Alyssa Serfes-Megeath is all about encouraging climbers to get out of their comfort zones. Her rule for trying hard routes: If you can boulder to the first clip of a route, stop, and get into a solid clipping stance, you should grab a rope and give it a try. Alyssa’s also a new mother and the coach of Climbing Fundamentals, a monthly climbing technique class launching in March. When asked what the funniest excuse she’s made for not working out is, she answered: “I’m going to go drink beer instead.”
It’s your birthday?! Happy Birthday! What are you doing to celebrate?
I don’t know yet. We climbed for five hours last night, so I’m like I can’t come back and climb again – I’m worked.
How did you start climbing and coaching climbing?
I’ve started climbing seriously within the past 10 years, but I’ve climbed ever since I was a little kid. I started climbing on the East Coast at the second oldest gym in the country – the Boston Rock Gym. I started working there when I was 18 belaying birthday parties, doing front desk work and [later] became their first female setter. [Then] I started working at the Boulder Rock Club instructing everyone ages 3 and up.
What brought you to Colorado?
I came out here on a vacation with the [Boston Rock Gym’s] head setter and climbed in Eldo, Clear Creek and Boulder Canyon. I went home, quit my job and moved here two weeks later. That was in 2015.
We’re super psyched to have you coaching Climbing Fundamentals beginning in March. Who would you recommend the class to?
This is a class for climbers looking to improve their technique: Learning to climb on different terrains and [understanding] body positioning and dynamic versus static climbing. No matter how advanced you are, you still can improve your technique.
I’m focusing the curriculum on who signs up for the class. Whether it’s beginner to intermediate hurdles to tackle, or, if someone is more advanced and really good at climbing slabs but can’t climb the main overhanging lead wall, we’ll [take] them out of their comfort zone and focus them on overhanging routes. [I like] helping people bump up their grade by watching how they’re clipping, using their feet, and seeing if they’re dynamic or static climbers.
What is one training technique you’d recommend to all climbers?
I spend time lifting and cross training, which a lot of climbers don’t do. Not CrossFit, but maintaining strength that I’ll use on the climbing wall and outside. I’ll spend more time doing that than actual climbing. I’ve never had a serious injury, and I think lifting is a huge component of that.
Have your climbing and training goals changed at all since you’ve become a mom?
I don’t think they’ve changed. I am 11 weeks postpartum and getting back into training. Last night was the first time that I climbed the grades I did pre-pregnancy, which is really quick. My time management has become a lot better. I used to catch up with friends at the gym, and now it’s, hey the baby’s sleeping, we need to get as many pitches in as possible.
That’s awesome! After climbing for 10 years almost injury free, have you made any silly training mistakes that you can share with us?
Going hard on the MoonBoard. I’ve left [a session] and thought oh wow, that did not feel right. The MoonBoard is really good, just know your limits.
What are you psyched on right now?
I’m psyched to be able to be part of a gym where the demographic is so large. I’m also excited that I’m running a mom’s meetup here.