With the Grand Opening Party right around the corner, we thought it was time to introduce the world to Verdigo Boulders‘ incredible manager, KJ! She is smart, silly, and perma-stoked, and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to run our newest bouldering gym. Read on to get the answers to your most pressing questions about her.
Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from? What’s your story? How did you get into climbing?
I’m a west coast kid, for sure. I call everyone “dude,” love the beach, and am pretty miserable if it drops below 70. In my past life I was a personal trainer and CrossFit coach. Yup, I was a bro and I don’t regret it one bit. When I moved to Hawaii, I stopped coaching and I fell in love with being outside—mostly surfing and hiking, which eventually opened my eyes to camping, climbing, and exploring more of what nature has to offer.
I remember going on trips with my family to Joshua Tree and spending the day at Stoney Point with my pops. They’d climb, I’d scramble on rocks in my light-up LA Gears. Although I was introduced to climbing pretty early in life, I didn’t start climbing until 2014…I literally woke up wanting to try something new, signed up for the Intro to Climbing class at LA Boulders, and the rest was history.
Do you have any big climbing goals?
My goal is to climb outside more, specially in LA County. I’ve been to Bishop and JTree many times, but my goal to is be well-versed in local bouldering and in the process just get better overall.
What are your other hobbies?
Every week I do something new (or something that I haven’t done in a really long time). Sometimes it’s trying a new restaurant, or more recently climbing at Stoney Point, or even talking to someone new. It keeps things fresh and exciting; it’s kind of like filtering new water into a goldfish tank. I also like to draw, skateboard, surf, camp, and lift weights, bro.
What is your spirit animal?
I want to say something really majestic like an elephant; but realistically it’s Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo. “Give me some fin. Noggin. Duuuude.”
Tell us about your gnarliest epic.
I went on my first solo camping trip to Sequoia National Park last year. It being my first time camping alone, I had to trust the skills that I had and let go of the ones I didn’t. I used my hatchet and my knife. I made my fire and built my tent. I remembered to secure my food. I hiked for a couple of hours without seeing a soul. That’s not even all of it. To even think I could survive outside alone AND succeed was the most empowering experience of all my 31 years. Plus, on my last night, I slept so hard from 5 hours of hiking that I woke up to my 1 gallon water jug completely empty and clawed through. The neighbors said Yogi was out looking for treats.
What’s a fun fact about you?
If I could have any super power in the world, it would be Heart…Captain Planet, anyone? I’d want the the ability to bring more balance, calm, and kindness to the world. Ma-Ti was also telepathic and could control people and animals. He was like the Professor X of environmentalism and love.
What food could you eat every day for the rest of your life?
Well, I really love pizza, Thai food, and naan so maybe a combination of the three? Like a Penang curry and chicken pizza on naan. Is that a thing? It should be. Oh, and Thai Spicy, of course.
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
That’s easy: Moana. Because no one knOoOoOows how far I’ll goOoOoOo. I’m very curious and like to test the waters. I’ll definitely ask hard questions and maybe push a couple buttons. I mean, how else will we create change?
What’s your favorite thing about Burbank?
It’s city, but not too city. Burbank has a homey vibe to it that other parts of LA don’t.
What’s the title of your future memoir?
F*ck it, let’s do it. I’ve experienced some of the biggest, most powerful life lessons just by saying: “f*ck it.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Look up. I was on a hike in Hawaii and the entire time I was paying more attention to where I was walking rather than the magic that was all around me. Imagine all the things we miss out on when we’re so conscious of our next step or looking down at our phones.
Anything you want Verdigo members to know?
It takes a village. The best thing about a new gym is that we get to build our community and set the tone for the gym together. The team and I need your help in creating an environment that is safe, fun, and always moving forward!
What’s the last emoji you sent to someone?
Thanks KJ! Be sure to give her a fist bump and a solid “broooo” next time you see her at Verdigo Boulders.