"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life." - Theodore Roosevelt

The Strenuous Life Will Help You Put Your Abstract Intentions Into Action

“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.” –Flannery O’Connor

The Strenuous Life is a platform for those who wish to revolt against our age of ease, comfort, and existential weightlessness. It is a base of operations for those who are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to connect with the real world through the acquisition of skills that increase their sense of autonomy and mastery. It's for those who desire more challenge. Who want to stretch themselves and do hard things. Who want to experience life firsthand rather than secondhand.

The Strenuous Life pushes members to take action on these desires to live more strenuously, and holds members accountable in their goal of becoming better men. It facilitates the training of mind, body, and soul, motivating members to leave the strata of mediocrity and attain to greater excellence and service in the world.

Will You Answer the Call of the New Strenuous Age?


The Strenuous Life encourages its members to expand their autonomy, agency, and connection with the tangible world by acquiring new skills -- both the hard and the soft. Earn 50+ badges that represent 50+ different skills. Some of them are easier to achieve and others are real doozies, but all are fun to work on and will get you taking action, having more firsthand experiences, and increasing your competence, confidence, and enjoyment of life.

Here's just a sampling of the badges you can earn on The Strenuous Life:

  • Sharpshooter
  • Scout
  • Gentleman Scholar
  • Firemanship
  • Entrepreneur
  • Mountain Ranger
  • Social Dynamo
  • Lock Picker
  • Sartorialist
  • Rucking
  • And many more!

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness plays an integral role in The Strenuous Life. Development of the body serves as a foundation for the development of one’s mental and spiritual capacities.

As adherents of The Strenuous Life, we work out not merely to attain aesthetic effects (though this can be a wonderful byproduct), or because it feels good (though it definitely does), or even because it’s crucial for good health (which it assuredly is). We exercise our bodies to enhance our ability to think clearly, to master temptations and weaknesses, and to serve others.

In short, we become strong to be useful.

The Strenuous Life will provide you the tools, resources, and accountability to help you achieve that goal.

Weekly Agons

In ancient Greece, the agon was a struggle or contest that would test a man’s bodily or mental toughness and prowess in athletics, art, music, debate, and more.

In The Strenuous Life, Agons are weekly challenges designed to push you out of your comfort zone and further your development in body, mind, and/or spirit. You will receive one a week for an entire year.

Training the Soul

The Strenuous Life is a revolt against the self-indulgent ethos that only looks out for oneself. We exhort men to have noble and good aims and to daily strive after them, even when it’s inconvenient. Virtue, duty, and service over self-gratification. Selfless self-improvement is our mantra.

As we seek to become more fit, skilled, temperate, frugal, patient, courageous, resolute, and honest, we strengthen and improve our families, communities,
and country.

The Strenuous Life will provide you with the structure and accountability to train your soul so you can become a better leader and mentor to those around you.


The Strenuous Life is filled with like-minded men who want to better themselves so they can better the world around them. When you sign up for The Strenuous Life, you'll be assigned to a class of men who will push you to be your best and hold you accountable to our creed of doing hard things.

In addition to being your fellow travelers in The Strenuous Life, your classmates will also be your competitors. Each Class will have a Leaderboard that indicates their progress in living The Strenuous Life. Compete for bragging rights on who is living most strenuously.

Member Perks

As a member of The Strenuous Life, you'll have access to exclusive discounts to services and products that will help you live more strenuously. Partners include GoRuck, Starting Strength Online Coaching, Atomic Athlete, and more!

Your 12-Week Initiation into the Cult of Strenuosity

Everyone who joins The Strenuous Life will begin their membership by undergoing a 12-week “boot camp” called The Strenuous Life Challenge.

The Challenge is designed to initiate you into what we like to call “the cult of strenuosity.” It’s designed to stretch you physically, mentally, and morally, jumpstart your commitment to living more vigorously, and immerse you in TSL culture.

What You Get When You Sign Up For the Strenuous Life

With a one-time dues payment to join The Strenuous Life, members receive:

LIFETIME Access to the Exclusive, Members-Only TSL Platform

The exclusive, members-only Strenuous Life platform offers:

  • A social network-like platform. Create a profile and interact with other members in the forum.
  • Geographic forum groups to facilitate in-person meet-ups. Find other Strenuous Lifers in your area to hang out with in “meat space.”
  • Camaraderie. When you sign up, you’ll be assigned to a 150-member “Class” of like-minded comrades who will help support your commitment to living more strenuously.
  • Accountability. Not only will your classmates help keep you accountable to your goals, each day you’ll be asked to check in and answer two questions: 1) Did you do 60 minutes of physical activity today? and 2) Did you perform a good deed today?
  • Competition. TSL is structured as a friendly competition. Each Agon, badge, and physical activity and good deed check-in you complete will be tallied on your Class Leaderboard. Compete for honor as to who is living the most strenuously.
  • Exclusive access to The Strenuous Life store. Purchase exclusive swag, like actual physical badges.
  • Exclusive partner discounts. Access discounts on products and services that can help you live more strenuously. Our partners include GORUCK, Starting Strength, Atomic Athlete, and more.
  • FREE e-copy of The Strenuous Life Handbook. The handbook includes the principles of the program, all the badges and requirements, and a series of action-inspiring “manvotionals.” (You’ll also get a physical copy of the handbook in your TSL Welcome Box; see details below.)

LIFETIME Access to a Structured, Easy-to-Use Badge-Earning System

Are you tired of endlessly skimming through content in your social media feeds, but never acting on it? Are you tired of looking at pictures of other people’s experiences instead of having your own? Are you tired of reading about cool and interesting skills, but never getting around to learning them yourself?

Are you tired of living life secondhand rather than firsthand?

If you’ve wanted to take more action in your life -- if you’ve wanted to learn cool skills, but haven’t known where to start -- The Strenuous Life is for you.

The heart of The Strenuous Life is about turning your good intentions into real, visceral, primary experiences. Finally getting off the sidelines and onto the field.

A big part of this mission is accomplished through our structured, easy-to-use badge-earning system. It’s been purposefully designed to offer direction in your personal development and facilitate challenging yet fun skill acquisition.

As a member of The Strenuous Life, you’ll have access to 50+ badges representing 50+ hard and soft skills. Each badge has a set of clearly delineated requirements that have been thoughtfully created to get you competent in the skill that badge represents.

The TSL platform allows you to neatly track your progress on these requirements, and check them off as you complete them. Once you’ve finished all the requirements, you’ll earn a digital badge to proudly display on your profile page, and you’ll be granted access to purchasing a real, physical version of the badge from the TSL store.

For over a century now, people have wanted a scouting program for adults. It’s finally arrived.

Weekly Agons (Challenges)

The Strenuous Life won’t just propel you towards challenging, firsthand experiences through the badge system, but through the weekly Agons as well.

In ancient Greece, the agon was a struggle or contest that would test a man’s bodily or mental toughness and prowess in athletics, art, music, debate, and more.

In The Strenuous Life, weekly Agons are challenges designed to push you out of your comfort zone and further your development in body, mind, and/or spirit. At the end of each week, you will receive a link in an email where you can view that week’s Agon. Should you accept and complete this mission, you can mark it off on the TSL platform, and this achievement is recorded on your Class Leaderboard.

New Strenuous Life members will receive a year’s worth of weekly Agons. That’s 52 chances to grow and become a better man. (And you can of course repeat those 52 Agons each year thereafter!)

Onboarding Emails and Your Strenuous Life Welcome Kit

When you sign up for The Strenuous Life, you will be sent a series of onboarding emails that offer clear, easy-to-understand instructions on how to use the platform. You will also receive 4 exclusive videos, containing motivating talks by Brett McKay to keep you inspired in living strenuously.

Every Strenuous Life member will also receive a welcome kit to help jumpstart their journey in living more strenuously. The kit includes:

  • A FREE, exclusive Strenuous Life PT Uniform (T-shirt AND shorts) for your daily physical activity requirements
  • A FREE physical copy of The Strenuous Life Handbook – a handsome, pocket-sized book, styled like the scouting manuals of old
  • A personally signed welcome letter from Brett McKay (no robo-signer used here)
  • A personally signed official Strenuous Life membership card (because official membership cards are cool)

The Strenuous Life Welcome Box contains over $70 worth of product, but it's yours FREE plus free shipping when you sign up for a lifetime membership in The Strenuous Life.

The Strenuous Life Challenge: Your 12-Week Initiation Into the Cult of Strenuosity

Everyone who joins The Strenuous Life will begin their membership by undergoing a 12-week “boot camp” called The Strenuous Life Challenge.

The Challenge is designed to initiate you into what we like to call “the cult of strenuosity.” It’s designed to stretch you physically, mentally, and morally, jumpstart your commitment to living more vigorously, and immerse you in TSL culture.

You will learn to embrace friction.

You will learn how to get outside of your head.

You will learn to relish doing hard things.

The Strenuous Life Challenge begins the Saturday after you register, and consists of three parts:

  1. Earning at least one badge during the 12-week “boot camp” period. Choose from any of the 50+ badges available to earn.
  2. Completing the first 12 weekly Agons sent to you. One Agon will be sent to you each week, and of the 52 that members will receive over the course of the first year of their membership, the first dozen are particularly vitalizing and strenuous. You must complete 12/12 of these to complete The Strenuous Life Challenge. If you cannot complete one of the weekly Agons during this period, there will be an opportunity to do one "make-up" Agon to reach the required 12 completions within the 12-week period.
  3. Completing 75% of your daily physical activity and good deed check-ins during the 12-week Challenge period.

Strenuous Life recruits who complete these 3 requirements will receive (for FREE) an exclusive Strenuous Life challenge coin that you can't get your hands on any other way. It will serve as a tangible reminder of your commitment to leaving behind comfort, ease, and mediocrity and doing hard things.

Richard H., Class 006

Feel like you’re not living the life of adventure, excitement, courage or purpose you once had?

I know the feeling.

In my younger years, I used to travel around the world doing all sorts of things: Snowboarding in the Alps, surfing in Costa Rica, camping in the Rocky Mountains, hiking around the Grand Canyon. Since then, I’ve settled into a steady career, and now I’m married with a two year old son. My life changed to one of adrenaline-soaked adventure, to one of family responsibility. Though still honourable, I was longing to fill my limited extra time with something that fed my restlessness.

The Strenuous Life answered the call. Whether it’s the daily requirements for fitness and good deeds, the weekly challenges that push you way out of your comfort zone, or the over 50 badges that demand study, practice, and discipline, The Strenuous Life will provide the way to a life of action, honor, integrity, strength, and anti-fragility.

Be warned though: The Strenuous Life is not easy and it demands the best of you. You will hurt. You will fail. You will sweat. You may even puke and cry. However, if you choose to follow this path, you’ll see yourself transform from a boy without a way, to man with purpose and direction; a man who does hard things. And others, including your wife and kids, will notice too.

There’s no feeling like having family and friends turn to you, because they know you’re a man that is dedicated to The Strenuous Life.

Strenuous? Yes. Worth it? 100% Absolutely.

When I first read about TSL, I knew I wanted to sign up. What I didn’t realize prior to starting the program, however, was just how beneficial it would prove to be for my physical, mental and spiritual health. The structure of weekly Agons and daily reminders to stay active tested my self-motivation across disciplines – and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to accomplish. Strenuous? Yes. Worth it? 100% Absolutely. TSL provides a road map to life that continually challenges and tests any person regardless of interests or starting ability. The past few months I’ve gained skills that I simply didn’t know that were missing in the well rounded arsenal – and there’s still more to come. Friends and family – both near and far – have commented on positive gains that they’ve noticed in me since I’ve started; I’ve got guys waiting for the next round of open enrollment. Go ahead and get some skin in the game and take the plunge into TSL. You’ll be a better man for it.

Matthew C., Class 005

Frank M., Class 010

I joined up with The Strenuous Life because I wanted an external motivation to help me seek out new challenges and adventures.

To do hard things. TSL has lived up to all my expectations and more. I react quickly now when something needs to be done, weather is never an excuse for not doing what needs to be done, and I am a whole lot more aware of my surroundings, specifically in recognizing when my fellow man or woman can use a helping hand. My wife has commented to me and her friends that TSL has re-energized me. The class forum is great for giving and receiving encouragement and ideas.

The Strenuous Life is a thoughtful, comprehensive, and self-motivating program.

From day one, it helped me turn my abstract intentions into physical action. The badges are challenging yet attainable and the program provides resources to meet each requirement. The weekly challenges have redirected my spare time into more productive and tangible efforts. The online community is active, supportive, and troll-free. In only 90 days, my family and friends have noticed me becoming a better man. Now that I have chosen to live The Strenuous Life, I can’t go back.

Neil T., Class 007

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Strenuous Life?

The Strenuous Life is a structured program designed to push individuals beyond their comfort zone and develop every aspect of who they are. Adherents are expected to train their bodies with vigorous exercise, train their minds and muscles by learning new skills, and train their souls by living a life of service-seeking virtue.

In short, it’s a platform designed to facilitate skill acquisition and personal development.

Think of it as a scouting program for grown men.

How does The Strenuous Life work?

Once you register with The Strenuous Life, you will have access to an online platform that will guide you through your journey in living strenuously.

To help develop your skills, we’ve created 50+ badges covering skills we believe will help men live a more fulfilled life, stay ever ready for any scenario, and be of greater service to others. You will find the requirements for each badge and a platform to track your progress on strenuouslife.co.

To help increase your fitness, Strenuous Life members will be asked to check in as to whether or not they’ve done at least one hour of physical activity each day.

Moreover, to hold you accountable in your journey of living a life of service-seeking virtue, members also check in for doing a daily good deed. Link one successful check-in to another to form a visible streak on your profile page that you'll want to keep extending.

TSL’s badges and fitness and daily good deed check-ins will all motivate you to develop yourself in body, mind, and spirit. But there’s one more element designed to bolster your training: the weekly Agon.

The weekly Agons are challenges that only Strenuous Life members will have access to. They’re designed to push members out of their comfort zone physically, mentally, and emotionally and get them comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Besides the structure, The Strenuous Life provides accountability and motivation by putting you into a Class of 150 other members with whom you’ll encourage and compete for bragging rights in living The Strenuous Life.

What happens after The Strenuous Life Challenge?

Hopefully, by the end of the 12-week Strenuous Life Challenge, you’ll have gotten into the habit of living strenuously. After it’s over, you can continue to earn badges, check off your daily physical activity and good deeds, and interact with your classmates.

We will also continue sending you new weekly Agons for the next 40 weeks. When it's all said and done, you will get a whole year's worth of Agons designed to push you in mind, body, and spirit.

Individuals who have shown their dedication to living The Strenuous Life by earning at least 6 badges in the course of the year, and completing 52/52 Agons, will be eligible for a special award. To the persistent!

How does The Strenuous Life provide accountability?

Trying to change your life on your own is hard. Having a support system and accountability helps significantly.

The accountability offered by The Strenuous Life begins with its two daily check-in questions. Each day members are asked whether they’ve done 60 minutes of physical activity and whether they’ve performed a good deed. Affirmative answers are tallied and reflected on their Class Leaderboard.

Accountability also arises from TSL’s Class structure. When you register with The Strenuous Life, you will be assigned to a Class. This will be your digital company while you are with us at TSL. Your classmates will be your competitors and comrades.

Each Class will cap at about 150 members. We want to keep these groups relatively small to ensure that guys can get to know each other and that no one gets lost in the digital ether.

Each Class will have a forum where comrades can interact with each other. Your Class is where you can share what you are working on in The Strenuous Life and ask for advice on things you are struggling with. Treat your class like a “mastermind” by sharing your big picture goals and asking your compatriots to hold you accountable to them.

In addition to being your fellow travelers in The Strenuous Life, your classmates will also be your competitors. Each Class will have a leaderboard that indicates the number of badges, Agons, and physical and good-deed check-ins each classmate has completed. Compete for bragging rights on who is living most strenuously.

You can also join groups based on your geography to coordinate and meet up with other Strenuous Life members.

Do I get to decide which Class I am in?

No. Classes are created on a first-come, first-serve basis. During an enrollment period, we will populate classes with new members as they sign up. Once a class fills with 150 members, a new class will be created and populated. If at the end of an enrollment period, a class only has 50 or fewer members, we will manually assign and distribute those members between already filled classes.

If you would like to ensure that you and a buddy are in the same Class, you will need to coordinate when you sign-up so you do it at the same time.

Will I get a physical badge after I’ve completed all the requirements for a badge?

Once you’ve completed all the requirements for a badge, a digital badge will be displayed on your profile and be reflected in your Class Leaderboard.

You will also be eligible to purchase a physical version of that badge from The Strenuous Life Store. You can only buy a badge if you've marked off the requirements on The Strenuous Life platform. Once you are eligible, you can buy as many of that badge as you want.

Every new Strenuous Life member will receive a coupon code good for one FREE badge in The Strenuous Life Store.

How do you make sure people do not cheat at this?

Everything in The Strenuous Life operates on the honor system. When it comes to the physical activity and good deed check-ins, the achievement of the Agons, and the earning of badges, members are on their honor as to whether they did these things or not. If they lie, fudge, or hedge in a way they know deep down is wrong, they cheat their classmates, and most importantly, they cheat themselves out of getting better.

Cheating is controlled by conscience and the oversight of a member’s fellow classmates. We ask members to guard their honor strenuously.

How old do you have to be to sign up for The Strenuous Life?

At least 18 years old. This is for legal reasons. With that said, a parent can sign up for an account and do the badge requirements with their children. Once they have marked off the requirements in the system and are eligible to purchase a badge, a parent could buy multiple badges — one for them and one for their child.

Can women sign up for The Strenuous Life?

The Strenuous Life is an offshoot of the Art of Manliness. Consequently, it is geared towards men.

With that said, nothing prevents a woman from registering with The Strenuous Life. I could have said "no girlz allowed" and a woman could have just said they were a man and signed up anyway. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, or a lady.

The physical standards on badges will not be modified for women. We are equal opportunity-ists around here.

I have a physical disability. Can I participate in The Strenuous Life?

Sure! While we will not lay out in detail exceptions to specific disabilities, we encourage members to use their "practical wisdom" to modify requirements based on their circumstance so that they get as close to both the letter and spirit of The Strenuous Life as they can. The guiding principle for fulfilling requirements here at TSL is to “err on the side of doing more rather than less.” Challenge yourself, push yourself. That’s the framework. How you decide to work within that framework is up to you. It’s all based on honor, and you are welcome to participate to whatever extent you are able.

With that said, some requirements do not provide much room for flexibility. Consequently, the completion of some Agons (and thus The Strenuous Life Challenge) as well as some badges may not be possible for those with certain disabilities.

How Much Does It Cost?

You might be thinking, “This sounds awesome. But how much is this going to cost?” We like to keep things simple around here. No reoccurring subscription fees and no nickel and diming you to unlock features. Just a single, one-time payment that gives you LIFETIME access to The Strenuous Life platform and any and all updates that we make to the program.

So what's the nut for The Strenuous Life?

Price: $199.99

If you use TSL every day for a year, you get all this for just 55 cents a day. Less than you would spend on a daily coffee or soda. 55 cents a day for motivation, direction, and accountability to become a better, more useful, and fulfilled human being. You can't beat that.

Speaking with other folks who offer similar membership programs/courses, many thought I was severely undervaluing TSL with this price, and suggested that I double it. After all, similar online platforms cost twice as much for a single year, and all you get is access to the online platform. With The Strenuous Life, you get LIFETIME access, plus you receive $100 of FREE product – actual tangible gear you can hold and feel and enjoy.

Why charge for The Strenuous Life? Couldn’t you just make it free like The Art of Manliness?

First, we want The Strenuous Life to be ad-free – free of distractions. The membership fee will help keep the lights on and allow us to continue to improve and grow the platform.

Second, charging people acts as a filter against trolls and other scalawags who make online interactions terrible. Most trolls aren't willing to pay money to troll.

Finally, the membership fee puts some skin in the game. We really want you to do this stuff. When things are free, most people just take it for granted and don't do anything with it. When you know you're paying money to be a part of The Strenuous Life, you're more likely to actually do the program lest you put your money in the metaphorical paper shredder.

Is this open to people outside the United States?


Some Important Notes/Disclaimers to Read for the January 2018 Enrollment

This is the coldest time of year to enroll in TSL (if you live in the northern hemisphere). Some of the Agons (weekly challenges) are temperature sensitive and involve being outdoors. Thus, only the hardiest of souls should sign up for this enrollment! If you live in a freezing cold climate, some of the Agons will be more challenging for you, and may be difficult, to near impossible, to complete (unless you’re keen on walking barefoot in the snow — hey, Grandpa did it!). TSL is, of course, all about doing hard things, but we just want to forewarn you. If you do complete The Strenuous Life Challenge, you’ll be eligible to receive a free Polar Bear Badge that’s available exclusively to those who complete the 12-week “boot camp” during the January enrollment.

PT shorts are on backorder. The company that makes the PT shorts that are part of the Welcome Kit every new member receives has unfortunately had their shorts on backorder since the end of October. They won’t be shipping shorts to us until February. Consequently, some of you won’t have shorts in your Welcome Kit. Don’t worry, though. We’ll send them out to you as soon as we get them back in stock.

An important caveat for international members. While we guarantee that everyone who signs up for The Strenuous Life will be shipped a Welcome Kit, because of the varying reliability of mail systems around the world, we cannot guarantee its delivery. Because of the high value of its contents, and the high cost of international shipping, we are not able to replace Welcome Kits that are lost in transit. International customers assume all risk.

Enrollment Opening In:


Be the First to Know When Another Enrollment Period Opens