At just 22 years old, Natalia Grossman is quickly becoming the new star of competitive climbing. Last year, Grossman graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in Psychology. The online schooling allowed her the opportunity to study and train at the same time.

“I always wanted to have my own practice and I had a plan to go get my Master's after,” she said. “Then I was like, ‘Wait, climbing. I kind of like living off this right now.’ So, I'm really focused on climbing for now. But definitely want to go back and get a master's.”

Last fall, Grossman took the gold at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023, and with that came a spot on Team USA for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, France. Grossman had been climbing since the age of six and had those around her supporting her climbing journey. 

Climbing is a relatively new sport at the Olympics with 2021 being the first time the sport was included in the games. In the 2021 games, there was only one medal for the sport.

“That's like having someone who's a sprinter and a marathon runner do the same thing, which is just a no-go,” she said. “So this year, speed climbing is its own discipline. And then the other two disciplines are called the combined bouldering and lead. And that's what I do. And then, hopefully, at the next games, all three disciplines will be separate.”

When it comes to training, Grossman's ideal schedule is two days on, and one day off to make sure to always have a rest day. Her workouts include weights, strength building, and lots of stretching. Activities like journaling and meditation keep her in a good mental space and help with her performance. The mental aspect of things helps with visualization.

“I don't know what the boulders or roots or what the climbs are going to look like at the Olympics,” she said. “Some of the rounds, you go out there and you see them for the first time and you have five minutes to figure it out and climb them.”

She works closely with a sports psych and wants to do something similar in the future to help other athletes. This type of mentality matches Grossman’s ideal training schedule. Her rest days are her cleaning and meal-prepping days. Spoon University had the opportunity to chat with Grossman at Red Bull’s New York office about her meal prepping, work-out meals, and other favorite foods.

Spoon University: Since you mentioned meal prepping, what do you normally meal prep?

Natalia Grossman: I go pretty basic. So typically, a grain, a protein, a vegetable. Either like in the oven, or on the pan. I typically just stick everything in the oven, [so] you don't have to do much. I've been [a] pescatarian for about 10 years, so I eat a lot of fish, tofu, lentils, but no meat.

Spoon: What’s your favorite food?

NG: My favorite food is pizza. But a European pizza, like a good seafood pizza. Oh, which sounds weird. They put shrimp and sometimes fish and scallops. I've even had octopus on there. It's just very strong. I love seafood.

Spoon: Are you a coffee drinker? A tea drinker?

NG: I'd say tea and Red Bull. I really like lemon ginger or peppermint [tea].

Spoon: You're about to work out. What's your pre-workout snack or meal?

NG: It depends, like competition versus training. But for the most part, I train in the mornings. And so I'll just have breakfast overnight, like yogurt with chia seeds that sit overnight. And then eggs with toast. And then [on competition] days, always Red Bull, because sometimes we start really early.

Spoon: What is your go-to snack?

NG: I'd say like a Nature Valley granola bar is the go-to or an apple. Just carbs normally.

Spoon: For apples, are you a red apple type of person? A green apple? Granny Smith? Honeycrisp?

NG: Honeycrisp.

Spoon: It’s 12 a.m. and you’re starving, what food are you craving?

NG: Definitely pizza. Actually, probably honeycomb cereal. That's how I end every night, is with cereal or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Spoon: Do you have any food that you are obsessed with?

NG: Besides the cereal, I would say I loved sushi growing up and I still really enjoy it. But it's interesting because now that I've traveled abroad and had really good sushi. I feel like I'm always let down here like in the U.S.

Spoon: I feel like now you have to say, where's the best sushi you've ever had?

NG: Definitely Japan. Tuna just melts in your mouth. It’s so good. I really enjoy nigiri. Just a good nigiri goes a long way. Growing up — this sounds odd — but every Friday, we'd go to a sushi place. I don't remember the name of the roll, but it was like fried yams with cashews and teriyaki. And it was very sweet. But that was kind of a less traditional roll.