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How Champion Climber Natalia Grossman Is Prepping For Paris 2024

Alexandra Engler

mbg Beauty Director

By Alexandra Engler

mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she’s held beauty roles at Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.

Game On with Natalia Grossman

Image by mbg Creative / courtesy of source

June 05, 2024

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We love celebrating women on top of their game. In our new series Game On, we’re interviewing top athletes about their well-being routines—covering everything from nutrition that makes them feel strong to the moments that bring them joy. 

Champion climber Natalia Grossman is headed to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, only the second time ever that the sport has been played at the Olympic level.

She earned herself a spot by taking home the gold at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023, just two years after her breakout season in 2021, in which she competed in her first World Cup circuit. 

That year, she earned a gold in bouldering and a silver in lead at the World Championship. (“I had a very good year,” she humbly told me during our chat.) The 22-year-old California native has been climbing since she was just 6 years old—but it wasn’t until that pivotal year that she considered a future as a professional athlete. 

“Honestly, it didn’t come until very late. I never thought it was something I could do professionally,” she said when I asked her about the moment she realized she wanted to dedicate herself to the sport. “But after that season, all of a sudden I was like, Whoa I could be a climber.” 

And then she turned I could be a climber into I am a climber. Here’s how she does it. 

Editor’s note:

Leading up to the Olympics, Grossman is teaming up with skin care brand Olay, whose new Cleansing Melts will be the official face wash of Team USA.

mindbodygreen: I think a lot of people can relate to getting nervous before a big meeting or life event. You’re someone who is doing that on a global scale—especially this summer during the Olympics. How do you mentally prepare for a big competition?

Natalia Grossman: During training season and competition season, I like to meditate and visualize. Those are two tools I use to mentally get ready. After, I like to journal about my session—how I felt, what I did, and all of those emotions. 

Then, of course, having people who I can talk to is incredibly important—such as my coach, my physical therapist, and my parents. I am very, very close with my parents, especially my mom. So just being able to tell her what’s on my mind helps me immensely. I also work with a sports psychologist sometimes. 

I feel like I need to do a lot of things to prepare mentally, just because climbing is just as much mental as physical—especially during a competition. 

mbg: That’s such an interesting point. There’s obviously a lot of physicality to the sport, but it really comes down to mental resilience. When you’re feeling the pressure during a competition, how do you push through?

Grossman: I stay present. If I’m present, then my mind is going to be calm and I can just stay focused.

mbg: What meals help you feel your strongest? 

Grossman: As a climber, I use a lot of energy. Before competitions, I like to have lots of carbs. Throughout the competition, just for quick energy, I like having simple sugars—even things like gummy bears and gels. 

But the night before is important. So, normally I eat rice with salmon. I’ve been a pescatarian for over 10 years now. So I have some kind of fish for my protein. Salmon is my favorite. 

mbg: How do you wind down at night to get ready for sleep? 

Grossman: I always have to shower before I do anything else in the evening. So I shower, wash my face, and apply my moisturizer. I use Olay Retinol24 + Peptide Night Face Moisturizer. Then I’ll have my dinner and just relax. I like to have pretty chill evenings where I’ll read a book or watch a show. 

mbg: What’s your recovery process?

Grossman: Obviously, good food and sleep is very helpful. But then I have a team to support me: I have a physio, a chiropractor, and I try to see a sports masseuse once a week. 

I also love recovery tools: I use compression sleeves sometimes. When I’m home I use the sauna. And I have a massage gun. My favorite is the Theragun

mbg: Being a professional athlete comes with a lot of pressure to be “on” all the time. How do you decompress? 

Grossman: I like to have a good balance with my sport and then with recovery time. But even during that recovery time when I’m not climbing, I’ll be doing something that’s ultimately helping me with my climbing.

So I really enjoy having days where I just don’t think about climbing at all. I try to keep it separate and have a life outside of climbing—because there have definitely been times when my whole life revolved around climbing. 

So I like to read and paint. Those are two hobbies I’ve gotten into more in the past year or two. 

I also love learning about psychology, so I’m taking psychology courses even though I’m no longer in school. I like to have coursework to keep learning. I just love learning about the mind!

Editor’s note:

Just have to brag on behalf of Grossman here, as she not only finished her degree in psychology while professionally competing (“I took classes during the summer,” she said), but she plans to eventually go back to get her master’s. That’s stamina! 

mbg: What quality about yourself are you most proud of and why?

Grossman: I’m a pretty supportive teammate. And I think that goes a long way. I’ve definitely had teammates who have been very supportive and also not so supportive.

I like to think that I support all my teammates—I’m more attuned to them, and I want what’s best for them. And I think I just foster a team atmosphere.

mbg: Speaking of teammates, what makes a good teammate?

Grossman: I like being surrounded by people who are positive, supportive, and care for you as a person outside of your sport or outside of your result. 

mbg: I think climbing as a sport has grown in popularity over the last several years—especially for women. I see so many women starting to pick up climbing as a hobby. What advice do you have for young women who are just starting out? 

Grossman: I know it can be scary at first if you’re not used to it—like being up high or if you don’t know how to fall properly. But just pushing past that fear and knowing that it will get better with time—just like any other activity. 

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