This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC’s featured athlete: Anna Hazlett. Her rock climbing journey began after she rolled her ankle and instead of going for a run, ended up at a climbing gym. She describes the experience as “love at first sight” and rock climbing is now her “life’s passion”. In this interview,she talks with us about what she has learned through her injuries, how she balances fitness and life, and what her next big goal is!
What is your fave way to train (running, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, dancing…)?
How did that become your thing?
It’s actually such a cute story! I had rolled my ankle and decidedly refused to run at cross-country practice. At this time, my friend Lucas invited me to climb at a new local bouldering gym as an alternative to not running, and apparently, I wasn’t too injured to try rock climbing. He graciously paid for my day pass, and I remember immediately upgrading to a monthly membership: it was love at first sight. Oh, and Lucas and I are still friends, too.
How has training physically changed you mentally or emotionally?
Climbing had immediate physical changes: upper body strength, general fitness, mangled feet, calloused hands. I went from a scrawny cross-country runner to an all-around athlete through bouldering, an inspiring transformation that makes me happy every day! Emotionally, climbing has challenged me to overcome so much fear and insecurity. My favorite type of climbing is the scariest type: tall vertical lines without a rope. In climbing jargon, these are referred to as “slab high-balls.” These lines require complete focus, concentration, and confidence. If you mess up, you fall and can badly injure yourself—I have shattered my foot and torn ligaments up my leg with just one misstep. Overcoming the trauma from injuries and terrifying moments has made me a stronger, more assertive person in life, and I am so grateful for the outlook climbing has given me.
What is still hard for you about your training, fitness or nutrition?
Balancing training, school, and being a healthy adult sometimes feels exhausting! I joke about how each day I have to “choose two.” I absolutely love climbing, so I easily justify going to the gym over studying for a midterm. My struggle is keeping all facets of my life in check; to me it’s important to maintain good grades for my future (I am currently studying Biopsychology at UCSB) alongside pursuing a career in rock climbing. Oh, and cookies are my kryptonite.
What is the mantra in your head that you hear most often when you train?
“Keep a clear head and a wild heart.” And it’s actually tattooed on my body under a sketch of the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada’s. I stay focused on my goal and remind myself that I climb because I love to. It’s my life’s passion.
What do you love most about your body?
I love how capable my body is. I know it sounds weird, but I love how general fitness from climbing transfers so beautifully into other sports and activities. It makes me feel so strong and confident when I try new sports like gymnastics, circus, dance, etc.
If you have worked with a coach, what’s the most important lesson you learned from that person?
I actually just started working with a coach while I was home for the summer, and have already learned so much about weight training, form, and supplementary workouts. It’s so comforting to have dedicated workouts and a fixed routine; it just keeps me on track and injury free. Having a plan every day keeps me focused and healthy, getting enough sleep and not overworking my body.
What is your fave nutrition tip?
The best advice for eating healthy and maintaining a balanced lifestyle is to enjoy food as much as possible! For me, raised in a Mexican-American household, food is life. I don’t restrict what I eat, I just make sure not to overeat and try my best to make traditional meals healthier, like adding spinach to my mole enchiladas! I find that enjoying every bite helps me eat until I reach the “I’m-content” full and not the “food-coma-inducing” full.
If you could tell only one thing to every woman who is struggling in her fitness journey, what would that be?
It’s not easy. It’s about focusing on where you are now, not on where you want to be. It’s so easy to see fitness models or other athletes on social media and be overwhelmed. Focus on your journey and recognize that these people online have worked hard to get to that skill level, that strength, or that muscle tone. Enjoy the process, because that’s all there is—life is about growth and self-improvement. There will always be new goals, and that’s the beauty of it!
What goal are you going to crush next??
Now it’s time to drop some more climbing jargon! There is this gorgeous, dream-infiltrating project I have my sight set on. This world-renowned boulder problem, “Stained Glass,” lives in Bishop, CA (yes, the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada’s) and my goal is to crush it this season!
BIG thank you to Anna for being our Featured Athlete!
You can connect with her at:
Do you know someone who should be featured on our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight? Check out more information here!
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