Date: June 12th, 2019
About Sierra Blair-Coyle
Sierra Blair-Coyle is a well-known 25-year-old professional competitive climber from Arizona. She’s been doing well in national and world cup-level comps for well over a decade, and she’s one of the few females from the United States who consistently travels to World Cup events. Some of her recent standout achievements in climbing include the following:
- Team USA (2010-2018)
- 2018 PanAmerican Bouldering Champion
- 1st 2018 Mesa Rim ProAM
- 10th 2018 IFSC World Cup Hachioji
- 10th 2018 Open Bouldering Nationals
- 10th 2017 Open Bouldering Nationals
Sierra is also known for her other career as a model and social media influencer. She has over 165k followers on Instagram and 386k followers on Facebook, where she posts positive shots and videos about her life as a professional athlete.
I wanted to talk with Sierra about what it’s like training for comp-style boulders, and we ended up discussing her training program in detail, as well as her impressive home gym set-up. She told me all about her strength training–and how her mom is her strength coach, as well as how she practices for comp-style boulders, and what her campus and hangboard sessions look like.
I also wanted to know what it’s like being as “famous” as she is in the climbing community and beyond. I imagined she’s gotten a lot of attention, both positive and negative, from her followers and other people online. We talked about the type of attention she appreciates, the kind of attention she absolutely doesn’t want from people, and some ground rules she’d like her fans to follow when sending her messages (wink, wink… she doesn’t like DP’s, guys).
I also asked her how she felt about the article that Andrew Bisharat wrote about her, called “Athlete or Model: What Is Sierra Blair-Coyle?” We talked about how the article and the ensuing negative comments hurt her quite a bit, but how she came out stronger on the other side of it.
We also talked about her diet (which is surprisingly similar to my own), and how she stays lean while still fueling her intense training and competition schedule.
Sierra Blair-Coyle Interview Details
- Her typical weekly training schedule
- How she practices comp-style boulders
- The details of her campus, hangboard, and strength sessions
- How she trains weaknesses
- How her online persona compares with her real life
- A typical day for her in Arizona
- Her sick home gym set-up
- Her diet
Training Programs for You
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
- For Boulderers: Bouldering Training Program for boulderers of all abilities
- 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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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 a site that I created called trainingbeta.com. It’s all about training for climbing and over there we have regular blog posts, we have climbing training programs for all different levels and all types of climbing. We have nutrition coaching with myself – I’m a nutritionist – and we also have online personal training with Matt Pincus. You can go to trainingbeta.com and find out more about all of those services and hopefully one or more of them will make you a better climber.
Thanks for joining me today for episode 127 of the podcast. I have a little update on myself before I get going here on this episode with Sierra Blair-Coyle.
I wrote an article recently on TrainingBeta all about training for short climbers because I’m pretty short myself. I’m about 5’, maybe 5’1” on a good day, and I have a -1 wingspan. I’ve had to deal with that my whole climbing career, obviously, and I’ve kind of evolved a bit with it. I wrote an article about it because I’ve recently started to have a better attitude about being a short climber and I’ve also trained a lot to try to compensate for being short. It’s starting to work. I’m starting to see results. Over the past few years, really, I’ve seen results so I wrote out what I do in my climbing training and how I train lock-offs, how I train fingers, how I train wide strength, and all the other things that I think are really helpful. If you go to trainingbeta.com and you search ‘short climbers’ it should come up. It’s a recent one on the blog.
On that note, I did actually send something that I never thought I would send because I’m short. It was this climb in the Flatirons called Ultrasaurus and it has this big, blind sort of throw to a pocket around a corner. The first time I got on it a decade ago or something I was like, ‘This is impossible.’ It was coincidental that I wrote that article and then one day later I sent it.
Yesterday I went out and got on this other climb that I had dubbed ‘impossible,’ also about eight years ago, and I went back up to it and did the move that I thought was impossible and one-hung. I’m only sharing this with you because it’s totally possible to get over being short and to train around it. Hopefully that article will help you.
I’ve been super psyched on climbing outside near Boulder lately. There’s a lot of fun gems here that I didn’t really know existed. So, that’s me.
Now I’ll move on to today’s guest who is Sierra Blair-Coyle. You’ve probably heard of Sierra because she’s a pretty well known comp climber. She also has a really strong social media following on Instagram and on Facebook. Overall, I think on both platforms she has over 500,000 followers. She’s a pro athlete and mostly a comp climber, and she’s a model, and I would call her a social media influencer or content creator. Both of those things help her make her living.
I wanted to talk to her about a) how she trains for climbing at comps. World Cup and National level comp climbing is really specific now. The boulders have evolved into this really gymnastic type of thing and so I wanted to know how she trains. She went into detail about her training program, which I really appreciated.
Then, I also wanted to know about how she deals with negativity online. As an athlete/model it’s sort of this intersection that isn’t common in climbing. It’s common in other sports, for sure, but not in climbing so she’s gotten a bit of negativity about that. We talk about how that has influenced her life and how she’s gotten through that.
At the end we talk about her diet because I always ask people about their diet if there’s time. She goes into detail about that, which was super cool to hear, too, because she’s very lean, very fit, and she also obviously fuels herself really well.
That is my long introduction to this interview with SBC, as she’s known. I’ll let her take it from here. Here’s Sierra Blair-Coyle and I’ll talk to you on the other side.
Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Sierra. Thanks very much for talking with me today.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Hey. Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. For anybody who doesn’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, absolutely. My name is Sierra Blair-Coyle and I’m a professional rock climber from Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been climbing since I was eight years old and I’ll have been climbing for almost 17 years this upcoming September. I’ve also been competing for almost 17 years. I had my first competition two weeks after I started climbing and I’ve been a professional climber for probably the past 10 or 11 years. Since graduating university, my job is just to climb full time and it’s awesome.
Neely Quinn: Wow. You have that dialed, don’t you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: [laughs] I’ve had to do a few intros.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Right? That’s amazing. That was the most succinct intro I’ve ever gotten.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thanks.
Neely Quinn: Those are a lot of the questions I was going to ask you, like when did you start climbing, when did you start competing, and all of that. It sounds like you got into competing really soon after climbing.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it was kind of crazy. I didn’t do a ton of sports before climbing but I’d mainly been in gymnastics and two weeks after I joined the climbing team they were like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a competition at the gym. You want to do it?’ I was like, ‘I’m allowed to compete?’ I’d only been climbing for two weeks so it was kind of a get-thrown-into-it kind of introduction.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. Wow. I’m assuming you liked it?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I thought it was so much fun and it was kind of an interesting format. It was redpoint but you only had 12 minutes on the section of wall so it was really just go go go, climb as much as you can, break 12 minutes, then another 12-minute section.
Neely Quinn: Wow. Twelve minutes seems like a lot, actually.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. At the time it was definitely way more than enough time that I would need. I could maybe do one or two boulders on the wall but now I’d be stressing out trying to get everything done. It was all your points, it wasn’t just a top five per section or anything, so you were trying to do everything you could.
Neely Quinn: Right. That makes sense. When was this? How old were you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I was eight years old.
Neely Quinn: So that’s 17 years ago?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yes, almost 17.
Neely Quinn: So you’re 25?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I am.
Neely Quinn: Twenty-five years old. That’s pretty cool that you’re a professional climber and that’s how you make your living.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s definitely been my dream career for a long time so it’s cool to be able to make it all happen.
Neely Quinn: But you went to college anyways.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I did, yeah. I had a scholarship to Arizona State University and I majored in marketing and I graduated in 2016.
Neely Quinn: What did you get a scholarship for?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It was an academic scholarship. At the time in Arizona they had a program where if you exceeded our standardized test in reading, writing, and math then you would get a full-ride scholarship for your tuition to an in-state university. When I was a sophomore in high school I exceeded in all three and I was comfortable that all I had to do was maintain a 3.0 GPA or something to keep my scholarship.
Neely Quinn: That’s incredible. Every state should do that.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s awesome. I was the last year that actually had that opportunity. Because of the funding they don’t do it anymore but I am really glad I was able to capitalize on it.
Neely Quinn: So you’re one of those people who can do really well in school, do really well in sports, and be a seemingly happy, socially adept person. [laughs]
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I mean I try to be.
Neely Quinn: That’s pretty cool. Are you just really good at time management or what do you think helps you do all of that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Definitely time management is one thing. I was just scheduled to the hilt in college. I would have my day scheduled out in 15-minute increments and that sounds so neurotic but that’s what I needed to do to get in school and training. I think that’s a part of it and just working hard and not giving up when you’re so stressed out with school and climbing.
Neely Quinn: Right. So you continued climbing all through college, and competing.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I did.
Neely Quinn: How did you do in climbing and competing during college?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I did good. I mean, I don’t think my level increased or decreased when I was in college, really. My mental stress definitely increased but I was still doing well in competitions and training hard. Oddly enough, it felt like my freshman and sophomore years were a lot harder in college than my junior and senior years, especially my senior year. My senior year felt super easy compared to everything else so it was kind of nice to have the end of college be a little relief.
Neely Quinn: When you finished college were you already set up as a pro climber? Or were you like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m going to pursue now?’
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Luckily for me I was already set up as a pro climber.
Neely Quinn: So if you ever weren’t a pro climber what do you think you would do?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I always wonder that, honestly. When I was younger I always wanted to be a forensic scientist and I’m still really interested in forensic science and solving crimes, but I think it might get to me if I was actually in forensic science, like, dealing with murders and things like that. I’ve since switched my thinking to where if I wasn’t a pro climber I’d be doing something where I could help people. I don’t know exactly what that’d be but that would be something I would be really interested in doing.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. You know, I was looking at your Instagram before this and I’ve seen it before but you seem to have – it reminded me of this because you just said you would want to help people. You seem to be a very positive, sweet person on your Instagram. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Is that how she lives her life?’ I’m sure other people wonder, too, about everybody on social media. What is your life like in real life?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Well thank you, first of all. I would say real life is a lot like social media for me. I’m definitely honest about who I am on there and I generally am pretty positive and pretty happy. Of course I have some negative moments where I’m cranky or grumpy or whatever but generally I’m pretty happy. I really do just try and depict my life on social media as it would be in real life. I guess I don’t show as much of the training that I do, just because I’m busy doing it, and of course you miss some of the side moments but it’s pretty true to who I am.
Neely Quinn: So you are a very fun-loving person?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I try to be at least.
Neely Quinn: What does your typical life look like? Run me through a typical week for you.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: So in a typical week I train three days on, one day off. On a training day I basically wake up, eat breakfast, have my first workout which is about an hour and a half of strength training, then after that I’ll catch up on emails or whatever, take my cats for a walk outside, then probably go swimming. After that I eat lunch, take a nap, then wake up and go to the climbing gym and have probably a three hour workout there then go home, have dinner, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again.
Neely Quinn: Woah, and that’s three days on?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, and usually on one of the three days I’ll just do a single session so I’ll just climb at night or whatever. I really like that. I’ve found that two 2-a-days and one single session works really well for me.
Neely Quinn: First of all, did you say you take your cats for a walk?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah. My cats are indoor cats but we have leashes and harnesses for them so my mom and I take them on a walk in our backyard every morning.
Neely Quinn: That is amazing. I feel like more people should do that, right?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think so. It’s super cool and the cats love it so much. It’s definitely the favorite part of their day.
Neely Quinn: So you wake up, you do your one and a half hour strength training. Can you tell me what that looks like?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: My workouts change a lot because we’re always trying to mix them up. Some days it’s focused on one specific body part, kind of like arms or legs or abs or whatever, then other days are full body. Warming up for it probably takes 20 minutes then doing the actual workout is an hour or a little bit over, depending on how slow or fast I’m being.
Usually, the way it’s broken down is there will be 3 sets of 2 different exercises so that comes out to 6 exercises and I end up doing the exercises 4 times each.
Neely Quinn: What kinds of exercises are you doing? And sorry, but how many reps are you doing?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I guess the reps depends but each set of exercises happens 4 times.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so did you do that today?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’m going to do that later today, actually. My mom and I workout together because she’s a personal trainer and she had an appointment this morning so it’s getting delayed a little bit but I’ll take the extra rest this morning.
Neely Quinn: What exercises will you do today?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Today is going to be kind of weird because I’m tapering a little bit for Vail since it’s in a week and a half. I think we’ll do more full body and just try and hit everything. We’ll probably do push-ups, pullups, leg lifts to the bar, squatchums [sp?], I’m sure I’ll do some single-leg squats – I’m trying to think of what else we’ll end up doing – some more abs, some hamstring ball roll-ins, probably some dips. Just trying to make sure everything is warm and in shape and functioning.
Neely Quinn: So you do a handful of exercises for 3 sets, 4 reps.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: Is your mom your trainer?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: She’s my personal trainer so she does all the strength training, which is super nice. She does a really good job. She was also a gymnastics coach for a long time so she has some of that background as well, which is useful.
Neely Quinn: Do you have another trainer for your climbing?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I don’t actually. I am the trainer for my climbing.
Neely Quinn: Nice. That’s worked out pretty well for you.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s been an interesting experience but I think it’s been good, ultimately.
Neely Quinn: How have you learned about it?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: A lot of it just comes from other athletes and then on the handful of occasions that I’ve gone to work with coaches, whether it’s for a week at a training camp or if I go somewhere for a couple of weeks, just kind of picking up things here and there and just putting it all together. Then, of course, figuring out what works best for me.
Neely Quinn: And you’ve figured out that training three days on, one day off is what’s best for you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, and the crazy thing is for is that sometimes I’d try and do two days on, one day off and when I do two days on, one day off I run double days both days so I end up getting less rest than if I were climbing three days on, if that makes sense.
Neely Quinn: What do you mean, ‘run double days?’
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Like when I have a morning session and a night session.
Neely Quinn: Oh, double.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: The thing when I do three days on is I get a little more rest from the strength training and then I get to climb a little bit more, which for me I just need to climb a lot to do well so that’s really important that I keep up my climbing volume.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and why is that? What about it makes you better?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I don’t know. I think for me just climbing a ton has always made me a better climber. I really think so much of it just comes down to hours on the wall. You have to do specific exercises, obviously, and you can’t ignore weaknesses but the more moves you do, the more tools you have in your toolbox then the stronger you get and the more fit you are. I think that’s kind of what it boils down to for me.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so I want to go into – you do the hour and a half strength training and that is how many of the three days?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I do that on one of the three days then on the other day instead of strength training I do campusing or hangboarding, which I feel is still considered strength training. That would be my second strength training workout or whatever and then the third is just rest in the morning and climb at night.
Neely Quinn: Okay, got it. When you go in to climb for three hours at night what does that look like?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: My warmup takes forever. I’m not going to lie; sometimes I’m antsy and don’t warm up as much as I should because I’m just so excited to climb but when I’m doing all my proper things, warming up for me doesn’t just include a climbing warm up. It includes stretching and warming up my fingers and doing all of that.
Some of my basic things I do if I’m following that perfect warmup is I usually go in, I stretch my hamstrings and my glutes first because that helps my lower back. I had a back injury so keeping those loose is always good for me. Then I do overall body stretching but that takes a little less time. Then I usually do a pull-up pyramid of 1-5 and back down and then I do some crimp hangs where I hang for 10 seconds, rest 5 seconds, do that 8 times. I start on a big crimp first and then I’ll do a smaller crimp for the next set.
Then after that my standard go-to warmup for on the wall is I’ll do 10 boulders V2-V6 and usually that gets me pretty warm. If it doesn’t I’ll do a couple V7s just to round it out so I feel like I’m good to go but all that usually takes 40 minutes, and then I’ll get into my actual climbing workouts. It depends on what I’m doing that day but a workout I did this week was after my warmup I did some onsighting. I chose 4 boulders and I just did 4 minutes on, 4 minutes off. If I flashed the boulder I just wouldn’t take the rest of my 4 minutes on, I’d go straight to into a rest to speed it up.
After that I got on some of the boulders I couldn’t send to project them for 45 minutes and then I ended up doing a 4×5 at the end of the night, after all that.
Neely Quinn: Woah. That’s a lot.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, that’s a really good session. When I can get all that done I’m proud.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Yeah. So the onsighting portion is kind of like training for comps. Well, it all is but specifically…
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, onsighting is so important for competing.
Neely Quinn: What’s your gym?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I train at a couple different gyms. I have my home gym and I train a lot at Focus Climbing Center, Black Rock Bouldering Gym, and I’m training a little bit more at Izzie on the Rocks now in Scottsdale. They have a spray wall which is really nice. I’ve been training there and making up boulders.
Neely Quinn: That’s kind of what I was wondering. I know there are some facilities now that have World Cup style boulders. Do you get to train on anything like that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I mean, not a ton. The closest I have is when I have my home gym set because that’s why I built the gym, to have World Cup style boulders set there. Obviously I’m paying settings so it’s not always happening super regularly. I’m not getting on World Cup boulders every week but I’ll make more of an effort closer to competitions to get on them or sometimes I’ll go out of town, too, just to get on different holds and different angles than I have at my home gym.
Neely Quinn: What is your home gym like?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s built in an indoor racquetball court so it’s 20’x40’ and the physical walls are 20’ tall and the climbing walls are 16’ tall. If you look at it and pretend it’s a ‘U,’ on the right side I have 24’ of vert and then the back wall is 20’ of slab that’s at 5° and on the left side I have 16’ of 5° overhang and I have a Moon Board for the next 8’.
Neely Quinn: Nice.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s a cool place.
Neely Quinn: So you guys just had an extra racquetball court hanging around? [laughs]
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I know it’s super weird. My parents bought the house when I was four years old and I guess the racquetball court was one of the reasons they were thinking about not buying it. They were like, ‘We don’t play racquetball. We don’t really have a use for this space,’ so it wasn’t really a used space until I built the gym in 2015.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, that sounds great. Do you have other exercise equipment in there? I’m assuming…
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I have a campus board, I have a [unclear] which is something that I’m saying wrong. It’s from the team gym in Slovenia. It’s more overhanging than a campus board and it’s on wooden dowels so it’s more like arm power and less finger. Then I have a pull-up bar and some extra space for whatever else you want to do on the floor.
Neely Quinn: Do you feel like you use your home gym enough? Do you use it a lot?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I definitely do. I guess I wish I used it more in some aspects but I just don’t always have it reset, plus I always try to hit the other gyms and get on their new boulders. I go pretty crazy just training by myself at the house all the time, too.
Neely Quinn: So as far as the type of boulders that you’re climbing on, I know that the World Cup boulders are very unique, right? Do you feel like just normal climbing on spray walls and normal climbing in gyms really prepares you well for those?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think that spray walls help make you strong, which is really good, but you still have to be able to execute. I think there’s just no substitute for actually getting on World Cup style boulders.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I feel like it’s so much about coordination and just body awareness now.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it really is. That’s stuff that you can learn pretty quickly but you just have to maintain it. I think that’s what is hard. If you can’t get on them it’s hard to maintain.
Neely Quinn: You seem to be pretty good at it. I don’t know if that comes natural to you. I was watching a video of you doing – I don’t remember what you called it but you basically swung from one wall over to a 90° angle from it and basically down-dynoed.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’m getting better at those which is good because they still scare me, honestly. Even a really easy one, when I look at it I’m like, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to break my shins on the volume.’ I don’t know why. That’s never happened. That one was a relatively easy one but I’m trying to get better at them. I make myself do them when they’re set and I practice them and ultimately just try and not be scared of them. I think that’s my big hindrance sometimes.
Neely Quinn: I feel like a lot of it is about the fear because you’re like, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s just so weird and the timing can be slightly different for all of them, you know?
Neely Quinn: How long did you do gymnastics for?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Not that long. I think I did kindergym or whatever when I was little and I got out of it when I was six. The hardest things I could do were a back handspring, a front handspring, and I think a back walkover. I don’t think I could do a front walkover and I couldn’t even do a pull-up so I was definitely not good or anything.
Neely Quinn: Okay, because I was going to ask if you thought that that might have helped you at all.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think if I was better, maybe, but I was not super good at it.
Neely Quinn: So that was one of your three-hour workouts and was that pretty standard? Or would you do other things during your evening workouts?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: That’s a pretty standard one. Some other times I’ll spend projecting completely, especially if I get tunnel visioned and really psyched on something that I need to do. Other times, when I just need to go in the gym but just don’t have projecting energy I’ll try and do 40 boulder problems. I try and make them V3-7 and then if I’m really tired for whatever reason then it drops down to V2-6 but that’s just kind of nice. Forty boulders is manageable but hard enough to do and teaches you how to fight through just being bored and tired.
Neely Quinn: Forty boulders seems like a lot. I guess I don’t ever count so I don’t know how many boulders I do but that would be like if you’re there for two hours doing it, then it’s 20 boulders an hour. I guess that’s reasonable.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s not too bad.
Neely Quinn: During your campus sessions and your hanging sessions, can you just describe those?
My standard campus session is I guess I only do one standard campus exercise and one hangboard exercise. On the campus board I would do 2-5-7. I do my right and left arm during each set and then I rest 1.5 minutes between each set and I do that 6 times then I’ll rest 5 minutes.
I do the one-arm hangs on the Beastmaker 2000 on the low crimp. Those are pretty hard for me and I’ve gotten pretty consistent where I can hold them for 3 seconds or 5 seconds on a good day. I do those both arms, 2 minutes rest in between, 6 times, and then take another 5 minute rest.
The last thing I do is I have these really fat pinches and I hang on those for 8-10 seconds with an 8-pound weight vest. I do 1.5 minutes rest again for 6 sets.
Neely Quinn: When you’re hanging are you adding weight?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Not for the Beastmaker ones just because I’m trying to get better at them without weight but for the pinches, yeah. I was doing them unweighted and then I did 4-pound ankle weights and I moved up to my 8-pound weight vest.
Neely Quinn: When did you start doing the one-arms?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I started doing them consistently, I would say, maybe last September?
Neely Quinn: Why is that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I just felt like I needed to do more, I guess. The one thing that’s really hard about training is there are seriously 200 other things I feel like I also need to do but at that time I was like, ‘I’ve never really worked on my fingers. I think I should really try and do this,’ and I think I had a stronger base, too, because I’d had my Moon Board for three months then so I had a pretty strong finger base from that. It made it less demoralizing to try to do the one-arms.
Neely Quinn: Oh, but you had been hangboarding with two hands before that.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, I had never done any hangboarding.
Neely Quinn: Woah! You never trained your fingers?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, I always just got it from climbing.
Neely Quinn: Wow! That’s so impressive.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s kind of crazy. I think I should have started it sooner.
Neely Quinn: What do you think it’s doing for you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think it’s helping with my pulling power but it’s definitely hard to find the balance of the right amount of finger training coupled with climbing because it’s really delicate, not hurting your fingers.
Neely Quinn: Have you had a finger injury?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, actually, I guess my only technical finger injury is I was 11 and I did a dyno in a comp and I slightly tore my tendon or strained it or something. Nothing major. I took a week off or whatever and it was really swollen and I got back in.
A couple years ago when I was training in Slovenia I heard one of my tendons pop like two days into my training and I was like, ‘Huh.’ I just kept climbing on it. Obviously, it wasn’t that major but it hurt for six months after. I went to my doctor when I got home because I didn’t know if I had torn anything and he was like, ‘I don’t know.’ He told me what I did and it wasn’t a tear, it just hurt for a while, and now it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Neely Quinn: That’s good. So you’re doing finger training, you’re doing campusing, and I was going to ask you, when you’re doing pull-ups or other things are you adding weight to yourself?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I have done weighted pull-ups before but for my warmup pull-ups I’m not adding weight. I definitely think weighted pull-ups is a great way to increase strength. When I’ve done them in the past, just because when you’re doing pull-ups with a vest on, whether it’s 20 pounds or 40 pounds or whatever, when you do them without the vest you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I am so strong.’
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Or when you’re climbing…
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Exactly.
Neely Quinn: Is there anything else you do?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’m trying to think training-wise if there’s anything else. I force myself to get on slab a lot, which I really like, so that’s not too bad but I think the biggest thing in training is to do what you don’t like. If you don’t like it, it’s good for you. If there’s a boulder problem that’s really finicky at the gym and you did it once and you’re glad that you never have to do it again, you should definitely do it again. Working on your weaknesses is really crucial in climbing.
Neely Quinn: Is that something that you’ll build into a session or do you just do it regularly?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: That’s something that I’ll just do regularly.
Neely Quinn: When did you learn that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think when I was about 14. I used to have a lot of trouble climbing over angle breaks on walls, probably just because I’m a little bit taller and not as strong in my arms, or whatever. When I was doing my 4×5’s I would choose this V5 where I had to go over an angle break. I could do it but it was pretty hard for me. After doing that for a couple of weeks the V5 became such a cake walk because I was doing it all the time and it made climbing over angle breaks easier.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think that is something that a lot of us don’t do. Even if we send something that is really hard or awkward or weird for us, we won’t go back and re-send it.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s like you should do it until it’s easy for you and you’re like, ‘Why was this a project?’
Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s a good guideline. So it sounds like that is part of your routine, doing what you don’t like meaning working on your weaknesses. What are your weaknesses?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: You know, that’s a question I’m asking myself right now. As always, I think I need to get stronger. My dynos need to get better because there are people who are a lot shorter than me that can jump just as high as I can. I think I should be able to jump higher than them, you know? So I need to work on that. I guess those are kind of my things now. It’s just always about getting stronger and being able to jump harder. I think being a little bit smarter about climbing, too. I feel like my onsighting level has gone down a little bit, for whatever reason, so that’s why I’m trying to do some more onsighting and focus on that.
Neely Quinn: You’ve said a couple times that you’re taller. How tall are you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’m 5’7”.
Neely Quinn: And what’s your ape?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I used to think it was 0 but I think it might be +1 or +2, just based on someone measuring it at the gym the other day.
Neely Quinn: You are kind of a taller climber aren’t you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I mean, I’m obviously not super duper tall by any standards and people are taller than me, but taller than the average climber.
Neely Quinn: What do you think that does for you at World Cup and other comps?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I mean, I don’t think it makes a huge difference a lot of the time. There are some scrunchier moves where I’m just kneeing myself in the face but there are moves where if you’re shorter, you’re really extended or holds that I can reach so much easier. I think it ends up evening out eventually. Not too big of a hindrance.
Neely Quinn: From all of the training that you’ve done and that you do, how has this helped you succeed in comps and what do you think are some of your pinnacle moments in comp climbing?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think some of my pinnacle moments in comp climbing are when I won the Mesa Rim ProAM in October. That was really cool for me because I’d never won a professional competition before. It’s not like I had given up on a dream but you’re waiting for something to happen for so long and you’re like, ‘You know what? I’m happy with my career no matter what,’ and then that happens. That was exciting and I won the PanAmerican Championships the following month so those were pretty epic moments for me, personally.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and congratulations.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thank you.
Neely Quinn: That’s exciting. What do you think helped you get there? What were you doing that was so helpful for that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: That was kind of a lot of things going right at once, I think. I had the Moon Board put in a couple months ago so I had that, I started training my fingers, I had a new training partner, just the boulders played to my strong suits and I had a good climbing day. Obviously, a lot of hard work goes into it but also sometimes it’s just that everything happens to work at the same time. Everything lines up.
Neely Quinn: What are your goals for this year?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I have a couple of competitions coming up so obviously Vail and then after that it’d be cool to win another pro comp. I just really want to get to where I’m feeling strong and confident in my climbing and just feel like I’m improving a lot.
Neely Quinn: So long term, what are your goals with climbing?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I really want to make a World Cup final. I was pretty close last year so that’s definitely one of my main goals. I just want to see how far I can take myself, especially in comps. It’s always a hard question to answer because it’s not like I have specific goals. I just want to do really, really well and whatever that ends up meaning, it ends up meaning.
Neely Quinn: What happened last year when you almost got into finals? Where was that? Moskow?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: That was in Tokyo. That was my best World Cup placement where I placed tenth. I fell matching the top of the fourth boulder and I definitely should have just put a toe hook in or a heel hook or whatever and I probably would have been fine. If I had gotten that match then I would have definitely been in finals so that was cool. A bummer to not be in finals, obviously my fault, but it’s cool to be like, ‘Oh, if you had literally just figured out that top a little bit better you would have been in finals,’ gave me the opportunity to taste that, which is cool.
Neely Quinn: That’s interesting that you say it that way. It’s definitely a glass half full kind of way of looking at it because other people might have been like, ‘If I had just gotten a heel hook I would have been in the finals.’ You know? It’s really nice to see somebody taking such a positive stance on it but in the moment, how did you feel? That way or glass half empty?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I was just glad to be in semifinals, honestly, because for the first four World Cups of the season I didn’t even make semis and I didn’t even know if I would rank. I was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ I felt like I was climbing good and went into the season strong but it just wasn’t playing out so I was just pumped to be in semis and to be doing so well in semis, I was excited. When I got off the wall I didn’t know how anyone else had done or how they were doing because I think I was the fifth or sixth person on the wall, so there were still a bunch of people to go after me. How I climbed could have put me in 20th place but I didn’t know at the time. I just felt like I was having a decent enough round.
Neely Quinn: Do you not deal with disappointment or shame or anything like that in your career? Is that something that’s pretty rare for you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Oh no. I’m disappointed in myself all the time with how I’m climbing, I’m just not very public about it. It stinks to not do as well as you want to do and it stinks to make mistakes or whatever. At least for me, it’s no matter what, it’s my fault if I don’t do well and I think I must have missed something in training or just didn’t climb well enough. You know what I mean? I’m definitely more on the side of if something goes wrong, it is for sure my fault in climbing. I just try and take it in stride and take everything as a learning experience, like, ‘Well, that happened this one time. You’ll end up not making that mistake again,’ or whatever. Everything always ends up working out.
Neely Quinn: You can kind of just put it aside and move on.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: That’s definitely what I try to do because it’s just not helpful to hang onto anything like that.
Neely Quinn: What about your outdoor climbing? Do you get to go outside very much?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I mean, I don’t climb outside very much. Mainly I’m just focused so much on training in the gym for comps but when I do go outside, for me I’m just all about having fun. I’m not trying to project or send anything hard. I think that’s because I’m so focused on training indoors and comps that I definitely don’t want to be stressed out when I’m outside but I do really enjoy going outside when I do get to go.
Neely Quinn: What is it about indoor climbing and competition climbing that drives you so much?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s just so fun and so unique. Obviously, outdoor climbing is fun and unique in a different way but I don’t know – comps are crazy and boulders get really interesting in competitions. I’m not a fan of everything being huge and crazy and parkour-style. I think there’s a balance that can be achieved but there are so many possibilities of how they can set, how it can turn out, how you can figure out beta. I feel like for me, doing well in comps is fun but the sickest moment in a comp is when I figure out some unintended beta or just end up thrutching my way up a boulder, where you’re crawling up a volume to get there and just really fighting for it. Those are the moments that you remember and you’re like, ‘Man, that was an epic climb.’
Neely Quinn: And the crowd is behind you screaming and all of those things.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Neely Quinn: Do you feed off of the crowd, would you say?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think I’m kind of at a neutral. I like it when the crowd is excited but I think ultimately, I’m going to climb how I’m going to climb whether or not there’s a big crowd.
Neely Quinn: Which is probably helpful for you. You don’t have any aspirations for outdoor climbing, it doesn’t sound like, ever?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I mean, it’d be cool to do some harder stuff outside just to say I did but I don’t know. I climbed one V10 once and I’m like, ‘Well, at least I hit double digits. That was cool.’ I think if I do anything else hard it will just happen.
Neely Quinn: On one of those days where you’re just out there having fun.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, and that’s how I like it. I know people will go and plan to get on things or whatever but I just like to try things, see if I like them, if I do and it happens to be hard then maybe I’ll project it. Otherwise, it’s just fun to get on a bunch of things.
Neely Quinn: I might switch gears here a little bit because I have a couple of questions about basically how famous you are. [laughs] I know that sounds funny but your social media following is very large relative to other climbers. You’ve done a really great job of building that audience and being a positive force in climbing but also you have fans who aren’t even climbers. I’m wondering how you balance that side of your career and your pro climbing side because it seems like you’re also a model, right?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I get to do some modeling every once in a while.
Neely Quinn: You have some really professional, beautiful photos up on your Instagram.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thanks.
Neely Quinn: I guess I’m wondering because there aren’t many climbers or other athletes in other sports who do this, the model/athlete. Can you tell me just a little bit about it and how you feel about it?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Obviously, for me climbing comes first in front of everything and then other opportunities I get with modeling or just whatever comes second to it. I think it’s cool because you can do one, you can do both, you can do none. Everything works differently for different people. For me it’s just if I have a cool opportunity I take it.
Neely Quinn: How did that opportunity first appear to you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’ve been doing shoots for so long with sponsors and things like that that I’m just used to being on shoots, whether it’s photo or video or whatever, that I started to get approached by companies for some modeling or doing commercials and things like that. That’s kind of how I got to branch more into that.
Neely Quinn: Do you enjoy it?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s fun. It’s honestly nice to mix it up between climbing sometimes. It’s just cool to mix it up sometimes is what I would say. I really enjoy climbing and climbing shoots but sometimes it’s fun to do the thing that isn’t your main thing as well.
Neely Quinn: And also it’s probably a nice source of income alongside your sponsors.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It really is. It’s nice to obviously make more money.
Neely Quinn: Do you ever feel pressure to perform as a climber because of the large audience you have watching you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No. The most pressure anyone puts on me is myself so I know I care way more about how I’m doing in climbing and how I’m climbing than anyone else does. I’ll have a competition where I’ll feel like I don’t do well and a bunch of people will be like, ‘It was so great to watch you climb. You did so good. Nice work! Really proud of you.’ While I’m sitting there thinking I did super bad, all these people think it’s super cool so that just shows the disconnect that you’re your own harshest critic.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s probably pretty validating to hear those things.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s always nice. Sometimes it’s just said at the right time and you’re like, ‘You know what? I’m the only one who thinks I did bad. It’s okay.’
Neely Quinn: And on that note, people on social media can be really harsh and because your audience is so big I’m assuming you get some negative stuff on there.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I feel like not as much anymore. If I do, sometimes I leave it and then other people respond to it which is always kind of interesting to see because I think we’ve entered a time when it’s not okay to be a smack talker on the Internet, basically. People are like, ‘Why are you being such a bully? Don’t do that.’ Sometimes I respond as well or I’ll just delete the comment, just depending on my mood that day.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] I can relate, yes. I’m assuming that you get a lot of attention from males.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yes, I do get some interesting messages from men. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: I don’t know if you want to talk about this but I’m wondering if it’s a good public announcement type thing for people to hear about what not to do to a person in your position. Do you have any examples you want to describe?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I would say if you’re not comfortable with your parents seeing it, don’t send it to me. If your parents wouldn’t be proud of that message, don’t send it to me. Or anyone, not just me, but that applies. If your parents wouldn’t be proud of you just don’t send it.
Also, I would say for me and I’m sure this applies to other people and other athletes or whatever, but social media is not a dating site. Asking someone on a date is probably not the way to go. At least for me, people will ask me questions about climbing or they’re like, ‘Hey, what gym should I go to in this city?’ and I’ll let them know and then they’re like, ‘Hey, also I’d like to take you out to dinner.’ I’m like, ‘No, you just always wanted to say I want to take you out to dinner and you had to pretend you had a question before it.’ That’s annoying.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, that sounds annoying. Do you get those pretty regularly?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I do. Now I usually screenshot the funny ones and put them in my private story on Instagram that my friends see. We all get a laugh out of them but truly it is really annoying.
Neely Quinn: Does it ever make you question, I don’t know, your social media persona? Does it make you want to change things? Or is it just like, ‘This is a nuisance and I don’t want to deal with this?’
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It doesn’t make me want to change things because I know it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
Neely Quinn: Your attitude is very impressive.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thanks.
Neely Quinn: I think a lot of people would be very bothered by these things.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think that I’ve just received them for so long that I’m just used to it, which sounds bad, but I also just think that right now is such an amazing time because it’s really becoming unacceptable for some of these things to be said, and especially some of the things men have been saying to women for many years. Obviously, not all men, but I’m just talking about the specific subset that do things like this or send a dick pic or whatever. I’m used to it and I’ve been dealing with it and there’s this power of women in the world right now that we’re over it and we’re not taking it anymore.
Neely Quinn: So if a guy sends you a dick pic, what do you do?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I usually just block him and delete it. There’s really not much else. People usually send them from fake accounts. I did have someone send me a dick pic once and they were a minor. I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I found their mom on Facebook and I sent her a message. I was like, ‘Just so you know, your son sent me an inappropriate photo.’ In that situation I was like, ‘I do not want to be seeing this at all,’
Neely Quinn: Oh my god. That is the best punishment for that, to tell his mom.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I was like, ‘This is just so not okay.’
Neely Quinn: [laughs] That’s amazing. But you don’t ever say to them, “Don’t do this,” you just block them and potentially tell their mom?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah. If they’re doing it they don’t really care. They have to know it’s wrong and that’s the thing; they’re just doing it anyway because they don’t care.
Neely Quinn: You don’t think it would ever help if you said to them, “I feel violated when you do this,” or whatever it is that you feel and just let them know that this isn’t okay?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I could but I’ve tried it in the past and they’ll just send another one. That’s not what I’m signing up for. It’s one of those situations where it’s like: what is the best way to deal with it? I guess it’s hard to know the best way to deal with it other than people need to stop sending inappropriate pictures that are unsolicited.
Neely Quinn: That you absolutely do not want to see.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, imagine how shocking it is to wake up in the morning and check your messages and this is what you see.
Neely Quinn: I can’t imagine.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s an experience.
Neely Quinn: Wow. Basically, despite these small nuisances compared with the positive reinforcement you’re getting from your audience and even the protection your audience is giving you sometimes, it sounds like it’s totally worth it.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It is, it really is, and there are a lot of really cool people that follow me. It’s just cool the things people tell me about like how climbing has changed their life or this and that. A lot of people send me cat pictures now since everyone has picked up on the fact that I’m super obsessed with my cats. Those types of pictures are always welcome in my DM. Cat pictures all day.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Nice. I have one last question about all this and that is that when I was doing some research on you I found this article by Andrew Bisharat that was written in, I think, 2015. It was all about you. I was reading it and I was like, ‘I think this is tactful but I wonder how I would feel if I was Sierra?’ I’m going to just ask you: how did you feel about that article?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I didn’t like it at all. It really made my life rough for a couple of months. Everyone was asking me about it and I was just minding my own business trying to train and do whatever. I really got raked over the coals for that article and it was something I didn’t partake in, I didn’t sign up for, and ultimately it was just really rough on me. I think that’s important for people to know: your words do have impact and I had a really hard time after that article. It was mentally really, really hard for me.
I got put in this box of being just a pretty girl who climbs and that’s why you have sponsors while all of my hard work was disregarded. It took me years to really escape that. It was just really, really tough and at the time I was trying to not draw attention to it so I wasn’t talking about it. I was just ignoring it because I didn’t want to make it any bigger than it already was. That was even more isolating, too.
I just had my family with me at that time and I was just trying to deal with it the best way I could but being 21-years old – it came out a couple days before my 21st birthday – that was really hard. I had to go to Nationals a week or two after and I just felt like I was the elephant in the room. It was a really hard experience, you know? A lot of people have said, “It’s just talking about a thing,” and I’m like, ‘You don’t understand. I was the center of that thing and it affected me in such a negative way.’
Neely Quinn: Wow. I had no idea. I guess I assumed that he had maybe asked your permission.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Not at all. I’ve never spoken to him.
Neely Quinn: And you’ve never spoken to him after either?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No.
Neely Quinn: Did you get a lot of negative feedback from that?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I would say I got negative and positive feedback. There are a lot of awesome people who will take a stand and say, “Hey, this isn’t okay.” Those people are awesome. Some of the people I remember specifically, and I know I’m going to forget people when I say this, is Leah Crane and Bonita Norris and Eddie Fowke saying things. That was always really helpful but there was a lot of negativity that came with it and it just gave people this illusion that I was pretty and that’s the only reason I had received any of my accomplishments and I didn’t deserve what I had and there were other, more deserving, climbers.
I’m not saying that the climbing game is fair and I know there are a lot of people who deserve more in climbing than what they have but someone deserving more does not make someone else deserve less.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. That sounds really tough.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It was super rough. Like I said, I wasn’t talking about it and this is the first time I’ve been candid about it because I didn’t want to draw attention to it at the time. Of course it passed. Now, being older and having been through everything, being able to reflect on it is: it was a nasty thing to go through but at the end of the day, I’m doing really well as a person and really well as a climber and it was just ridiculous that he wrote that article.
Neely Quinn: Do you think you learned anything from it?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I just think I learned how to be more tough from it. For a while it put me in the head space of: no one expects me to do well so it’s just a surprise if I do well. Of course, that’s like having the lowest expectations ever but I don’t think that’s always a positive headspace to be in.
You’ve got to have some confidence in yourself so at some point I switched my mindset. It’s not about proving others wrong, it’s about proving yourself right. That’s just what I try to do in my climbing. It’s about proving to myself that my training has paid off and I’m doing a good job versus, ‘Oh, no one things I can do it. I’m going to show them.’
Neely Quinn: Yeah, that seems to be much more of a negative attitude than you normally take. Is there anything that you want to say to that article? I know that you just said a lot but is there anything else?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I think I just covered it. Really, words have power. That honestly did give me a good view of when I see things written about celebrities or this or that or whatever, I’m like, ‘I literally don’t know where the truth lies in this.’ It’s hard to know from one article or an interview or anything. You really have to know someone to know who they are. Just take everything you read lightly and just be kind because things really do affect people.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. What about the idea that women and sometimes men will get paid more if they are very attractive? What about that concept?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I guess I just don’t even know if I have a comment on that concept. It’s just so subjective, you know what I mean? There are so many reasons why people get paid more than someone else or this and that. It’s just so hard to say that it’s always one thing. I will say that I think, especially regarding athletics, don’t put people in a box based on how they look or any part of their story.
Neely Quinn: It’s interesting because some people could have said, “She’s getting paid more and doing all of this because she’s beautiful,” but if you had a social media following and you were as attractive as you are, but also mean and pompous or something, nobody would follow you and nobody would pay you money for that. You’re basically just a really good package. I hate to say it that way but you’re also, it seems like, a very good person and I think people follow you for that as well, and because you can climb and because of all these things.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thanks. That’s part of it, too. For me, regarding my situation, it became one-dimensional like just being attractive or whatever. No one was seeing that I was taking 18 credits at ASU and training 20 hours a week climbing and I was sending emails all day and just working so hard and doing so many things. I think that’s what you don’t see. You don’t always see the background so it’s really hard to know really what’s going on. For me it was like people were saying, “Oh, you’re just getting sponsorships because you’re good looking.” I was like, ‘Dude, that is not getting me through 20 hours of training a week. You just completely disregarded everything else and focused on one thing.’
Neely Quinn: I appreciate you being so honest about this. I think it’s really good to hear this side of the story. It’s really good. It’s good for me to hear it and I think a lot of people will appreciate it.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Well thank you for letting me share my side of the story.
Neely Quinn: I’m not going to let you go just yet because I always ask people about their diets and usually this happens at the end. It’s awesome to hear about how you fuel yourself.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Absolutely. For me, I try to just eat healthy all the time. I’m not super big on ‘cheat’ days or anything like that but I’m also a believer in if you have a day where you feel like you’re going to die if you don’t have a burger or ice cream or something, just do it. Reward yourself and you’ll go less crazy.
I mainly do a lot of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, and whole grains. I usually start my morning off with a celery juice and after that, for breakfast, I’ll have some type of protein and carbs. I’ll usually do chicken or steak and sweet potatoes. That’s good because I always have a morning workout. For lunch it’s usually another type of protein but with a salad this time. I like to eat a little bit lighter at lunch. Dinner is usually a protein shake, just so I’m not eating meat all the time. Some of my go-to snacks would be bananas, apples, dates, and then just regular juice, not the straight celery juice. I just try to stay healthy with my eating all of the time but I also try to make sure that I’m fueled because at least for me, personally, I need to have energy when I workout. I need to have food and I have better workouts when I’m properly fueled.
Neely Quinn: Do you bring food to the gym with you?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, I always have so many snacks with me. People will find me at the gym and be like, ‘Dude, I’m hungry. Do you have any snacks today?’ I always have snacks.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Nice. What will you bring today if you’re going?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I’ll probably bring a banana and I guess my other snack that I didn’t mention is these raw chocolate balls that they sell at Whole Foods. I can’t remember the name of the company that makes them. They’re more or less cacao powder, coconut oil, date paste, a mint extract or something, and probably some sea salt. I could be missing an ingredient or two but those are really good because they’re just these little balls that are kind of quick energy but sustained, also. That’s really nice and they taste good so I enjoy eating them.
Neely Quinn: It sounds like you get enough protein and you’re also fueling yourself with enough carbs for your workouts.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Absolutely. I would say the other thing about how I eat is I go a lot by feel so I pay attention to what I’m eating and I try to be healthy but some days I’m like, ‘Man, I would really just rather have some more rice instead of chicken with lunch,’ or whatever and I’ll do that. I really just listen to my body and what I need for fuel.
Neely Quinn: I mean, you’re super lean and obviously that comes from you eating this lovely diet that you’re having, but do you ever calorie-restrict or count calories or anything?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, I don’t. I think it just makes you so neurotic if you have to calorie count all the time. I also understand that, especially if you are losing weight and you don’t have a good idea of what’s in your food, you need a more strict plan to keep track and make sure that you’re doing the right things. For me, I seem to be able to do okay with just eating what I need to eat and paying attention to make sure that I am eating healthy.
Neely Quinn: It sounds healthy to me and one thing that stands out is that you have meat at breakfast. Most people have ‘breakfast’ foods. What got you to that point?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I used to have more breakfast foods when I was a lot younger. Every morning for breakfast I’d eat two waffles that you stick in a toaster and I’d put a chocolate chip in each of the waffle holes, which is such a great breakfast, but for some reason I remember when I started sixth grade I must have been having a massive growth spurt. I just could not eat enough food and I’d get to school and be starving after I’d have my two waffles so for breakfast I started to eat three eggs, a cup of oatmeal, and a cup of yogurt. Eventually I started eating the three eggs, a hamburger patty, and a cup of yogurt. I took the oatmeal out for whatever reason a couple years later. Kind of ever since that started I’ve always been into eating meat at breakfast and I generally feel better if I eat meat at breakfast.
Neely Quinn: It’s crazy. It’s something that I recommend to my clients and I’ve had the same experience for myself. My energy is so much better and I’m not hungry an hour later so it’s cool to hear somebody else have that experience.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: It’s cool to hear it from you, too, because I literally don’t know anyone else who’s like that. Everyone else is like, ‘Oh no, pancakes and I’m good.’ You sure? [laughs]
Neely Quinn: It’s usually, ‘Pancakes and I’m good,’ for an hour and a half and then they’re hungry again but sometimes it works for people. We’re all different and it’s cool that you’ve figured it out and were willing to change things in order to fuel yourself properly. It doesn’t seem like you eat many grains or gluten, either.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I don’t do any gluten. I do grains, mainly rice, but not a ton of it either. I’m not eating it every day. I eat a lot of sweet potatoes so I’m definitely not restricting carbs at all but it’s not a staple for me.
Neely Quinn: Have you found that you don’t do well with gluten? Is that why you say no gluten?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Yeah, my mom is actually Celiac so I’ve never had the Celiac test but I just know that I don’t do well with it so I was like, ‘Well, it doesn’t make sense to get the actual test.’ I just don’t eat it and feel good.
Neely Quinn: Do you take any supplements.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I do. I take fish oils, which is really good for my skin. I get these pretty bad heel cracks if I don’t take that and that’s something that happens when I travel and I forget to bring them with. Fish oils are imperative for me. I also take probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamin C, vitamin D, and I take some Biotin as well. I want to say those are all of my vitamins.
Neely Quinn: Nice. It sounds like you really know what your body needs.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: I was pretty lucky to grow up with health conscious parents who taught me about vitamins in addition to eating healthy.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, your mom is a trainer. Is your dad one, too?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, he’s not. He was an investment banker but he grew up in athletics and I think my mom was the one who went more towards the healthy side first so he kind of followed. This happened when I was six. The whole family kind of became healthy then.
Neely Quinn: Nice. I think that’s all my questions for you. Did we miss anything? Is there anything else that you want to add?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: No, I feel like that was super good.
Neely Quinn: Do you want to do a shout-out to your sponsors?
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Oh yeah, definitely. I would love to thank my amazing sponsors which are Mammut, Ascend Chiro, and Kale & Clover. You are the best and thank you for supporting me.
Neely Quinn: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and your honesty. It was great talking.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thank you so much for having me.
Neely Quinn: Take care.
Sierra Blair-Coyle: Thanks, bye.
Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Sierra Blair-Coyle. You can find her on Instagram pretty easily @sierrablaircoyl and on Facebook as well. I highly recommend that you do because she puts up some really cool videos of the problems that she has her setters set and then some of the problems that she’s doing in some of the other gyms that she visits.
Right before Vail she put up what she was doing and how she was training and performing for that World Cup there. She did pretty well at that comp. I think she ended up in 26th. I could be wrong. It’s something in the 20’s but in qualifiers she wasn’t too far behind Ashima. She was like two places behind her and so that’s kind of how she usually does and then sometimes she does super well so she’s really interesting to watch.
On the topic of this podcast, I do have a request for you guys. I’m looking to create some t-shirts and tank tops for the podcast and I am lacking in creativity. I have basically zero. I want the t-shirt and tank top design to be really cool and reflect what the podcast is all about while also being aesthetically pleasing.
I’m looking for a designer. If you have an idea and you’re a designer who can design it I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com with any designs that you might have in mind. I’d love to hear from you.
Other than that, remember that we have training programs for you on trainingbeta.com/programs. Matt Pincus is taking new clients right now for online training from anywhere in the world. He’ll design you a training program for a month or three months or however long you want to train. You can find that at trainingbeta.com/matt.
I think that’s all I’ve got for you today. You can follow us on Instagram @trainingbeta, Facebook at TrainingBeta, and we also have a training Facebook group and that is at trainingbeta.com/community. That will take you straight over to Facebook and there are thousands of people chatting in there about training.
Thanks for listening all the way to the end. I really appreciate it and I’ll talk to you soon.