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An Introduction to Personal Training For The Skeptical

I’ve never thought that I’d be one of those people who would have a personal trainer. But I tried a personal training consultation at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, and it was unlike anything I’d expected.

Attempting a one-armed pull up at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago with Matt de Spain
Attempting a one-armed pull up at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago with Matt de Spain

Back in college, one of my friends had a personal trainer (aptly named Angel). I thought it was a little ridiculous – if you wanted to work out, why wouldn’t you just do it? It seemed like paying for a fake friend to cheerlead on the sidelines as you lifted weights.

But as all the pro-climbers know, you gotta train hard if you want to climb hard. And so we’re on a mission to test out personal training at all the Brooklyn Boulders facilities.

The first step A personal training consultation, where you can figure out where you are physically (point A), so you can get to your goals (point B). I tested it out with Eduardo Orihuela at BKB Chicago:

Eduardo Orihuela, climbing at BKB Chicago.
Eduardo Orihuela, climbing at BKB Chicago.


He asked me about my health & fitness history, if I had any previous injuries, illnesses, and talked me through what my fitness goals were. It was like talking to a therapist but for my physical body rather than my mind – he asked me what motivated me, what obstacles I foresaw, and what I wanted to achieve or change.

Then it came to the physical assessment. As a climber for a year and a half, I feel like I’m pretty in shape, but how do I actually compare to the standard of a physical trainer?

Here’s what I learned: flexibility & mobility is key. As a former gymnast, I have a good basis for flexibility (which is perhaps how, in part, I was able to go from V0 to V4 in four months), but I can see how most climbers completely disregard stretching as a part of their routine. Being able to do at least 20 push ups in a row is the minimum standard for females, 35 for males. And just hanging on a bar — hello, grip strength — is actually pretty hard.

Training the body consistently is a great way to have more discipline and to reach our goals, whether that’s climbing harder, looking & feeling better, or to prevent injury.

My current goals: to consistently climb V5s, break into V6s and to do a one-armed pull up. The latter is a bit of a party trick and likely won’t actually help me with me climbing harder, but still. It would be cool.

Next up: more personal training sessions with our diverse trainers with personality in New York and Boston. Stay tuned for more!

Eduardo Orihuela is a Certified Personal Trainer at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago. Sign up for a complimentary personal training consult with Eduardo here.

For personal training consultations at our other locations: