Testimonials

“The Strenuous Life offers something I felt I needed but didn’t know how to describe. I knew there was more out there, immediately around me, but I didn’t know how to tap into it. I didn’t know how much I could do right now! Joining the Strenuous Life was like finding a map: All the things I knew where there were now made plain and I simply had to go out and do it! Dozens of manly skills and hobbies have been condensed into easy to follow steps. And the best part about it is: You’re not alone! Like-minded men from all over the country, all over the world, are right there with you, fighting the same fight, learning the same skills, asking the same questions. The folks I have met through TSL are folks I may never have met otherwise — I was surprised how many like-minded men were in my area! It’s tough, it’s fun, and best of all: The sense of achievement is like no other. The Strenuous Life is not a social network: It’s a Guidebook for living your best life.”

— Russell S.

“The Strenuous Life has taken the themes and philosophies consistently presented through AOM and turned them into a practical application. The amount of care and work Brett McKay has put into TSL is readily apparent and if you examine the program, you’ll find there are hidden depths to it. Although there is a competitive spirit among participants, it is highly supportive and acknowledges the personal nature of TSL achievements. The challenges are not overly burdensome but require steady, sustained effort and are highly satisfying. Although just a month into the program, I can see the combination of physical and mental requirements improving me, my family, and my community. I highly recommend participating in The Strenuous life. Put your skin in the game and discover what kind of man you can be.”

— Steve J.

“I’ve tried countless times to get motivated about exercise. I would start a plan and after a few weeks or months, I fizzled out. Since joining the Strenuous Life, I’ve had a motivation transformation through the simple act of checking in and recording my success. Even when life got in the way and I didn’t make it to the gym, the desire to exercise stuck with me. I actually look forward to my routine. That’s never happened before. I attribute that desire to the Strenuous Life.”

— Robert B.

“Since age 13, I have fought chronic depression. My life’s ambitions and dreams have been hindered by paralytic fear and episodes of morbid self-hatred.

I joined The Strenuous Life to try something different to combat The Black Dog. I had previously tried therapy and a couple different drugs, with unreliable results. Instead, the Strenuous Life offers a mix of activity, learning, philosophy and goals. The results have been marvelous.

The daily goal to be active for one hour has improved my mood. Studies have shown that regular exercise is a salve for the depressed mind. It has gotten me off the couch into the sunshine.

The daily good deeds have improved my self-esteem. By putting good into the world, I understand my value to others, and to myself. It is an opportunity to remove myself from sad thoughts, and instead become an agent of kindess.

The weekly Agon challenges banish my comfort zones, forcing me to behave and think in unaccustomed ways. Sometimes I complete an Agon with ease, and feel victorious. Sometimes I complete an Agon with difficulty, but have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried.

The system of badges gives me long-term goals for which to strive, and new skills to learn.

Because of the daily exercise goal, I no longer believe I am weak. Because of daily good deeds, I no longer think I am bad. Because of the Agon challenges, I am no longer paralyzed. Because of the life skills I have gained through the badge system, I no longer see myself as worthless. Depression is never conquered casually, and I still have bad days and bad weeks. However, thanks to The Strenuous Life, I finally have momentum and hope.”

— Jeremy C.

“Now that I’ve been in the program for a few weeks I can look back and reflect on the positive changes the Strenuous Life experience has brought to my daily outlook. Working out every day is simply a matter of course rather than a chore I might try to find time for. I approach any free moment I have with the thought “how can I most effectively maximize this time to improve myself or serve others.” I routinely reject my expected first choices and reactions to situations because I no longer want to choose the easy way out when I can opt for the invigorating challenge. When I feel like I might be losing my focus I know I have a tribe of peers I can turn to for inspiration or feedback. The Strenuous Life is a whetstone that daily keeps my edge from growing dull. I couldn’t be happier with the experience.”

— Willis G.

“There is a certain genius to this whole thing I did not expect. It must be a combination of the accountability to the other men and the desire to get that patch, to achieve that challenge coin, to win that laurel that keeps me going. I’ve tried solo programs before. I’ve tried to work out a plan to build skills and to become stronger on my own but I’ve never followed through. The Strenuous Life has changed that. In the first 4 weeks I’ve gone from a completely sedentary lifestyle to at least an hour a day of strenuous activity. I’ve looked forward to the weekly agons, waiting for them to hit my inbox so I could tackle another 7 days of strenuosity. I’ve started working on skills I never thought I would be able to find time to practice. I used to shuffle through the first 6 hours of the day, now I manage to pack more into the first half of my day than I used to get through in a week. At first I was trying to get through the challenges, now I just keep thinking, “More. I want more.” And my wife has noticed a change — a month ago I would come home after a two-hour commute and collapse. No longer. Now my evenings seem to be full of exercise, study, tasks. And all the while I know that I’m doing it to be a better man. For my wife, for my family, for my community.”

— Erik W.

“Today, I low-crawled under a fallen branch through rocks and mud and loved every second of it. Three weeks ago I set a deadlift PR. This weekend I’ll go on a microadventure with my wife for the fifth straight week.

None of this would have happened without The Strenuous Life.

Join The Strenuous Life today. Current you, future you, your significant other and those you interact with on a daily basis will all be better for it.”

— Paul B.

“Every day in a routine furthers a rut that becomes a trench that becomes an un-climbable valley when one looks around and wants to escape. Taking on tasks, growing myself, and introducing new experiences daily has shaken me out of the routine and gives me the feeling of agency and control that I slowly has given to the current of going with the flow. From exploring the woods around me to listening to strengthening myself to reading over twenty books in a month, I’m constantly being asked by family and friends, “Is this for that thing you’re doing?” They can see the change in my behavior, and I believe it’s for the better. I don’t regret jumping on this opportunity for one moment or one cent, and I look forward to what each new week brings me.”

— Ryan D.

“I’d like to declare that the Strenuous Life program is in fact strenuous – I’ve done several things through the program that I’d never have done otherwise. I’ve walked barefoot up a mountain and showered in freezing water and rucked for miles. For the first time in my life I’ve adopted a daily workout routine – and I’ve enjoyed it!

Only a few weeks in and I can already see the improvements this program is affecting on my physical and mental wellbeing. What’s more, I can see a solid community growing here that I expect will flourish as our class matures. I think the badges are well designed and none of them are trivial. This program will work you, and it will improve your life.”

— Garret W.

“The other day I came home from the boxing gym and sat down at the piano in my workout clothes and started grinding out a new piece by Liszt that I was trying to learn. My 15 year old son saw me and said, “whoa dad, that’s really weird: watching a buff dude playing classical music on the piano.” That was the best compliment he could have given me. The irony of TSL is that this program has made me simultaneously more cultivated and more primal. However, I believe that ideal masculinity includes the seemingly contradictory characteristics of being both rugged and refined. TSL has given me the framework toward becoming that ideal more than anything I have tried on my own.  Like anything in life, you’ll get out of TSL what you put into it. If you are ready to be stretched, this will stretch you.”

— Adam J.

“Plain and simple, The Strenuous Life is the cure for lazy living. Whether you’re looking for accountability for physical exercise or just want to feel more useful, most programs would be tightly focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. TSL is only broadly focused on “what”, instead focusing more on “why”. Workout programs have always failed for me because nobody else is involved with them for the same reasons as me. I don’t care as much about looking good as I do about being capable of surpassing unforeseen challenges in my life. The Strenuous Life combines you with like-minded, encouraging people, then lets you choose how you want pursue usefulness. We’ve gotten too soft, and you can feel it every day. Either develop the mental and physical toughness now to do the hard things, or you face the fight on your opponent’s terms.” — David R.

“I’ve only been in it a few weeks, but I genuinely feel like it’s helping me be a better man. Not in some woo-woo self improvement way, but its making me reflect on my actions and gives me tasks to do other than sit and watch TV. It makes me reflect if I’ve done good this day. It makes me go on walks with my daughter everyday and read to her. I’m learning about astronomy and my family tree while writing cursive. In short – it instills in me the belief that a great life is not made of grand achievement; rather it is made of doing all the small activities right.” — Andrew K.

“I’ve always been someone who liked to challenge themselves and the TSL is another great tool to accomplish that. This program has a great repertoire of tasks that will help you both grow and sharpen your skill sets. It will also get you out of your comfort zone and you’ll be a better person for it.  I’ve noticed that through my short time with TSL that I’ve done things that I would have never taken the time to do otherwise. I strongly recommend it.”

–Matt D.

“Adventure, education, challenge, redemption, and family; these are the words that best define what The Strenuous Life (TSL) has been to me.

When I first answered the bugle, I didn’t know what to expect from Brett’s experiment. As an avid reader and listener to the podcast I, like most of us, aspired to be the best man I could. But as a far wiser man than myself once said “The only true wisdom, is knowing you know nothing”; a more accurate statement may never be made.

What TSL has provided is a foundation to continue my education.  A platform full of opportunities ranging from how to improve my lumberjacking abilities to transforming into a gentlemen scholar. 

However, as fun and enjoyable as learning new skills has been, perhaps my favorite part is the opportunity to achieve a level of personal redemption.  A chance to stand in the arena and face both past and present challenges as a stronger man.

TSL is a calling that pits us against the only critic that truly counts, ourselves.  TSL is for those who are looking to be a better man, husband, brother, and father.  Most importantly, for those who wish to be the man in the arena.

Perhaps the true beauty of what TSL is and what it means is in the diversity of the answers.  Above is what it’s been for me, what will it be for you?”

–Josh Z.

“9 weeks in and The Strenuous Life (TSL) has already changed my life for the better. In appearance I have put on several pounds of muscle, and mentally I have gone out of my comfort zone to be, in general, a better man.

Anyone can join but TSL isn’t for everyone. I don’t know anyone today who has involuntarily completed a badge and don’t know many who have the grit to do so voluntarily. While there is a 12-week initiation boot-camp to get members accommodated to living strenuously, The Strenuous Life is a lifelong marathon and it will take many years to complete all badges.

Personally, The Strenuous Life gives me something to look forward to beyond my professional career. It gives me a reason to live for the sake of it. I look forward to striving valiantly; to err; to spend myself in a worthy cause; to know the triumph of high achievement and to fail while daring greatly. I aim to best myself in every possible way; to push back the limits of my comfort zone and even the limits of The Strenuous Life; to set a new standard of living strenuously, and to give new meaning to manliness.”

–David D.

“I changed jobs roughly a year prior to joining TSL, becoming more sedentary in the process. I had little energy for my family after work and noticed my mood was more irritable as well. TSL provided me the structure and accountability to shake off the rust and improve myself physically, mentally and spiritually, both at work and at home.”

–Marc P.

“Do it! Do it now! You won’t regret it. I have enjoyed every day and every week since starting this journey. Easy, convenient, NO! Challenging and memorable, YES!  I am learning something new all the time and getting just a bit better every day, while having fun in the process.  Join with a friend if you can.  Nothing like being able to share the camaraderie in doing hard things and enjoying the success at the end of the day.  Be your best.”

–Walter M.

“I love seeing all the ideas that I have been reading about on The Art of Manliness website for these past couple of years come to life in the Strenuous Life app. It gives me the organization and motivation I need to put these AOM principles into action. Stay manly!”

–Mark J.

“I came to The Strenuous Life for exactly that, to find something that would allow me to make my ordinary life a little more strenuous. After having lost over 100lbs a year and a half ago, weight loss ceased being my driving motivation and I needed something to not only help keep me on the path with my new healthier lifestyle, but to make it fun, exciting, and challenging. The badges help me hearken back to my youth as a Scout and give me exactly the push I need to get out of my comfort zone.”

–George W.

“I’m 47 years old and by most standards, I’ve achieved significance both personally and professionally. However, over the last few years, I’ve found myself on a physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental plateau from which I could not rise. Earlier this year I read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. This led to an online search for more info on the former president. This search in turn led me to The Art of Manliness and The Strenuous Life. I joined with some trepidation because of my fear of failure. I know it’s cliche, but The Strenuous Life has changed the direction of my life. It has forced me off my plateau called “the sofa” and pushed me into new and exciting places. Now I have a 1-, 5-, and 10-year life plan that is actually coming together. I look and feel better. My heart and mind are clearer. Thank you Brett and thank you to The Strenuous Life.”

–Adam H.

“The Strenuous Life is a real game changer that challenges you to become a better, more active, productive, educated, and stronger person. I am having a great time while challenging myself to be a better person.”

–Mike R.

“Two months into The Strenuous Life and I think it’s the best program I’ve ever invested in. TSL provides the focus and goals and you provide the energy and discipline to see them through. Result: personal growth and improvement in a way you can _measure_ and see. I loved the idea and I love the execution even more. I’ve read more, written more, and done more push-ups, pull-ups, and good deeds in two months than I did in 6 months before joining TSL.” 

–Jack D.

“The Strenuous Life provided the infrastructure I needed to be a man of action. It’s one thing to theoretically know the masculine virtues, it’s another thing to do them. I had all these plans for a while and yet made surprisingly little progress.  The Strenuous Life was the push I needed to actually begin them and to jump in the arena of life.”

–Josh W.

“The Strenuous Life has really been a great experience for me. I feel like it’s helped me mature in my manhood, and has been pivotal in helping me become a better man. The daily check-ins have helped my physical health as well as changed my whole outlook on life. I now look for ways to do good deeds for people. Badges and Agons have taught me new life skills and have challenged me to push myself harder every week. The Strenuous Life is an amazing resource for any man who wants to better himself. I would highly encourage anyone considering joining our cult of strenuosity to sign up now!”

–Jefferson R.

“I got a decent bonus recently for work and since I am a big fan of “The Art of Manliness” I decided to suck it up and give “The Strenuous Life” a try. At first my wife thought I was crazy, but when I kept planning microadventures that the whole family loved, wrote her love letters in surprisingly decent handwriting and showed her my thoughts on a family crest/motto she began to see the light. Throughout the course of these eight weeks I have challenged my body (including joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym), mind (I have read 16 books, including the entire three volume set of biographies about our icon Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris), and soul (becoming a better communicator, husband, and father through various endeavors). 

I am a person that is highly motivated by having tangible, reachable goals and TSL has provided me so much more clarity on where I should be focusing my energy. Admittedly, much of that energy has historically fallen prey to the second law of thermodynamics and simply contributed to the increasing entropy of the universe — I have a tendency to bounce around on hobbies/passions. But now I am taking up worthwhile challenges, competing with and being inspired by the other members in the group, and feeling better than ever about where I am across the board because I can see the progress being made. In my heart of hearts I think this is something everyone could benefit from. 

At a recent work event I was asked to give a toast at our annual celebratory dinner (thank you Social Dynamo badge) and I pulled out “The Man in the Arena” speech to provide some inspiration to all in attendance. I suspect I would never have been asked to take the stage in the past, and I certainly would not have been able to deliver something so poignant and powerful from memory. TSL has guaranteed that while I may fail, my place going forward will never be with those cold and timid souls that Teddy holds in such contempt.   

I will know the great enthusiasms, devotions, and do hard things every day!”

–Chris H.

“The Strenuous Life has been exactly what I had hoped it would be, and more! I’ve felt more engaged with life than I have in years. I’m more active, I read more, I look for ways to do good in the world, and I notice when I’m spending quality time with people without my head buried in my phone. Recently, someone noticed that I had gotten a tan. They said “Did you just get back from down South?! I’m jealous!” I laughed, a little embarrassed, and responded “No, I just get outside a lot more now!”

Thanks to Brett and the whole team at The Strenuous Life for helping me discover what life is about. I’ve been reading about it on the Art of Manliness for years, it’s nice to get out and do it!”

–Matthew R.

“I have been seeking an authentic manhood which answers the question “Do I have what it takes?” It is a question that continues throughout life no matter how successful men are. We are wired to: 

  • Conquer a challenge
  • Belong to a brotherhood
  • Learn and hone new skills, and 
  • Encourage and impart into others. 

The Strenuous Life gives a platform for this to happen. Challenges that require effort to succeed but are not beyond reach. A community of men willing to “do hard things.” Opportunities to build new skills and share your successes. And most importantly encouragement from others when it seems like you cannot make it. 

I have found The Strenuous Life to be the challenge that brings clarity to the values of life. It has pushed me to be a better man, husband, father and mentor.” 

–Shawn H

“The Strenuous Life is a modern answer to life’s challenges and the pressures confronting  men. Getting back to basics and re-focusing on life skills that can be transferred to any lifestyle makes it refreshing in these critical times. Especially useful to fathers!”

–Christopher A.

“I am thankful and grateful for my decision to join TSL. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and done things I wouldn’t have done without the push that TSL gave me!”

–Max C.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Strenuous Life! It challenges body, mind, and soul with both weekly challenges and badge work. If you like the AOM but want a specific, guided, and goal-oriented approach to all of AOM’s content then The Strenuous Life will give you that guidance and 119 other participants to both support and challenge you. I’m only 9 weeks in but I am excited for the next 43 challenges and completing a number of badges.”

–Nate B.

“Like a good action movie, The Strenuous Life quickly grabbed my attention. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone starting with the first week’s task. I have since embraced this particular shock to the system virtually every morning since then. Most importantly, I have used this one small example to teach the “Do Hard Things” motto to my two boys. This fact alone has made the investment worth it, and there’s a lot more that this program has to offer.”

My wife runs a non-profit called KindCraft that aims to create a community of compassionate children by providing monthly service projects for families. KindCraft encourages children to do good deeds not only at the monthly events, but also in their everyday lives. This program reinforces that concept and is a great reminder to me.”

–Matt S.

“The Strenuous Life has given me two things, one of them is encouragement, accountability, and direction in areas of life that I was already working on but did not have the time to plan and implement it. So now I have done things that I have been planning for years such as being more active, intentionally doing good deeds, and broader goals, like teaching my wife and kids first aid.

The other aspect that I was taught is something I actually value more: phronesis. Phronesis, or practical wisdom, to counter all the ambition and drive. This has helped me become a better husband, father, Catholic, and employee while also showing me a realistic way to accomplish personal goals. The last thing that has brought value to my life that I did not expect is the type of people TSL attracts…go getters, people that encourage and push you and want the same back. If you want a more directed and focused life that serves others and yourself, this is a great choice!”

–Kiel C.

“I joined Strenuous Life primarily as a tool to hold myself accountable to my exercise regiment. It is fulfilling that requirement and more. Through it I am learning useful skills and have incentives to do activities that I’ve always wanted to do but never made the time, such as reading the classics and learning how to code. As with most endeavors, you get out what you put in. It is not easy, but if you put the effort into it, you will have a fulfilling year.” 

–Chadd G.

“I have just completed my Strenuous Life boot camp. These last 12 weeks have made me examine and re-examine many aspects of my life. Some aspects I found I was living strenuously and other aspects I had never considered working on before.  Completing the agons and working on my badges have added a new dimension to my daily life. I find myself trying to live more strenuously and planning my next adventure. I am now making time for hobbies I have always planned to do but “never had the time.” I am now getting ready for spring by ordering a new recurve bow and fly rod. I look forward to making a larger contribution to the TSL community, group 17, and the Illinois group. Tired of feeling like your sleeping through life? Try living strenuously.”

–Steve P.

“Have you ever felt like your life was slowly morphing into the movie Groundhog Day? My days seemed to be dully comprised of waking up, showering, going to work, hitting the gym (maybe but probably not), eating dinner, chores then rinse and repeat day after day after day. TSL has ended Groundhog Day for me! As a result of knocking out the weekly Agon and various badge requirements I’m better engaged with family and friends, reading more, exercising regularly, getting healthy and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Even simple badge requirements like sending a hand-written letter has had significant impacts on both the recipient and me. Are you looking for something to break the monotony? TSL could just be that very thing and I encourage you to take the challenge!”

–Jason S.

“The Strenuous Life has been one of the most powerful motivators in my life this year. At the end of last year, 2017, I was sliding myself into an idle depression and knew I needed to make changes in my behavior and thinking in order to live a useful and happy life. As an Art of Manliness follower, The Strenuous Life appealed to me, claiming to be a tool I could use for that job.

I joined up, and by following the program, I have been able to replace sedentary habits with daily exercise, to finally explore my talents and desire to paint, and have internalized more deeply that we strengthen ourselves to help and bless others. It has helped me, in a big way, live with love!

I’m immensely grateful for The Strenuous Life, and if you too need a gentle but powerful helping hand, it just may be for you!”

–Timothy D.

“It has been three months since I joined. I can tell you that it is well worth it.

During the challenge period, I forced myself to take action, and not simply let things happen as they happen.

Before I signed up, I imagined this would be more online social group than anything.  I am a leader of my son’s Cub Scout den, and much of the badge options in TSL are things that we do as a family anyway, scouting or not.

But the benefit I received was the focus. With specific tasks to complete each week, it was easy to keep focused on the task at hand, and the challenge was fitting another activity or skill into an already busy schedule. Even though much of the badges and weekly challenges are things I do anyway, it was more difficult than I thought it would be.

The online platform is great for the wider community, and although I have not met any of the other men in person yet, the comfort of knowing that I’m not the only crazy guy doing all this crazy stuff is more encouraging and motivating than I imagined.

In the past three months, I have done more push-ups, run more miles, and been outside in the winter weather far more that I have in the past, and I work outside!

Thanks Brett and the rest of the AoM team for putting this program together! I look forward to my continued progress on the journey towards the Strenuous Life!”

–Jason J.

“These past twelve weeks have been an eye opener. It is amazing how much time we waste on trivial and nonsensical things. My brother and I both signed up and pushed each other through this venture. The community is incredibly supportive and if you put in the work, the payoff is invaluable. We look forward to continuing our momentum and further embracing The Strenuous Life.” 

–Michael E.

“What I appreciate? The positive kick up the backside to get some exercise, and it’s something I’ll continue: I enjoy feeling fitter and being stronger, and having found new exercises without needing an expensive gym membership or tons of spare time has really helped. I walk more, do bodyweight exercises to build core strength, and if I’m a bit ill or tired out, the Daily Dozen exercises provide a good break. Knowing I’ve stretched my limits and taken action – and knowing that I can climb a bit higher, crawl in the dirt, take a leap, find small ways of achieving a bigger goal, speak to strangers, read a book, concentrate enough to memorise a Bible passage still – it’s all good for more confidence. Phronesis – I love this, and am so glad Brett didn’t make the Agons a super rigid checklist. Do them, but use your wisdom – exercise it – to get the spirit of the rules right when your situation requires you to adapt. Before this I’d been searching for a hobby, but a lot of things require a lot of commitment in terms of time and money – and there wasn’t anything I could commit to with family/church/work/trying to finish a book for my kids. However, I’m going to enjoy ticking off more badges as time goes on – they’re enough to give you focus and proficiency in a new skill, have wider practical benefits, are varied but aren’t all-consuming. Learn enough archery to pass the badge, job done. Brilliant! Huge thanks to Brett for the serious level of thought, planning, and preparation to put the Strenuous Life into action. It’s no small feat to have something this well made up and running. There’s no shrill, shouty macho noise, just genuine, old-school, quiet, robust, good humoured, thoughtful, wise, challenging meaty stuff for grown men. I salute you, sir!”

–Chris C.

“I had found myself in a state of depression. The sort where you don’t even realize that’s what it is. Every day going through the motions of life without actually living, without thriving. A full on rut.

I signed on out of need for change, but was surprised by where that change occurred. This was not a ‘guided program’ taking you on a tour of becoming a better man; this was a concrete set of goals to help me figure out how to do that my damn self; this was a set of challenges to reach down and start finding my metal; to hold myself to my own integrity for my class and ultimately, for my own personal sense of honor.

The ruts will always be there, but every strenuous day I make myself a little better than the one before and better for everyone around me.”

Also, to speak directly to you and Kate, thank you for putting on The Strenuous Life and The Art of Manliness. For the past year and a half I have been separated from my wife by a good 2000 miles, me in California with my 2 sons (her stepsons) and her in Tennessee. She is in Veterinary School working to become and Equine practitioner, 4 long years apart. But her and I are a good team so I knew and still know we will come through stronger because we are working towards our goals, and that’s evidence based at this point.

What I did not expect was the unrecognizable depression I described above. While it still hits me, I now know the beast for what it is and I get up and a do 60 or more minutes of physical activity even if I don’t want to, I get out and look for a good deed to do. I teach my boys to build a fire, pick a lock, even first aid skills, which as a paramedic I should have damn well taught them a long time ago. I’m better for them and everyone around me because I do the strenuous things even when life feels hard. Thanks again.”

–Daniel B.

“What I remember best from the first months of The Strenuous Life has to be telling my best friend about how I walked barefoot for a mile in the snow as part of an Agon. I told him how awesome and alive I felt when I did it, he called me crazy, and we had a great laugh about it. Now I regularly push myself in these unusual ways, and it feels amazing!”

–Peter E.

“The Strenuous Life made me realize how much there is to do instead of simply trying to ‘kill time’. I’ve always wanted to have a wider horizon on things to do; the program really helped by offering a full plate of activities to choose from and to master, all which have the ultimate goal of personal improvement.”

–Christian S.

“The Strenuous Life has been a great decision for me. I’m currently riding my longest daily workout streak of my life! I’ve read books that I would’ve never read before TSL. The weekly challenges have taken me out of my comfort zone repeatedly. Nothing but praise for TSL!”

–David W.

“The modern technological age left a void in my life. I longed for something that I couldn’t put my finger on and didn’t find through social media or a glowing screen.  That something, as it turned out, was provided to me through TSL. I found that by doing hard things I was able to connect with a part of myself that was always there but underutilized. I have learned to rely on myself and my own strength to accomplish things in life.  As I have learned through TSL, I earn skill by digging deep, using resources at hand, and tackling problems head on. I am the solution to my problems. It’s not easy, but by cultivating mental and physical grit, I own the challenge at hand and become a better man for it. You can too!  The Agons provide weekly opportunities to dig down deep and really develop that mental and physical grit. Working on the badges provides skills that allow a man to be more useful to themselves and family. Put away the handheld distractions and do hard things, you’ll be better for it!”

–Jason B.

“TSL has really helped me up my game. I’ve improved personally, physically, and professionally. I’ve learned, developed, and refined so many critical skills and had so much fun doing so. But, mostly, I’ve loved being in a band of brothers, ready, willing, and able to endure the strenuous life to improve our lives, our communities, and the world.” 

–John M.

“I would recommend The Strenuous Life to any man regardless of his goals. The reason I say this is that it provides a platform well suited for a wide range of interests. The badge work is not always easy; however, it is attainable. The Agons every week are doable, but will sometimes require a bit of grit to get through. My professional career is regarded as being manly and strenuous on its own, but my days off have often been wasted doing monotonous “non-tasks” that don’t improve my usefulness. TSL brought me out of that rut and opened a structured avenue for me to accomplish things that I wouldn’t have had the gumption to do otherwise.”

–Seth C.

“I am extremely happy that I pulled the trigger when I got the email notification on the opening of enrollment. The program has challenged me to work towards my best self. It’s given me a sense of permission to put in the effort and the understanding that it’s a far greater sin to fail to try…than to try and to fail.”

–Lahm

“I was at a stage in life where I was doing a lot of things decently but nothing exceptionally. I wanted to go to new levels with my career and family, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. If you don’t need to improve in order to get by, where do you find the plan and the motivation to excel? TSL provides a structure and community for getting out of the rut of comfortable but unsatisfying mediocrity. Before TSL, when I hit a rough patch, I would turn around. Now, I know that’s the place where the fun starts. There’s no growth without discomfort. TSL teaches you how to embrace, rather than flee, the difficulties in becoming your best self. When you relax, focus, dig in, and refuse to quit, the hard stuff becomes the best stuff.”

–Matthew S.

“I view The Strenuous Life as a call to hardship and action akin to Shackleton’s newspaper ad in 1900 for his Arctic expedition. It will be hard. You will get outside your comfort zone physically, mentally, and spiritually. You will face challenges that at first glance seem impossible. But due to the sincere commitment I made in signing up, I have followed through on more in the past 12 weeks than I did in the past 5 years. In the end, with the help of the TSL community, taking action and doing hard things has never been easier.  I am a better man for it indeed.” 

–Jeff C. 

“The Strenuous Life is worth the cost and more. The Agons have given me challenging (but doable) ways to win victories over myself, and that sense of accomplishment has helped me walk a little taller. Through the badges, I have picked up some great hands-on skills and earned more money in my business. I am working out regularly for the first time in forever, and my wife has noticed that I’m getting ‘muscle-y-er.’ And the community of guys in the program is phenomenal.

If you’re ready to up your game and grab life by the horns, sign up.  You won’t regret it.”

–Brandon K.

“The Strenuous Life was the kick in the butt I needed to do the things I wanted to do anyway, to learn the skills I have been telling myself I wanted to learn. Plus the supportive community of very different but at the same time like-minded and encouraging individuals has been a big boon to my life. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

–Ryan B.

“‘Mabuhay!’ (Live!) 

I’m a grandson of Chinese migrants to the Philippines, a sales manager for our family business, a husband since 2012, and a father of 2. Ever since graduating from college, I’ve been wrestling with my identity and roles as a man; concerned with how to lead my family, my employees, and a small group of men from my local church. 

I discovered AoM in late 2016 and TSL not long after. Being a former Eagle Scout during my school days (something I found in common with a lot of TSLers), I was attracted to the clearcut “badge system” of the program, the group accountability through the dedicated forums, and the well-rounded approach that the founder had to manly development (physical, mental, and spiritual). 

Going through the first 3 months of TSL, I was challenged to make it a habit to “Do Hard Things” through the weekly “Agons” (some of these are now part of my daily routine). Through the badgework, I was able to redevelop my daily journaling habit, gained almost 10 pounds in 2 months doing the Starting Strength barbell program, and have become more thankful of the people and things around me. I’ve also been inspired by the biographies of Ben Franklin and Napoleon. If they could do it, so could I. 

Although I’m one of the very few Filipinos in TSL, the online community was very welcoming of diversity, and it feels great to be part of an international group of men who want to become better and take a bite out of life in the process.

All in all, TSL has given me a measurable, actionable, and motivational method to discover and practice the art of manliness in a world that is increasingly blurring the line between the sexes.”

–Mark S.

“I enrolled in the Strenuous Life during what would prove to be a tumultuous and difficult time in my life. By completing the Agons and daily check-ins I was able to go to bed each night, despite the chaos of daily life, knowing that I had grown and done good. In The Strenuous Life we say ‘Be Strong to Be Useful.’ After 11 weeks I would add ‘Be Useful to Be Happy.'”

–Vincent C.

“Current culture is suffocating for men. We’ve known this for quite some time, and every now-and-then a movie will be made (ex. Fight Club) or a book written (ex. Wild at Heart) to offer solace as masculinity is slowly snuffed out. TSL has taken that anguish and focused it toward a positive goal — developing the masculine spirit, mind, and body to be useful for your friends, family, and community. It has been a fresh of breath air for me to find like-minded men through the program who can’t live with the status quo and who want to be strong to be useful.”

–James T.

“The Strenuous Life has provided the structure I needed to learn the skills I wanted to learn. And improve myself as a man in this very distracting world we find ourselves in today.”

–Alex G.

“Strenuous Life was great. Meeting some of the other guys was the best part and they gave me the encouragement to try a few more tests and development of skills. Looking forward to continuing even after the initial 3-month TSL.”

–Chris F.

“‘Life gets in the way.’ That was always my excuse. I signed up for The Strenuous Life because I wanted to kick start myself. Get more workouts in. Build more strength and skills to be useful. Signing up for The Strenuous Life has helped me to build routines and now I just find a way to get a workout in. I find ways to work on building skills instead of internetting all evening. It’s become a routine or habit. The Agons are a nice extra challenge, and the badges provide nice structure to learning physical and mental skills. That said, you get out of it what you put into it. There is structure, but you have to do the work yourself. The program won’t do the work for you.

Life is short. Get off your ass. Sign up. Build community. Build strength, skills, and mental toughness. Do hard things. Live strenuously.”

–T.C. P.

“Through participation in The Strenuous Life, I have uncovered a new layer of excitement for everyday life that didn’t involve me switching careers or moving to a foreign country. In fact, the excitement and interest in life that I had been looking for so long for was right in front of me — I just needed a key, or tool, to unlock it. By taking TSL serious and putting in a lot of effort, I was able to reap the rewards and enjoy a more meaningful, deep experience which I will continue to refine as time goes on. I highly recommend TSL as the itch to the scratch you may have been feeling for so long!” 

–Florian F.

“My wife has found TSL to be a significant change in me. In her words, “You are more confident. You seem have more drive to do more things. Things you never thought you could.” And while I have always relished a challenge, TSL provided a path that lead to improving myself. So when people ask why I’m carrying a bag of rocks through the city every morning, I tell them what the daily check-in tells me: “To be more useful.”

–Mariano C.

“Before I joined The Strenuous Life I had, and still have, a number of things I wanted to do but I never went beyond the phase of wanting and dreaming. The Strenuous Life gave me the guidance, passion, and plan of action to actually DO the things I wanted. Simply put, I was motivated, guided, and disciplined in such a way that I was able to take my intangible wants and turned them into achievable actions which has had great benefit to myself, my family, and the community I surround myself with. I would recommend this program to anybody who seeks to be better and improve themselves and the lives of those around them.”

–Taylor J.

“The Strenuous Life has certainly jump-started my new year and has been a springboard for achieving many personal goals of mine. The program instills the belief that abstract ideas without practical action are not worth much. The group of like-minded men you are put with brings new insights and experiences to many of the questions/issues that we as modern men are facing. The weekly challenges bring you out of your comfort zone and challenge you physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. In essence, the rationale behind TSL is that nothing worth doing in life is going to be easy and in order to better train ourselves for rising to the occasion of life’s challenges, we should challenge ourselves on a daily basis. I have the Strenuous Life to thank for inspiring me to finally apply to Officer Candidates School for the Marine Corps, and I am able to take what I learn in the program to the Officer Candidate selection process. I cannot recommend this program enough and the value that it brings to your life cannot be portrayed in just a few sentences; to anyone on the fence about joining, you won’t regret taking this step.”

–Josh O.

“TSL kick started the most productive and joyful season of my life. Shortly before my class was initiated, I quit my job, moved states, and started a construction company. 

Since then I’ve been more efficient and productive at work, more present with my family, and more focused on my goals than at any other point in my life. 

Thanks to the consistency brought about through daily exercise and weekly Agon challenges, I’ve become a more spiritually aware of the needs of my family and those around me. I’m in the best physical shape since Army basic combat training and the badge requirements have kept me honest in the vigilant struggle to hone my skills needed to become a better man. 

TSL has changed my life. I truly believe it will change yours.” 

–Brad Y.

“The first three months are a battle but it is so worth it! The little day-to-day things that I used to think were insurmountable now are little more than a minor inconvenience. TSL really allows you to step back from the craziness of life and enjoy the simple things again.”

–Kurtis F.

“Over the course of the last 3 months I can see a visible change in my body from daily workouts, an attitude change and new outlook from daily good deeds, and have set up my life with specific goals that will build my character to someone who is useful to those around me. This is all caused from the very clear vision and mission of The Strenuous Life.”

–Brian L.

“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.”

–Frank M.

“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.”

–Richard H.

“Before the Strenuous Life I felt like I was just wandering aimlessly, never really applying myself, never really committing myself, never really stepping outside of my comfort zone to see who was really behind the man I was trying to be. The Strenuous life was my wake up call, it was my map, it still is my arena. It tests your discipline, your beliefs, your will, your grit and your way of life. I can honestly say this program has changed not only my life but the lives of my families and friends. So much of this program shows you how training your body, mind and soul affects everything and everyone around you. I can never thank Brett and his team enough for putting this program together. To self-less self improvement and the practice of virile manhood!”

–Joseph A.

“I have been reading and listening to the Art of manliness for several years.  At first, I enjoyed the more whimsical pieces “How to back a trailer like a man.” And “How to poop like a Samurai.” I then began into the deeper content on manly honor, roughhousing with kids, becoming more charismatic (to name just a few).

I was always entertained and left more informed, even talking to friends about some interesting tidbit of knowledge I picked up on the Art of Manliness.  

What was missing was action.

Enter The Strenuous Life, the kick of motivation and structure I needed to push forward with skills to improve for others, to challenge myself, and actually DO THINGS.  Pay the money for the platform, put skin in the game; the value returned is more than worth it.

A few reasons to join:

  1. Your peers all put up something to be there. It increases the quality of Man that you deal with in TSL. In a world of “free” services with ads you start to think that all people are flaky and opinionated without depth. Not so with TSLers.
  2. Weekly Challenges (Agons) are great!  They push me to actually put action to the knowledge I’ve gained. It helped motivate me to know I didn’t have to get it done “someday,” I had to do it by Saturday. They pushed me to do things, have adventures, and build manly skills.  
  3. Excellent Value, now and in the future — Brett and team have put heart and soul into the platform, and it shows.  It continues to grow and improve, so buying in now you are getting access to all that future value as well.
  4. Honor driven, with a hint of competition and accountability, and achievements that can’t be simply bought, all add up to a unique experience that has fed my mind, body, soul, and masculine heart.”

–Matthew A.

“I’m a pretty adventurous guy. Grew up in Boy Scouts, hunting, martial arts, the works. As I’ve settled into adulthood and all the fun responsibilities that come with a family and career I felt that something was missing — like I should be doing more. I’ve spent countless hours perusing the internet to find out how to be a “real man.” Enter Strenuous Life. Here is a community of like-minded men who want to round out their talents and abilities. I love checklists and the individual badges provide that. Some are easier than others — all are excellent. The reading assignments alone have been worth the entry fee. I’m taking my family on adventures and we’re all having a blast.

Strenuous Life won’t make you into a military hardcore warrior — but it will help you be a better man and help you find what you are missing.”

–Tyler M.

“The Strenuous Life has made a substantial impact on my life. It has given me challenges to accomplish on a weekly basis. The weekly agons are definitely challenging. When you reach the end of the boot camp you will feel like you have accomplished a lot. In the past I would do things until they became a burden; after going through the 12-week boot camp I do hard things until they are completed, because the struggle makes me feel alive.  The Strenuous Life creed and the “Man in the Arena” speech ring loudly in my ears. With the Strenuous Life I am ensuring that “my soul will never be among the cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat” because I choose to do hard things.” 

–Joshua M.

“The path to self-improvement is a rough one to follow, especially when one hasn’t the faintest idea of where to begin. The Strenuous Life offers that path, through encouragement to improve physically and morally every day. Its weekly Agons and its Badge system help lead one to discovering new skills and offer a tangible reward for one’s efforts. While gaining rewards and accomplishments are grand, I feel the true reward is the brotherhood you’ll find among like-minded individuals. I wholeheartedly recommend TSL and would love to see more folks join the ranks!”

–Colton Z.

“‘Signing up for The Strenuous Life is the best decision you’ve ever made!’ That’s what my wife said the other day after I did a craft with our twins when she was out of the house (it turned out to be the custom Christmas cards they made for her). I’m a better husband, a better dad, a better employee, a better friend, a better citizen and overall a better and happier person because of TSL. I am more patient, more loving, more social, more understanding, more learned and knowledgeable and I’ve done more in the past few months of things that I’ve wanted to do for years and just never got around to. Oh, and I’ve lost weight and gained strength, so I’m looking better and feeling healthier as well.”

–Kevin G.

“The Strenuous Life has been an awesome way to connect with other like-minded men, both virtually and in real life, and has inspired me to push even harder to improve myself and learn new skills. I’ve been reading the Art of Manliness for a while, and implemented some of the things Brett has written about, but TSL takes it to a new level. I’m looking forward to living the next year strenuously!”

–Adam R.

“The Strenuous Life provides an excellent path for learning a myriad of challenging skills that someone may be interested in. Most of the badges have a layer of education and a layer of action which makes for a helpful structure in truly understanding each achievement. It’s also been fun having my children do several of the Agons with me, which they love as much as myself!”

–Kris V.

“I have been a member of TSL for four months now and I have appreciated my participation in this group each and every single day since joining. It’s important for me to do things that are challenging, but for me, the benefit comes from accountability. I am accountable to myself, my 005 Group, and my fellow Albertan Strenuous Lifers. It can be very rewarding to make personal progress while encouraging and supporting others. Our lives can be very comfortable and I believe that we have  benefited immensely from the strenuous lifestyle that generations before us committed to. Participation in The Strenuous Life can be our way to honor the people that built our nations and it can be our way of continuing a lifestyle that benefits from doing hard things.”

–Steve R.

“When I first heard about TSL, I was very interested, but then I became a bit nervous, thinking, “What if it is TOO strenuous, and I’m expected to hike 50 miles, every week or benchpress 300#, etc.”…I signed up anyway. The Agon challenges vary dramatically. Some are more physical. Some are more mental. Some are easier, some are harder, but this is mostly dependent on each individual’s strengths or weaknesses. Some people in my class are younger, some are older, but the fellowship, camaraderie, and encouragement are what make the program work. It is like having a group of friends, where, of course, you aren’t the best, but then no one is the “superstar” (and the variety of Agons ensures to humble you if you think that you are!). One is stronger here, another is better there, and sometimes YOU are the one who gets to show off your skills. The program is set up to push each of us to DO MORE. I am very glad that I signed up, and I feel that I have already become a better man due to my new strenuous life outlook.” 

–Taylor H.

“TSL proved to me that you need friction to grow. Our lives have become very superficial, just look on facebook, instagram, there are examples anywhere. We are surrounded by things that have barely any value. TSL helped on a journey to get under the surface a have richer experience.”

–Ales

“There are many reasons why one would take the oath of TSL, but if I had one word to describe what you will gain from this is PURPOSE. Everything from the daily challenges, the weekly Agon, and the badge requirements all lead to a purpose greater than oneself. It is great to be a part of a small community of men (your private class) who have dedicated themselves to improvement, but I’ve found myself looking at life in a different light; more of serving a purpose to others. While each day continues to be a strenuous challenge, I can’t help but feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment from every challenge put in my path.”

–Max

“TSL is exactly what I have been missing! I thought it would be really cool to be part of something bigger and create meaningful friendships that will help all of us be the best version of ourselves. TSL gives us the platform and tools to becoming useful to the people around us by being able to master tasks that give us authentic confidence. I’ve developed new hobbies such as rucking, which I do regularly. I’ve gotten into healthy habits — like journal writing every morning. I think in our technological society, we lose out on the opportunities that are not as readily available to us — such as hands-on things (badges that are offered in TSL) that are oftentimes very rewarding and fun. I see TSL as an outlet that can balance out our modern technological life. Since, I’ve deleted my Facebook app from my phone and don’t miss it. I feel clear-minded and more like myself. The best part are the meet ups in our respective locations. My SoCal group is planning on two hikes in October — which I am very excited for! Even more, we get to complete requirements for badges while having fun!”

–Amie M.

“I signed up for TSL a little over a month ago, and to be honest I was a little apprehensive about doing so. Although I have had the desire for quite a while to join some type of organized group effort, be it fitness classes or a social group, I could never pull the trigger on anything, probably out of an insecurity of some sort. That being said I am thrilled with my decision to join TSL. I could go on a big spiel about how I have felt that modern day conveniences and society have eroded the grit that I was born with and how something was just missing. But here’s the bottom line;  It feels good to be useful. It feels good to learn new skills. It feels good to help others. It feels good to be strong. It feels good becoming a better man. It feels good to do hard things.

 The Strenuous Life program has forced me to put skin in the game with daily good deed and physical activity check-ins, weekly Agons, earning new skills and acquiring badges, and living up to my other classmates. Also, my wife and I are expecting our first child (a boy) in January and I could not think of a better time to begin living the strenuous life.”

–Ryan F.

“Today I low-crawled under a fallen branch through rocks and mud and loved every second of it. Three weeks ago I set a deadlift PR. This weekend I’ll go on a microadventure with my wife for the fifth straight week.

None of this would have happened without The Strenuous Life. 

Join The Strenuous Life today. Current you, future you, your significant other and those you interact with on a daily basis will all be better for it.”

–Paul B.

“The Strenuous Life delivers a fun, inspiring platform for self improvement. The badges provide opportunities and motivation to develop myself physically, socially, and intellectually. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t supposed to be — sign up only if you are ready to step up.”

–Austen E.

“I have anticipated joining The Strenuous Life from the time that I first heard about it. The Strenuous Life provides the push that I was looking for. I wanted to do more and I wanted to be more. I am not satisfied with mediocrity. I wanted to rise above mediocrity and reach my full potential. The Strenuous Life helped in providing direction towards that goal. Since joining TSL I have begun to work on goals that I put off for a long time. I began to be more intentional with my time. This has helped me to be more productive and accomplish more in my day than I had previously. I am excited about the adventures that I will have will working on the requirements for the badges. Just a couple of days ago I was tired from a very long day of work and decided to forgo my workout. I justified it by telling myself I had worked hard and I deserved some rest. Then I remembered I committed to living The Strenuous Life and that I would do hard things. I also remembered that I hadn’t completed the Agon for that day. So, with renewed vigor, I put on my workout clothes and went to it.  I felt so much better after the workout that I wondered why I had vacillated beforehand. If I hadn’t been a member of TSL I would most likely have taken the day off. This is just a month in. What will my character and habits be like after 6 months or 1 year? I don’t know but I am really excited to find out.

My only complaint is that this wasn’t released years ago. “ 

–Sam A.

“TSL has helped me get out of my head and focus on real-world results. In the past I was too focused on gathering information and researching that I never got around to taking action, and by the time I might have been ready, the next new thing would pop up.

By focusing in on experiencing a few badges at a time, I’m getting myself out of the analysis paralysis habit.”

–Mark P.

“I’ve been a faithful Art of Manliness reader since 2010. I discovered it through a book review on the first AOM book. By 2012, I was inspired to start doing something other than reading, playing guitar, and playing video games. I began to take up making cigar box guitars which has now developed into a hobby business. Every time an article about fitness or outdoors activities would come out, I would think that would be nice but I could never fit it into the life structure I had created for myself. When the first article announcing The Strenuous Life came out last December, I was interested but figured it was another fitness thing I wouldn’t make time for. I signed up for the email notifications anyway. The initial test class got started. I went about life. The AOM article on walking 50 miles in 20 hours came out. It piqued my interest since I am somewhat of a walking philosopher. Give me something to think about and 5 miles later I have a solution. I also read that the 50 mile challenge was part of the Rough Rider badge. A month later, the email was sent out announcing an enrollment of 600 for TSL. It was on the week of my birthday. My wife had been bugging me for gift ideas and I was all out, so I told her to buy my membership. I was pleased on my gamble when I discovered that the entire TSL badge, Agon, and daily check-in system is designed to work as a whole to live the philosophy on AOM, not just as the bookworm turned woodworker as I had become, but to fully immerse yourself into the life of a true man. I, through the inspiration of this program, have lost 15 lbs in the first month without changing my diet yet. My wife is quite pleased with the new outer shape and promises of adventure in accomplishing the badge requirements. There are also forums with like-minded individuals who are on the same path encouraging each other. As my 39th birthday present, my only wish is that it had been around for my 24th.”

–Jason R.

“I have been a member of TSL for about a month now and thus far I have learned quite a bit about myself and, of course, about all of the various skills that we are called upon to learn in the program. So far I have become more active by completing my daily physical fitness requirement and I have become a better person by completing my daily good deed requirement. Furthermore, I completed the InfoSec badge, and by doing so, learned a great deal about information security and how to better protect myself and others in the modern, computer-dependent world. The Agons have been challenging, which is actually why I like them so much. Every week I am hand delivered a challenge that calls for me to break out of my comfort zone and branch out into new and difficult, but rewarding, fields. TSL has helped me to come out of my shell and embrace a life of doing hard things. I feel like a more accomplished individual for taking on this challenge and I know that working to complete it will only improve me as a man.”  

–Josh M.

“The Strenuous Life is definitely a program that has given me tremendous benefit. Being in a group of like-minded men (and some women) has motivated me to get more things done. The daily challenges were definitely difficult at first and still are on a lot of days, but being held accountable by my classmates has motivated me to complete them. The weekly Agons are also really cool. Every week has something new in store for me to test myself and push myself just little bit further. The motivation of getting a badge has pushed me to do things that I have wanted to do for a while but never got around to, like making my family tree or improving my handwriting. I definitely recommend The Strenuous Life for anyone who wants to improve themselves in any aspect of their life.” 

–Michael D.

“The Strenuous Life is an incredible program that’s inspired me to exercise more, read more, and dabble in hobbies I’d never considered. I began the Strenuous Life as a personal investment and it is paying off ten-fold. I’m excited to continue my journey and continue developing different skills in order to be the best man that I can.” 

–Cody O.

“What I’ve enjoyed the most about The Strenuous Life is the healthy competition and accountability.  Knowing that there is a group of like-minded individuals out there that genuinely look forward to seeing updates provides a welcome level of camaraderie, and I’ve been able to personally challenge myself to stick with my daily check-ins, weekly Agons, and work on badges so that I could share my progress with my group mates and keep my personal streak alive. A second yet no less important level of accountability and camaraderie has come from my wife and kids that continue to encourage me with the physical challenges of TSL. I’ve created some lasting memories teaching my 5 year old son how to do a proper push-up, getting my kids to count and judge pull-ups, getting my wife to time a 2 minute dead hang, and carrying my 8-year-old daughter on my shoulders for 1/4 mile. I’m thankful for Brett’s drive to establish TSL and I’m glad I’ve made this a part of my life.”

–Brandon B.

“The Strenuous Life has been a really fun, eye-opening experience for me. I’ve been a long-time reader of the Art of Manliness, and while it has awesome content and practical advice for a lot of situations, you still have to take the initiative yourself to implement what’s in front of you. Oftentimes this is hard if you don’t have a support system in place, or no clear goals to reach by doing that. The Strenuous Life has helped define a set of clear-cut objectives for me, and offers an excellent support community of like-minded men who can either give advice on how to get started, give motivation to keep going, or lend ideas about problems I hadn’t seen before. The PT uniform is awesome, and gets me motivated to work out every time I put it on. The weekly challenges are tough,  refreshing, and get me out of my comfort zone, and help me see that I really can do things that I set my mind to. For me, the badge system is secondary to the motivation factor I get to try and get in shape and maintain more everyday discipline, but it’s great to be able to have a set of well-defined tasks to follow to get better at a whole host of things. A lot of the badges are for things I would never even think of trying to be better at, and it’s a fun way to get involved in things that are really very necessary skills that men need to have in this day and age. I really feel that with enough time, The Strenuous Life will help me come out of my shell and realize my potential for being a better person, partner, employee, and man as a whole.”

–Luke I.

“As a husband, new dad, grad school student, working two jobs, and everything else going on in life it can be very easy to become distracted and not be intentional with my time. TSL has been a challenge and a platform that has motivated me to focus on time and becoming a better well-rounded man. I have been motivated to wake up at 4:45 AM during the week to get my workout in before my family wakes up. I have been challenged to include reading the Classics in to my library and reflect and ponder on them. I have a renewed energy to develop skills in areas I thought I would not focus on as an adult. What I love about the platform is that TSL allows members to connect with other men, be encouraged and challenged by others, and that it is built for a long-term participation and development. It is not a “hack” or a “quick fix” in becoming the best man we can be. I have not regretted a second joining TSL.” 

–Matt W.

“The Strenuous Life has been a fun and educational experience for me so far. The Agons have been a challenging and a refreshing experience. This platform gave me a structured course on how to improve and go about my life as a man.”

–Gino B.

“I’ve been an AoM reader for years, and loved how specific and actionable the content was.

With the Strenuous Life community, however, we’re held accountable by each other to push ourselves and continue to do hard things. I certainly feel like a better man, husband, and boss having worked through some of the challenges. In attempting to live the Strenuous Life, I have begun to take a more measured approach to life in general, thinking about what kind of man I want to be and realising how hollow a lot of “advice” on manliness actually is.”

–Scott G.

“TSL is quenching a thirst in my life. I have a great wife and 3 kids and a very fulfilling career, but TSL is providing an extra richness, excitement, and depth to my life. I’m inviting my boys (6th grade and 9th grade) to join me in the weekly Agons and opening conversation about why these activities are important to developing their manhood. I already have athletic, nature-loving kids but it has been fun getting out there with a little more purpose. Working on the badges has allowed me to explore and express dormant human attributes that would never have been discovered without TSL. The good deeds and exercise are great daily reminders, but the thing that I’m keeping at the forefront of my mind all day long and exercising with gusto is the TSL motto, ‘Do Hard Things.’”

–Larson

“When I first heard about The Strenuous Life I knew immediately that I wanted to take part.  As soon as they announced Open Enrollment, I was all over it. And, truly it has been a joy to dive into!     

Not that it’s been easy! In fact, it has already lived up to its name multiple times over!  

The weekly Agon challenges, though simple thus far, have proved many times to be more strenuous than expected! “Strenuous”mostly in the fact that they require a man to be intentional about the way he’s living his life.     

Then there’s the “Daily Check-Ins!” I’ve found value in these the most so far! They have helped me be the most successful and motivated in my personal physical fitness routine that I may have ever been! But, beyond that, it challenges me to consider the level to which I’m choosing to step outside my own world, and to make a difference in the world around me!  

A major win in my own reckoning though since joining The Strenuous Life is the way that I’ve found myself multiple times already, sitting on the couch at home, and along comes an opportunity to make a decision about something that needs to be done… where I can either choose the “easy life” and stay on the couch and/or neglect the issue, or I can choose the “Strenuous Life” and take the challenge head-on!     

It didn’t take long after joining The Strenuous Life for me to realize that being a part of The Strenuous Life was going to help me be more of the kind of man I really want to be! The kind of man that leaves a better legacy!”

–Joel W.

“There is a certain genius to this whole thing I did not expect. It must be a combination of the accountability to the other men and the desire to get that patch, to achieve that challenge coin, to win that laurel that keeps me going. I’ve tried solo programs before. I’ve tried to work out a plan to build skills and to become stronger on my own but I’ve never followed through. The Strenuous Life has changed that. In the first 4 weeks I’ve gone from a completely sedentary lifestyle to at least an hour a day of strenuous activity. I’ve looked forward to the weekly agons, waiting for them to hit my inbox so I could tackle another 7 days of strenuosity. I’ve started working on skills I never thought I would be able to find time to practice. I used to shuffle through the first 6 hours of the day, now I manage to pack more into the first half of my day than I used to get through in a week. At first I was trying to get through the challenges, now I just keep thinking, “More. I want more.” And my wife has noticed a change — a month ago I would come home after a two-hour commute and collapse. No longer. Now my evenings seem to be full of exercise, study, tasks. And all the while I know that I’m doing it to be a better man. For my wife, for my family, for my community.”

–Erik W.

“Listless, dissatisfied, disenchanted, disenfranchised, a drift in a sea of normalcy and  without personal focus. That was how I would describe myself before The Strenuous Life (TSL).  I mean I had the family, career, stuff but that wasn’t enough to be fulfilled. I felt lied to by my parents, society, and most of all by consumer-driven companies. I had been sold and what I bought didn’t work. After reading the article: “A Call for a New Strenuous Age” I felt like I wasn’t alone, hell I wasn’t even the first generation to have these feelings.

So I looked into TSL as a solution. Could doing more, and doing harder things really lead to more happiness and fulfillment in my life? The answer is YES!  We get so caught up in all the ways to do nothing (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Amazon, etc.) that society has given us that we stopped looking for ways to actually do SOMETHING. 

TSL starts you off right from the get go with a welcome package (handbook, workout uniform, membership card), and 12 weekly challenges to help you realign and start off your new Strenuous Life right! But really that’s not the end but rather the beginning; after the 12-week challenge you use the manual to ‘GET ACTION.’”

–John R.

“I started The Strenuous Life to ‘scratch an itch’ I’ve had for a while. I’m a pastor, and my profession isn’t widely known for being all that physical. Life gets mundane and I needed an outlet. I needed something like the physical things I used to do in my early 20’s. Frankly, I needed something manly and hard to do. 

What got my interest piqued about TSL is that it’s not ALL physical stuff. When I saw all the badges, I learned something about myself — I want to be a skill-collector when I ‘grow up.’ TSL is total self improvement and development. It’s skill-collecting in the arenas of body, mind, and soul. 

As much as it may sound like a commercial, the malaise of modern life had left me overweight, tired all the time, and depressed. No joke. I really think TSL was made just for guys like me. TSL gets you to embrace friction and do hard things because those things help make you a better man. 

Since starting, I’ve swam in open ocean for a mile, boots and all, rolled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu almost every day and trained in Krav Maga on the off days. I’ve got my act together with planning my days and weeks, I learned that I can carry a 104 lb rock for a 1/4 mile, and lots more things.

I feel alive again. TSL gives me fun and manly stuff to do with my two boys too. My wife gets a kick out of scoring my stuff and taking pictures for evidence. It can really become a family affair!

TSL has a been a great, enriching experience so far. It’s got a ‘full recommend’ from me.”

–Tom B.

“The Strenuous Life is more than just badges and a t-shirt. It’s a way of life. Before TSL, I had drive but no place to direct it. TSL has focused my energy into making myself a better man. I’m doing things I would’ve never dreamt of doing. Without TSL, my life would be significantly different. I’d be less athletic, intelligent, productive, and compassionate.”

–Grady D.

“You and 149 other guys in a class together. While it’s true that everyone is different (age, location, skill set, etc.), we all share one similarity that is the pulse of The Strenuous Life, we all want to become a better version of ourselves. This program is designed to hone all different aspects of your life, but the end result is clear in that if we aren’t putting what we learn into practice and making our communities a better place, then we aren’t doing this for the right reasons.”

–Adam P.

“Without the push I got from The Strenuous Life I would most certainly be living The Sedentary Life. Upping my fitness level was a big goal of mine but I never truly had the motivation. The Strenuous Life provides the community to keep me going. Even though I have never met with any of the people in my group, knowing that they are there for any questions or a quick pick-me-up keeps me motivated. It’s like being back on my high school volleyball team and I don’t want to let my teammates down. 

Having a weekly challenge and the ability to earn different badges has also pushed me out of my comfort zone in extremely good ways. As a child I always wanted to be in the Boy Scouts and earn badges for different skills that I never had. This helps me live out a childhood dream. 

In the short time that I’ve been a part of The Strenuous Life community, people around me have noticed a positive change. I’m physically and mentally stronger and bring a whole new demeanor to my job. Through The Strenuous Life, I’ve been able to take a step back and look at all my strengths and weaknesses and improve my life. I would highly recommend The Strenuous Life to everyone.” 

–Jonathan F.

“This program is exactly what I’ve been looking for as far as self development.

If you are someone who not only wants to be useful to yourself but to the people and world around you The Strenuous Life provides the right combination of physical, mental, and spiritual challenges to help you develop. 

The badges and their requirements are awesome. But what’s great is that everything you pursue is useful. Both the requirements as well as the weekly Agons I’ve done so far have definitely taken me out of my comfort zone but in a good way. 

My only wish is that there was something like this 10 years ago to help guide me in my pursuit of becoming not just a better man but just a better individual. 

The camaraderie from the individuals in my class is great. Everyone is supportive and at the same time you can definitely rely on them to help keep you accountable. 

There’s also something about being a part of team that motivates you not only to pursue some healthy competition, but also motivates you to not disappoint them either. Your very own Band of Brothers. 

I feel myself already becoming a more well-rounded person and have already seen improvements in many areas of my life. I can’t say enough about this program. I’m very glad I decided to join.

Semper Virilis!”

–Alexander G.

“I joined TSL in March as a member of the Red Team. As a long-time reader and supporter of AoM and everything McKay I was incredibly excited for the program to be rolled out. For many years now self improvement has been a cornerstone of my life. While the focus on self improvement has certainly improved my life for the better, looking back I’ve noticed that too much of it was planning and thinking. Too much contemplation and talking and not enough action. It wasn’t that I was against action, I just didn’t have concrete steps to take so I just kept planning and planning, thinking and thinking.

What I absolutely love about TSL is the concrete steps to take. It’s so simple a monkey could do it. Do x, y, and z, don’t half ass it, and hold yourself accountable. There is no longer the excuse of not knowing what to do. Something as simple as researching my ancestry has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and while not a hard thing I just never had actionable items that I held myself to. Not anymore. I’m a huge checklist guy, I get great satisfaction from checking things off. That same feeling comes through each time I accomplish a badge on TSL.

I also love my Class. Even though it’s a digital group of guys I feel like I know many of them personally. While my friends from college and high school are great they’re not the kind of guys that I feel like I can go to about being a better man. These guys are all on the same journey to be the best man they can be and to leave the world a better place. I love that.”

–Kyle G.

I’ve actually been a member of the Strenuous Life since the beta launched earlier this year. I’ve been able to see it change and develop with time, and gotten a glimpse of just how much work Brett and his crew have put into the site and The Strenuous Life to make it the shiny product that you see before you now. To begin, I’ve nothing but good to say about the people behind this. I can’t imagine the man-hours that went into troubleshooting, programming, writing, and brainstorming everything here. It helps that they have been very responsive to messages from TSL members who have brought issues to their attention.

Now, the product. Since it began, I’ve completed three badges and made progress on half-a-dozen others, and I’ve got to say that the change it has created in me has been a good one. I’ve become more thoughtful and purpose-driven, more aware of my surroundings, and have been actively seeking opportunities to improve myself physically, intellectually, and morally. Speaking of physically, I’ve lost over ten pounds in the last month, in no small part thanks to TSL for encouraging me to take my fitness more seriously. And the badge requirements helped me make it through my last semester of grad school by inspiring me to develop better planning and study habits. 

Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with TSL, and have not only been encouraging my friends and family to check it out, but plan on using some of the badges to develop study and class requirements for my history and logic classes that I will be teaching this year. Go for it! You won’t regret doing it.”

–Henry N.

“I’ve been a follower and a fan of the Art of Manliness for years.  When I heard that Brett McKay was opening up The Strenuous Life I knew I needed to be a part of it. The physical and mental challenges help develop fortitude and resilience. This program is a brilliant combination of learning, giving, strengthening, and man scouts.”

–Jesse C.

“About a month into The Strenuous Life and I have to say, it’s a fascinating and eye-opening practice. From the badges as a method of self-improvement to the 12-week Agon challenges, this regime was exactly what I hoped for after years of perusing the AOM’s archive of posts and podcasts. For example, a real eye-opener to my fitness came with Agon #3 where we did the WWII GI fitness test. I certainly wasn’t going to be storming the beaches of Normandy, but I was going to give myself a little more of a push in the gym and on my routine hikes! 

In terms of quality to the content and the challenges, I am very satisfied with the results so far. I love how it isn’t just you going into these aspects of the program. There is a community of respectful, like-minded individuals who help give you that extra push. 

In terms of getting your money’s worth, I look forward to continue living strenuously and think you should too.”

–Sean

“The Strenuous Life program has been an absolute life changer. A little over a month into the program and I am already seeing great results. The program has challenged me in numerous ways and has pushed me to make the most of each and every day. My outlook is much more positive, my discipline is greatly improved, and I feel as if all my actions are meaningful and rooted in making a positive change in the world around me. I couldn’t have asked for more. The program is simple, challenging, and fun. I highly recommend and am very thankful to have joined when I did.”

–Samuel N.

“Having been involved with The Strenuous Life for a little over a month, I have found that it has motivated and focused my energies, like a little cricket on your shoulder. I find myself evaluating choices based on which will help me improve, and that the group of people I am interacting with help me stay the course.  I am loving it, and find myself challenged daily!”

–Richard S.

“I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself and doing things that are difficult. Backpacking, barbells, hunting, studying, I’ve done it all. Now that I’ve exited my twenties, I find my career taking over more of my thoughts and time. I’m married and all of a sudden have two kids.  When I do physical activity, my body doesn’t recover as easily.  My brain is often exhausted at the end of each day, when I would normally read or study.

Enter The Strenuous Life.  Doing hard things simply for the sake of doing hard things. Weekly challenges, badges that take longer periods of planning, activity, and learning to complete, and camaraderie to help assist with motivation, and resources to complete these things. The Strenuous Life has brought these types of things that I enjoy back to the front of my mind. There are new challenges that I would have never dreamed of pursuing. Reading through the challenges and victories of others has been inspiring. I am back to pushing myself to become better through hard work — both physical and mental.

I would highly recommend The Strenuous Life for men of any age, of any ability.  Whatever your situation, there are things you can do better — to both help yourself, and help others. Each and every one of the accomplishments you achieve through The Strenuous Life will have an impact on you and those around you.”

–Chris A.

“I’ve been following The Art of Manliness blog and podcast for about 4 years now and I have learned so much about manhood. The how-to’s and essays have been informative as well as fun to read; however, I haven’t always applied the knowledge that I gained to my everyday life and as a result I didn’t quite feel like I was working hard enough on the path to betterment..  

Enter The Strenuous Life.  

TSL has helped motivate me to really strive to be a better man by setting up a system of goals, challenges, and milestones to which I can apply myself and begin to develop a true sense of agency.  In addition, the sense of accountability and camaraderie that I share with my fellow TSLers has forced me to really think about manhood as a “team sport.” With 4 weeks behind me, I’m amped for the next 8 weeks of boot camp and beyond!”

–Sean T.

“The moment I received the Strenuous Life email I was IN! Instantly, memories of Boy Scouts came flooding back to me. This was going to be an adventure! What married man with 4 little kids doesn’t want to have an adventure? I not talking about a trip to the splash park. A real adventure. One that brings back your primal meat eating and fire lighting instincts, yet truly helps you become a better man and father in this modern, fast-paced world.  At first my wife thought it was rather silly that a grown man would get excited about a few badges, weekly challenges, daily good deeds, and fitness, now she is not laughing. Although she won’t admit it, she is secretly proud of me. She has started asking about the challenges and is even “bragging” to her friends. Even the kids are on board now. The kids and I did Army Ground Forces test which I have to admit was beyond fun and great experience for all. My hat goes off to Brett for developing The Strenuous Life. It’s great program if you are willing to put in the effort. It’s not for everyone and only the man who willing to go out on a limb and do hard things shall apply.”

–Greg P.

“The Strenuous Life has been an incredibly useful resource in my life. First of all it has motivated me to be more active each day and has inspired me to seek out daily good deeds to complete. Second, the badges have provided the guidance and resources necessary to create a clear path towards being a more useful, well-rounded individual. It’s given me an easy to follow and motivating framework to learn new skills. Finally, the community here is just awesome. Conversing with a group of guys who motivate, support, and inspire you is a great benefit to TSL. Our class definitely has a sense of camaraderie that can be hard to find in other forums. Overall I’ve found TSL to be extremely useful and inspiring.”

–Peter G.

“TSL has been the motivation I’ve needed to actually DO the things that I have been thinking about doing. It’s turning my introspection into action.”

–Jonathan M.

“We’ve only been in it a few weeks, but I genuinely feel like it’s helping me be a better man. Not in some woo-woo self improvement way, but it’s making me reflect on my actions and gives me tasks to do other than sit and watch TV. It makes me reflect if I’ve done good this day. It makes me go on walks with my daughter every day and read to her. I’m learning about astronomy and my family tree while writing cursive. In short — it instills in me the belief that a great life is not made of grand achievement; rather it is made of doing all the small activities right.”

–Andrew K.

“The Strenuous Life offers something I felt I needed but didn’t know how to describe. I knew there was more out there, immediately around me, but I didn’t know how to tap into it. I didn’t know how much I could do right now! Joining the Strenuous Life was like finding a map: All the things I knew where there were now made plain and I simply had to go out and do it! Dozens of manly skills and hobbies have been condensed into easy-to-follow steps. And the best part about it is: You’re not alone! Like-minded men from all over the country, all over the world, are right there with you, fighting the same fight, learning the same skills, asking the same questions. The folks I have met through TSL are folks I may never have met otherwise–I was surprised how many like minded men were in my area! It’s tough, it’s fun, and best of all: The sense of achievement is like no other. The Strenuous Life is not a social network: It’s a Guidebook for living your best life.”

–Russell S.

“The Strenuous Life is an amazing platform. I enjoy how it gives me something specific to work on everyday. I have just completed my first two badges, and I cannot wait to complete the next challenge. From letter writing, to reading classics, to understanding fashion, I love the skills that I am developing. With TSL, I know that every day I am becoming a more skillful, well-rounded, and practical man. I can see my progress with the TSL badges, and I feel motivated and supported by the TSL community. The discounts aren’t bad either.”

–Aaron R.

“What I love about The Strenuous Life is the skills that you can pick and choose to learn and master. Each badge is its own course. The badges are a combination of hard skills (fire building) and soft skills (penmanship). There are so many to choose from that you could be working on these for years to come and not complete them all. As someone who missed out on being a Scout, this program is awesome!

The weekly challenges, like TSL, are a great mix of physical and mental.  Taking on, and completing a weekly challenge gives you a small feeling of success, as well as a little nervousness for the next one. None of them are impossible, but they force you to think, and maybe act, in a new way.  

Taking The Strenuous Life Challenge has been loads of fun every day!”

–Dustin B.

“The Strenuous Life has helped put me into an online community of like minded individuals looking to improve themselves and their communities. It’s helped me to push myself in new and significant ways each and every day. It’s inspired me to be more active. Even at the end of a busy day when I may not have the energy for the gym, I’ll go out and hike for an hour. I find myself being a better person to those I know and in my community in the search to do some amount of good each and every day. I’ve begun to discover things about the area I live in and about myself through the completions of the badge requirements and the weekly Agons. It’s given me the push to begin projects and practices that I’ve aspired to but never taken the time to actually begin. I live the strenuous life. I train for harmony in body, mind, and soul. I am strong to be useful. I choose action over abstraction. I do hard things.”

–Joey M.

“If you are like me you have been reading and listening to Art of Manliness for several years. While the content is terrific, if you don’t put it into action you might as well be reading Cosmopolitan. The Strenuous Life provides the kick in the rear needed to make you the well-rounded man you know you want to be.” 

–Bill F.

“Like many of you (or perhaps not), I have come here with the purpose of pushing myself to greater improvements in skills long abandoned. As a 31-year-old man, who as a child hated the concept of Boy Scouts or outdoor-anything, I regret not developing useful skills both in and out of doors. To make it perhaps more obvious, I had a few max-level characters on Final Fantasy 11 and played Super Smash Bros. on a competitive level in college.

I weighed 315 pounds at my max. I trained in martial arts, but like many schools, I was advanced in rank without discipline. I felt ashamed of who I was and what I represented when I would go to conferences and being the only obese black belt.

I am currently reading “Professor in the Cage” for the Fighter Badge and I identify with the author on so many levels. I needed to prove myself. I needed to prove my toughness. I desire to stare my psyche in the eye and learn how to take a punch. The Weekly Agons have made me stare “why would you ever do this” and turn it into “why can’t you try?” (I’m looking at you, cold water showers).

I’ve changed my mindset toward money while earning the Personal Finance badge. My girlfriend and I now see a way out of debt and can see ourselves building wealth, all in a single month of living The Strenuous Life. She has changed her mind about the program — she originally took offense that I would be doing “good deeds” just because of “adult Boy Scouts,” but now that I’m becoming more useful and living life with honor and phronesis, she is completely on board. The short shorts don’t hurt either.

I am so glad that this program exists because I can reclaim those things I’ve never learned how to do getting my Red Mage up to level 75. I have a list in front of me from all these badges that is exactly what I need to get started reclaiming both lost masculinity and childhood face in front of my male extended family and friends.

Through living The Strenuous Life, I am feeding the fire, and awakening my dormant vigor. Slowly and surely, that fire will grow — and it’s not too late for you. Live The Strenuous Life.”

–Phil C.

“Thank you for providing this outstanding platform to challenge men to be our best. As the motto says, selfless self improvement! This allows us to be our best so that we can give back our best in each role we play as fathers, husbands, employees, members of a community, etc… I would like to highlight some of the noticeable benefits I have experienced in the first month of TSL.

  1. Action. If a job has to be done, I do it. That simple. I do not allow weak excuses to creep in to my head. When I recognize a task needs to be accomplished I actually look forward to it if there are variables such as inclement weather that will only make the task more difficult. Before I may have been more quick to say, I’ll do it later. Not now, as a TSL member, we do hard things.
  2. Seeking and Recognizing Good Deeds. The daily reminder to check in with the performance of a good deed has my mind aware throughout the day of helping when I can. Before my mind was not open enough, distracted by the daily activities and too absorbed in my own tasks to notice how much help I can bring to others. 
  3. Breaking through discomfort. The weekly Agons and extensive list of badges has provided an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zones to experience new activities and personal boundaries. At times the agons and badge pursuits will be uncomfortable but sticking with it and completing brings a great sense of satisfaction.
  4. Knowing that there are many other men out there that will not settle for status quo is encouraging. With the current political and cultural climate in our world it would be easy to think there is no hope. But as a father to a 2-year-old boy I will not accept that. I will inspire my son to be a good man and lead a good life. Through TSL I see so many like-minded men on a mission to make our world better.

I look forward to this journey together.”

–Charley M.

“As a long-time reader of the Art of Manliness I am always eagerly awaiting new, quality content from the site. Trying to take the material presented online and incorporate it into my daily life is a rewarding and fulfilling practice, but it has always been largely a solo endeavor. Thus, I was greatly heartened to read Brett’s December 2016 post “The Call for a  New Strenuous Age.” I knew that the A.O.M. experience was quickly moving from a passive to an active pursuit, and I was gung-ho for the transition. I couldn’t wait for this new platform to launch.

Now that I’ve been in the program for a few weeks I can look back and reflect on the positive changes the Strenuous Life experience has brought to my daily outlook.  Working out everyday is simply a matter of course rather than a chore I might try to find time for. I approach any free moment I have with the thought “How can I most effectively maximize this time to improve myself or serve others.” I routinely reject my expected first choices and reactions to situations because I no longer want to choose the easy way out when I can opt for the invigorating challenge. When I feel like I might be losing my focus I know I have a tribe of peers I can turn to for inspiration or feedback. The Strenuous Life is a whetstone that daily keeps my edge from growing dull. I couldn’t be happier with the experience.”

–Willis G.

“Plain and simple, The Strenuous Life is the cure for lazy living. Whether you’re looking for accountability for physical exercise or just want to feel more useful, most programs would be tightly focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. TSL is only broadly focused on “what,” instead focusing more on “why.” Workout programs have always failed for me because nobody else is involved with them for the same reasons as me. I don’t care as much about looking good as I do about being capable of surpassing unforeseen challenges in my life. The Strenuous Life combines you with like-minded, encouraging people, then lets you choose how you want pursue usefulness. We’ve gotten too soft, and you can feel it every day. Either develop the mental and physical toughness now to do the hard things, or you face the fight on your opponent’s terms.”

–David R.

“In the few short weeks of being a part of TSL, I’ve become stronger physically (new barbell training program!), have been pushed to do things I wouldn’t normally do (shirtless bear crawls in the woods!), and have expanded my mind by learning new things through unusual and difficult material (Zen philosophy can be manly!). TSL has truly changed my day-to-day life; I’m more manly and useful today than I was last month and I will be even more manly and useful next month than I am today.”

–Matthew D.

“The Strenuous Life provides a vade mecum for men to leave their comfort zones, try new (and hard) things, and find something in themselves that has been lost to the comforts of civilized society.”

–Ed B.

“I’ve been following The Art of Manliness for several years, from learning how to dry brine a turkey (yes, that is a thing and it’s amazing!), style tips and how to appropriately dress my age (which I’ve get complimented for often), to learning about ninja’s on the AoM podcast and buying the book from Anthony Cummins. The content and quality was second to none, easily my favorite online resource. I’ve often felt that something was missing in the life of the modern man, and to combat that, I even challenged how I thought about my own masculinity, even creating a “Mutual Benefit Society” where men I’m associated with can contribute on intellectual, recreational, and world topics, all based on service of others. When The Strenuous Life came out, I jumped at the chance to participate. Over the last five weeks I’ve earned two badges, lost 14 pounds, and have done hard things! I can’t speak highly enough about the time and effort put into this program. It’s something that I will keep with me for life and that I will proudly pass down to my son and his sons if he ever has any.”

–Troy R.

“I’m five weeks into the Strenuous Life program and I’m absolutely loving it.

To be honest I entered the program thinking I already was a “Strenuous Lifer.” I own a gym, I’m an active gardener, and I cut my own firewood. What I’ve learned though, is that there’s much more to this sublime Art of Manliness and much I was missing from my own mix.

Camaraderie was a big one. Being able to interact with a crew of guys all facing the same challenges you are not only brings a sense of community, it offers a sense of perspective, something we can all lose sight of in our solitary, head down approach to life. The weekly challenges are another welcome addition. So far, it’s been a mixed bag. Some of the challenges I’ve accomplished easily while the others have required more effort and sometimes even a re-evaluation of where I am and what I’ve been doing. That’s a welcome wake-up call even if my ego would much rather have stayed comfy under the covers of my delusion.”

–Dave H.

“The camaraderie, challenges, and classiness of The Strenuous Life has already made such a huge impact in my life. Taking The Strenuous Life motto of “Do Hard Things” to heart, I find myself being more outgoing, not taking the easy way out, and making the most out of my former, dull, boring days. It’s all about a certain mindset, a vagueness of details and general guidelines that lets you put your own thoughts and creativity into place. At just a month in, I’m already physically stronger, more mentally aware, and having a great time.” –Justin A.

“My name is Jeremy. I’m 41 years old, and I’m a Canadian musician and writer. Since age 13, I have fought chronic depression. My life’s ambitions and dreams have been hindered by paralytic fear and episodes of morbid self-hatred.

I joined The Strenuous Life to try something different to combat The Black Dog. I had previously tried therapy and a couple different drugs, with unreliable results. Instead, The Strenuous Life offers a mix of activity, learning, philosophy, and goals.

The results have been marvelous.  

The daily goal to be active for one hour has improved my mood. Studies have shown that regular exercise is a salve for the depressed mind. It has gotten me off the couch into the sunshine.

The daily good deeds have improved my self-esteem. By putting good into the world, I understand my value to others, and to myself. It is an opportunity to remove myself from sad thoughts, and instead become an agent of kindness.  

The weekly Agon challenges banish my comfort zones, forcing me to behave and think in unaccustomed ways. Sometimes I complete an Agon with ease, and feel victorious. Sometimes I complete an Agon with difficulty, but have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried. 

The system of badges gives me long-term goals for which to strive, and new skills to learn. Each badge is a physical, mental, and moral journey. Through the Pater Familas badge, I explored my role as father, and with my family, we forged a more nurturing homelife. The Salesman Badge taught me the secret intricacies of influence and negotiation.  

By far, my favourite has been The Social Dynamo Badge.  It is not merely a collection of tips to be more charismatic: it is life-changing. The behaviours actually rewired my brain and changed my body. My posture improved as I lowered my tense shoulders. In attempting to smile when talking to people, I figured how not to force phony grins, but instead to discover internal gratitude and smile with earnesty. And, lastly, I learned the joy of looking people in the eyes. Fear kept me from looking in the eyes of others, but now I have instant connection with everybody I speak with. This has brought me more happiness than I could imagine.

Because of the daily exercise goal, I no longer believe I am weak. Because of daily good deeds, I no longer think I am bad. Because of the Agon challenges, I am no longer paralyzed. Because of the life skills I have gained through the badge system, I no longer see myself as worthless. Depression is never conquered casually, and I still have bad days and bad weeks. However, thanks to The Strenuous Life, I finally have momentum and hope.” 

–Jeremy C.

“I was fortunate enough to have been raised by a hardworking single mother.  I’m fairly certain I would be a very different, perhaps much lesser man today were my father in the picture. Using this as context one could easily surmise that my childhood instilled a strong and urgent yearning to figure out what manliness is and become the best man I could.

I truly believe in the “Law of Attraction” and my affinity for manhood undoubtedly put me on what I feel to be the right course. A course beset with challenges, obstacles, failures, and successes. All the knowledge and direction began to jump out at me in the form of mentors, books, and podcasts, ultimately leading up to a unique opportunity to help develop a wonderful program for men, TSL. I joined the Red Team as soon as I could. I’m thankful that I am financially able to jump on opportunities like this one.

Throughout all the bugs, glitches, and balancing my own life I have seen the program grow and improve tremendously. I have no doubt that there are improvements still, yet to come.  But I must add, I think I truly “get it,” that is to say, I have a deep familiarity and understanding of the spirit and intent of TSL. I love everything about it. I’m not perfect and don’t participate in chats/blogs as much as I think I should but I do feel as though I’m part of something bigger than myself, something good.  

I’m hard on myself, so trust me, I beat myself up for slacking on my journal and TSL Bootcamp Agons. I say all that to say that on the other hand, in all my shortcomings as a member, I have improved myself immensely and I’m definitely a manly man in my personal life. I’m working very hard on steadily improving myself while being a good husband to my wife, and perhaps most important, a good (manly) father to my children. Any chance I get for some “me” time I find myself living by the principles found at TSL and the AoM. As often as possible I circle back to TSL, work on some badges, do PT, and take as cold a shower as my plumbing will allow. 😉

I’m loving it folks (TSL). As an active duty Marine I find myself grateful to be able to do hard things on a daily basis. I’m outside in the elements a lot, I do physical things a lot, and I have to read and stay sharp mentally as well, as now I lead about 28 subordinates. I love being hard, embracing the suck, and watching the young guys ponder how I do it. Lol…and in some instances, I’m guilty of “schadenfreude” (taking pleasure in someone else’s pain/discomfort).  

Hopefully I didn’t veer too far off the mark here.   ‘ll close with this: being a good man, becoming what we call in the Marines a “force multiplier” is far too important not to be ever engaged and seriously focused on learning the science and mastering the art of manliness.Attitude is contagious and I have been diagnosed with The Strenuous Life! And my condition is TERMINAL!

OohRah!  Semper Fi!”

–Michael L.

“The Strenuous Life guides you along the path to becoming a bull moose! From refining your soft skills to building up your physical preeminence, TSL provides the structure and the fellowship to help you shrug off the modern malaise so many of us are afflicted with and strenuously engage with the world in a constructive way.”

–Dylan F.

“TSL is a well-rounded and flexible program of self development. The foundation is physical fitness,doing the right thing, and skill development.”

–James W.

“I’ve tried countless times to get motivated about exercise. I would start a plan and after a few weeks or months, I fizzled out. Since joining The Strenuous Life, I’ve had a motivation transformation through the simple act of checking in and recording my success. Even when life got in the way and I didn’t make it to the gym, the desire to exercise stuck with me. I actually look forward to my routine. That’s never happened before. I attribute that desire to The Strenuous Life.”

–Robert B.

“I think of myself as a ‘well rounded’ person, but the Strenuous Life with its badges and weekly Agons work like penetrating oil on a rusted bolt, reminding me of skills corroded by disuse. I also see so many new areas to develop new skills and even work on things I didn’t do well the first time like Penmanship.

 I want to live a life bigger than my couch and The Strenuous Life gives me ideas and other men calling me to do just that. This is group of men challenge me to ‘dare greatly’ and step into the ring of life.”

–Jay

“In a world that hides masculinity or jokes about it, saying, ‘The ways of manhood are outdated and dead,’ The Strenuous Life offers providence. No, chivalry is not dead, and yes, the useful gentleman can still be found; and this is where they can find their training.

My name is Steven Rodriguez, and I’m 26 years old. I just got married six months ago and I live in the very populated and overcrowded world of Miami, Florida. Yet, while we house so many people, so many men, it’s still difficult to find like-minded men willing to leave their comfort zones and experience a brotherhood that encourages development and self-growth. That means no motivation, no encouragement, and no accountability.

Enter in The Strenuous Life. Finally, we, have a platform for men who want more from their every day. A place for those who refuse to let modern day society dictate their existence and habits. Say goodbye to lazy and hello to a body of work that leaves you feeling more accomplished and proud of yourself than you ever were before. That’s what it’s done for me and I see it happening for others in my strenuous group as well.

Don’t hesitate! The badge system is inspiring and the subjects are enticing. The community is strong, positive, and encouraging. Starting TSL creates a spirit within you that demands action and provides you with the tools and steps needed to make real, lasting change. Ultimately it has given me purpose, it’s made me a life student and thus a better man, a better husband; and I’d encourage any man who wants to same to sign up and prepare for the hard and rewarding life of doing.”

–Steven R.

“I love The Strenuous Life because it gives me purpose. I am now active for at least an hour every day, I perform a daily good deed, and I have a fantastic community to help and challenge me along the way. The badge system is an awesome way to learn new skills and meet new people. TSL is upgrading my life as a man.”

–Stephen C.

“The other day I came home from the boxing gym and sat down at the piano in my workout clothes and started grinding out a new piece by Liszt that I was trying to learn. My 15-year-old son saw me and said, “Whoa dad, that’s really weird: watching a buff dude playing classical music on the piano.” That was the best compliment he could have given me. The irony of TSL is that this program has made me simultaneously more cultivated and more primal. However, I believe that ideal masculinity includes the seemingly contradictory characteristics of being both rugged and refined. TSL has given me the framework toward becoming that ideal more than anything I have tried on my own.  Like anything in life, you’ll get out of TSL what you put into it. If you are ready to be stretched, this will stretch you. My reward has been feeling truly manly, increased confidence knowing I’m making the world a better place, and earning serious street cred with my teenage sons.”

–Adam J

“As I came into adulthood I realized that being a man wasn’t easy and being the best man that I could be was even harder. I wanted to be the best man that I could, but I didn’t know what skills I needed and which skills I needed to improve. AOM got me started on the path and when I heard about The Strenuous Life I knew it was the next step on the path to being the best man that I could be. The Strenuous Life has been pushing me every day to be the best I could be and has given me the focus I need to develop the skills of manhood. Every day is a challenge that builds me up to a larger stature and rounds my character, grinding the edges to a smooth finish to make me a better son, friend, brother, husband, and father. The Strenuous Life will push you out of your comfort zone, but you’ll be grateful for it.” 

–Michael L.

“I’ve been a part of The Strenuous Life for a little over a month now. I knew TSL was coming but I wasn’t sure what it was really about. When enrollment opened up I jumped in and got into the 1st class. I’m glad I did. TSL has opened me up to challenges I had never thought of. It’s brought back old skills that I’ve let get rusty over time, and it’s made me strive to be better in all aspects of life. The Strenuous Life is about growing and personal accountability. It’s helped keep me on track with being a better and stronger man. Overall TSL is challenging and rewarding, and I plan on sticking with it for a long time.” 

–Andrew M.

“I found the Art of Manliness somewhat later in life. Although I was comfortable in my career, it still felt like something was missing. Upon stumbling across AOM and its variety of articles, I realized that what was missing was a sense of purpose (outside of work). The Strenuous Life has taken the themes and philosophies consistently presented through AOM and turned them into a practical application. The amount of care and work Brett McKay has put into TSL is readily apparent and if you examine the program, you’ll find there are hidden depths to it. Although there is a competitive spirit among participants, it is highly supportive and acknowledges the personal nature of TSL achievements. The challenges are not overly burdensome but require steady, sustained effort and are highly satisfying. Although just a month into the program, I can see the combination of physical and mental requirements improving me, my family, and my community. I highly recommend participating in The Strenuous life. Put your skin in the game and discover what kind of man you can be.”

–Steve J.

“I’ve always been a person who wanted to set the bar higher for myself. Someone who gets a thrill out of testing my limits and adhering to a higher standard. I’ve also had a hard time finding people in my day-to-day life who can push me harder than I push myself. The Strenuous Life has been a fantastic program for establishing intense and worthwhile goals to strive for while providing the basic blueprints of a well-rounded man. The badge requirements have helped to give focus to my routine and provided me with a broader perspective on ways that I can build my skill sets. The weekly Agons, in addition to being a nice push out of the comfort zone, reinforce personal accountability and dedication. My class has also acted as an honor group by providing insights, advice, encouragement, and accountability for each other in matters regarding personal goals and life questions. A highly fulfilling and challenging experience for any man looking to add a level of strenuosity and connection to their lives!”

–Jeremiah J.

“I have been a long-time subscriber and advocate of the AOM (having referred AOM to my friends and family on more than one occasion) so when Brett contacted all of the subscribers informing them of a new programme called The Strenuous Life it immediately caught my attention. Worshiping TR as a paragon of manliness I immediately wanted a chance to be part of something that is based on the ethos and ideology around this great man and I therefore jumped at the chance to join when the first open round became available.

I am glad I did. TSL is awesome and the badge system is a real motivator. Having been at this now for over a month, it has really helped me focus on some of the weaker areas that I always wanted to do something about but never did. The physical aspect is great, but for me the best part is the skills and theory areas. Since I joined up I have been hard at work on various areas including gardening (this is actually working for me now and the vegetables I planted a month ago will soon be eaten), car mechanics, and family improvement.

The community is also excellent and full of individuals wanting to really share their thoughts and to help each other. I doubt you will also find a more honest place on the internet and everyone so far in my experience has been incredibly candid about their own failures and what they are doing to tackle them. Accountability, support, motivation, and openness is everywhere.

The key thing is that you only get out what you put in. If you don’t want to develop, improve or challenge yourself, find something else to do. If you want to be manly and strive for betterment, you need this system in your life. Sign up immediately. For what it provides, the price is minuscule.”

–Kevin F.

“Over the last year or so I have been listening to the Art of Manliness and noticed that so many topics were insightful and I wish I could push those podcasts into my own lifestyle. I tried to take notes after every cast but found it difficult to embrace the change. The new website is actively holding me accountable and more importantly giving me my own private guide map to understanding what I can do. Something as simple as oil change to my car that was ignored in today’s lifestyle was now a problem-solving technique that I can say is part of my tool set. The daily cold showers, again, a simple task, adds to the building blocks to embrace your manliness and know that you can tackle tasks. I needed the website and look forward to each new Agon every week.”

–Cesare L.

“Every day in a routine furthers a rut that becomes a trench that becomes an unclimbable valley when one looks around and wants to escape. Taking on tasks, growing myself, and introducing new experiences daily has shaken me out of the routine and gives me the feeling of agency and control that I slowly has given to the current of going with the flow. From exploring the woods around me to listening to strengthening myself to reading over twenty books in a month, I’m constantly being asked by family and friends, ‘Is this for that thing you’re doing?’ They can see the change in my behavior, and I believe it’s for the better. I don’t regret jumping on this opportunity for one moment or one cent, and I look forward to what each new week brings me.”

–Ryan D.

“TSL provides me with a community of like-minded individuals that are looking to get more out of life. I’ve been looking for this group of men that’s striving to become better. The badges and Agons (challenges) also give me a structure to pass on skills to my kids that my father taught me — something extremely important to me.”

–Matt H.

“The Strenuous Life has been one of the best things to happen to me recently. My life was in a funk, I felt depressed, and I didn’t know how to snap out of it. When I got the email from Brett about the problems affecting men today, it was like he was describing my life exactly. I knew that I wanted to try this program out and see if it could help me get my life back to something I was happy with. The Strenuous Life has done all it promised and more. I have been more motivated, more productive, and happier. My wife was very skeptical at first, she thought the whole idea sounded kind of dumb. After about two weeks, she told me that she still thought it was silly, but she was completely on board now because of the positive changes she was seeing. My kids have enjoyed it also, we all work out together as a family now, and they think it;s the greatest thing (well most of them do). I also implemented the idea of a weekly Agon or challenge with my kids, as well as the concept of doing at least 1 nice thing for someone every day. They are becoming more mindful of their siblings, as well as others around them, and it has been very rewarding to watch them be proactive about helping others. The Strenuous Life has helped me take my vague desire to be a better husband, father, and man, and given me a practical method of working towards and achieving it. I cannot recommend this program highly enough, it has been worth every single penny. My life isn’t perfect, I still have things I struggle with, but I am in a much better place now, than when I started this program. I am profoundly grateful to Brett for starting The Strenuous Life, and unreservedly recommend this to everyone.”

–Nathan D.

“I’ve been following the Art of Manliness (AoM) for five or six year now. I have really appreciated that while I might not agree with everything, I can certainly appreciate the quality of the arguments made and be provoked to think deeply and develop an appetite for action over sitting on the couch all day. In the time that I started consuming AoM content, I transitioned for a more active job, to one where I mostly sit and do mental work. In addition, my morning runs/workouts/time outside were disrupted by schedule changes and I found myself being more and more frustrated and dissatisfied with myself, my job, and the life I was beginning to lead. Thankfully, I have a close brother-in-law and friend that have been experiencing similar changes in their lives and have been consuming AoM content about as regularly as I do. So when we first heard about The Strenuous Life (TSL), we all felt excited and almost giddy with excitement over the prospect of having a formal track to follow to implement the things we had been reading and talking about for years, but had no specific goals to reach for (laziness had clearly affected my ability to clearly define the goals I wanted to achieve and how to get there). Needless to say, as soon as we were all able, we signed up. The external focal points, clear directions in some points and the encouragement to grow our practical wisdom have been great. And the prospect of connecting with other like-minded gentlemen barbarians around the US and world makes the experience richer, to be sure. It has been a long time since I have felt that I am part of pack, brotherhood, tribe that tests its limits physically, mentally and even emotionally and spiritually. I am thankful for TSL and the vehicle it has become for myself, my brother-in-law and my buddy. We are becoming better men because of it. I am thankful too, that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. I recommend it not to every man because not every man wants this sort of life, but to any man who is dissatisfied with the tame-ness of life, who wants to light a fire in their life and have wilderness in their eyes. In short, I recommend TSL for any man that wants to engage with life in every facet and happen to this world. It is not everything, but it is a lot and it’s worth it.”

–Sam B.

“The Strenuous Life has already changed my life in some small ways. I didn’t understand the point of the daily good deed at first, but after a week or so, I realized that doing my good deed each day was changing how I was seeing the world. It helps me to think of the good deed as a “kind deed.” Sometimes this is something insignificant like holding the elevator for someone or letting someone in front of me in traffic or at the grocery store.  But once you start looking for ways to be kind, you literally see the world in a different light.  A few weeks in, I found myself getting out of my car at a traffic light to run up ahead and let the car in front of me know that their back passenger side tire was dangerously low. Before TSL I may have sat smugly in my car thinking how people don’t pay attention instead of taking the opportunity to say something.

One of my big motivations for joining was to be pushed out of my comfort zone and begin taking action on all of those little “someday” projects I had in the back of my mind. Having a little external motivation in the form of the badge requirements has really helped me to focus on making progress on a few of those. My wife loves that I’ve taken an even more active role in the kitchen. I finally sat down to put concrete financial goals for the next 5-10 years in place instead of just “kinda knowing” what I was aiming for. I started the 8-week microadventure challenge that I have been interested in and curious about for a few years. All of these things we already on my “to-do” list. And I was going to get around to them . . . someday. The Strenuous Life has helped me to seize the day and use my time in a more focused fashion.  I’m actually accomplishing things instead of putting them off for some other time.

Another area TSL has really pushed me is with my physical activity. I’m a short and chubby gal who would rather read than just about anything. I like hiking and walking, but have never made activity a part of my daily life.  My focus on cerebral activities had my life really unbalanced, but TSL requirement of daily activity has been a great challenge for me.  It is a force for me to push against and to grow by doing so. During one Agon, I was balancing on a log above a river, scared but laughing with joy, and I realized that I am becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is the very crux of the program for me.  The Strenuous Life is helping me step outside the confines of the mediocrity I was settling for in my life. I no longer default to “I’ll do it later” because TSL is helping me take action.  Working towards the badges is just a fun way to structure the things I’ve been dreaming about doing for years.”

–Brenn L.

“The Strenuous Life is a call to action! Brett and the AoM team have so thoughtfully designed a platform that invites discomfort and challenge into your life — pushing you to be a better version of yourself and ultimately a better contributor to your family, community, and society at large. The platform is smooth and easy to use and there is not a single detail of the program that has not been intentionally designed. The weekly Agons are the appropriate disruption to your daily routine — a nudge that I didn’t know I needed and now look forward to at the start of each week. It may only be adding a five minute activity to each day, such as submerging yourself in cold water, but these challenges have simply made life more exciting and robust. The Badges are creative lists of those things you always thought would be cool to try — but now in one spot with a plan of action and with incentive. We all know even the best of intentions aren’t always enough, the Strenuous Life provides the nudge, structure, and resources to become a doer — all in the context of community, providing meaningful accountability. As a lover of AoM, I am so excited to have the centralized, intentional resources to start doing the things I have so often read about for years. A BIG thanks to Brett and team for calling us to experience the fervor of life and to become better men.”

–Cody H.

“It’s a hot Friday morning. Despite being a day off from work, I find myself alone, sweat pooling at the bottom of my sunglass frames, as I try to make quick work of a 1 mile hike/bouldering expedition on the shores of the Hudson River (a mere part of a longer hike down and up a high cliff with commanding views of the river and beyond). I’ve been working out harder and more consistently the past 4+ weeks than I probably ever have. I am tired before I start. The relative solitude and the mission to finish propel me forward. Hard work can be fun! TSL has directly compelled me to ramp up my physical activity but also become more focused in other areas of life as well (in part directly from the formal “challenges” but also from the more informal influences of my classmates and just taking the time to sit down and think bigger picture). Despite being tired at times, I feel invigorated and stronger. I don’t bat an eye when I get home late from work and “need” to work out at 10 PM. I just get it done, happily.” 

–Mike C.

“The Strenuous Life has been a pivotal framework in my life and my family.

I started TSL on a whim while looking for a way to frame and structure the areas I wanted to grow as a daddy, a husband, a friend, and a wilderness badass. Even more: I knew my family would be going through a huge transition as we moved from the only home we’ve ever known.

I couldn’t have been more happily surprised: I’ve made TSL a daily part of my life, made new (genuine) friends, and started my family off towards better and better things during a challenging time.”

–Chad C.

“I few of my friends have scoffed at TSL, calling it “man scouts.” Honestly, I may have said the same thing a few years ago. I know better now. Moving from abstraction to action makes all the difference. Sure, I could have done it then but I didn’t. I need the accountability and support to actually accomplish the important things in life. In TSL I have a community of men who challenge and encourage me to do hard things and become a man of action. I am better for it. More importantly, my sons are following after me and becoming men of action too. They are better for it. And the badges? They will serve as a tangible reminder of honor and respect in my family. Something every man needs, especially in today’s culture.”

–Adam P.

“If there’s one word I use consistently use when explaining The Strenuous Life to co-workers, family and friends, it’s “mindful.” I’ve noticed in the past six weeks I’m more aware of myself — my thoughts, my actions and who I am and who I want to be as a person. Living The Strenuous Life isn’t about blind machismo. It isn’t an exercise fad. It’s not a quick fix for correcting behavior or thinking. It’s a lifestyle, a philosophy, and a constant mindset you build upon and add to every day of the program. You commit to doing hard things because they are hard, not for the bragging rights, but in a constant, ongoing effort to be useful. If you want to get fit, learn a skill or start being a better man in general, TSL is by all means a good way to all of those things. Just know when you sign up that if you want to get the most out of the program you have to put the time and struggle in and be willing not to stop.”

–Zach S.

“Know what to do — but don’t do what you know? Want to learn a lot more — and do what you know? Is straight, down to earth, applicable and activating involvement what you look for? Grab the bull by the horns — polish your raw diamond through hard work — guided by the Father of blogging (with focus on manliness and proven strategies of the most successful leaders of the past and of today) — The Art Of Manliness — Brother, walk by my side — join me at The Strenuous Life.”

–Markus

“At first I was skeptical, especially after so many men’s self-help/masculinity masterminds push the ‘pay to stay part of us’ philosophy. That said, I bit the bullet, put up the money to join TSL’s Class 23 and I couldn’t hope to find a better group of men all working to put themselves to the test every day, every week. After two months I can honestly say I’ve ALREADY got my money’s worth, and unlike other mastermind set-ups, I’m good for LIFE with TSL.

You’re seriously undercharging us for this amazing program!”

–Matthew M.

“The Strenuous Life is not only a program that helped me, but it was the lifestyle and mindset change that I needed to do hard things. I have finished more things that I started, helped my family be better, and become stronger in many areas of my life. Most importantly, I recognize I’m not done yet. The Strenuous Life has helped me continue to get stronger to make the world a better place.”

–Sam O.

“My life was a mess. Just work, go home, and spend my whole leisure time with YouTube. Nothing got done and I felt bad about it. Then came TSL, which gave me a goal to strive for. It helps me to build up momentum to do the things I wanted to do for a long time.”

–Dmitrij N.

“The Strenuous Life has helped me become a confident, self-assured man. I have always struggled with self-doubt and social anxiety until I found this program; I highly recommend it.”

–Joseph O.

“The Strenuous Life is challenging. It doesn’t seem that way until it mixes with life and you have to ask yourself if you will commit to following through when what seemed like it would be simple isn’t. It asks you to commit and if you do it rewards you with a sense of accomplishment that we so often sacrifice to daily choices of ease or ‘tomorrow.’ The Strenuous Life made my life hard in the best possible way and made me better for it.”

–Dane R.

“The Strenuous Life has impacted my life even more than I hoped it would. It forced me to reflect on what it really means to do good to others and made me snap out of self-satisfied moral complacency.

A work in progress though it is, the good deed requirement ensures I spend some time every day thinking of what to do for others.

On the physical aspect, I’m much more active and feel a good deal stronger now than a few months ago; I’m aware of the need to keep moving. The other day I climbed a tall pine just for the heck of it — because, thanks to The Strenuous Life, I can.

On an intellectual level, it pointed to a big gap in my life. I’m gradually reorganizing myself so that I can grow in learning and acting.

As for the community, although I’m unfortunately physically far from other members, it’s had a big influence on me, even beyond extremely positive interactions. That’s because just knowing that these other guys are out there, every day, striving to get better in all aspects — that is a huge motivation.

Doing The Strenuous Life requirements has also served to connect me with my wife. Not that we usually don’t, but often now we go for long walks together. We get the physical exercise, plus great conversation. It lifts our moods like a wonder.

Finally, the TSL requirements have been giving me a bias for action every day. It’s easier to stop procrastinating with important tasks once I’ve made the initial effort to get an Agon requirement, a daily good deed, or spell of exercise done. For all this and quite a good deal more I’m enormously thankful to you and all the TSL participants, and I look forward to every opportunity that comes around of spending myself in worthy causes.”

–Alberto Q.

“’You work hard… reward yourself!’

This was a subject line on an email from eBay.

The idea is you work hard, so buy some stuff. I too used to think that way, but after joining The Strenuous Life (TSL), my perspective has changed. Working hard is its own reward! If you want to make a change for the better, and not bog yourself down with a bunch of stuff, join TSL you won’t regret it.”

— Joshua H.

“The Strenuous Life has been an amazing experience so far. The Agons have stretched my daily and weekly routines in ways that have helped me learn and grow into a better person. I still have a long way to go but the strenuous life is the right path to help me get there!”

— Mitch M.

“You could easily find a million reasons why the timing is off to do the TSL challenge. I did for months. Then I decided I needed new ideas for things to do, with my son, wife, and to just feel alive. As it turned out, the timing wasn’t good again…but I did it. See, I’m in the Army. Was moving from Puerto Rico back to the states (after living the last 9 months alone with my family evacuated due to the hurricanes destroying the infrastructure). I also moved my family from their temporary housing in GA to my new duty station in IL. Personally packing and driving everything. Few could have more going on than that. I still found a way, and you will too. See, you make time for what’s important. So I chose my username for why I wanted to do this, incorporating my son’s name into my moniker as another layer of reminder.  Every day I would now see “Tim4Max.” I told him what we’d be doing, let him pick a few badges to start on, and everyday I’d have to think about him knowing I failed if we didn’t get that coin. We had matching “do hard things” bracelets and matching PT gear. I toned his versions down, but in the end, it had the desired effect. He even learned his way around the app and somehow figured out how to email Brett (who wrote him back…a highlight for him that “the manliness man with the cool mustache” wrote him). Now is the time! Commit. Do hard things. Drive your own train. Choose the lenses you’ll view the world through. Push back against the age (I love the possible double / deeper meaning of that phrase).”

–Tim C.

“I found the Strenuous Life to be just what I needed at the age of 45. At midlife I was surprised to find myself in the midst of a number of personal deficits. I was no longer in the physical shape I was as a younger man. When I wanted to take my kids camping, there were a lot of outdoor skills that I couldn’t show them because I was never taught them. Also, I just bought my first house this year, and realized that I had to learn to fix stuff or go broke hiring someone to do it for me. I don’t know that I would have done all of those things on my own. I doubt it. The Strenuous Life has been both a fire lit under me, and a practical way that I can now see to acquiring many of the skills that I want to learn. I have lost a good amount of weight over the last twelve weeks lifting weights, rucking and getting outside a lot more. But more than that, it has encouraged my whole family to have adventures we would not have had without the program. We wouldn’t have slept in a yurt, or explored Theodore Roosevelt National Park, or gone fishing for the first time, or gotten out hiking nearly as much. It is just a beginning, but I am grateful for the start!”

–Steve L.

“TSL is a guide to growth in body, mind, and spirit. It is teaching me all the things that I wish my father had taught me.”

–Raymond F.

“Joining The Strenuous Life has been a strong personal step forward to a more fulfilling lifestyle. Incorporating actions from TSL into my daily and weekly routines are small things that have significantly impacted myself and those around me. Waking up each morning striving to be physically active and looking for what good I can do each day has become second nature and I feel healthier in mind and body as a result. Without revealing any spoilers, the weekly challenges have pushed me outside of my comfort zone and strengthened my self-discipline. I have surprised myself with some of things I did not think I could do, and I continue to repeat some of these actions even after the week is through. The badges are longer-term challenges that can lead to developing a new skill or interest, and it is fun to include family and friends in these objectives as well. With a little effort and commitment, TSL can serve as a guide to sharpening your mind and body, increasing your skills and diversity, and becoming an active member in your community.”

–Harrison M.

“The Strenuous Life is the most balanced approach to lead a good life. This program encompasses areas in your life that you didn’t even know existed and encourages you to look at life from a different perspective, and as you go through it you will be surprised as your friends and family begin to see a change in you for the better!”

–John E.

“I have really enjoyed being part of the Strenuous Life family that both supports and motivates each other to keep going when times get tough and excuses are available. However the structure and direction of the steps required to complete, constantly push you outside your comfort zone and make completing each step both gratifying and reassuring that you can do more!

As Strenuous Life family stresses –  DO HARD THINGS!

So join its worth it.”

–Kevin S.

“The Strenuous Life was the vehicle I needed to finally make my nebulous long-term goals a reality.  I’m stronger and in better cardio shape at 37 than at any other point in my life.  The Personal Finance Badge  helped me get my finances in order.  And I really stretched myself climbing trees, taking cold showers, and purposefully doing good deeds on a daily basis.  I feel stronger and more prepared to deal with the challenges of life.”

–Mike F.

“We spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to remove challenge from our lives. TSL reminds you that challenge is a good thing in a way that helps you grow physically and mentally while also connecting you with men all around the world. You will learn about yourself, you will do things you would never otherwise do, you will find your boundaries and push through them.”

–Mark B.