From climbing mountains to running marathons, a job at GearJunkie requires a solid level of fitness. Our ‘How I Stay Fit’ series profiles editors and contributors on our staff for a peek at their fitness habits and idiosyncrasies working out and adventuring in the outdoors.
Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, each day was filled with fitness disguised as play. We didn’t formally recreate as a family per se, but instead, it was just expected that my sisters and I would spend most of the day outdoors.
So we created our own homemade mountain bike trails on our property, regularly hiked to a nearby pond, and spent hours sledding during the long winter months. I was also fortunate to grow up making weekly trips to Monarch Mountain to ski and snowboard.
In college, I discovered the joys of the climbing gym and became a yoga convert. Since then, I’ve tried my hand at cycling, paddling, slacklining, rowing, acroyoga, CrossFit, and competing in sprint triathlons. I even spent a memorable period studying aerial arts at a circus school in San Diego.
While some people find a single pursuit, I love the variety. I find it fascinating to learn new ways to challenge my body and see how interconnected it all is.
Gear Editor Mallory Paige: Hiking, Paddling, Daily Homestead Chores
Fitness motto: Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Personal stats: 5’5″, 138 pounds, 35 years old.
Home state: Colorado.
Favorite sports: Hiking, swimming, yoga, packrafting, weightlifting, functional fitness chores.
Adventure highlights: Kayaked the San Juan Islands, apprenticed at an organic vegetable farm, summited Gray’s Peak (a Colorado 14er), paddled the Snake River, guided rafts down the Poudre Canyon, SUP camped on the John Day River, backpacked in the Desolation Wilderness, motorcycle camped across North America.
Weekly routine: I’m lucky to live on a very remote piece of land. This means beautiful daily hikes straight from my doorstep. In the winter, I switch to snowshoes when necessary. And I always bring my 18-month-old daughter along for the trek. Turns out, toting an extra 30 pounds around is great exercise.
A few times a week, I bring out the kettlebells for a fast-paced weightlifting session. And I also do a short yoga and stretching routine daily.
During the summer, I try to paddle or swim whenever possible. And my daily chores of splitting firewood, tending to the garden, and managing a homestead top it all off with some excellent functional fitness.
How I keep it fun: After each workout or outdoor adventure, I take a moment to realize how much better I feel mentally and physically. It helps train my brain to get out the door even when I don’t feel like it in the moment — because I know I’ll appreciate of the effort later.
I also rely heavily on variety. I’m always up for taking a class or learning a new sport. When motivation is lacking, I seek out something fun to try. It can be intimidating to be a beginner, but everyone started in the same place. I just aim to give it my best effort and not take it too seriously.
Fortunately, I also have friends who are talented in a variety of sports and great teachers, too. Over the years, they’ve introduced me to slacklining, acroyoga, packrafting, and adventure racing. I’ve learned that if you surround yourself with active people, it becomes 100% easier to have fun staying fit.
And, most importantly, I prioritize sleep and rest. There have been times in life where I pushed too hard and inevitably ended up feeling burnt out and worse off. Now I aim to get a good night’s sleep. And if instead of a high-energy workout I need a slow walk, that’s fine. It’s all about balance.
Recent fail: My friend Chelsey Magness is a pro mountain biker, elite adventure racer, and all-around badass lady. And some of my biggest mountain bike “fails” involve tailing her on gnarly singletrack. I have several vivid memories of watching her tackle a part of the trail and then seconds later being airborne as I inevitably missed the corner or panicked and wrongly grabbed the brakes.
It had little to do with overconfidence and more to do with the naivety of being a newbie. Luckily, Chelsey and her husband, Jason, are humble, awesome people, who are always willing to welcome a beginner. Previously in life, the embarrassment of messing up would’ve prevented me from going out again. But with the Magnesses, I learned to just laugh it off.
It took a long time, but I finally realized that failing is subjective. Getting it wrong isn’t a failure, it’s just part of the learning process. I’d rather be out there floundering and trying than sitting at home too afraid to try.
Fitness goals for 2020: My main goal is to continue finding ways to get my daughter outdoors. It definitely takes a bit more planning and effort to be active with a toddler, but it’s worth it. In her short time, she’s already spent hours biking, hiking, swimming, boating, crawling in the dirt, and playing in the snow.
As she gets a bit older, I’m looking forward to taking her skiing, climbing, and paddling.
The big thing I’ve learned so far is to set realistic expectations. So instead of planning an epic, big-mile trek, I’m happy if we spend an hour outside. We may spend it hiking or just sitting in the dirt, playing with a pile of rocks. Either way, it’s all a win.