In a town where wellness is the word, new Angelino and chef Lynnette Astaire navigates the weird world of working out in LA and shares what she eats to fuel her journey. Here, she explores hammock life with aerial yoga.
Bouldering = Life.
In fact, the new Olympic sport parallels life so much that I found myself talking to myself the same way I would at work like, “think Lynnette, thiink” or the classic, “don’t fuck this up.” In fact, it got pretty meta since this particular place, Hollywood Boulders, had a huge Hollywood sign inside the course. Talk about taking it to the top.
A long time ago, when I was learning to surf, I was (terrifyingly) taught not to mess with Mother Nature and, although I was technically not outside on an actual rock, I humbly entered the 10 level bouldering course at Level 1 (although there was a Level 0, I’m not that humble). Free falling from 10 feet (only 10 feet?) was something I wasn’t interested in doing.
Neither was having a pulled muscle.
Which brings me to training! First, there is a short but serious list of physical things that came to my attention pretty quickly while bouldering. This is not the thing you wake up the next morning and feel what you did, (even though that happened too): you’ll likely feel the pain pretty early in the climb. Like within the first 5 minutes.
Due to the intense lunging and stretching, the yoga “pigeon” pose is critical in climbing … and so are push-ups, chin-ups and anything involving carrying your full body weight. That being said, strong hands and forearms are important to bouldering. Boulderers keep their arms straight whenever possible, allowing their bones to support their body weight rather than their muscles. Either way, I definitely worked a few muscles in ways that I normally do not.
Second is mental training. Not only do you need to trust yourself, you need to trust your surroundings. It was exhilarating to reach the top of my first little summit but at the same time completely overwhelming with the task of coming down.
In fact, you just might fall.
And how you fall is of utmost importance because no matter how soft the “crash pad” landing is, the wrong posture could put you in, well, a bad position. Upon landing, boulderers use falling techniques similar to those used in gymnastics and there are many bouldering techniques dedicated to this which I suggest you take the time to learn.
By the time I made it to Level 2, I’d developed a swinging system that helped me to shift my weight and catapult to grab the next piece, not knowing if that was correct but it worked. Later I learned that this is called “dynamic” movement.
And when I made it to Level 3 I found myself cursing the person who designed this course and was looking around to see who could possibly do this … you know how it is, if you can’t do it then it’s obviously broken, LOL.
After I’d gotten as comfortable as I could on level 3, I began to notice the details of the place. In addition to level labels, there were dates attached to them. Turns out each section of the course (called a problem) gets changed every month, so there’s always a new … problem.
Hands and Feet
My problems, however, were my hands and feet. The shoes looked and felt like a combination of a cycling shoe and a ballet pointe shoe. They are oppressive, to say the least, but to effectively climb, this type of tight structure is necessary. The only protection available for hands is gymnast’s chalk … and this is just to keep them dry. Apparently, callouses are a way of life on the rock.
Bouldering will likely go down in this series as the one thing I’d love to do but doubt I’ll actually do much of. I could see myself occasionally doing this for conditioning or just a fun activity but at this point in life, I’m not too thrilled about hammer toes and calloused hands.
Overall, bouldering was harder yet more fulfilling than I thought and required the mental dexterity of a Tetris champion, the physical strength of a ninja warrior and the foresight of a chess master. I can’t imagine this without the colored guides, out in the open, where every. move. matters.
Just don’t fall … and if you do, do it gracefully.
Much like life.
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses. The sport originated as a method of training for roped climbs and mountaineering. While it can be done without any equipment whatsoever, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.
Who it’s for:
Strategists, yogis, daredevils, gymnasts, ballerinas
Who it’s not for:
Acrophobiacs, hand models, impatient types
What I ate:
After scaling walls all morning, I’d worked up a sizeable appetite. Lucky for me there were leftovers in the form of Jack + Chick: my super popular curried jackfruit and chickpea stew. Get the recipe here.
About Lynnette Astaire:
Lynnette Astaire is a chef with 15 years of plant-based cooking experience and 10 years of fasting experience who healed her chronic disease through diet. She is the founder of Superfood School, a plant-based meal prep program that helps everyday eaters to get more plants on their plates, easily and deliciously.
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Illustrations by Chrissy Curtin