Home Workout Gear Regulars of a Vital climbing gym in Greenpoint

Regulars of a Vital climbing gym in Greenpoint


Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

Galina Parfenov (picture above)
Climbing Coach, New Haven, Connecticut

Do you shuttle daily from New Haven?
No, I go around to a bunch of different gyms all over Connecticut and the city, depending on the day. When did you first climb? I was 12, in seventh grade. I was taking art classes outside of school and my art teacher asked me if I wanted to go rock climbing with her. I was like, “Sure, why not?” I was wearing skinny jeans and I remember thinking, It’s probably not the best outfit.

How did you become a coach?
I was a biochemistry major, but I think that was my senior year when I was like, Wow, I really don’t care about any of this. I finished school, moved back to Connecticut, found a tiny little gym very close to my parents’ house, and literally wrote the owner an email asking if I could sit and watch and learn a bit more about coaching. He emailed me back and he was like, “Yeah, you really don’t qualify, but I found your YouTube” — I had some viral climbing videos that everyone knew me — “and you seem a little badass, so come on.

Justin Signo

Unemployed, Williamsburg

Climbing should be hard on the body.

Yes. The first time, my hands shredded. I was trying to get TSA PreCheck a day after climbing, and they were kind of surprised because I had no fingerprints – because when you climb you lose your skin and stuff.

Jai Chablat-Yates

Model, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Robert Kydd

Control Engineer, East Village

Terry Fay Hamilton

Screenprinter, Jersey City

Tatiana Fenner

Filmmaker, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Allyson Bagalay

Nurse, East Village

Caleigh Gardon

Emergency Medical Technician, Williamsburg

Alexia Adana

Creative Director, Bushwick

Kate Rhodes

Fundraising for Health Care, Park Slope

Do you come a lot?

Oh, I do my job here, I climb here, I do yoga here, I just hang out. It is open 24/7. I changed into clothes to go to a friend’s wedding at this gym. I was so embarrassed because these people never saw me in normal clothes. Coming out the door in my dress felt like the longest 100 feet of my life.

Taylor Axdorff

Designer, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Jake Deakin

Product Design Manager, Williamsburg

Julianna Wilson

Audiobook Producer, Upper West Side

Do you look around as you climb?

Yeah, that’s so funny. People look like monkeys, and they fall off walls all the time – I think of them as squirrels in Central Park. I run all the time in the park and you always see squirrels falling from the trees. That’s right, but it’s a bunch of adults.

Matthew Lev

Designer, Prospect Heights

What else do you do?

I am also a ceramist. I just sanded ten bowls yesterday. The way I think about it, with climbing you are on rocks, and with ceramics you are using a soft material that heats up in a rock. So all around, I work with pebbles.

Tammy Tan

Software Engineer, Lower East Side

Moses Chavez-Gray

Law Student and Vital Employee, Flatbush

Conchobhar Kegan

Vital Employee, Greenpoint

Adnan Aga

Graduate Student, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Rae Haas

Artist and Musician, Greenpoint

Did you try anything new tonight?

So each color on the wall represents different qualities from V1 to V8 – extremely difficult. I got 75% of that V8, which was a really big step for me. And I’m quite short – my wingspan is negative -2, which isn’t ideal for a climber.

Photographs of DeSean McClinton-Holland

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