Who are you and how did you get to Brooklyn?
You can call me Di, my friends call me Di Feng which is my full first name. I immigrated with my family to the states from China when I was about two years old. I was raised in Chinatown New York. My family of four lived in a one-bedroom tenement apartment on Spring Street for about fifteen years. We worked hard at the American dream allowing us to move out to Sheepshead Bay, where I have resided for ten years.
How did you start climbing?
Many years ago, I came with friends on one of those Groupon deals. We liked it so much that we got the ten-pass on a deal. After that ended we did the 4-month deal where you had to line up early in the morning. Then we did the overnight stay inside the gym for a deal on a 16-month membership. Now I’m the only one from that original friend group on an annual membership.
How has climbing changed your life?
Climbing is one of those sports where you must defeat yourself. It presents to yourself mental and physical challenges that only you can overcome. Beta and pep talk can come from other climbers but it is always up to you to perform. Sport climbing is an extremely challenging sport, which is why I like it. Once I was part of three gyms at once: NYSC, Dolphin Fitness, and Brooklyn Boulders. After the fitness equipment came in, BKB was all I needed. The challenge of finishing a route has always pushed me more than grinding through the same old gym routine. Climbing has also been my stress relief in times when I have much on my mind. When I climb, there is not much to think about except, this route is freaking hard and I need to hang on to finish or I have to do it all over again.
What are your current biggest projects, on and off the wall?
One the wall, I want to traverse from under the Brooklyn bridge top-rope area all the way to the front of the gym. It is a long strenuous route and a great challenge for any type of climber. This can usually only be done when the gym is empty. Lead certification is also on the radar.
Off the wall, there is an annual flag football tournament that I attend. My team made the championship game last year only to get spanked. I am doing training for that after I climb as well as practices every weekend. It would be a great high if we could get this trophy. Also I have also been struggling to inch myself closer to my friends’ Strava cycling times. I am way behind them but I have been improving my times every week.
Who or what inspires you?
The guy that runs everyday at 5am in Gravesend Brooklyn in a sweat suit. I used to see him every time I would finish at the gym in the morning.
The cyclists that power past me when I’m struggling to bike up the Prospect Park hill.
Alex G from my job that bikes 18 miles to and from work EVERY DAY.
The kids that climb easily and effortlessly.
The single moms like Kevin Durant’s mom who are the real MVPs.
Keep up with and stay tuned for more portraits done by Leah Bank and community spotlights on our blog!
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