as humanely raised and slaughtered and all of the things but it’s still a process and it takes time to get used to it. I just witnessed you eat your first raw fish last week, which is amazing.
Shaina Savoy: I know!
Neely Quinn: You crushed it.
Shaina Savoy: Thanks. You know, Jonathan had been trying to get me to eat raw fish for months. He’s always like, ‘Let’s go get sushi,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t really care for sushi because it’s just vegetables and rice because I’m not going to eat the raw fish.’ I don’t know. I just went there and a bunch of friends were there and Leici was there and she just started ordering me things. I was like, ‘I don’t know. I guess I can try it and if I don’t like I can just eat this edamame.’
Neely Quinn: Oh, I didn’t realize that’s what happened. She ordered for you and that’s why you had it. Now I get it.
Shaina Savoy: Obviously I was open to it or else I wouldn’t have eaten it so it was fine. I was like, ‘Well this is the time to do it, I guess.’
Neely Quinn: Totally. It’s evolution, right? For me the first thing I had was canned tuna. All I wanted was canned tuna and then it was sushi for the first time ever. Then it was pastured turkey and then I was like, ‘This shit is good.’ [laughs]
Shaina Savoy: [laughs] Dude, I actually tried to eat a piece of turkey. I don’t when it was. Maybe it was at Jonathan’s parents’ house? Sue, his mom, cooked turkey and I think I tried to take a bite of it and I put it in my mouth, just on my tongue and I barely bit it with my two front teeth. I pinched it and then I was like, ‘Nope!’ and I put it down.
Neely Quinn: Because it was gross?
Shaina Savoy: I don’t know. There was this weird mental barrier that I couldn’t get over.
Neely Quinn: I know what you mean. Do you see any – I think that some people wonder about this, too, like, ‘Well, if I eat more protein I’m going to bulk up.’ Do you see any differences in your physical body? Like, the outside?
Shaina Savoy: Not really, to be honest. I feel like I look a lot more muscular now but I have stayed pretty much within the same weight range. I don’t feel any bulkier than I did a year or two years ago.
Neely Quinn: You just feel better fueled and maybe your recovery is better?
Shaina Savoy: For sure, yeah.
Neely Quinn: Well that’s good. It’s good that you figured that out.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, definitely.
Neely Quinn: So I’m wondering about anything else you can tell me about traveling and climbing a lot with somebody who is as strong as Jonathan. How are you now with that? It seems like you went through a period where you were enmeshed in it and now you’re not so much. What is it like now?
Shaina Savoy: I totally had my existential crisis after all the traveling and I think that now we’re here in Vegas and I have a job and I’m working towards school and I think that gives my life a lot more purpose, so that helps a lot. I think that that’s probably what’s been best for me. This isn’t to say that climbing with Jonathan hasn’t been good for me at all. I mean, it’s been amazing. It’s brought me to so many cool places and opportunities and he’s an amazing partner and person to be with and he gives a good catch. [laughs]
I don’t know. It’s pretty cool. There are times where I’ve taken advantage of him being stronger than me in a sense where I’m like, ‘I really want to try this thing but I don’t know. The bolts are kind of far apart and I’m scared. Hey! Do you want to set up this top rope for me and hang the draws?’
Neely Quinn: It’s pretty convenient climbing with somebody who’s stronger than you in that way.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, but I do say that for the most part I don’t do that very often because I don’t want to take advantage of it.
Neely Quinn: You’re a pretty independent person it seems like.
What are your goals now for climbing?
Shaina Savoy: My goals now for climbing: right now I’m climbing at Mount Potosi, this cliff outside of Red Rock. I have a project there I’d like to do within the next month or so, hopefully. This spring I really want to climb at the Wailing Wall in Long Springs, Utah. Southwest Utah. I have a 13b that I’d really like to try there.
Neely Quinn: What are these routes? What’s at Potosi?
Shaina Savoy: This one is called Rising Sun. It’s just really short and bouldery and it has this really low-percentage move, basically at the end, that I keep falling on.
Neely Quinn: And it’s 13a.
Shaina Savoy: Yes.
Neely Quinn: Cool. Then what are you going to do at Wailing Wall?
Shaina Savoy: This route called Resurrection.
Neely Quinn: Oh yeah.
Shaina Savoy: You’ve done that one before.
Neely Quinn: Mmhmm.
Shaina Savoy: I have to get all the beta from you.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] It’s not like we use the same beta ever.
Shaina Savoy: Probably not. I know. I’m a totally different climber, I feel like.
Neely Quinn: But you’re not like, ‘Oh, I’ve climbed 13a now. I’m definitely going to climb 14a in the next six months.’
Shaina Savoy: No. I do have a greater goal for the summer. We are going to go back to the Fins and I would like to climb my first 13c there. I tried this route, actually. It’s called La Cabanita, I believe. I tried it when I was there this summer and I really liked it. I could do pretty much all the moves on it except for the one really heinous crux move. I couldn’t really figure it out but I didn’t really spend too much time on it. I only tried it like once and then moved on.
Neely Quinn: You know, that’s another thing that I feel like might have been a benefit to you of climbing with such an experienced climber. I think that a lot of people go out and they project things and they don’t know what they’re doing as far as how to project but you got to see a seriously methodical projector. What kinds of things have you learned about projecting that have helped you?
Shaina Savoy: I’ve learned a lot, actually. I’ve learned so much from Jonathan. We have the same projecting process almost. Not quite, but a lot of people don’t realize that even if – a lot of these hard routes that I do I will probably 50-hang it the first time I go up it. I think that discourages people a lot. They’re like, ‘There’s no way I can do this. I just took and dogged the entire way up this route,’ so they think it’s above their physical limit and I just don’t think that’s always true.
I also have a tiny bit of fear. I’m really bad about onsighting or just – I have this weird fear when I get on a route of: ‘I don’t know! Where do I go? What if I go over here and I just get totally screwed and I’m supposed to be 10 feet over that way?’ You know? That kind of hurts me sometimes in the long run but I get over that pretty quickly once I know the route.
What I’ve learned is that I’ll go up and 50-hang it and then afterward I will just kind of have a better idea of what the moves are like and what I need to do on the route and execute and where I need to clip and I’ll just start trying to make links. If there’s a crux that’s really hard I’ll go to the crux at the end of the day and I’ll spend time working the crux, basically, and I’ll do it five times in a row to make sure with muscle memory that I know what I’m doing and I know where my hand goes and my feet. I’ll put little ticks and I’ll brush all my holds. Then I think over time I just try to make small links that I’m excited about and you just try to go up and push yourself as much as you can.
Neely Quinn: How many times a day will you try a project?
Shaina Savoy: I’m kind of lazy, actually. I’ll probably try – it just depends on where I’m at in the projecting process, I think. If I’m spending a lot of time on the route in one go I’ll probably on get on it two or three times, most likely just two times. My skin wears out pretty quickly which is another issue. It also depends on if I’m going to climb the next day or if I’m going to rest and then climb again. If I’m going to rest the next day then I’ll definitely exhaust myself and I’ll climb on it as much as I can and then totally kick it the next day and be fully recovered to come back the next day after that.
If I’m not trying to learn anything else on the route and I’m ready to make strong links and potentially send a route I’ll probably try three times.
Neely Quinn: So when you were on the road just traveling, it’s not like you had a gym you were training in all the time. You must have figured out ways to keep yourself strong. What kinds of things did you do?
Shaina Savoy: [laughs] I just climbed outside.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Right? We want the magic bullet but basically you just did what you were talking about, right? Some days you exhausted yourself and some days you didn’t. It seems like the days that you exhausted yourself were your power endurance days and the days that you didn’t were your strength and power days.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, totally!
Neely Quinn: So you were training.
Shaina Savoy: [laughs] Yeah, kinda. I guess you could totally look at it that way. I think that it doesn’t take – if you’re climbing regularly outside and you’re pushing yourself, it’s not just going to go away. I don’t feel like it’s necessary for you to need to be hangboarding after every session, you know? Like I said, I didn’t even start hangboarding until a month ago. That’s because I’m really bad at open-handing and I just death crimp everything.
Neely Quinn: Well, you’re good at it.
Shaina Savoy: That’s just to help me with open-handed but otherwise it’s not – I haven’t done it in a couple weeks, to be honest, so it’s not super necessary. I just think that climbing outside a lot and I think people underestimate rest and recovery. I’d say I rest pretty hard. I wish I could be one of those people that goes into the gym every day of the week and could feel really good doing that but my skin will not allow it and my body just won’t allow it. I just don’t feel as good, you know?
Neely Quinn: Was that hard for you to compare yourself to Jonathan in that respect? I mean, he rests, too.
Shaina Savoy: No, not really. He rests a lot like I do, to be honest.
Neely Quinn: Oh, so it’s not like – so how many days a week are you resting?
Shaina Savoy: Let’s see, I work Monday-Thursday, basically a 9-5 but 8-4 or 5. Two of those days, after work I will go to the climbing gym. This week I’ll climb in the gym tomorrow and Thursday.
Neely Quinn: And that is a Tuesday and Thursday.
Shaina Savoy: Oops, sorry. I don’t know what day of the week it is, apparently.
Neely Quinn: No, no, I just want to clarify for the audience.
Shaina Savoy: So Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll climb. Ideally I like to leave a day in between but I’ll climb Tuesday, Wednesday, then rest Thursday then climb on my project Friday, rest Saturday, climb on my project Sunday.
Neely Quinn: Oh, because you have Fridays off.
Shaina Savoy: And the thing to factor in, too, is going up to Potosi is kind of a big day. It’s kind of a long hike.
Neely Quinn: So you like to have a rest day in between that. I think that so many people would love to have that schedule. I wish that the American work week was four days and not five. I feel like it’s ruining peoples’ lives. Weekend warrioring both days in a row is exhausting and you can hardly get anything done on Sundays so that’s really cool that you get to do that.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I’m definitely lucky.
Neely Quinn: Or, did you set it up like that? Were you like, ‘Hey…’
Shaina Savoy: I’m nannying so I think that nanny schedules can be pretty flexible, depending on who you’re nannying for, obviously. My last nanny gig was a Monday-Friday scenario but it was for 3-4 hours a day so I had so much time to do other things before I went into work because I’d work the afternoon. I could get all my grocery shopping done and whatnot or other work and training and that kind of stuff. This family just needed a Monday-Thursday deal.
Neely Quinn: It was probably pretty hard to pass up.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: That works out well. So, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, and then you have Monday to rest before your session on Tuesday. What do you usually do on Tuesday and Wednesday?
Shaina Savoy: I go into the gym and I boulder. I just boulder. Sometimes I do 4×4’s, other times we have a ramp that’s really long and they set really long routes on it and so I’ll try to do long boulder problems, or I’ll go Moon Board and try to have some limit sessions.
Neely Quinn: So you’re not doing any routes in the gym?
Shaina Savoy: I’m not and I probably should be, but I’m not.
Neely Quinn: Do you think that you should be?
Shaina Savoy: Jonathan tells me that I should be [laughs].
Neely Quinn: Why’s that?
Shaina Savoy: I ask him – so I want to climb this route at the Wailing Wall, this 13b. I asked him, “What should I do to prepare for this route?” and he was like, ‘You should go climb routes.’ I was like, ‘No, what should I do in the gym to get stronger?’ He’s like, ‘You don’t need to be stronger, you just need endurance.’
We’ve had this disagreement so many times where I’m just in total denial that I need to climb routes. I’m like, ‘Well, I could just do that later. I can just climb the route when I’m climbing the route. Why do I need to climb routes now?’
Neely Quinn: Is that just because you like bouldering more in the gym?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I think I prefer to boulder in the gym. I’m not going to lie – I love our gym. I’m not in love with our routes there.
Neely Quinn: Well yeah, I was just there climbing on the routes there and it is challenging.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, exactly. That’s the nicest way to put it. I just would prefer – then I have to find a partner and that’s kind of hard to do.
Neely Quinn: Well at the same time, Jonathan doesn’t climb routes in the gym.
Shaina Savoy: No, he doesn’t. Exactly. I see what he’s doing and I’m like, ‘That must be what I need to do.’ He’s like, ‘But we’re different people.’
Neely Quinn: But if you’re coming close to your projects it seems like what you’re doing must be sort of working.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I’d say so. Like I said, I’ve started incorporating some hangboarding and over the past year I started doing more simple exercises like pull-ups and push-ups and curls and rows and stuff like that to help me.
Neely Quinn: Do you think those have helped you?
Shaina Savoy: I think so. I told Jonathan a long time ago that I was really bad at underclings and so he was like, ‘Here. Do these exercises,’ and I was like, ‘Okay.’ I did a bunch of those exercises and then months later I was like, ‘Oh, I’m pretty good at underclings now.’
Neely Quinn: Yeah, he did the same thing to me on underclings.
Shaina Savoy: No way!
Neely Quinn: Yeah. I was trying Day One in Vegas and all of the clips are underclings and I couldn’t clip. Then he told me to do biceps curls and all of a sudden I could clip.
Shaina Savoy: Oh my god, same. It’s really funny because I was trying Confrontation at the time, at that same cliff. It has this really heinous undercling move.
Neely Quinn: That’s really funny and yeah, it works. That’s cool that it’s actually benefiting you.
So Tuesday you go bouldering and do you do strength exercises after that?
Shaina Savoy: No, Tuesday I will go in and I’ll just boulder. Because I’m climbing the next day I won’t go too hard so that I have enough energy for my next session tomorrow. I’ll basically go in the next day and do some bouldering and warming-up and after that session I will do some other things like the pull-ups and curls and stuff like that and maybe some open-hand hangboarding. Then I might do core or something.
Neely Quinn: And then you have only one day of rest between that and trying really hard on your project?
Shaina Savoy: Yes.
Neely Quinn: Do you ever consider not training during projecting time?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I do. The only reason I think I feel comfortable doing that at this point is because I know the route really well and what I need to do for it. Typically, I wouldn’t do that kind of stuff within a couple days of trying my project. Like, I would maybe prefer to do that tonight or tomorrow or something so I’d have a couple days of rest in between but it just didn’t work out with my schedule that way.
Neely Quinn: I mean, it’s all very nuanced, right? Depending on what stage you’re at in your project.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, for sure.
Neely Quinn: When you do hangboarding now I’m just curious – what are you doing and why?
Shaina Savoy: I’m just doing repeaters. I’m hanging open-handed for 7 seconds and then 3 seconds off. You do that for a minute. I do that 4-5 times.
Neely Quinn: With rest in between?
Shaina Savoy: With rest in between. I’ll rest 3 minutes in between sets, I think.
Neely Quinn: And you’re just doing open-hand? On what?
Shaina Savoy: [laughs] Probably the biggest edge I can open-hand and hang. I’m really bad at open-handed hangs.
Neely Quinn: Which hangboard?
Shaina Savoy: I’m using the Beastmaker.
Neely Quinn: The small one? Or the higher one?
Shaina Savoy: I think the higher one. It’s really bad. It’s kind of embarrassing.
Neely Quinn: It’s not bad. Open-hand hanging is hard. You feel like it’s helping? Or you only did it for a little bit?
Shaina Savoy: I did but I’ll start doing it again. I think it’s helped a lot, actually. When I’m climbing in the gym I’m definitely climbing things with my hands open more often and I kind of have to consciously remind myself to do it, but I have to remind myself less and less the more I do it, which is good.
Neely Quinn: That’s cool. It’s interesting. Very few people will hangboard doing open-hand. I usually don’t hear about that.
Shaina Savoy: Really? That’s so interesting.
Neely Quinn: Maybe not very few but what I hear of. What I’m saying is I think it’s cool that you’ve pinpointed this very specific weakness of yours and you’re actually working on it. That’s the whole point.
Shaina Savoy: I think so, too, and I think eventually I’ll have to incorporate some half crimps or – I don’t know what they’re called…
Neely Quinn: A full crimp?
Shaina Savoy: You know when you get the range of motion with a weight? I noticed at one point I had – I think it was this summer. It was right before I went to Ten Sleep with you and Leici and them. I was hangboarding a little bit before that trip and then when I went there I distinctly remember, and I remember because I was trying this boulder, too, up in Chaos. There’s this kind of big move to a right hand crimp and I would hit it open-handed and I wouldn’t be able to close my hand. That range of motion wasn’t there anymore. It didn’t exist. It was really weird.
Neely Quinn: So you’re going to work on that, like starting in an open-hand position and then getting into a crimp? Which can be a little dicey but you just have to be deliberate about how you do it. You would do it with a weight and not a hangboard? Or both?
Shaina Savoy: I think so. That’s what Jonathan has told me or showed me but that’s all I know for now. I’m not going to start doing that yet because I don’t want to injure myself.
Neely Quinn: That’s another thing. You have struggled with a couple finger injuries, right?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, just one. Before I started climbing I had this condition in my left middle finger called trigger finger, I believe. Basically, when I would close my hands and then raise my fingers again my middle finger would get stuck in this locked position. I would have to manually lift it and it would click. It was really gross. I was kind of young and I was like, ‘I don’t know. My finger just does this weird thing. Haha.’
Neely Quinn: How did that even happen?
Shaina Savoy: I think I jammed it really bad one day and I think it just started doing that eventually but I’m not 100% sure. I didn’t really think anything of it because it never hurt me and it was never debilitating in any way. It was just that my finger does this strange thing and it’s fine.
When I started climbing it went away. It stopped doing the weird locking and clicking thing and I was like, ‘Oh, climbing healed my finger. Cool. Guess I don’t have to worry about that ever again,’ and a year later I was climbing outside and I wasn’t really that warmed-up yet. I was warming up and it was this really strange day in Las Vegas where it was raining or it had been raining and I was climbing in a cave so it was really humid and kind of misty and weird. I crimped on this route, down at the bottom, and I felt something in my knuckle. Basically it kind of tingled. I was like, ‘Huh. That’s really weird. I think I’m going to stop climbing.’ So I stopped and it didn’t hurt after that. I didn’t feel any pain in it or anything, it was just kind of weak and kind of weird. It just kind of freaked me out enough to where I was like, ‘I’m not going to do anything now.’
I rested a couple days and it was okay and I could climb on it. Basically, at one point I just had a lot of fluid build up in the joint capsule and it’s mostly side-to-side motions, or one side in particular, that irritates it. It’s really weird things. I can fully climb on it and it doesn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t hurt.
Neely Quinn: But did it ever hurt you to climb?
Shaina Savoy: No, not really. It didn’t ever hurt to climb on it. I’m trying to think of what happened exactly when I really hurt it. It was when I was climbing this route in Utah and I was doing this big move to a left hand gaston so it was putting a lot of sideways body weight onto my one hand. I had been taping it because I was afraid it was weak and I was afraid of hurting it. I was taping this finger and one day I was trying this project and I came down and it was purple. It was black and purple and squishy. It was really weird. I was like, ‘Something’s wrong,’ so I started to take the tape off and it hurt to take the tape off because it was pulling my finger. I drove home and cried, basically. I got home and was like, ‘I ruined my finger,’ and it was kind of heinous but it went away within a week and then I was climbing again.
Neely Quinn: That’s weird. It seems like it’s really prone to getting out of alignment or something.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I never considered that. That could be totally…
Neely Quinn: Sometimes when my fingers get jammed or weird I’ll go to my chiropractor and he’ll actually crack my fingers in a weird way.
Shaina Savoy: That sounds so painful.
Neely Quinn: No, it’s not painful at all. Well, sometimes when it’s injured but whatever. It can help. I’m just wondering if that’s it because it seems like it’s kind of wonky.
Shaina Savoy: Maybe. I have no idea what’s going on with it. I should go and get an MRI and get somebody to look at it but I’m just so stubborn. It looks fine. It looks like a normal finger right now and I’ve been taking really good care of it. Basically, every night – I have a friend who is a physical therapist and he told me that he thinks it’s this condition called synovitis. I’m not going to explain it because I’m not a doctor.
Neely Quinn: It sounds like it’s the synovial fluid within the joint capsule? Inflammation of that?
Shaina Savoy: Exactly that. What I do now after I climb is, at night, I have this homeopathic muscle/joint care lotion that I put on it and I massage it with the ring for five minutes and that feels really good. I can tell that it’s doing a little bit for it because there are kind of sore spots that I have and I massage it out and it feels really good. Then, right before I go to bed I put this topical anti-inflammatory on that I don’t know if you can find in the US. Jonathan’s dad brought it home from Nepal.
Neely Quinn: What is it called? Do you know?
Shaina Savoy: Diclotol gel. It’s anti-inflammatory.
Neely Quinn: So you feel like that helps?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I feel like it helps a lot. I mean, my finger feels really, really good and I’m climbing really hard and it doesn’t feel irritated at all. It feels great.
Neely Quinn: And then you don’t have to take an internal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, exactly. I hate taking ibuprofen.
I do that and then on rest days I give it rest. I don’t mess with it at all, basically.
Neely Quinn: You don’t even put the stuff on it or do the ring?
Shaina Savoy: No, not really. I just don’t irritate it at all. I could probably put the anti-inflammatory on it at night still but it’s a precious resource right now.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Until he goes back to Nepal.
So that’s your finger care. Anything else you do for that?
Shaina Savoy: No, that’s about it. That’s all I do for that.
Neely Quinn: I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the Instagram account because people, I mean now they know who you are. If they look at our Instagram account, ever, it’s almost always Shaina who is posting. I guess I just wonder what your experience is like doing those posts for everybody. Do you enjoy it? What do you think about it?
Shaina Savoy: I love it. I love interacting with people and the climbing community. I think it’s really fun and I like to get people psyched and I like to give people information about things that they want information on like: ‘I need to do a core workout’ and then I post something in regards to a core workout and people are like, ‘Oh great! I needed this right now.’ I think that’s really cool.
Neely Quinn: It’s like you need the same things that they need so it’s like you’re posting the same things for yourself as for them.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, totally.
Neely Quinn: Well, I appreciate your work on Instagram. You do a much better job than I ever could so thank you for that. I’m sure everybody else appreciates you doing it and not me, too. I’d be like, ‘Here’s a workout. Do it. Bye. I have things to do.’ [laughs] You’re really careful and caring and you take time to do it and I appreciate that.
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, thank you.
Neely Quinn: Is there anything that we missed about your climbing or training or anything that you want to touch on?
Shaina Savoy: I feel like I had to and I still have to actively work on my relationship to routes sometimes and the difficulty of a route. Sometimes I just think climbing with Jonathan a lot, I guess we kind of went over it, but I have this sense of being like, ‘Oh, I’ve climbed 5.13 before and I should be able to do this thing. It’s 12c.’ You know? In that aspect I’ve had to have less of an ego and respect the route more.
Neely Quinn: I mean it’s easy to say, “Have less of an ego.” Are there certain things that you have to tell yourself or talk yourself through?
Shaina Savoy: I definitely just have to force myself to go into it with a more open mindset like it’s okay if I fail, it’s okay if I fall. It doesn’t mean that I suck and it doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. I can still do this thing, it just may not be right now and that’s okay. This route is really hard and this is hard for me and that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard or easy for Jonathan. It’s hard for me, personally, and do I even enjoy this route? What are the reasons I’m doing it? Is it for me or am I just doing this because I want to impress somebody?
Neely Quinn: Those are all very valid questions.
Shaina Savoy: Usually it’s all for me. I mean, it always is because I like to climb, but there’s that sense where if I’m not sending I tend to get almost embarrassed about it which is totally ridiculous.
Neely Quinn: Well, now you’re judging yourself for judging yourself. [laughs] It sounds like maybe you recognize those emotions a little bit more when you’re having them?
Shaina Savoy: Yeah, I do. I definitely do. I feel like in those moments instead of going down this negative, black hole, I’ll be like, ‘Say five really nice things about yourself right now.’
Neely Quinn: Ah, that’s great. That’s really good.
Shaina Savoy: I also have this really bad habit if I’m failing on something where I’ll come down and be like, ‘Oh, I suck,’ so not audibly saying those things out loud and just catching them before I say them. Being like, ‘That’s not true, you don’t suck. You’re just having a hard time on this route which is totally fine. It’s a hard route. It demands respect.’
Neely Quinn: Yeah. When you say respect for the route can you describe that a little bit more?
Shaina Savoy: I mean, climbing is hard. I think that sometimes because we’ve climbed a certain grade we just feel like we should send everything all the time, even if it’s a couple letter grades easier. I just think that sometimes we feel entitled to climb things that we think should be easy for us and the reality is that climbing is still really hard, no matter what grade it is. Not every route is the same and we all have different strengths and weaknesses and the routes definitely play to that.
Neely Quinn: It sounds like you’ve done a lot of work on that and got some good tools for yourself. I know how it feels. I feel like what I have done is when I’m climbing with Jonathan or Seth or Paige or any of the other people who are so much stronger than me, I kind of feel like they’re my parents in a way. I put myself on a completely different level from them so that I don’t even compare myself to them. I don’t ever compare myself to them. I’m like, ‘You’re something else. I am here.’
Shaina Savoy: Definitely. I think I’ve had to do the same exact thing and that’s helped me. With Jonathan I never feel a sense of competitiveness in that way I guess.
Neely Quinn: That’s good.
Shaina Savoy: There’s no way. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: I mean, who knows? Who knows what could happen? [laughs]
Shaina Savoy: His climbing resume is insane.
Neely Quinn: I think just hearing those words from you will probably resonate with a lot of people. Every climb is hard in it’s own way and we all have our own strengths and weaknesses.
Shaina Savoy: Definitely.
Neely Quinn: Well I really appreciate your wisdom and all of the wisdom that you have amassed in the last three and a half years. Really good job. Congratulations on your success. I think that what you’ve done is really commendable.
Shaina Savoy: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Neely Quinn: Well, thanks again and take care.
Shaina Savoy: Cool. Take care. Thank you.
Neely Quinn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Shaina Savoy. You can find her on Instagram @shainasavoy.
Coming up on the podcast I have Kyle Lindsay who is one of the other people who plateaued at 5.11 or 5.12 and then broke into 5.13. I’ve been really enjoying these conversations with people who came forward when I asked for suggestions for people who had done that, plateaued and then broken into 5.13 through training. He gives a really clear roadmap of what he did to get there which I thought was really interesting, however that won’t be coming out for a couple weeks probably because next week we leave for Spain. We’re going to this area near Malaga, Spain in the south of Spain and I’ll be there for a month. Hopefully I’ll be doing some interviews with Jonathan Siegrist while we’re there and maybe if I find some other super strong pro climbers there like how when we went to Norway I just so happened to be there at the time when Adam Ondra sent his 15d. Maybe something like that will happen again.
Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for new episodes. Until then, remember that we have training programs for you at trainingbeta.com and I am still taking new nutrition clients, even though I am going to be in Spain. Actually, Matt Pincus is going to be in Spain at the same time and he is also still taking new clients for online training. You can find all that at trainingbeta.com. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @trainingbeta and then also you can join our community page on Facebook all about training for climbing. There’s a lot of activity over there with over 6,000 members now, I think. You can find it at trainingbeta.com/community.
Thanks for listening all the way to the end. I’ll talk to you soon.