How Sasha DiGiulian Stays In Big-Wall Shape

It may come as a surprise that the world-championship climber's natural habitat isn’t the mountains, it's Manhattan

“Everything in moderation, always." (Cameron Maier/Bearcam Media)
sasha digiulian

DiGiulian won her first national title as a 14-year-old and has gone on to podium multiple times at the World Championships while sending some of the hardest routes in the world, including the first American ascent of Magic Mushroom on the Eiger, in Switzerland. So it may come as a surprise that her natural habitat isn’t the mountains. It’s Manhattan, where she lives and recently completed degrees in business and nonfiction writing at Columbia University. So how does a Gothamite stay in big-wall shape?

“As long as the weather is nice, I walk everywhere. But I don’t do my workouts at public parks. I go to the gym. Every day.”

“I target sport-specific muscles that apply to the type of climbing I do on rock. It’s an upper-body-dominated sport, but you need to work your legs for long approaches and certain moves on the wall.” 

“I use a Treadwall, like a vertical treadmill with holds on it. It’s great for endurance. I can train for a 3,000-foot climb without going anywhere.”

“I rely on caffeine. Currently, I have a coffee in my hands. As part of evening training or if I have class, I’ll drink a Red Bull—but I’ve never had more than one in a day.”

“Everything in moderation, always. If your body wants to eat something, have whatever you want—just don’t go overboard with it. If you’re working out regularly, your body needs the proper fuel to keep performing.” 

“Because I live far away from most good climbing destinations, I’m traveling all the time. I always joke that I want to make a video of an in-hotel workout. I pack a yoga mat so I can at least stretch out or do push-ups and abs. Just a little bit of cardio before or after a flight makes so much difference for jet lag.”

“Everyone loses motivation, and you can easily fall down a slippery slope where one more day without training accumulates into one more week. But training is my job. So even when I feel terrible and I don’t want to go to the gym, I force myself to go, because some effort is better than none. My coach, Kevin Paretti, always tells me, ‘Find a way.’ ”

“I use BellaBeat, an app that tracks fitness and sleep. It graphs everything, so you can see when you felt great and were performing at your peak, and how you were sleeping during those times. You can see when your body operates optimally and then make adjustments.”

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