The Cliffs Community: Peter

Photos by  Andres Burgos

Photos by Andres Burgos

You may know Peter. The fact is, if you climb at LIC, you've seen Peter. He is as constant as the chalk, and for the last year, he's made The Cliffs his home away from home. He recently posted a photo on Facebook of the transformation his body went through over the last year: well, let's just say—damn.

Photo courtesy of Peter's facebook

Photo courtesy of Peter's facebook

Ok, we know. Mirror selfie ab shot. They always feel a little ingenuine. And it's the new year, the time of empty resolutions and to-be-forgotten goals. But if you know Peter, then you, just like us, are staring at this picture with your jaw somewhere around your knees. That would be because, for the last few months, you may have also seen Peter hobbling around on one leg, swinging on crutches with his knee bandaged up. Not only did Peter totally transform his body, but he did it over a period of time that was less-than-advantageous: a period where he was temporarily immobile and in pain. This feat, which for the great majority of us proves impossible under the best of circumstances, seemed to just happen to Peter, almost accidentally. And so we caught up with him to figure out what voodoo magic was really going on.

Us: Hey Peter.
Us: Alright drop the act, MAN. We're not buying any more of your hokey-pokey I'm-so-friendly check-out-my-six-pack shenanigans. 
Peter: Aw c'mon! Climbing is awesome! I love climbing, you love climbing! Can't we all be friends?
Us: NO! It can't be true! You don't get a body like that just because you love climbing. Cut the BS.
Peter: No BS! Only love!
Us: Leave now. 

Jokes, jokes. Here's what really happened:

When and why did you start climbing?

I started in mid-November 2014, after I did a west coast trip and stopped in Yosemite. Alex Honnold's name echoed throughout the valley, so I Googled rock climbing and thought it might be a cool thing to try out.

What was your life like before you started climbing?

Very typical, a normal 8 to 5 job as a medical technologist in a hospital, occasionally some outdoor activities like hiking and camping.

And now?

I definitely dedicate more time to climbing. There's always a problem at the gym I'm looking forward to getting on. It gets really addicting really fast.

What does your typical week look like?

A typical week for me would be 3 to 5 days of climbing. I do a few days of hard climbing and 1 or 2 days of active rest. Sometimes I still organize hiking and camping trips on the weekends. It's always nice to go out and enjoy nature.

Tell us about your knee. How did that affect your routine?

I had a freak accident while bouldering outdoors -- a simple knee fracture that wouldn't allow me to put weight on my right knee, which meant I couldn't take falls.. I kept a positive attitude about it, I figured if I could still train, an injury isn't an excuse to quit. I could still go to the gym and work to improve on various areas without exacerbating the injury.

Why climbing? Why not crossfit or pilates or any of the other things?

The thing about climbing is that it isn't repetitive. Every problem has its unique identity, and a few different ways to solve it. It's not an exercise that you repeatedly do reps and sets—it's more about learning how your body can move in ways you never imagined, and training your mind to be strong. 

Do you feel like the climbing community is receptive to people of all different body types and athletic abilities?

The climbing community is like no other community I have encountered before. We gather around to cheer each other on and offer beta. It doesn't matter if you're beginner or advanced, it doesn't matter if you send or fall. If you give your effort and push hard, you will win cheers and applause. This is a group of beautiful people who are very open to everyone, regardless of gender, body type, or ability. They generously accepted me when I first started, and now I am very proud to be a member of this community.

What was your personal reaction to seeing your after photo posted next to your before?

I wasn't as thrilled as I thought I would be, because I think there's still room for improvement. Having said that, I'm still happy that at the age of 35, I can still change my body around.

I imagine it might be easy for someone to see those photos and think that a membership to a climbing gym is the golden ticket to rock hard abs. What else did you do? Was it lifestyle? Diet? Mental focus? What's the behind the scenes?

Membership to a climbing gym is certainly a start. I don't want to short sell the work I put in, but I did not go on a diet and I still enjoy occasional weekend drinks with friends. The key thing to physical health is consistency. If you're dreading your hour-long treadmill routines, you're probably not going to keep doing it. Climbing made that really easy, time goes quick when you're having fun. Before I realized it, I'd be pulling 3 to 4 hour sessions, 3 to 5 times a week, and before I knew it, I started noticing changes in my body. 

And there you have it: Peter's special sauce, his voodoo hoodoo, his soylent green, his victoria's secret. The slightly ineffable but mostly unstoppable desire to climb. Through injury, fatigue, everyday life, and work stress, we keep at it because we love it. Because the community is so pure, and the activity so goddamn fun, we love it. Thanks for sharing with us Peter! Be sure to check out the rest of the beautiful photos from Andres Burgos!