When you watch one of Jennifer Langen's Youtube videos, you get the immediate sense that she is your best friend.
In a world filled with climbers who have seemingly unattainable superhuman strength, Jenn makes you feel at home. Don't get me wrong, she is made up of 100% superhuman strength – but she's also real about it.
Whether it's anxiety about climbing in front of other people or stress about falling, Jenn talks about it often and openly. She's the type who inspires you to send hard while embracing the rollercoaster of emotions in between. Can't work a problem? Don't worry, Jenn talks you (and herself) through it, because she's not shy at trying all the options and figuring out what works.
Jenn started climbing about two and a half years ago and after sharing her year of bouldering progress on Youtube, she started to become known in the community for her entertaining, well-edited, and super relatable videos.
So, how did she get started? What keeps her climbing? We chatted with Jenn and got all the juicy answers for you.
She is currently on gap year on her way to grad school
Her home gym is LA Boulders
If she's ignoring your texts, she's probably in Bishop
Do you remember your very first time climbing? What was it like? Did you enjoy it? We need all the details.
My early memories of climbing mostly consist of birthday parties at the local climbing gym, the Arcadia Rock Climbing gym (which is now a Hangar 18). I returned once or twice to the ARC in high school, and only remember bouldering V0s, which made my forearms swell and ache for days.
At the time, I was a competitive swimmer, so I didn’t have much time to pick up new hobbies. Even so, I think the fact that I could only climb V0 discouraged me from climbing more, since I thought I was naturally “bad” at climbing. Of course, when I returned to climbing in college, I realized how subjective grades are!
At what moment did you decide that you wanted to commit to climbing?
Funny story! In my junior year of college, I was in a long-distance relationship with a boulderer, which ended shortly in a lot of heartbreak. I bought climbing shoes immediately after the breakup and started going to my university’s tiny, old, perpetually-empty climbing wall in between classes. I don’t exactly know what my rationale was -- whether I thought that we’d get back together if I suddenly became good at climbing, or whether the practice of climbing was a form of meditation that helped fill the void of his absence.
I started filming myself on my phone to document my progression and was surprised by how quickly my body could adapt to an initially-insurmountable problem over the course of a few days. With my recorded videos, I had concrete evidence of self-improvement, and I became super stoked on seeing just how good at climbing I could get. I started my membership at LA Boulders in May of 2017, and I’ve been bouldering regularly since! (Although, a PSA: Getting good at climbing won’t make your ex want to get back with you. In case anyone was wondering.)
Shortly after you started climbing, you launched your YouTube channel Jenn Sends. Congrats on hitting over 17k subscribers in such a short time! Tell us more about why you started your channel. What has it been like?
Thanks so much! It still feels surreal that anyone watches my videos. At first, I started my YouTube channel because I was looking for a creative outlet to keep me busy in the months following my college graduation. I’ve always liked filming and editing personal vlogs for my friends and family, and I started to post general lifestyle/fashion content in April 2018. Nobody watched me, and I don’t think my videos were very good, but I was happy to keep myself busy with a hobby during that tumultuous and stressful time post-grad!
At the end of July, I posted a video about my experiences during my first year of bouldering. For whatever reason, the YouTube algorithm decided to put me on blast, and the video slowly started to get thousands of views! I noticed that a lot of the comments remarked that they were inspired to see someone “realistic” document her progress – and lots of women were happy to see a female climber in the YouTube space, which remains predominantly male.
Once I realized that people who were subscribed to me wanted to see more climbing content, I decided to pivot into creating climbing-only content on my channel in the beginning of 2019. I’m so lucky that I did, because I think Jenn Sends has been able to show a softer side of climbing – I talk openly about how climbing affects my anxiety, I curate the music of my videos to be as relaxing as possible, and I try to cultivate a space of inclusivity where everyone chill feels valid and accepted. Reading through DMs of people who are inspired by my videos (some who even started bouldering because of my videos!) is always so gratifying and really affirms that I made the right decision by creating Jenn Sends.
What is your current training program? What are your climbing goals for this year and beyond?
HAHA, I wish I could have a more interesting answer, but I really mainly train by just climbing. I do try to do some form of cardio (running, jump-rope, or even walking) a couple of times a week, and I go to an amazing cardio/strength class once a week at LAB called Sweat and Shred. Recently, I’ve been doing pull-up circuits after my lighter climbing sessions, and I feel like I can already notice a change in my upper body strength. I follow a modified version of Hoseok’s pull-up routine, where I do 5 pull-ups instead of 10. I’ll also throw in a quick ab workout (I recommend Blogilates!) to do at home once a week! If this all sounds confusing, here’s a sample week of my IDEAL current workout routine, which only happens if life doesn’t get in the way!
Monday: 30 minutes of cardio + Climb
Tuesday: Climb + Sweat and Shred (cardio/strength)
Thursday: 30 minutes of cardio + Climb
Friday: 30 minutes of cardio + light Climb + Pull ups
Saturday: Ab workout at home
This routine works well with my current 9-5, but in 2020, I want to see if I can incorporate hangboarding and campus boarding into my training, so stay tuned!
What are some trends in the climbing world that you are obsessed with?
I recently started trying some boards (Moon boards, Tension boards) and I’m really into them! I think they’re a great way to gauge your progress across different gyms in a standardized way. The routes are typically graded harder than the climbs at my gym, so my climbing sessions on boards are always accompanied by a reinvigorated stoke to train more!
On the flip side, what are some trends that you're not a fan of?
As for trend I’m not a fan of… This might be a hot take, but I’m not crazy about the amount of parkour/dyno heavy sets in my gym recently. These moves look cool (I’m sure they feel cool to do, too) but it’s just a style of climbing that I’m not particularly excited about.
Also, after watching a couple of newer climbing films, I’m starting to become tired of the same narrative of strong-man-vs-big-rock. In the future, I hope to see some stories centered around conflicts other than “man vs. wild/himself”, and start seeing stories frame the conflicts of their subjects in more engaging, diverse, and unique ways.
What are some climbing hacks that you think everyone should know about?
Something I’ve mentioned in my videos is that I love to mix essential oils into my climbing chalk! Since oils are very concentrated, you only need a couple of drops for a whole bag. I usually mix a blend of citrus scents like lemon, lime, grapefruit, and lemongrass to invigorate me whenever I chalk up! I also use an all-natural shoe deodorizer for my climbing shoes after every session, but you can make a DIY spray out of 70% isopropanol in a spray bottle!
Any general life tips or musings you'd like to share?
A lot of people ask me what it was like starting a YouTube channel. If you’re thinking of starting one, I say: START TODAY! You don’t need fancy recording equipment; you just need a story behind what makes you unique! Even if you don’t want to start a channel, I highly recommend filming yourself on your phone when you climb. It’ll give you an idea of where your technique is at, and it’ll be so gratifying to look back on this footage once you start to improve!