“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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!”
“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:
- Learn and hone new skills, and
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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.'”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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:
- Encourage and impart into others.
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“‘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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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. “
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.’”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.’”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
I look forward to this journey together.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“TSL is a well-rounded and flexible program of self development. The foundation is physical fitness,doing the right thing, and skill development.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“’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).”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“The Strenuous Life hasn’t changed my life, but in the last 12 weeks I’ve gone camping for the first time in over 10 years, I’ve started journaling and working on my penmanship, my lifts at the gym have improved, I’m constantly on the lookout for good deeds I can do, and I plan to get a bow for Christmas to start working on my archery. The Strenuous Life hasn’t changed my life, what it has done is given me a blueprint and challenged me to change my own life.”
“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.”
“The Strenuous Life is one of the best programs out there for men aspiring to be better men. It’s like the Boy Scouts, only it’s tailored for adult men. Not only do you have a series of weekly challenges to take you outside your comfort zone, you also have a system of accountability from other men to ensure that you’re staying up to date on your challenges. All the members in your class are there to support you and help you in your journey to manhood through the honor system. I can’t tell you the number of awesome challenges that will allow you to grow in your skill set along with your body, mind, and soul.”
“I had been searching for years for a program like The Strenuous Life. My quiet life of desperation had ran its course and left me with feelings of being dejected, despondent, and disconnected to the world around me. I needed a blueprint to pull me out of the hole I had been digging around myself. The Strenuous Life was that blueprint that I needed. It was and is a call to live every moment with intentionality and to make myself useful.
The Strenuous Life gave me an arena to practice being a man. I have learned new skills (playing the guitar for example), the value of writing a personal letter, marriage and family meetings to just name a few. I am better because of The Strenuous Life, I am healthier, have a better relationship in my family, and feel energized, needed, and useful in my many roles as a man. The Strenuous Life did that for me!”
“Since joining TSL my wife has been telling people that I’m happier, healthier, and more present than I’ve ever been in our 10+ years together! There’s so much to benefit from living a more strenuous life.”
“This program really means a lot to me. When I was a kid I wanted to join the scouts and never got to. I later wanted to join the military and never got to. This program has helped to fill those voids in more ways than one.
I think in life we all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something that makes a man a better man, and sometimes helps to turn boys into men. A program that challenges our potential, and shows us as men that there is always more to strive for.
In this time it is even more important than ever that we keep our birthright and male heritage alive. The time we live in were its ok to be useless, selfish, weak, self-centered, be anything that you want except a man. It’s the biggest danger to mankind. A world where identity is about ego and selfishness, not honor and self sacrifice.That is why I wanted this program and why I am proud to be a part of it. Your’re not a man if you can’t prove it among other men, and the kind of men who want to live a life of bettering themselves for the sake of mankind and everything it stands for, that’s the men we need today and forever.”
“The structure the weekly Agons and the daily check-ins provide was exactly what I needed to start to reclaim my agency and combat the old ennui. I started to become an active force in my life again, instead of it being something that was just happening to me.
The badges are diverse and cover a great many skills and areas of interest I’d long been fascinated by but never put any effort into learning about. Now that doing so is a challenge, I have already completed three and will complete two more before the year is over.
But the best thing I did during my boot camp was to attend a meet-up. Nothing beats spending time, working on badges, and just shooting the breeze with like-minded men.”
“I was feeling like I spent my whole life doing the bare minimum required of me, at work, education and in my personal life as a friend, parent, and significant other. So I chose to take the Strenuous Life Challenge as a means to bring back some sense of achievement and growth to my life. My class started during one of the most arduous times of my life, while I was working at least 14 hour days, 7 days a week, without any privacy. In spite of that, I completed my boot camp and I really felt that in doing it I turned the natural giggles at the premise into genuine respect from everyone around me who learned of it. Many felt inspired to make changes in their own lives, or at least to view their perceived “limitations” in a different light. I can’t recommend the experience enough!”
“I completed the Strenuous Life Challenge on my second attempt. When I answered the call to the TSL the first time, my heart was ready, but my mind and body were not. I pushed too hard physically and injured myself. Emotionally, the challenge worked and I was forced to face many things about myself I’d let go. But when the call came to retake the challenge, I was ready. Over the course of the program, I lost weight, grew more confident, and came out on the other side eager to keep learning and growing. Now I don’t wallow in what I missed out on or what I haven’t done. Instead I’m finding peace and making a plan. Now, it’s my turn to inspire others out of mediocrity.”
“The Strenuous Life Challenge has made a huge impact on my life! The 12 weeks of the Boot Camp helped me find the direction and purpose that I’ve been missing in my life. I’m doing things I never thought I’d do and always looking for ways to be a more Strenuous man. It’s made my marriage even happier than it was already. My wife saw the changes in me, saw the fun I was having, and started joining me on the adventures! I can’t wait to see the next Agon!”
“I always thought of myself as an active person, in many ways, mentally and physically for sure. But life has a way on us, specially after you have kids and the weight of it all strikes you hard. And routine is a cruel master, you think you find a solution, to keep up the pace, and maintain yourself active, but in reality you’re just putting yourself in a sweet spot. You really have that feel that you are doing a good job, and maybe so, but surely not the best you can do, surely not all your potential.
The Strenuous Life to me is still a process, hopefully one to remain for a long time, or change me indeed for the remainder of my life. Apart from other changes I have been pursuing, mainly spiritual, which TSL also fosters, by the way, the main process to me has been to prove me that I can. I can become more active, I can refuse to keep a routine, specially some unhealthy ones, I can force to exercise myself daily and try different approaches to that without harming myself. I can also find time to finish a whole lot of projects that were waiting, and earn a badge as a compliment, or just remember how good it feels when you do it.”
“As a young man with big aspirations, there is nothing more appealing than a structured platform for guided personal growth. Living in a day with the internet and all its bounty of information from anyone and everyone with an opinion, it is easy to drown in an ocean of fleeting inspiration and ever-changing goals and ideals. I found myself constantly shifting from goal to goal, and never really making much progress in any of them. The Strenuous Life provided the structure, good reasoning, and kick-in-the-butt inspiration I needed to start setting and reaching realistic goals for the right reasons, and now I’m on a path to true discipline. I am happy to be a part of something that makes so much sense and is so needed in the world today. I’m proud to be living strenuously.”
“Joining The Strenuous Life has been a life changing experience. I can honestly say that I’ve improved every aspect of my life — physically and mentally. I’ve read self-help books in the past, but TSL’s structure provided the kick in the pants I needed to take action. The daily and weekly challenges, awesome badges, and friendly community of like-minded people are all easily worth the price of admission.
I’ve done things I didn’t know I was capable of, my social and work lives have improved, and I’m just kinder and more thoughtful than I used to be. But more importantly, I’m using these new skills and habits to improve the lives of everyone around me.
I just wish I knew about The Strenuous Life sooner.”
“The Strenuous Life is exactly what it claims to be. This is a place of like-minded individuals here to push and inspire each other to grow, there is a great culture of no shaming and only positive inspiration and motivation. We all have been looking for ways to extend ourselves and become more well-rounded gentlemen, knowledgeable mentors, and manly warriors. It provides physical feats, mental growth, and expansion of views through reading, writing, music, and art, and it has also been a great conversation piece during parties and gatherings. I have been following The Art of Manliness since the beginning and this extension of those ideas is a fun and well planned out way of actually putting all the skills to practice. I am proud of the better man/husband/brother/ son/cool uncle/friend that I have become through your help.”
“TSL has provided the structure and environment for me to truly excel and push harder towards becoming a better man. It provides a strong framework and community to continuously improve yourself, your philosophy on life and your ability to help others as you improve your fitness, mind, and skills. I strongly encourage you to join this community and make yourself a better person.”
“The past 12 weeks have revitalized my efforts to be a better husband, father, and man. I have been continually pushed outside my comfort zone and begun to realize my potential for personal growth, both mind and body. I have learned new skills, like lock-picking, and honed previous ones, like auto mechanics. One of the best aspects was meeting like-minded men from all over the world (and locally) who want to better themselves. It has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to continuing to lead a more Strenuous Life.”
“The Strenuous Life has already helped me to be a better man.
The daily good deed has made me really focus on doing at least one actual, specific good deed every day. I’ve been involved in Boy Scouts for over 20 years, and have always looked out for ways to “do a good turn daily.” But having a daily check in, and identifying to myself exactly what my “good deed” for the day was was an eye opener that perhaps I had not always been as helpful as I thought I was being.
The weekly Agons really help me to push myself. I challenged myself in the past, but it was always in areas that I was interested in, or in ways that I was familiar with. The weekly Agons pushed me sometimes in ways that I would have never considered before. I climbed a pine tree one week, which (at my age) I would NEVER have done on my own. I had a really great afternoon that day with a very fun Agon.
I finished the Fighting Badge, and I’m working on four others.
I hope someday I can look in the mirror and feel like I have lived up the the ideals of Theodore Roosevelt and made myself into someone who really lives the Strenuous Life.”
“For years I’ve wanted to put into action the great ideas that I’ve read about at the Art of Manliness. The Strenuous Life gave me the structure, motivation, and community to make it finally happen. It’s an experience that I recommend to everyone willing to push himself to be a better man today.”
“The Strenuous Life provided a growth outlet for my dad and I. We both went into the program with a desire to grow our physical, mental, social, and emotional abilities. The various challenges and badges helped us truly grow ourselves in those areas and developed our relationship as well. We both are excited to keep completing badges and trying out skills that are beyond our normal experiences. Enjoyment is an understatement.”
— Loren K.
“The Strenuous Life has changed my life in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. It pushes your mind and body to not only tap into their potential to do hard things, but to also welcome those challenges and enjoy them. Participating in TSL has given me confidence that I have never really felt before and it has given me an edge to live my life to the fullest. If you’re looking for something that will help you live your life better, TSL is a really good way to go.”
“I’ve been on the fence about joining The Strenuous Life ever since the program was introduced in the Art of Manliness. But despite the financial hardships placed on myself and my family during the U.S. Government shutdown in January, it was time and money well spent.
The weekly Agons accomplish exactly what they were intended to by pushing the members out of their comfort zones and introducing us to The Strenuous Life.
And while already considered fit, over these past 12 weeks I have gained almost 15 pounds of muscle thanks in part to the hour of physical activity each day.
I’d highly recommend joining The Strenuous Life, as it is not just a 12-week challenge, it is a lifestyle meant to be utilized every single day so that your place may never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“I benefited more from the TSL Challenge than anything in my adult life, except my marriage and the births of my children. It gave me worthy achievements to strive and struggle for every day, week, and month of the challenge. I especially appreciated the interplay of the spiritual, the physical, and the mental amongst the Agons. I found it poignant, inspiring and … well, simply awesome, to grapple with TSL alongside other (mostly) men (and a few women) also striving to confront hardship, and thereby sharpen themselves. TSL reminds me of a great novel — difficult to get through and yet sad to finish. I cannot recommend The Strenuous Life enough.”
“The Strenuous Life provides a framework for action, growth, and betterment that extends beyond the individual, and into marriage, family, work, and social life. The things I’ve learned and done so far range from physically strenuous hikes in freezing cold weather to handwritten letters to my father. This program will make you a well-rounded individual, and a better man for it.”
“TSL could not have come at a better time for me; it was the beginning of the year and I was looking for motivation to cement healthy habits and new skills that would make me feel useful. The benefits of TSL membership is not only the breadth of skills and knowledge available for you to develop, but also having a community to share your experiences with and to keep you accountable. I look forward to the weekly Agons to provide an unexpected challenge to my regular routine. I have been physically active more days in this year than not because of the program. I look forward to continuing a year of becoming more useful, stronger and doing hard things!”
“The Strenuous Life Challenge has prompted me to take action on some of the things I’ve considered doing with my life, but have never actually went through with. I have finally gotten my concealed carry permit, completed several home renovation projects, and have gone out of my way to be social and connect with people. It has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and participate in life. The structure and motivation provided by the program forces you to grow and evolve as a person in ways that we typically aren’t able to on our own. I look forward to completing all of the Agons and badges in the future, while working on new personal goals of my own.”
“The Strenuous Life platform has been my springboard to take action against the resistance experienced in life. The Strenuous Life has given me the ability to combat complacency, confront fear, embrace discomfort, and conquer everyday life inertia. I have accomplished tasks that I have been meaning to complete years ago, have learned new skills, and have a renewed sense of purpose in my life. I now actually look forward to life’s challenges. Thanks Brett.”
“The Strenuous Life has been a real motivating game changer. Like most things that start at the beginning of a year, I thought this might be the same, but my classmates have been great at keeping me going always forward! I would highly recommend it to everyone.
Thanks for the guidance and a great diverse group of men.”
“Why join TSL? It’s certainly not a magic pill that will make you smarter and better looking within a couple weeks. If you answer the call and meet the challenges presented you will feel better about yourself. It’s a very simple process: you’re given a challenge and then you either meet the challenge or you don’t. It is One Hundred percent up to you. You will have the support of your classmates, but they can’t walk your walk for you, it’s up to you. After a couple months I’m kind of chuckling to myself, “This ain’t bad, I’ve got this”, or just as likely, “Ugh, I will do better next time.” Am I happy that I joined? Absolutely. Should you join? I dunno, are you up for it? One way to find out.
“Having subscribed to the Strenuous Life for the last three months, I can assure you that this program should be worth five times the amount than what it is.
This is a labor of love put together to help men and women to be their best version, by gaining skills, confidence, and by thinking of others.
The community is welcoming and helpful. The content is not easy, but it’s achievable!
The Strenuous Life has helped me to unlock what I knew is already inside to begin with. It’s given me direction and encouragement to get out of my comfort zone and to do hard things! And the best part is that this is just the beginning!
“I signed up for The Strenuous Life mainly as a way to recover from mental health issues without medication. It has been great, particularly the physical activity components and the way it makes me focus on gratitude. The wilderness workout Agon was great fun — the tingling of my scratched back and chest made me feel really alive.”
“I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. If you find an area of life to begin improving you should start whenever you discover your need for improvement. But I do choose a word on which to focus every year. Last year I chose intentional and this year I chose strenuous. The Strenuous Life played right into this and when the enrollment came open in January I knew it was my time to step up. While I was already focusing on getting uncomfortable, TSL has consistently helped me maintain a daily focus on improving. The army physical fitness test helped me realize my involvement in F3 was heading in the right direction. I started the push-up challenge and haven’t stopped. Fasting for 24 hours was an opportunity to reset my diet. I’ve been more physical on a daily basis and instead of whining and complaining about tough stuff I’ve remembered my focus this year is to improve through strenuosity. In general, TSL has been a huge help to me this year in improving myself mentally, physically and emotionally.”
“Joining The Strenuous Life is one of the best decisions I have ever made. In 3 months I have read/listened to 13 books, have drastically improved my penmanship, and created a solid habit of journaling. I feel better as a man every day that I use this program. And for anyone concerned about not having time, I completed all of this while deployed for the Army. There are no excuses. Do it for yourself, your loved ones, and your community.”
“Looking back over the 12-week boot camp, I can say that I knew I would make it through and complete the 12-week initiation. What I didn’t expect though was that I would do so many new things over those 12 weeks. As a result of the 60 minutes of physical exercise everyday, I have run/walked nearly 300 miles in 12 weeks. As a result of the daily good deed, my focus has turned more external to help love others more. As a result of the weekly Agons, I have been challenged to step outside of my norm and stretch who I am and what I do to become more. I look forward to my Saturday email for the weekly Agon. I never know what it will be, but I can always expect a challenge and likely a new adventure. Thanks TSL!”
“As a pastor, I know that nothing changes in life without accountability. I needed accountability proactively to be the man I wanted to be. I also needed instructions and challenges to bring about the changes that I needed. The Strenuous Life gave me both the map and accountability to accomplish what I wanted, and I am just getting started. Take the step, you will not regret it.”
The Strenuous Life Boot Camp gave me the right amount of motivation to make a huge change in my life for the better. I looked forward to every Saturday morning to see what the next weekly challenge would be. I met some new people, I learned some new things about myself and realized that small actions can help you take big steps towards a positive mind, body, and spirit.”
“A couple of years ago I was leading a standard middle class life. I was married with two kids and had just been made a partner in a law firm in Brisbane, Australia. My textbook middle class life was rocked by my wife having an affair and the tumultuous break-up of my marriage.
I coped with all of this “ok”. However the content on the Art of Manliness has inspired me to create a more meaningful and balanced family work and social life that I ever had. The Strenuous Life program is the scaffolding that has helped me put this into practice.
“I’ve had my eye on TSL since it was first announced, but I was always “too busy.” I finally gave up waiting for the right time, and pulled the trigger just in time for the birth of my third son. Although it’s been hard, I’m so glad that I did. The weekly Agons have challenged me, the badge achievements have spurred me to complete tasks, and the daily check-ins have led me to improve my habits, even when things become challenging. I highly recommend the program; it’s made me a better man.”
“The Strenuous Life has pushed me physically, mentally, and spiritually and has gone far beyond assisting in ‘getting myself back in shape.’ I have learned new skills, tried new things and feel like a more productive person. I have thoroughly enjoyed The Strenuous Life and appreciate the accountability provided on a daily basis.”
“There is no one there to hold your hand, no one there to hold you accountable for what you do or don’t do, unless you seek them out. There is no secret knowledge you gain access to. Instead, what you get is a framework to get some direction towards goals, and, more importantly, access to a community of others who share your goals and drive to improve themselves. And that to me is worth it. It is a strange dichotomy of being a place to get motivation and a place you need motivation to use.
I highly recommend TSL, but don’t expect to get anything out of it if you aren’t willing to put effort in to it. Dive in, try to connect with others, and I think you will find it quite rewarding.”
“To me, the Strenuous Life is not just a challenge, it is a manly way to strengthen your body, mind, and soul to be useful for yourself and society. Done with courage and determination, it can be the first steps into your transformation from a dependent children to a contributing man.”
“I believe that I have embraced elements of strenuosity and intentionality throughout my life. This course, however, has broadened my desire for friction in areas I would not have considered based on my natural temperaments. My family and friends have already commented on noticing a deeper and wider husband, father, friend, and citizen.”
“How has The Strenuous Life changed me? Well, I’m an older guy, pushing 50, and was looking for a challenge to remove comfort and ease from my life. I found that in the Strenuous Life. I have been uncomfortable every day of my life since accepting this challenge and loving it. Physically I’ve been challenged like I haven’t been in decades. Mentally and morally I’ve been forced outside my comfort zone. “Do Hard Things” was fully embraced. The result of which is that I’m a better man today than I have probably been most of my adult life.”
“I’ve had TSL in my queue since it started, and would get the emails when each class was kicking off; I just never got around to signing up. My lifestyle and career change for the better, but it was not nearly as physical as my prior career. So I decided to try to get back into a physical and strenuous life; this program has helped me do that. Being part of a team, being accountable, clear goals, and the path to achieve them, dealing with the unknown. It’s a great program highly motivating and I really enjoy it. TSL helped me achieve something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, ride a motorcycle legally on the streets; I was able to get my motorcycle endorsement and a new bike. I’m a big fan of TSL and plan on continuing to improve my skill set and learn new things.”
“TSL has been a blast so far.
I was on the fence for awhile but so glad I joined. I signed up my brother and dad as well. It’s been a great bonding thing for us. We have biweekly Skype meetings to check in and discuss badge work. The guys in the class are super supportive; everyone is looking out for each other. I would definitely recommend if you’re on the fence to do it and commit to it; you won’t regret it. It’s really fun also to go on new adventures with my dainty wife.”
“Strenuous Life helped me change my life for the better; It guided me to be more athletic, do better in school, and it pushed me to my limits and beyond. The Strenuous Life is unlike any other program I have ever used, and the only one that actually got me to say: Let’s Do It Again.”
“I am 24 and The Strenuous Life has given me the kind of challenge, motivation, and brotherhood that I have not had since Boy Scouts. To anyone who feels dissatisfied in this digital age, where convenience is the default, look no farther than The Strenuous Life. It will push you. It will get you out of your comfort zone. If you put in the effort, it will make you a better man!”
“TSL has shown me a road to being a better father, husband, coach, teacher, and man. It shined a light down the right path but don’t expect it to drag you down it. Come in to this expecting to work.”
“The Strenuous Life is a challenge to the self, a path of tracks that will allow you to strive to become a man in the truest sense of the world, a man of the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, strong of body, mind, and soul. It’s a challenge all right and you will probably fail sometimes but that’s alright since you can always rise up and try again, until it’s done. It’s a program that only requires one payment for the benefit of a lifetime and of all the inversions in my life this is certainly the best. Already I am striving to become a stronger man and looking for opportunities to help others, and I am all the better for it. As is my family who have also noticed this. I am thankful for the fact that I found The Strenuous Life.”
“10 weeks into TSL and I wonder what was my life like before? The exercise, good deeds, great reading, and Agon challenges have really enriched my life! I climbed a F’ing tree!”
“The Strenuous Life has definitely expanded my comfort zones and allowed me to acquire purposeful and practical knowledge, skill sets, and physical well-being. Every young boy listens to stories of great men, whether if it’s about their grandfather(s), father, or from great men who have shaped history. Enrolling in The Strenuous Life allows one to build or refine those necessary qualities where one can live a great life, make an impact and influence the world around us, and create great stories and memories which we can pass on and share with our children.”
“I am a warrior by trade and training, (Navy pilot, FBI), but at 56 and in the civilian sector I was attracted to TSL for the structure and the challenge. It has not let me down. The weekly Agon has been refreshing, and the breadth and depth of the badge requirements are an interesting challenge.
Fear, failure, and fear of failure drive men. Lean in, grow a pair or use and improve what you have.”
“My life was in a rut after I got out of the Army. I had no direction, no structure outside just showing up for work. I needed something challenging, and robust. Something that wouldn’t just hold me accountable, but teach me to strive to hold myself accountable too. Brothers facing the same struggles as me, who would help to keep me honest by my not wanting to fail them for not giving my all like they are. I have found all of that in The Strenuous Life. Since I have joined, I have developed skills and confidence to finally step out of my rut and start to advance in life. I used to be soft, now I ‘Do Hard Things.’”
“I recently found myself at a crossroads in my personal life. Professionally I have achieved a lot and could do more – but this success is sometimes too abstract to give real reward. I was looking for a challenge, which is different to the routine. The Strenuous Life gives me the reward I have been looking for and also some guidance in a difficult personal time.”
“I tried different ways to change my habits and life, but those blog posts suggestions and self help books were superficial and lasted about 3 weeks. I wanted something with substance and clear action. Enter The Strenuous Life where it promises results if you put in the work and everything has an action with a reason. It’s exactly what I was looking for!”
“Before the Strenuous Life I had many goals for self-improvement, but I couldn’t seem to balance them all. I’m a seminary student, so I focused on learning languages, improving my writing, and reading major texts, but I wanted to work on physical skills like camping, rucking, and barbell lifting. With The Strenuous Life, I have a small fire under my butt to get moving. The emphasis on action—on doing something, even if it’s not perfect—helps me to make small steps toward improving myself and helping others every day.”
“The Strenuous Life Challenge has been an eye opening experience. It made me realize how much I was coasting through life without truly embracing the opportunities to get out of my comfort zone. Many things that I have always wanted to do but never took the initiative to do because they may be too hard are now within reach. TSL pushes you to do hard things. The weekly Agons have challenged me both mentally and physically. TSL has changed my mindset from allowing life to come to me; now I attack each day looking to get better than I was the day before.”
“Challenge – Guidance – Community: The Strenuous Life has offered a tremendous opportunity to Be Better Every Day.”
“For several years after I left the military, I fell into ‘American Complacency’ where I allowed myself to become too comfortable with the easy nature of our modern life.
Seeking to break out of my life’s malaise, I came across The Strenuous Life. Investing in the program and myself, I can say I have reawakened as a changed man, one who now works to live as Man should — with strenuous happiness.”
“I’m currently 26 years old, a father of two little boys, a recent graduate from grad school, and a current law student. I’ve embraced my fair share of responsibility in life. But the Strenuous Life has provided a unique structure designed to cultivate, among other virtues, courage. Some tasks were more suited to me than others, but each of them required relentless courage to complete. The badges are not easy, and the Agons require daily commitment. But each challenge compounded to provide everything I’d ever wanted out of TSL–a greater sense of personal potency, lack of fear to try new things, and a deeper sense of comfort in my masculine identity. The cost-benefit analysis is easy: one payment in exchange for a lifetime’s source of courage.”
“I was first introduced to TSL by my son, asking me to join the group along with his brothers and brothers in law. It looked like an adult Boy Scout type program at first. As I learned about it, 12 weekly challenges and the constant 1 hr physical challenge and do a good deed daily, I thought: I need a challenge. At age 62 I was deteriorating physically but also was in a rut in my mind work.
Having a new challenge each week has been very refreshing! I think we each want to be part of something bigger than ourselves (my TSL group) as well as accomplish goals. I have had a refreshing experience that has literally changed my outlook on life for the good!”
“When I started the Strenuous Life, I was like many others who have had a feeling of listlessness. I have been looking for things to help me grow as a man — TSL is that thing. The daily check ins and weekly Agons, as well as the regular interaction with classmates provide motivation on a daily basis. I particularly appreciate the fact that the program isn’t only about physical challenges — TSL encourages growth in all aspects of your life. I am discovering confidence and skills that I didn’t know I had. And having a group of like-minded men from all over the world to share these experiences and personal growth with makes it even better. Thank you Brett for developing this program.”
“I joined The Strenuous Life program because I felt I needed to become more active. What I really found, was I became more productive and self-aware by doing the stuff I either put off or hired people to do. In addition to expanding my view of the basic growth needs for life that we take for granted that actually expand our mind and soul.”
“Signing up for AoM’s “The Strenuous Life” program was one of the best decisions I made this past year. It has really pushed me to get in better shape and start new and exciting projects. TSL really helped motivate me to try new skill sets like archery and lock picking. Having the peer group there to help hold me accountable has been the push I needed to get off the couch and get at it. The weekly challenges are also useful for getting me out of my comfort zone and build confidence. At first my wife was skeptical but now she sees it as a positive prompt for family time together.”
“The Strenuous life is a program focused on true and virtuous manhood. Something we desperately need today. I love the challenges, love the dialogue, and love the brotherhood. It is absolutely helping me focus on what makes me a better man.”
“I never had the chance when I was younger to be in Boy Scouts, and growing up without a father in the home, I felt like I missed out on a lot of learning activities and masculine growth that my friends in high school and college had developed. Since joining The Strenuous Life, I’ve had a curriculum and support system that has forced me to try a little harder every day to improve, learn something new, and do good deeds. I find myself consciously making decisions that I wouldn’t have before entering the arena. I’ve shared my journey with my friends and family, and the positive feedback I’ve received has been enormous in motivating me to keep moving forward. I highly recommend TSL as a support system to help you achieve your best self.”
“TSL has been a great way to keep me accountable. The education and brotherhood has been an extreme positive in my life. I’ve really focused on my physical fitness over the last few years. TSL helped me laser focus my training. The results have been breaking my PR on deadlifts, squats, and chest press over and over again.”
“Like many men, I was not content with a life of ease, but I was also uncertain about how to begin pursuing a more active and intentional lifestyle in a structured way. Enter The Strenuous Life. TSL provided the guidance and kickstart I needed to get moving, get outdoors, and get out of my comfort zone, making me a better man in the process.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Strenuous Life crew. From the daily requirements (one hour exercise and one good deed), to the weekly challenges (Agons), to the longer term badge requirements, I am being stretched beyond my comfort level to challenge myself in all areas of my life (physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional). I feel more alive!”
“For years, I’ve used my job and family life as excuses to not improve myself physically and mentally. That changed once I joined The Strenuous Life (TSL). TSL invalidated those excuses, making me accountable for physical activity and pushing me to learn new skills. I thank TSL for giving me the motivation to be a better human!”
“I was at a crossroad in my life. I felt the need to grow but wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. The Strenuous Life has helped me to focus my attention and energy with transformative results. I have lost 30 pounds since I began and have found myself far more willing to take the extra time, go the extra mile, or go above and beyond. My wife, my friends, and my family have seen a noticeable change in who I am. I knew it was inside all along but this helped free me from the bonds of comfort and laziness. I’m truly thankful and blessed by the growth and friends I have made here.”
“I had hopes that running through boot camp would give me a jolt into action and push me outside of my comfort zone. I’m happy to say that it did this and more. I’m in contact with a great group of like-minded individuals, with many more to meet, who provide support and advice. The freedom to follow your interests and work on new skills is great but what are probably more valuable are the Agons. Some are relatively easy, some push you to do things you would never normally consider; in doing the latter I’ve learned that I am more capable of taking on challenges than I thought but also there are some things that really add to your life that you never find you like just through lack of trying. The gentle nudge of the Agons and the competition with your class can push you to some interesting and surprising discoveries. I can’t recommend this enough.”
“The Strenuous Life does push you past your comfort zone. You build confidence from the tests that are put to you. You also focus on others and that is rewarding. My fitness, outdoor awareness, and attention to others has been pushed to a new level. Thanks Brett, here’s to more Strenuosity! Cheers!”
“The Strenuous Life program has really helped me get out of my own way. I have always been a procrastinator but this program has really helped me see the benefits of staying focused and getting it done! The weekly challenges are designed to get you out of your comfort zone and are wildly rewarding. My class is a great group and has been very supportive along the way. Thank you guys for putting together such a unique program!”
“Joining the Strenuous Life, the boot camp experience, has been 12 weeks of adventure. Doing things I have not, or would not have done. Climbing trees, taking hikes, meeting strangers, reading books, things that I would not normally do. Through these things I have become stronger, and more useful. Through this experience, I have become a better version of myself.”
“The first weekly Agon got me out of my comfort zone and had me spend some time in the ocean. I forgot how much I truly enjoyed being able to be in the water. I live on an island so it’s a good thing to enjoy . To me in the first week of the program, I knew this was money well spent.
TSL has allowed me new and interesting ways to bond with my kids. They’ve gotten involved in many of the weekly Agons. We’ve gone to new state parks we’ve never visited, had discussions of new skills to learn or try, and camped out in the backyard to end the summer. My son James also now knows how to tie a bowline knot.
The scope of TSL has something for men of all different backgrounds. That’s also one of it’s strengths. We can all share our expertise with each other as we each look to deepen our own individual meaning of what it is to “live the strenuous life.” I’ve specifically gone after badges I thought were out of my wheelhouse. I earned the knotsmanship badge and that wouldn’t have been anything on my radar 12 weeks ago.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed joining The Strenuous Life! It is worth every penny and more. It has forced me to be more accountable to myself for growing physically, mentally, and morally every day. The Weekly Agons and the Badge requirements have exposed me to things I never would have been exposed to otherwise. I am reading Edmund Morris’s 3-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt because of The Strenuous Life. I memorized Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man In The Arena” speech (and learned of a great new method for memorizing texts) because of one of the Weekly Agons. I walked barefoot and crawled bare-chested under low-hanging tree branches in the sticker-infested and cow-pie riddled open spaces of the East San Francisco Bay and got a nasty staph infection all over my back as a result of one of the Weekly Agons…but I loved every minute of it! I am getting my personal finances in order because of the Personal Finance Badge requirements. The Strenuous Life, both the website and the concept originally embraced by Teddy Roosevelt, have given more purpose and meaning to my life. I strongly recommend it to any man looking for more out of life!”
“After I joined The Strenuous Life, I decided to start working on the Frogman Badge. At the time, I thought there was no way that I would complete it before the 12-week initiation was over because I could barely swim a length of a pool. However, I stuck with the challenge and earned the badge in week 11. I stuck with it because I want to have the skills to help a drowning person, whether they are drowning in a lake, a pool, the ocean, or in the worries of the world. For me, this is what TSL is all about.”
“The Strenuous Life has offered me physical, mental, and even spiritual pathways for growth. It has challenged me at every turn, and been the launchpad for skills and adventures that I had only dreamed of someday pursuing. I am a better man because of the efforts expended and achievements gained through this program.”
“I’ve been a devotee of The Art of Manliness for many years. The Strenuous Life provided me the structure to not only put into action what I have learned through AoM, but provided structure and discipline in other areas of my life. Through the badge work and Agons I’ve become more disciplined. There is also motivation and personal accountability to keep growing and improving. TSL is a tool. You will only get out of it what you put into it. Stay Strenuous!”
“I entered the 12-week grind of TSL anticipating all the badges that I was certain to earn. I came away with one, and only by the skin of my teeth, because life and, frankly, the Agons punched me in the face. I wouldn’t change that. The daily reminders to be a better man, to do hard things, and to keep myself and others accountable made TSL the most sharpening experience of my adult life.”
“The Strenuous Life was the challenge I needed to kill tired excuses for why my life is not what it could be. Each aspect of the program has set me on a course of rebuilding myself. The daily check-ins built character. The Agons built confidence. The badges built pride. The community built determination. This program is not for everyone. It’s for those who want to step out of laziness and experience life in what it best offers. You will grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You will do things you haven’t done in years and if you’re like me, do things you’ve never done. Thanks to TSL, I will forever be a better man and will forever strive to do hard things.”
“I enjoyed how every challenge seems to find the perfect balance between super simple and ridiculously hard. To complete the backyard chef badge you have to cook certain items on a grill, simple. In addition, you have to smoke meat too which ups the difficulty. They avoid making it ridiculously hard by not requiring you to use a specific grill or having to cook/smoke all the items on the list.”
“The Strenuous Life taught me two major things: first, it taught me to embrace friction, and second, to enjoy doing hard things. Life is full of both the former and the latter, and if we go through life expecting ease, comfort, convenience, and cushiness, we will be infinitely let down, frustrated, angry, and maybe even fearful. Instead, it’s okay to embrace the strenuosity that is life, and most importantly, TSL gave me the roadmap to do so.
TSL is quite literally a roadmap to action, and that’s something I needed. It forced me out of my head — constantly thinking about doing things and the perfect way to do them — and it gave me the direction and encouragement to starting doing things. The great thing about TSL is by the end of the 12 weeks, I could look back and really see how much I’ve accomplished. Finally, in 12 weeks, I’m walking away with a much larger skill set then I started with, both hard and soft skills: I can start a conversation with practically anyone, I’ve both attended and hosted an in-person meet up, I’m doing a good deed every day, I’m reciting poetry from memory, I’ve developed handyman skills, and my penmanship is the best it’s ever been . . . to name a few.
TSL is a roadmap to action. Action leads to skill development. Skill development leads to usefulness. Usefulness leads to purpose. And purpose leads to meaning.
Keep it strenuous.”
“The Strenuous Life was an eye opener for me in ways that I could hardly have imagined at the outset. I envisioned myself improving mentally and physically, but I had never imagined that I would be deeply changed spiritually. The focus on outward action for the sake of others is a radical departure from the egocentric sphere of self-help programs I’ve encountered. I consider myself lucky to have taken the plunge and know that this is only the beginning.”
“Prior to joining TSL, I had ideas about who I wanted to become as a man, and what I wanted to do with my life. The Strenuous Life encouraged me to stop dwelling on the ideas, and instead turn them into action. The 12-week challenge was a breath of fresh air, allowing me to find freedom in strenuosity through the physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. My life is much more fulfilling, as I’ve seen goals of mine become realized through action. TSL hones my purpose, focuses my energy, and brings myself and those around me much joy through a life of service to others. I highly suggest the Strenuous Life to anyone who needs a little kick in the pants to learn to live life to the fullest. Join the Strenuous Life today!”
“Since starting TSL I have and will continue to push myself to my ultimate potential. Striving for the goals I set for myself and exceeding expectations. Learning to inculcate daily habits which inch you closer and closer to your final goal. I have developed mental fortitude, grit and inner strength by pushing myself to do HARD things. Living strenuously encourages us all to take up the mantle and be the best you can be and more.”
“Believe it or not, 3 months is enough to sharpen stuck patterns of thought in a man. I say “sharpening” and not “changing,” because I believe that the TSL-spirit is anchored in all men. For me, the TSL bootcamp was everything at once: invigorating, challenging, introspective, fun, brutal. It provided a mission, a frame that I wanted to fill with a better picture of myself. And I encountered wonderful things along the way. While my strife was internal, I included my social environment, resulting in unexpected reciprocal effects, on top of the obvious main goals. When your quest is over, you won’t feel relieved, but melancholic . . . until you realize that your journey has only just begun.”
“My desk-job life is mostly abstract; I deal in the world of ideas, not action. TSL pulled me out of abstraction and into action. The daily check-ins, the weekly Agon, and the badges require concrete action, not just ideas. It feels real to be grounded in the world of action.”
“I would of considered my life strenuous before signing up for this course. 60+ hour work weeks, a four-year-old daughter, twin 2-year-old boys, all this while trying to keep my marriage and friendships thriving. With all this going on I still found the time to complete the program and am glad that I did. I learned new skills, created new relationships, and dropped some extra weight. This 12-week program made me a better husband, father, and friend. 100% recommend it.”
“The Strenuous Life has been a formidable asset to me so far, and has helped me to push far outside my comfort zone. I’ve met new people, learned new skills and, most importantly, learned a great deal about myself and my capabilities. I can strongly recommend TSL to any man looking to improve himself.”
“The Strenuous Life has been life changing for me. Having a motivational community has aided me in developing habits that I have wanted for a long time. I know for a fact that I have become a better man because I joined The Strenuous life.”
“The Strenuous Life has tested me physically, mentally and emotionally over the last 12 weeks. I have learned new things about myself, and rediscovered old passions.
I am in better shape and I have gained some new insights about what it means to do hard things and specifically what that looks like in my life. It was not easy, but it is easily one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in the last few years.
I highly recommend this experience to anyone who wants to push their limits and become a better man in the process.”
“If nothing else, completing the first twelve weeks of TSL (badge, Agons, check-ins) gave me three months of experiences that were worth far more than the $200 I paid for membership. I discovered a tucked-away beach with a rope swing and sandstone cliffs just twenty minutes from my home; I memorized a 400+ word speech from Shakespeare with my younger brother that we then we belted out atop a mountain in Oregon, U.S.A. My self-knowledge grew when I had to sit down, multiple times, to seriously ask myself what counted as a “good deed.” But best of all, I found in TSL a group of guys that encouraged not flattery and false positivity but selflessness, wisdom, and honesty. This sort of community is exceptionally rare and truly priceless, and I am so thankful I get to be a part of it for life.”
“Over the last 3 months of TSL has provided me with some of the most interesting and testing challenges I have ever faced, pushing me to develop in almost every area of my life. Some of the challenges seemed nearly impossible at first, but with the support of the members in my group and some great guidance, they were achieved. I would strongly suggest TSL to anyone who feels like they want to squeeze more out of life.”
“Becoming involved in The Strenuous Life has been transformational. It is helpful to have group of likeminded individuals facing struggles and developing skills together. Friends and family members have taken notice and commented on the positive change they see. The weekly Agons are perhaps the most rewarding aspect for me; they help me to step outside my comfort zone, develop an appreciation for doing difficult things and provide a sense of accomplishment when complete.”
“I can’t say enough good things about TSL, it has been among the best things I have done in my life. We live in a time where it is quite possible to get by with very little effort, to take the path of least resistance and survive, never making any impact on the world, let alone your own life and the lives of those closest to you. I have found that life not only leaves no legacy and example to others but often leads to depression and the sense that life is just happening to you instead of really living. TSL was a kick in the pants I needed to make a change. The daily checkins, the accountability to others and the weekly challenges (I found myself looking forward to receiving) were what I needed to get on with living instead of letting life run over me.”
“The 12-week TSL boot camp period definitely got me up from the couch and gave me an excuse, so to speak, to be a better version of myself on a daily basis. I especially enjoyed the weekly agons. Completing them made me realize that I can do much more than I thought possible. Stretching the area of possible action felt great.”
“By its nature, The Strenuous Life will not always be convenient or easy, but it has without a doubt made me a better person. During the initial 12 weeks, I decided ahead of time to set aside almost all of my weekends for TSL-related tasks. It meant passing up on some things I normally would have committed to, but in the end it was worth it. The weekly challenges come out on Saturday morning and by setting aside my weekends, I was better able to adapt my schedule to the weekly challenges at short notice. It also provided me with dedicated time for working on TSL badges which is essential for completion of the initial 12 weeks of the program. TSL is a fantastic program and I encourage all men to sign up, but to do so with the right level of commitment in terms of both time and energy.”
“When I first started the Strenuous Life program, I knew that I wanted to be a better man, but I didn’t have much direction as to what steps I needed to take to begin that journey. I had been reading Art of Manliness articles for years, but to have a community around me that I could learn from and a set of action-steps to spur me on were exactly what I needed to really see progress. Since joining the Strenuous Life, everyone around me has seen the changes in me and been so excited and intrigued as to what changed in my life. The weekly Agons, the badges, and the community have led me to trying new things, finding hobbies and activities that I’ll enjoy for a lifetime, and building friendships that will last just as long. TSL has helped inspire me to consistent action and given me ideas beyond what I could have thought of on my own outside the program. I’ve gone on adventures that I’ll treasure forever and grown in ways that can only be experienced. If you want to start seizing life and overcoming the monotony that our everyday lives can become sometimes, then joining this program will be instrumental in getting you there!”
“I have joined the TSL bootcamp in September 2019 in the hope to add more sense to my everyday life and be useful to the community where I live. TSL is a very useful concept where one can challenge one’s own limits, physically and mentally alike. For me personally, it fulfilled my expectations and even beyond: it made me change my daily routine toward a more active lifestyle, put things into a different perspective (e.g., a less egocentric vision of social life and being proactive in finding solutions to problems in different areas) and revive my slowly dying thirst of knowledge and exploration. Another thing I want to add: as a person with high-functioning autism, I think that such bootcamp was very helpful for improving my relationships with other people, finding ways to manage my anxiety and emotional outbursts and improve my health (for instance, I got no migraines in these three months). Caution: I don’t say that this bootcamp is a therapy but what I say is that it can help you “fight your own battles.” Last thing I want to say: TSL is a lifestyle and if you want to know what it means to live life living, you are welcome to join.”
“The Strenuous Life was a game changer for me. I am a generally active guy, but the Agons and daily hour of PT pushed me to higher standards than I normally held myself to. The daily good deed also kept me more cognizant of my actions throughout the day. I would find myself thinking, “Am I focusing on other people today, or just myself?” Finally, the Agons. The Agons pushed me further than I had expected with a feeling of incredible growth and mental fortitude. And, through all of this, the support system you have in your classmates, guides, and fellow members really pushes you on in the right direction. Good things happen when like-minded individuals come together. I have already convinced a few friends to join next go round and my hope is that this program continues to spread like a wave over our slackened world.”
“I must admit I had no idea what to expect going into this program. At the very least I figured it would be a good way to spend my free time, but I never expected it to be as powerful an experience as it ended up being. As I reflect on the experience I can think of many things in my life that have changed for the better since I joined the program. Here are a few:
I could keep going, but I’ll leave that to suffice. I plan to proselyte this program to several family members and friends. It has been a huge blessing to catapult me forward in my personal progress. I’m excited for what the next year will bring. Bring on that 52/52 agon badge.”
“No matter what your experience or what stage in life you may find yourself, the well-rounded TSL program will boost you to a whole other level. The Strenuous Life is Living turned up to ’11.’”
“My family and friends thought I was a little crazy when I walked 80 kilometers on one Saturday for a challenge, but TSL was what I needed something to break me out of my dull routine and remind me that I’m still alive. If you put a full effort into it, you’ll see the rewards.”
“This program is a great and wonderful way to gain motivation. I found it incredibly helpful for completing my exercise routine that my brothers from my class are holding each other to higher expectations for one another. It got me exercising and in the best physical condition, I’ve ever been, which isn’t long since I’m only 18 and joining the US Army soon as a Medic. There’s a pride that comes with belonging to a class of like-minded individuals. Good luck on your future endeavors brothers in strenuosity!”
“I just finished the ‘boot camp’ phase of the Strenuous Life and it has challenged me to improve myself physically, mentally, spiritually as well as encouraged me to improve specific skills that every man should know.”
I was in a life rut. Same thing everyday. Apathetic about life. I had signed up for TSL updates a few years before and considered signing up, but always decided not to. When I got the email for my cohort, I jumped on it. I was put into class 042 (yes, we are the best class). The structure was not what I expected, but is what it should be for men. I was expecting a checklist of things to check off, and yes there is some of that, but instead got a structure that told me, as a man, step up and take action. It was left to the class how we functioned. We had guides, but that is all they were, to guide us to the right direction, not dictate. There were weeks that were easy and I wanted to coast. There were weeks that were hard and frustrating and I wanted to quit. In both my 042 brothers, and sister, encouraged me to stay strenuous. Is this program perfect in every way? No. It is like we are as men. Has flaws, but is always looking for ways to improve. If you are in a rut, or are frustrated with life, or need some accountability in your life, I would encourage you to join The Strenuous Life and stick with it. If you do, you won’t regret it.”
“This program has been truly lifechanging for me. I have been a follower of the Art of Manliness for years, and TSL has provided the perfect platform to put all of the principles and skills I have learned into practice. It is so encouraging to be a part of a great group of individuals who are all likeminded in our dedication to making ourselves the best men we can be and keeping each other accountable.”
“The Strenuous Life is the kick you have waited for so long to start taking steps toward realizing your goals. As a long time reader of the Art of Manliness, I already had quite high expectations toward the program, but it definitely surpassed even those. The two most important gains I would highlight are the totally different mindset towards physical exercise (resulting in feeling much stronger and being more confident), and the proactive stance towards life: I became deeply aware of the fact that I have to actively take steps toward achieving my goals in life, and even in just 3 months this mindset has helped me a lot in both my personal and professional life.”
“With the entropy of life it is easy to slip into comfort and fall asleep to one’s self, to become disengaged, to merely survive vice thrive. TSL woke me up to myself and those around me, to get action as if a Rough Rider. TSL provided a fellowship of men with a common call/desire to action and betterment, spurring each other on both electronically and face to face (regionally). As a result my family and co-workers saw a change in me and offered that feedback without being asked, showing me that it was obvious to those around me. Finally TSL is a hard and life long process, should one choose to continually fight the smooth ease that modern life provides.”
“The part of The Strenuous Life I have found most helpful is giving me a practical guide to follow in pursuing and achieving my goals. I have frequently struggled in the past with starting projects without finishing them. The Strenuous Life helped me to home in my focus and become more intentional in my daily living and in how I spend my time as an individual, as a father, and as a husband.”
“The Strenuous Life has been the proverbial kick that I, and most men need at some point in their lives. I have read more, served more, learned more, grown more, into the man I have always wanted to be over these past four months than I ever would have without the challenge to live by “’not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife.’”
“I have known about the “TSL” platform for several years and have thought about enrolling many times. I finally decided to give it a try and approached it with some reservation, not sure what to expect from a “boy scouts for men” program. I have to say I have been very pleasantly surprised. I have never had a problem with being physically active, doing hard things, and striving to improve, but I have lacked the direction and focus to feel like I could make regular progress. TSL has given me the resources and roadmap to put all of my ambitions into a coherent and useful program for getting the most out of life. It’s exciting, unpredictable (at times), and very rewarding to have this roadmap to becoming a better man. Thanks Brett and TSL team.”
“The Strenuous Life program turned out to be the perfect solution for pushing myself beyond the ordinary routine and to extend myself as far as I wanted to push into varied, interesting, and useful skills for me and my family.”
“TSL has really been life giving for me. TSL has not only gotten me from behind my desk and doing more walking, I’m also spending time wrestling with my kids. I’ve pushed too hard a few times and had to pull back, but it’s been exhilarating to find my limits and expand them. A number of the Agons have become a part of everyday life for me now and for that I am extremely grateful. TSL really helped to break me out of my funk and live more on purpose.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity to endorse TSL!
At 61 years of age I was looking for something to break the monotony of my work-oriented life. Then I read about . . . The Strenuous Life, a 12-week challenge of manly activities. Confronting my listlessness, I decided to take the challenge. Now, 12 weeks later, I can say TSL has been instrumental in changing my outlook on my life. Yes, the program involved physical strenuosity, but not more than I could do if I put some effort in. Additionally, mental, spiritual, and social challenges got me thinking, learning, growing, and interacting with other guys who were doing the same. Through TSL I have become eager to embrace hard things. If you are looking for a manly kickstart I highly recommend The Strenuous Life. Go ahead . . . do something hard!”
“12 weeks in and I qualified for the coin. I’m enjoying the program and I love looking forward to the weekly challenges and finding ways to achieve the badges. However, this is no panacea. Like anything that’s worth it, I only get back what I put in. So if you are looking for a savior, just realize it’s not going to come from this program UNLESS you first believe in yourself and decide that this time it will be different. Only at the waypoint of where you feel like giving up and you actually DON’T give up will you begin to see your own permanent path to grinding, gritty, physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation. So get over yourself and join up.”
“The Strenuous Life has been the best decision I have ever made. I used to arrive at the end of every year realizing that I wasted all of the twelve months before. Now I look back on the weeks and months I’ve spent in The Strenuous Life and I realize that I haven’t wasted a single one. I am more physically, spiritually, and emotionally strong. My wife, my daughter, and my son have taken every opportunity to join me in The Strenuous Life, practically earning the badges and completing most of the Agons right along with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better return on investment for the money I put towards the enrollment fee.”
“The Strenuous Life has provided me with a renewed sense of worth and simplicity in the increasingly complicated world around us. TSL provides a simple structure onto which I have been able to flesh out a life of meaning on a daily basis. At its heart lies the simple truth that you cannot change the world, but you can build a robust and useful person to deal with it. I started TSL to ‘Get my s**t together’ and I now have accountability to take charge of all of the factors that I can and prepare better for the ones I can’t. I cannot recommend this enough.”
“My class has the distinction of working through the home stretch of the 12-week boot camp during the coronavirus outbreak. Having already spent eight weeks living The Strenuous Life and expanding our endurance, we truly helped each other by sharing details of coping and managing the situation. Really wonderful stuff. Very life-affirming. And personally, I’m thrilled with my increases in physical strength, creativity, and sense of purpose. Highly recommended.”
“I was introduced to Strenuous Life 2 years ago, but like many other things, I put it into the ‘I’ll get to that later’ category. Then towards the end of last year I was going through some personal hardships and saw the reminder for the next Strenuous Life class. I somehow knew that this was the time, and didn’t realize how impactful this decision would become. I have never pushed myself harder or further than I have through Strenuous Life. Experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Strenuous Life boot camp has provided a unique opportunity to step up as a leader. I believe that the tenets of the Strenuous Life can prepare the men of the world to be the leaders of their households and communities that are so desperately needed right now.”
“I joined The Strenuous Life primarily to kickstart an exercise program . . . I wanted to add a layer of accountability that would help me to stay on track. TSL definitely delivered on that promise but it also gave me access to a community of like-minded individuals and a weekly diet of interesting challenges. They blend physical and mental trials in an engaging format. I can safely say that as a result of the program I have done things that I never would have considered attempting; I am a better man as a result. I would recommend The Strenuous Life to any man seeking to become the best version of himself.”
“I was hopeful but a bit skeptical of what real effect TSL would have on me and my family. Wow. I could not have predicted how transformative this was going to be. The added boost of action and intentionality has tipped the scales in my life. My marriage and family have taken off in ways that I could not have not foreseen. There are other pieces to the puzzle that have come together at the same time, but TSL has been a significant piece. I am deeply thankful for this group of men and the motivation this program has brought me. Unprompted, my wife said to me one night, ‘You know, I am really loving this Strenuous Life thing.’ So good. Thanks brothers.”
“The Strenuous Life has been an amazing experience! Being pushed with challenges outside my usual routine has sharpened my edge and taught me a lot about myself. This has given me a road map to strengthen my weaknesses as well as given me confidence in my strengths. Well recommended for anyone who wants to become a better man.”
“I joined the Strenuous Life after finding the AoM podcast. I felt I was stuck in a rut and needed new direction in my life. I wanted to improve myself as a person.
12 weeks in and The Strenuous Life is giving me that! The badges allow me to focus effort on areas of interest and undertake structured learning across a diverse range of topics. The first twelve Agons have pushed me out of my comfort zone in a positive way, I have enjoyed some of them so much that I have adopted them into my daily routine.
I highly recommend The Strenuous Life to anyone seeking to better themselves or change direction in their life.”
“The Strenuous Life is an amazing opportunity for individuals to reset and gain perspective while focusing on personal growth. I love how the program forces me out of my comfort zone so I can work hard to self-actualize, strengthen my integrity, and provides me a community forum of accountability as incentive to accomplish all the things that I allow to pile up.”
“The Strenuous Life allowed me to revisit many past times from my youth and young adulthood that had faded away in the midst of a perpetually busy and distracting schedule. The Strenuous Life is a thoughtful investment that provides an impressive variety in challenges — some small and some large — that were carefully developed and rewarding. In my experience, the key take away is The Strenuous Life enables those with a good attitude to rekindle suppressed physical, mental, and spiritual health leading to a meaningful life for themselves and those that depend on them. From my excursion into the woods to find a suitable rock for carrying to my time spent outside adjusting my new Newtonian Telescope, the experiences within The Strenuous Life exceeded my expectations — and will for years to come.”
“TSL has provided me with the structure I needed to do the things I would previously daydream about. You are provided with the tools and instructions to better yourself and build a better future. All that is required from you is to show up ready to work. You decide where you need to improve. Just pick up the tools and get to work. Become a man of action!”
“I found myself in a rut and needed a lot of guidance and a little support in getting back into life. TSL provided all that and more with their twelve week bootcamp program which had me expanding my comfort zone in the very first week. Many thanks!”
“Being a part of The strenuous Life has made me realize how easy it is to delay doing things that make you feel good because they’re hard and how that’s the wrong way to approach life. The Strenuous Life taught me that hard things feel good and that pursuing them is what life is all about! I’ve learned that life isn’t about reaching some level of competency and then coasting for the rest, it’s about continually striving to be better to help my community and family.”
“I’ve worked in a federal prison, and have dealt with inmates for the past 17 years. I always do things outdoors and try to challenge myself with those things. I signed up for The Strenuous Life because I had lost sight of what I thought it meant to be a man. I had become jaded to a life and reality outside of my job. TSL helped me realize that the things that I was doing outside of the prison walls were far more important than the calling I have to work in a prison. It reminded me that the things that I do daily, matter. It reminded me that I am actually a good man and to have a sense of pride about every task that I took on outside of my work. In short TSL got me back in touch with who I am at my core and has made me hold my head a little higher as a man. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“Joining The Strenuous Life was a great decision. The program helps get me out of my stale routines, experience new things, and pushes me out of my comfort zone. It also provides the helpful structure to gaining new skills, and even better, gets my family involved too. Living strenuously has made me mentally, spiritually, and physically stronger.”
“I started The Strenuous Life at the beginning of the year and I have found the weekly agons, badges, challenge to do physical activity, and a good deed to be rewarding and motivating. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of the Agons during the boot camp and found that I looked forward to each Saturday morning when the next one would be posted. I have 3 sons and we would often discuss strategies for accomplishing the Agon for that week and my oldest son who is 11 years old would usually help me accomplish them. It is extremely rewarding when I accomplish one of them and he says, “Dad, I’m proud of you.” As the 3rd month ends I find that I am more resilient and comfortable with discomfort and this is both rewarding and valuable to me. I look forward to continuing with living The Strenuous Life.”
“There were weeks when I just wanted to get the Agon over with and days when I didn’t feel like pushing myself physically, but I discovered that I’m capable of much more. I found new ways to engage with my wife and children. I forged new friendships and deepened others. I became more aware of the needs of the people around me. And along the way I discovered that I’m not a different man, just a more complete one.”
“I started this program at a time when my life was coasting along nicely. I didn’t have any significant problems, my wife and I were getting along famously, my new job was great, and overall I was pretty happy.
That being said, after recently retiring from a long career in Law Enforcement, I had struggled a little bit with my identity. I then heard about the Strenuous Life and decided to give it a whirl.
The gains I have seen are impressive. Instead of sitting on my nice comfortable couch, I hop onto the treadmill or I go in the front yard and flip a big tire for a bit. Instead of watching TV, I started reading the Bible while I have several study materials next to me to help guide my study. Instead of looking around the world, I look to see how I can help someone everyday. I also started journaling everyday. This has been an interesting experience which I’m sure is now a lifelong habit.
I did not complete several of the weekly challenges due to a number of different issues (broken foot, running a business while keeping all of my employees safe from COVID-19, yadda yadda). And, that is ok with me. What I did complete was a nice reboot of my brain.
Overall, a great experience which I have spoken to several of my friends about, and I hope they decided to jump in the water. Cheers to a Strenuous Life!”
“Having just earned the TSL Challenge Coin, I can tell you that this experience has been a great one! Through the rigorous regimen over the last 12 weeks I have been able to form meaningful habits of regular fitness routines, the performance of good deeds, good citizenship, and the quest for new skill development. These things are now top of mind each day. As a lifelong member, I look forward to further adventures in TSL camaraderie and skill-building through badge completions.”
“I am thrilled that I signed up for the TSL program. It has been a life changer in many ways, and I will be sure to recommend it to whomever I can. It provides numerous opportunities for the personal growth of your mind, body, and spirit.”
“TSL has been the best thing I think I’ve ever done. I wanted something to enhance and structure my new found enthusiasm for life. The accountability of the sign-ins was crucial for me. The Agons were really excellent and got me doing some things I’d always intended to do and others that really stretched me — carrying 50lb for 1/4 mile being the outstanding one that showed me I could outdo myself! I’ve become more disciplined, fitter, and have a greater sense of purpose and how to achieve it, and, crucially for me, how to stick with something and see it through. I’m finally achieving my goal of becoming an active point in the universe and working for the good of my fellow man.”
“Self-improvement is a tough thing when you go it alone. I have been an avid reader of The Art of Manliness for like, ever, and when I saw the first chance for The Strenuous Life (TSL), I sat on my laurels and missed out.
I’ve struggled with whether or not I was worth the effort for quite some time, and when this year’s opportunity for TSL arrived, I jumped on it. Not only was I warmly welcomed with a great introductory kit, and encouragement from not only Brett, but my class guides. Simply put, to me, TSL is essentially the Man Scouts, complete with challenges to push my body and mind to the limits, and a badge system to encourage the learning of new skills.
During my initial 12 week bootcamp, I was thankful to complete all of my challenges, earn two badges, and feel much, much better about myself in general. My newfound self-esteem was bolstered by a class of other great men who encouraged and inspired me to keep moving. I’ll never be the same, and I am looking forward to a lifetime of conquering challenges! Thank you so much!”
“The Strenuous Life has opened up avenues of improvement and brotherhood, I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. The weekly agons have pushed and challenged me to do hard things and have rewarded me in return. If you’re looking for a way to reclaim the hardiness of manliness that seems to be lost these days, I couldn’t recommend a better way to do it.”
“I just wanted to thank The Strenuous Life (TSL) program and members of this community for a great 12 weeks. To say it has been life changing is an understatement. Thanks to TSL I was able to create and maintain a number of habits I had always wanted to start, but never made time for. So as we’re wrapping up, I wanted to share the Top 5 things I am taking away from TSL:
- I am now in the habit of working out everyday and being more physically active during the rest of the day. I can honestly say I’m healthier, stronger, faster, have more energy, etc. because of my participation in the program.
- I have developed other great habits like writing in my journal every week, reading at least 20 minutes a day, taking time to meditate, reflect, and express gratitude at the end of every day, talking freely with strangers, and choosing the harder path.
- One of my favorite results from this is that I now actively look for opportunities to serve throughout the day. Knowing I need to do a good deed every day puts the thought constantly in the forefront of my mind. I have served many times and in many situations, I don’t think I would have a few months ago, simply because I would not have seen the need.
- I have learned some very useful skills. I’ve been surprised at how often I’ve used the knots that I learned in the knotsmanship badge, even impressed my wife as I secured our Christmas tree to the car this last week. I’ve learned new ways to build and start fires, learned more about my ancestors–including the incredibly manly origins of our family crest, written letters to people who have later come back to thank me for taking the time to write to them, etc.
- I think my favorite part of this has been working more closely with my sons. As the father of 4 boys, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to help them become good men, something incredibly difficult to do in today’s emasculated world. I have enjoyed doing “manly things” with them, and hope to continue to do so.
Thanks for everything! TSL is a great program and I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like when Boot Camp is over.”
“Having heard about TSL from my son, who is a fan of Teddy Roosevelt, I read through the available TSL online materials. Although I was successful and 67 years of age, I was unhappy, in particular confused about what being a “good man” means in this ever-evolving, complex modern society. I signed up with TSL, I participated fully, and I can say I am much happier, having changed my life for the better by adhering to the principle of ‘right action.’ Because of the positive outcomes for me personally, physically, and psychologically, TSL is now a very important part of my daily routine. It is one of the best decisions I have made in the last 30 years.”
“I have struggled for years to take action on vague goals I’ve considered pursuing. Since joining The Strenuous Life, I’ve learned how to set and focus on clear goals, gained an awareness that I have what it takes to commit to and accomplish these goals, and developed a group of friends to hold me accountable to push me to succeed.”
“I am a therapist of 25 years so I have a good sense of personal development programs having attended many myself and referred clients. The Strenuous Life program is unique in offering a structured exploration of what it means to be a man. Personally, the weekly challenges, forum discussions, and overall program structure helped me develop habits to improve my physical, mental, and spiritual health. This growth carried over into my roles as husband, father, and professional therapist. I look forward to deepening my bonds with my ‘band of brothers’ in the class of 048. I recommend this program without reservation.”
“My entire family has enjoyed my experience – my wife has enjoyed my Kiss the Chef badge, daily good deeds, and have provided some fun pics for her of me in various Agons. It has been an eye opener for all of us, and my kids have learned to embrace the same Strenuosity that they have watched their father practice daily and weekly!
TSL has definitely had a great impact on my life and I am very happy that I decided to do it! It has expanded me, both, mentally and physically and holds you accountable for being a mindful, healthy, active, and better human being overall! I have learned so much more about fitness, life, and has inspired me to continuously grow myself! I plan to live and practice TSL for the rest of my life!
Thanks Brett and the AoM team for creating such a great program that I think the entire world could learn from! I have enjoyed it immensely and hope that I can somehow help and contribute back to the program in any way that I can!”
“Living the day to day grind, I was feeling complacent and in autopilot so to speak. Even though I had achieved plenty professionally and within my family life, I felt I needed something more. TSL turned out to be what I needed and more. The challenges posed during brought me out of my comfort zone and into an arena I hadn’t seen since my younger years. The camaraderie I have built with my classmates will last a lifetime and as an individual, I have grown tremendously, much to the pleasure of my wife, kids, and others around me. Thank you TSL for helping me hold myself accountable and for bringing me into a life where I strive to do hard things.”
“TSL has been a truly enriching experience for me these past 12 weeks and I don’t plan to let up one bit after boot camp ends. With so many more badges to work towards and daily reminders to be physically active and perform good deeds has kept a guy like me prone to distraction in check. TSL has forced me to try the things I have always been curious about but kept saying “maybe tomorrow” like journaling, working out in nature or actually reading a book in a week. It’s challenged me to take action and as a result see what impactful positive things come from it. I’m more conscious daily about performing good deeds which has helped me to get outside of my own self and think of others and my community more. I have implemented new daily routines to my life because of TSL and developed some new hobbies that I never knew could bring me such joy. TSL has shown me what potential lies within us if we would just take the action to work towards it and I feel more like a man because of it.”
“The Strenuous Life program has provided a structure and support system to help me gain skills that make me a more active agent in my own life. I have become more creative, and I have shifted from sitting on abstractions to bringing concrete actions and observable objects into the world. This program has been an existential triumph for me.”
“I was hesitant to jump onboard with The Strenuous Life as it seemed like it was aimed at guys that were into camping, hiking, and CrossFit. I come from an IT background and some of this stuff didn’t resonate with me, but I liked the articles on The Art of Manliness and something kept drawing me back to TSL. So, I bit the bullet and decided to give it a try. I figured that the worst that could happen is I don’t enjoy it and can stop any time I want, but it turns out that my perceptions were totally wrong. Yes, there is a fitness component, but it’s balanced by other great challenges that span the many disciplines of a good life, such as reading, reflecting, mindfulness and gratitude (to name but a few). For anyone that feels called to bring about meaningful yet balanced change in their lives, TSL is a great way to do it!”
“Tom Hanks, ‘Cast Away,” fish-spearing scene. That is what The Strenuous Life is for me. Not the pudgy Tom Hanks who was stumbling to learn how to fish, but the lean version who speared a fish from a distance with calculated precision. I had my “Cast Away” moment the morning of my 12th Agon. I hit a running milestone that was twice what I had done before. I am standing there drenched in sweat and thinking of the rest of the adventures we would be having that day. It then hit me what TSL had done; I was a different man. Not a finished product by any means; but a more strenuous man, a more useful man, a man that is harder to kill. I’ve been given the tools to be a more useful servant to those I care for. Every single man needs to have this moment in their life.”
“A few days after signing up for The Strenuous Life, I found out I would be out of work due to Covid-19. The platform helped me develop the skills to turn idleness into action, fear into courage, and leverage that period of time to be one of the best in my life to strengthen myself and my family. It’s teaching me to hone my practical wisdom, embrace difficulty, and live a life of strength and honor so I can better the people around me.”
“TSL provided me with the accountability and structure that was lacking in my journey to become a better man. The boot camp helped me develop discipline and perspective. I learnt to hold myself to higher standards and get after my goals with vigor and drive.”
“The Strenuous Life provided me with a good measure of structure at a time when I needed it most: I was out of work and then COVID-19 practically froze everything down, so my feelings of uncertainty were skyrocketing. Focusing on the program helped me stay calm and weather the storm, and come out of it stronger rather than weaker.”
“When I began The Strenuous Life I was unhappy, overweight, and my mental health was in a bad way. Over the course of my first 12 weeks in the program, I learned to push myself, try new things, and began a journey of learning self-discipline that I hope to continue throughout the rest of my life. The flexible structure of The Strenuous Life has allowed me to develop new habits without the pressure of other programs. I became happier and lost weight almost as a side effect of developing a better lifestyle instead of counting every pound on the scale. Join The Strenuous Life to do the things you plan on doing ‘one day’. Today is that day.”
“I joined The Strenuous Life to develop better fitness habits. I liked the idea of weekly challenges, and hoped the program would also add a level of accountability. I am ecstatic about how this has exceeded my expectations. ‘Accountability partners’ are instead people I hang out with online every Saturday morning, talking about what has gone well, what has not, and swapping strategies on what is working for us to try to do better. I’m getting up every morning and putting in some exercise time before starting my day, which has made me feel accomplished and happier. I am developing new and exciting skill sets by trying things from various badges. And I just can’t stop talking about it to my friends! I am very glad I pulled the trigger and dived into this program.”
“I joined TSL during the Covid-Pandemic, willing to be challenged, wanting to grow. The concept of TSL just struck a chord in me and I knew I had to give it a shot. Being quite an introvert by nature and joining from Germany I was mainly looking forward to the structure that TSL promised to give, because I didn´t think I would find many people to exchange views with. Luckily for me, I found both!
Within days I joined a local chapter, and met (virtual and in real life) some amazing people, I otherwise would have never known. Earning badges and staying ahead of the Agons each week was a great challenge as well as a lot of fun. It gave me the possibility to learn new things (even about myself) and I would recommend it to anyone even remotely thinking about trying.
At the end of the bootcamp I´m in the physical and mental shape of my life and eager to continue growing.
So, to you dear reader: Dare to be your greatest self. Be strenuous.”
“Trying to avoid sounding cliché, but simply put, The Strenuous Life changed my life. It got me out of my (pandemic induced) funk, off my butt, rekindled many personal interests (I had things started 20+ years ago that were never completed), and introduced me to many other parts of life I would not have normally encountered or would have participated in. Now I am contributing to life again rather than resting on the sidelines.
The problem with modern life is that it is too easy. I found myself exerting more energy avoiding doing hard things — that will make life better — than what the real work would have demanded. Modernity has made many of us so averse to discomfort.
If you can learn to endure a little more than the average person, you can have a lot more than the average life. Things of value tend to be difficult to attain, and things that are difficult to attain — almost by definition — require hard work.
I am 62 years old. If not now, when?”
“Over these past several years, I’ve found myself caught in a cycle of ‘being busy’ and have become complacent. I’ve been intentional in my marriage to my bride of 14 years, intentional as a father to my three young children, and intentional in leading while at work. However, I’ve seemed to have lost the intentionality of pushing myself beyond what’s comfortable and stopped challenging myself to do hard things under the guise of ‘being busy.’ The Strenuous Life provided the framework, the camaraderie, and the tools to create long lost disciplines my life has been lacking. I’ve tackled obstacles and adversity I wouldn’t have tried otherwise and have been all the better for it. It’s created confidence, direction, discipline, and focus. It’s not for the faint of heart but for men who are looking to be sharpened, for men who are looking to counter a culture that has all but lost the true ‘strength’ of men. I implore you to journey with the men in the arena, the men who dare greatly, ‘so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.’”
“I am so glad that I joined the Strenuous Life. It has been worth every penny and it continues to give me back even more than I put in.
The central benefit to me is that it is based on regular small-scale behaviour. An Agon to complete. A good deed. Physical activity. Badgework. Little and often, so you don’t skip it and you don’t forget it. It’s added an additional structure to my life and promises to keep doing so as I continue with it.
Above all, it’s prompted me towards healthy self-reliance. I’ve long been largely self-reliant but in an unhealthy way, motivated by not wishing to engage with people. For example, if I needed to know something I’d look it up, even if I was with someone who could just tell me if I only asked. TSL prompts engaged self-reliance and being a member of your community. It’s re-socialising me and pushing me, more than ever, to take control of my own life.”
“Specialization is for insects” wrote Robert Heinlein. As we tend to be specialized in our work and our activities, The Strenuous Life does a great job at helping everyone to be more of a generalist, closer to the idea of the Renaissance Man that we should all work on becoming. Thanks to the cleverly designed Agons, those very varied tasks that members have to accomplish each week, the TSL boot camp challenged me on a physical, mental, and spiritual way, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and made me more able to get ‘comfortable with the uncomfortable.’ For me, The Strenuous Life is definitely an effective antidote to the increasingly easy and softening modern life.”
“I debated enrolling from the beginning of TSL. I waited too late to enroll in the Winter and I was not fast enough in the Spring. I committed to enroll in the Summer so when the open enrollment email finally came I signed up within the first two hours. The system crashed. Men were hungry for what TSL could offer. I was hungry. TSL offers a way out of mediocrity. A way to know that you have purpose that has always been there, but you needed a guide to supplement what life had thrown your way. That is what TSL offers. That is what you find when you accept the gauntlet that TSL throws at you. Let the TSL fire burn you to find the man that we were all meant to be. Do. Hard. Things.”
“TSL is a great program for personal growth and developing greater self-disciple because it provided the structure and accountability that I needed to succeed.”
“I joined the challenge myself because I felt stagnant. As I embrace my final week of boot camp I realize just how dire my situation was. The fire had burned out. But that has changed; microadventures, letter writing, art classes, weekly tests of spiritual, physical, and mental pressure will reignite your fire, as it did mine, or kindle it to burn stronger and brighter. Just remember, your fire won’t start unless you give it the friction it needs. Good luck, and live strenuously. Thank you Brett.”
“I have been an avid reader of Art of Manliness since 2009 and was excited when The Strenuous Life (TSL) launched. I put off joining and finally decided in June 2020 to become a member. I wish I didn’t wait. The program is much better than I expected and having recently completed the 12-week Challenge, I have noticed and more importantly my spouse sees a difference in me. I knew TSL would help me get back to consistent exercise, which it did, and through the badge work I have started doing activities that have always interested me. Most importantly, what I didn’t anticipate, is the TSL program helped me become a better man, husband, and father.”
“Joining The Strenuous Life is something that myself and 3 of my other friends had wanted to do for some time. We all joined in the last enrollment and were all placed in class 052!
Being part of this group of people wanting to improve themselves has pushed me to explore developing myself in ways I had never thought about. I have not only developed myself but I have been learning to be a better husband. I have included my wife in many of the different challenges and have also had her join in on tasks required for different badges. She now asks what badge ‘we’ are working on next!
I am so thankful for this group and cannot wait to help motivate others who join!”
“TSL is encouraging me to grow as a man and try new things like a 50 mile hike that I would have never done otherwise.”
“TSL has transformed my life. I feel holistically healthier than ever before (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). I lost 16 pounds during bootcamp and gained a band of brothers for life!”
“At 63, and a retired special agent, I thought I had put aside the need for a strenuous life, but The Strenuous Life program provided me the opportunity to reenergize my health, focus on the important aspects of what it truly means to be a man, husband, father and grandpa. Proud to say even a retired guy like myself can hike 50 miles under 20 hours (16:58:30). I’m “refired” for life, not retired!”
“I have long been a listener of the Art of Manliness podcast and whenever I’d hear Brett talk about The Strenuous Life I’d think ‘maybe I’ll do that someday.’ Well, someday finally arrived this spring when I made the decision to put up or shut up and when enrollment opened I jumped online immediately and signed up. I didn’t know what to expect, but the last 12 weeks have gotten me off the couch, pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me stronger not just physically, but in my mind and spirit. In the last 12 weeks, I have become a better man, better husband, and better member of society. I can’t wait to see what new challenges the year will bring and I look forward to completing more tasks to improve myself!”
“I’m early middle age and married with kids. TSL presents a well-designed platform for manly skill building. In my own case, this included learning how to smoke meat, family disaster preparation, and building a framework for holding weekly family meetings (this last one is something for which I’m especially grateful). The program frames accomplishments around ‘badges’, which adds a fun element of scout-like gamification. Combined with the weekly challenges (which will surely push you out of your comfort zone) and a robust online community, this is a great opportunity to have someone else do the planning and coaching for some things you know you really should do.”
“Prior to joining TSL, I often found myself slinking away from difficult situations. This usually manifested itself in declining social events. I’m an introvert by nature and tend to prefer time to myself than with others and this was usually the excuse I’d tell myself when declining a beer after work with coworkers or local festivals when invited by friends. What I came to realize shortly before TSL was this was actually because of a lack of confidence. I thought lowly of myself (physically and skillfully) and assumed others had as well. TSL has pushed me to ‘do hard things” that get me out of my comfort zone. I’m doing things that are not only for my benefit but for the benefit of others around me (family and community). It’s giving me things to talk about when I’d otherwise not have anything to contribute. Prior to TSL, I’d never consider going to an event that I wouldn’t know someone there. But with the meetups I’ve been to because of TSL, these kinds of things don’t stress me out nearly as much.”
“TSL has come at just the right time in my life. I am about to retire from my current occupation after 21 years. TSL helps me stay accountable to myself and the goals I have set. The badge work has been fun, and now that I have completed a few of the badges that fit into my current way of life I can work on the badges that stretch me a bit. Each time I finish a requirement I feel a bit more confident and feel that completing something as small as a badge requirement is another step forward. This is tremendous when it comes to the upcoming career change.”
“Part of the reason I joined TSL was to become more active with my free time and to potentially meet some new people that want to do more active stuff. I’ve always been someone that has coasted through life doing just what is required of me, but never really pushing myself to do more. Much of this is because of a lack of confidence/courage.
Since starting, I’ve noticed that when doing the agons, badge work, etc. I enjoy my time much more than when I’m doing nothing and watching TV. I have more confidence in myself when I’m learning new skills and growing mentally and physically. Since I’ve completed the personal finance badge, I feel more confident in how I use my money and the advice I can give others on money. I’m not an expert, but I’m more confident because I have learned more finance skills.
There is more I want to get out of TSL in terms of courage, skills learned, meeting new people. But this has already allowed me to grow and given me more motivation to learn and grow more confidence in myself.”
“TSL has exceeded what I was expecting. I was curious when the whole thing started a while ago, but life got in the way. By happenstance I was on AoM right before this session started and I had a little extra money, so I figured what the heck. At worst, I’m out of some money.
It’s been a while since I’ve been in any sort of formal, semi-accountable learning situation. I had forgotten how effective it is. The act of clicking yes I did a good deed and here is what I did is effective in a way that intention is not.
If it wasn’t for TSL I wouldn’t be doing any strength training, far fewer good deeds, and certainly not considering joining a gym or taking up fishing. I wouldn’t have started hiking or considering photography. In short, this has been an amazing experience and pushing your own boundaries is good for you. I only wish that this was around like 15 or 20 years ago, but the second best time is now.“
“For the first time in my life, I am at least feeling like I’m on the right path towards righteous manhood. A good version of manhood that is helpful, considerate, loving, knowledgeable, contextual, prepared, capable, maybe even 1 or 2 steps ahead of what the old me would be doing without TSL. The missing elements and confusing parts of my life are starting to merge and show me who I am, and what I CAN be if I choose to.”
“I was an Airborne Ranger. TSL drove me to do the hardest things I’ve done since the Army, and it has helped me grow as a man.”
“I’ve been following the AoM site for some time, but was pretty hesitant about joining, using every excuse like time or the expense to justify not getting into the arena and putting what I had learned on the site to good use. My best friend enrolled me for my birthday, and I’m so glad she did. TSL has given me a break from the regular monotony of life, combined with goals to put what I’m learning into practice. In a few short months, I’ve added over a hundred pounds to my barbell lifts, walked a mile over rocky ground without shoes, and performed a good deed every day for 12 weeks. As soon as you get over the initial resistance of any excuse you may have, do yourself a favor and enroll in what is a life-changing experience. You won’t regret it!”
“The Strenuous Life has provided a framework and support network that has enabled me to undertake dozens of new experiences and challenges over the last 3 months.
Weekly video check-ins and online video conferences with both my classmates and those local to me have allowed me to build relationships with dozens of people who share a common interest in undertaking tasks which take us out of our comfort zones. Each weekly challenge and every badge has provided new experiences and a sense of achievement.”
“I’m incredibly happy that I pulled the trigger on joining The Strenuous Life. The weekly Agons pulled me out of my comfort zone, the “gymnasium” has held me accountable while making me feel supported, and the badges provide an opportunity to learn a wide variety of interesting skills. At 36, I am more physically, spiritually, and mentally fit than I have been in a long time and my wife and kids are grateful for my overall improvement. Hands down, one of the best choices I’ve made for myself and my family.”
“This program is excellent for a number of reasons. Two things that stood out to me were the balance and the awareness that I developed. Most, actually I think all, of the weekly tasks were things that I had already done, thought about doing, or heard about but had never gotten around to. What’s striking to me is how well balanced they were in order to develop emotional, physical, and spiritual/moral strength. Also, even more important is how much going through this program built awareness in me. I’ve always thought, as I’m sure most do, that ‘doing a good turn daily’ is a good idea (I was a Boy Scout after all). However, actually trying to do at least one good deed every day really got me thinking about others more than I was previously, and I’m surprised at just how generous and other-centered I’ve become through such a short program. Likewise, the daily and weekly tasks, as much as anything, get you to be aware of and value the passage of time that much more. I did more different things in these past 12 weeks than likely the 40 weeks prior to that, and really overcame some inertia that I had been facing.”
“When I started TSL I had hit a wall in my life that kept me from growing more and learning my potential. TSL opened up my eyes to my full potential physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s pushed me to revisit old skills while at the same time learning new skills. The human body is so much stronger than you think or use on a daily basis at work or during what you consider normalcy. TSL pushes you to test the limits of your physical strengths, flexibilities, abilities to recover from obstacles like injuries or pain from overexertion. But it’s more than just an opportunity for you to improve your physical strength: it educates you on a variety of ideals and fields of knowledge. From the moment you join the social platform, your life changes for the better. No one tells you what to do and you’re not required to show proof of anything you do, nor are you required to follow the leaderboard or track the progress of your classmates. As someone who was only in the program to improve myself, I achieved that more than I ever thought I could. I was always a fan of Art of Manliness, so I expected TSL to be a good opportunity to learn new skills. But now I am an avid follower and supporter of TSL and AoM and their amazing prestige.”
- Lost 15 lbs: The daily hour of exercise had me eating what I wanted and not gaining any weight. But then I realized if I counted calories too, I could lose the weight I’d been wanting to. I’m still not at my goal weight, but I’m getting there.
- Biking: I tried a number of different exercise routines during TSL but biking has been my favorite. A guy I know from church is in his 80s. He and I got to talking and it turns out he regularly bikes 20 miles. I was shocked and decided then and there I wanted to be like him when I was 80. Biking has been so much fun and the longest I’ve ridden so far is 42 miles! I’m actually thinking about riding the Seattle to Portland bike ride next year.
- Journaling: What a great outlet for emotions, ideas, thoughts, and movie reviews! I’ll earn my journaling badge next week and I plan to continue it after that.
- Reading: Thanks to TSL I’ve made a lot more time for reading, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The Strenuous Life Handbook was the first book I read this year, and during TSL I read 12 other books, including two of the three Edmund Morris biographies about Teddy Roosevelt – and I am almost done with the third one!
- Digital Minimalism: To accomplish all this, I needed more time. I was averaging 3-4 hours a day staring at my phone and decided to pull the plug. I deleted almost every app and got that time down to less than an hour a day (mostly a messaging app I use for work), and am averaging less than 30 minutes a day on the weekends.
“One of my most nagging fears has been that I am still a boy. Even after going through a rite of passage such as the Peace Corps, where I spent two and a half years living in a yurt on the often harsh steppe of Mongolia, and even after getting married, I still felt a disconnect when calling myself a man. This came to a head when I learned that my wife and I would be having our first child, a boy. How can I possibly raise a little boy into a man if I am yet to become one myself? Throughout the past three months of The Strenuous Life, I’ve trekked 50 miles, marched through the forest with a 50-pound rock in tow, approached strangers in conversation, and have become more reflective on how I can do good each and every day. Most importantly, I’ve done all this with a peer group. A peer group of men seeking to improve themselves, a group I’ve been able to keep up with just as well as any one else. I’ve come to realize becoming a man doesn’t come through contemplation alone. It comes through purposeful action. I’ve realized I am a man. A man of action who will raise his son to one day be the same.”
“After leaving the Army, I was lost and had trouble finding myself and the greater purpose I found in service. I was depressed, riddled with anxiety, and struggled with decision paralysis. The Strenuous Life helped me harness my strengths, grapple with my weaknesses, set task to purpose, and ultimately provide a framework for finding the meaning and purpose I longed for. Today, I’m a more present father and husband, an avid runner, and a man who knows his values and principles.”
“Since joining TSL I’ve become stronger both physically and mentally. My family life has improved and I even got promoted at work. I went from living on the sidelines to leading the charge. I’ve had a blast working on the different badges and getting my family involved. And the weekly Agons took me out of my comfort zone, giving me a much needed confidence boost. I highly recommend this program.”
“The Strenuous Life has given me discipline, focus, and most importantly initiative. This ability to take charge is what makes you go through all the weekly goals and challenges, and seeing yourself succeed is what I value the most about this program.”
“I am glad I chose to take the challenge in The Strenuous Life. It provided me with opportunities to learn about myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I found that no matter what my age or state of physical conditioning, I could learn more and do more to improve the quality of my life. I have lost some weight and better toned my muscles, but even more importantly I have become a more functional human being through better self-awareness. Life doesn’t end with retirement from one’s career. It is only a new beginning. Mine has been more fulfilling because of The Strenuous Life.”
“The past three months have been awesome. If you’re serious about becoming a better man, husband, father, and member of your society, then I highly recommend joining TSL immediately, as it will help you get a jumpstart on that journey.
This is not my first lifetime membership to a program; however, it is the first program with a lifetime membership, that I am certain to utilize throughout my lifetime. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time and energy then working towards living a more strenuous life. It’s a bully good time!”
“Taking part in the TSL is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the course of 12 weeks my mental and physical toughness was put to the test and I found strength and resilience I didn’t even know I had. The program was a catalyst to help me seek out things which make me a better man while also making the world around me a little better too. The skills learned and insight gained are invaluable in my quest to be a more resilient, well-rounded person than I was the day before.”
“TSL has made a HUGE improvement in my well-being, especially through a pandemic! Having accountability for ‘doing hard things’ helps in actually getting out of my comfort zone. Being challenged to work out every day is easy compared to thinking outside the box on how to perform a good deed every day. It’s great to connect with others during 2020, when Covid has taken away many other opportunities. Planning to continue with this program long into the future!”
“I’m 59 years old, in decent shape, relatively successful, and yet still found myself needing a push. After being a fan of the Art of Manliness site for years, I finally decided to jump in and accept The Strenuous Life Challenge. What I have learned about myself throughout this process has proved invaluable. I’m pushing myself in new and different ways, while benefiting from the support of a community of like-minded people on their journey to a healthier, better life. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone regardless of age, health, or station in life.”
“Joining The Strenuous Life was the best decision I have made in years. In the past 12 weeks I pushed past my comfort zone and learned a lot about myself. I have also learned how I can provide leadership in my work, in my family, and in my community. The program doesn’t end after boot camp. I am looking forward to years of continuing to grow and interact with the friends I made during boot camp.”
“Thank you for creating the Art of Manliness and the The Strenuous Life program. I listened to the podcast for the first time on November 6, 2019 when you interviewed Ryan Swanson who wrote The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of an American Athlete. I was intrigued and I kept listening to more podcasts and hearing about The Strenuous Life. I played team sports for many years — starting with baseball when I was about ten and then football in high school, eventually getting a scholarship at a D-1 program, then picking up rugby during the off-season and continuing to play into my early forties.
Team sports offers a person the opportunity to make sacrifices for something bigger than themselves, to become more disciplined, enjoy the feeling of victory over an opponent and humility and learning how to rebound after a defeat.
The Strenuous Life is, in a way, a team sport. You may not see your teammates in person, but through the forums and in the ‘gymnasium’ you get to know them and develop a camaraderie with them. After playing team sports in my early forties, I got more involved with work and I lost much of my physical fitness, gained weight, and lost energy. I tried to get my fitness back on my own and I would stay on a program for a while, but then fall back into old habits. Now, at age 63, I feel great! I’m blessed to be able to exercise and ‘Do Hard Work’ thanks to the TSL platform.
The Strenuous Life platform provided motivation and a nice change of pace with weekly agony that challenged me physically and mentally. After twelve weeks I now have a new perspective and have created the good habit of daily physical activity and doing a good deed which helps to keep my mind in the right place. Knowing that there are another 100 plus men (and women!) doing the weekly Agon and working on physical, mental, and emotional self-improvement to become better men (and women) was like being back on a team again.
Thank you for creating The Strenuous Life and the Art of Manliness. I recommend TSL to anyone who is looking for a balanced life and needs a shot in the arm (or a kick in the butt) for motivation.”
“My experience after completing Boot Camp has undoubtedly been a positive one. The setting of challenges covering physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions has been welcome to this man in his 50s. I feel less of a spectator of my life and now more of an active participant, which I know is a prime aim of the course. My efforts have been a cause of pride to my adult sons and my wife positively comments on my additional focus and attention to detail.”
“When I signed up for The Strenuous Life, I was finally ready to take accountability with a focused change in my life. The past 12 weeks have been nothing short of transformative. My goal was and still is to become the best husband and father. I’ve learned that becoming strong physically, mentally and emotionally is the best way to achieve this goal. The Strenuous Life is a program that I’ve recommended to family and friends without hesitation. I was excited to accept the challenge of living The Strenuous Life and look forward to continuing to uphold the pledge.”
“I joined TSL to seek a challenge, what I now have from this experience is a reinvigorated outlook on choice, experiences, and contribution. I am deeply grateful for the time and effort Brett and the TSL team have put into creating a unique experience for all of us that were lucky enough to get in before enrollment was full. I highly recommend the TSL challenge, and to adopt its premise.”
“To say the last 12 weeks have been life changing may be a slight exaggeration but they certainly have been life affirming. I found out about the programme by chance a year ago and sadly was unable to join at that time. I purchased Brett’s book 31 days and began the journey to where I am today. The last 12 weeks have really encouraged me to look at what is important to me and what resonates with others in these crazy times. I’ve learnt new things and pushed myself harder than I have for years and feel so much better for it. The weight has dropped off and not reappeared, 4 and a half stones, and I feel about 20 years younger. The book helped me to sort out my finances and along with my first badge put away $1000 for emergencies and grip credit cards once and for all. The course has recommended many books, and in looking at what I was spending time doing, I’ve found time to read and enjoy learning new things as well. I’ve reacquainted myself with old skills and learnt some new ones and look forward to putting them to good use in the coming months.
If you have any doubts think of it as an annual fitness for your soul. Surely you have time for that!”
“I had been on the mailing list for TSL since we were able to sign up for notifications on new classes. Every time I received the email I told myself I would do it the next time around; that took a couple of years. I finally pulled the trigger this time and I am very glad I did. I already had a pretty decent workout regimen, but TSL would make it easier to hold myself accountable with the daily check-ins; adding a good deed daily was an extra bonus. I think the main thing I was looking for was something different from what I was doing daily, something more challenging but outside of my professional career. One of the bigger reasons I joined, aside from the potential for camaraderie with the local chapters, was the badge system. I was in scouts and really enjoyed earning those badges. The badges I have worked on so far have already opened up my eyes to other areas I would not have thought about looking into. I am really glad I decided to pull the trigger on TSL, I don’t think I would have walked a mile barefoot, chatted with random strangers on the street, or slept outside in sub-freezing temperatures (the Agons are great too) otherwise! I look forward to the remaining Agons, meet-ups, and badge work as I progress with the program.”
“TSL has been a great experience for practicing new skills, meeting great people, and learning how to push myself more effectively when doing hard things. The community is one of the best examples of “iron sharpens iron” as everyone encourages and helps each other to live strenuously. Like all rewarding things in life, you get out of TSL what you put in. I’ve recommended to many of my friends that they enroll in upcoming classes and join the fight against lethargy.”
“The Strenuous Life delivers on its main objective of self betterment by forcing the individual outside of their comfort zone and ‘doing hard things.’ I truly feel that I am a better husband, father, and citizen as a result of engagement with the program and the mindfulness that came through study, reflection, and daily accountability. As a middle-aged father of three I was morally, mentally, and physically invigorated and stretched myself in a multitude of ways ranging from (finally) reading Shakespeare’s Henry IV and V histories to poaching an egg to training for and completing a 50-mile through hike. While COVID-19 has prevented me from attacking a few areas of interest, the program in general was a bright spot during the pandemic as it provided me with direction and creative endeavors to tackle which in many cases involved bringing my children along for the adventure.”
“This is a message for those guys who are a little older. I’m a middle-aged guy, travel a lot for work, and my kids are mostly grown. I’m not a guy who loves sleeping on the ground for its own sake, and I seldom watch a game on TV just for the fun of it. But I’ve always been interested in strength—strength of mind, body, and character. I played a ton of sports in high school and college. I like the way I feel when my body is working right. I can’t sprint the way I used to, but I’ve discovered the benefits and even fun of strapping 50 pounds on my back and going for a long walk. I like being pushed to examine how I’m doing in my life. I like being challenged. So here’s the message: if you’re like me, TSL is for you. You don’t need to be a 25-year-old stud to get a lot out of this community. You can make it what you want. TSL will prompt you to try some things you’ve wanted to do for a while, and a few things that never occurred to you. It will give you the little boost of accountability you might need—it seems crazy that just reporting to a website that you’ve done your workout and a good deed would matter, but it does. And if you want the connection with other guys, it’s there. You’re going to get pushed in great ways, and it’s going to keep you coming back. Sign up.”
“I was skeptical this would work for me, but I am a better man as a result. I became closer to my spouse, my children, and my friends. I got in better shape, had some adventures, and learned that I was capable of more than I thought. I recommend The Strenuous Life to any man who wants to improve. Do hard things!”
“Best decision I’ve made in a long time as far as personal growth. The weekly challenges provided an opportunity to try new things and stretch my comfort zone. Great camaraderie with the class as well, some local, some from other parts of the world! I’ve embedded several of the weekly challenges as part of my normal routine now! I’ve grown in 12 weeks. More confident, more willing to try new things, best of all learning that being uncomfortable is ok and necessary for real growth.”
“I initially started the Strenuous Life because I wanted to give structure to my life, and give myself goals to work towards in developing new skills and staying fit. Throughout the 12 week initiation, I found TSL had a lot more to offer than just those things. Through the good deeds, agons, and fitness requirements I’ve made dozens of new friends, helped my community in tangible ways, developed myself both personally and professionally, and most of all have been able to go to bed each night with a sense of pride and satisfaction I didn’t have before. My routines have been built up and strengthened, I’ve experienced deep personal and spiritual growth, and I’ve become a lot stronger (physically and mentally!). I can’t think of a better platform for men to develop themselves.”
“The Strenuous Life has done exactly what it said it would do, help me stretch my boundaries and reach out of my comfort zone. It’s been a real boon during this long and difficult winter, giving me motivation to keep working on myself, to support others and try new things, rather than what I was doing, stagnating during lockdown. It’s introduced me to new habits, hobbies and has made me realise I’m much stronger and more adaptive than I believed I was. I’m truly thankful for the experience, and plan to keep it up going ahead.”
“As a man in my mid-40s with a wonderful family, three dogs, and a successful career, I had grown a little bit too comfortable for my own good. The Strenuous Life bootcamp has made me push myself in ways I did not think possible. As of today, I can look back on an 80-some-day uninterrupted streak of doing one good deed a day, and on a similar streak of exercising at least an hour a day. I had often started weightlifting programs in the past, but I had never managed to sustain them for very long. This time around, I have been lifting for almost three months, and because of that, I have started seeing the benefits of lifting, and I intend on continuing to lift as long as my body will allow it. I have also been walking in my neighborhood 40 minutes every day; at the beginning I just walked, but I now almost always turn my walk into a ruck. TSL has improved my health, both physical and mental, and improved my self-esteem. For these first 84 days alone, a TSL membership is worth much more than what it cost me. I cannot wait to learn additional skills as I tackle more badge work and complete more Agons in the next months and years.”
“I wanted to sign up with the first class. I regret not doing so. However class 61 has changed my life. The Strenuous Life has helped me forge myself into a better man. My father passed away in the middle of the boot camp. I found new ways to move through the process of dealing with that loss. My life is eternally changed in a positive direction.”
“The Strenuous Life Challenge is for people who want to say ‘I’m a real man!’ and not feel like an insecure Neandertal saying it. I’m in the best shape of my life because I let someone else tell me what’s possible. I’m tough because I attempted the trials of generations past, and now I know where my limits are. I finally care about the world around me because some guy on the internet told me to do good things instead of thinking nice thoughts. Best of all, I don’t feel crazy anymore, because I connected with a bunch of people crazier than me.”
“I have considered joining TSL ever since it was first introduced but never pulled the trigger until this year as I was in a major rut post-2020. But let me tell you, TSL has been a very impactful addition to my life. It helps me to have purpose every day, to leave the world a better place and myself stronger than when I woke up. I’ve been a sporadic exerciser for most of my adult life so having the accountability of the check-in every day was huge. I hurt my wrist during Bootcamp (in an unrelated activity) and in the past, that would have derailed all physical training and it would have been months before I started back. But this time, I just found ways to work around it and am approaching 90 days of consecutive exercise! That is big for me.
And the weekly Agons were fantastic. They are challenges across several areas of your life (not just physical) so they are well-balanced and fit very nicely together. I plan to incorporate parts of many of them into my regular routine post-Bootcamp, they are that good!
So go ahead and invest in the man you so badly want to become. TSL will help guide you along the way.”
“TSL helped me grow in my confidence and my ability to go beyond my comfort zone. Growing up, I had always been a shy person who would avoid new people and be reluctant to go do things that were not within my normal routine. Forcing myself to do the Agons and take on some of the badges (such as social dynamo) has helped me live each day a little fuller and make new friends with those around me. I’m going out and doing new activities every week that I have never done before, and planning solo trips across the country. I am glad to have found TSL and to be participating in it!”
“Joining TSL gave me a boost in fulfilling my adventure and self-agency needs. These were always available, but they were dulled by the comforts of my life. I realized that I can still be safe and still choose to do the hard thing whenever I can. During these 12 weeks I learned that so many ‘nice things to do’ there are actually so much in my power to do them. I have a deeper awareness of my limits and at the same time a stronger sense of self-confidence of who I am and what I can be.
I recommend joining the TSL for anyone (man or woman) who enjoys learning about himself (herself) in a fun, adventures and community base concept.”
“For years I felt the urge to better myself in various areas of my life. With no defined male role models available to me, I relied on my own readings and observations, pulling my teachings from a hodgepodge of found or recommended sources ranging from Hemingway to Speed Racer.
The Strenuous Life program has given me an organized, challenging, supportive program that self motivates me to achieve more. Moreover it has helped me find where I can and need to improve myself to allow me to help others. I’m now bettering myself with the goal to help others around me. Loving living the strenuous life!
Do Hard Things!”
“I got something totally different out of it than I expected to—and it was better than I ever imagined.
I expected to come into a group of people with similar interests and to form with them. Due to the nature of online relationships, that hasn’t really happened—but I have found myself wildly fulfilled and excited by the agons and by preparing for the next badge. I can see myself following this path for decades and still wanting to come back for more.”
“I love the strenuous life. I’m an aspiring pseudo-Luddite, so I didn’t do the daily check-ins, but I joined with a friend and we kept an eye on each other and encouraged each other the whole time. This experience gave me the push to start crushing life and living the strenuous life I was created to live.”
“Boot camp in TSL has been incredibly valuable to me and have been excited to share about with anyone in my sphere of influence who will listen.
After several years of increasing apathy, discontentment, and this stubborn inability to make a change, I joined TSL. While the first few weeks of boot camp were tough, I stuck to it and have found that I have been able to start break bad habits and start new ones focusing on living strenuously and thinking beyond myself. I’ve discovered that I’d become addicted to being comfortable and spent a lot of time and effort trying to maximize my experience of comfort. But, from the first Agon, I’ve started to discover how liberating it is to break out of this dependency and seek challenges for their own sake. Having completed boot camp, I look forward to getting 52/52 agons in my first year!”
“I lurked on AoM for years always tempted by TSL, but I never pulled the trigger—until this year. TSL gave me an opportunity to bond with other men doing hard things…things that made me a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better citizen, and, thus, a better man.”
“So much of what we do today is solo, I found the camaraderies my supporting teammates provide as very meaningful.
Starting us all on the bootcamp for 12 weeks is a great way to dive into meaningful life changes.
The weekly Agons have been a challenge to complete but they are all possible and sensible.
I look forward to having TSL fit in as part of my ongoing mental and physical health program.”
“I have asthma and I was diagnosed with Covid-19 October of 2020 which led to pneumonia in November. My recovery was extremely slow — I had to use my rescue inhaler to walk a mile at the start of my TSL boot camp. Joining TSL was one way for me to take my life back from Covid. Accountability for daily activity helped me stay focused, the daily good deeds helped me stay positive and working on badges helped me have fun. The result is that on March 20, 2021 I completed the 50-mile challenge in 16 hours and 54 minutes without using my inhaler. This has been one of the most difficult and most rewarding experiences of my life; I have learned a lot about myself over the last 12 weeks – I’m looking forward to learning more as I continue the journey.”
“12 weeks in bootcamp will force you to change your idleness and malaise into purpose and strenuously. TSL is a catalyst for change.”
“The Strenuous Life has been a Godsend that has helped me get and stay in shape physically and mentally. I highly recommend it to all those seeking a new and better life of manliness.”
“This is not a program where everyone wins and gets a medal for participation. In this program, you will be challenged and you will fail multiple times. And you will then have the opportunity to reassess your ability/fitness, to develop a strategy to improve and you will have the support of your classmates and mentors to do so. There will be daily accountability for physical training and service. There will be weekly challenges called “Agons” covering physical, emotional, and social skills to rip you out of your comfort zones. And there are longer challenges to learn and demonstrate your new skills. The emphasis is to become a better man but not just for you but for others. There is a real emphasis on developing strength, knowledge, and skills so that you can help others around you. The motto chosen by our class was “Si Vales, Valeo” It means “If you are well, I am well”. This says it all about the program.
Furnulum pani nolo”
“The course is difficult — not impossible or unattainable — and exists just beyond the outstretched fingers of the comfort zone. It’s physically and mentally challenging, it forces you to change your routine, and if done right it ensures that you’re taking time for yourself every day to make yourself incrementally better. I am becoming a better person and citizen through this course and I would encourage men, women, and non-binary folk alike to push yourself a little bit harder and learn who you can be through embracing the Strenuous Life.”
“The Strenuous Life is something I needed in my daily routine that I didn’t really know that I needed. It helped put that little bit extra in my brain each day telling me to get up and do something. We’re all getting softer as humanity evolves, and there are skills and adventures that we miss out on because of it. Some of my favorite memories from the last year — WHICH WAS ROUGH -— revolve around the new things I’ve been doing outside, and I feel better about myself at the end of the day.”
“This is not an easy program, but that’s what makes it so fulfilling. Every day you will be tried and tested to push yourself to become a better man. Along with every time you complete a task whether it’s doing your daily exercise or completing an Agon the feeling of accomplishment is rewarding because YOU did it and pushed yourself. Excuses are easy to make but if you put in the time and work it pays off.”
“Climbing into my sleeping bag at a brisk 22 degrees to settle in for the night I reflect on my journey the last 12 weeks engaging in The Strenuous Life. I’m struck with the reality of the name and the magnitude of change and impact to my LIFE by applying strenuous activities in mind, body and soul. I have done things that I would never have ventured into, I’ve been given the opportunity to push myself, my friends, my family. I find myself exploring new boundaries I didn’t know I had! The weekly Agons are a refreshing opportunity for dedication, discipline, and growth and have cascaded across my entire life. The Strenuous Life has brought me closer to who I want to be, it’s an inspiring, enlightening, and beautiful program.”
“The Strenuous Life has been the absolute best way to begin my 2021. I have gotten out of my comfort zone in several ways like cooking for the first time and doing a good deed every day. I have been more consistent than ever with my workouts because of the accountability and I have gained a lot of confidence and personal satisfaction from learning new skills. I’m really excited to continue growing in this program and I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.”
“After the chaos of the Year the World Stood Still, I felt very clearly the drive to be the man I always wanted to be. I was tired of living in my own head, of watching the world go up in flames, of being a virtual participant in the human race. Even in the first week of boot camp I started to feel the change in myself — both how I looked at myself, and how I felt about the world around me. The initial Agons stretched me in many ways, whether with new experiences or pushing myself harder to ones I was familiar with. The badges gave me an entry point to the essentials of tasks and skills I’d always wanted. The community of fellow travelers was also incredible; whether the fellows in my own class, who shared their own struggles and triumphs, or the network of like-minded folks in my own neighborhood that I might never have otherwise known. TSL struck the perfect balance between self-directed learning and objective tasks, and I highly recommend it for anyone else weary of living a life of ‘if only’.”
“The best part of the program is the community and the encouragement that comes from having people all striving to the same goal: self-improvement. The second best part is the information on where to start gaining the knowledge for the badges. It’s hard to know where to look to get a start on living like my grandfathers’ generation, but The Strenuous Life has ample resources, which have been carefully selected to help anyone get a strong foundation.”
“When I signed up for the Strenuous Life, I had been searching for something concrete to tackle alongside my 2021 resolutions. I had gone back and forth on the decision for several enrollment periods, but I finally took the plunge this past winter. Being a longtime Art of Manliness reader and listener, I had my expectations but what I received was much more than I had really imagined. The weekly Agons took me outside my comfort zone, gave me something to strive towards each week, and left me with a sense of accomplishment — even during the weeks that nothing else seemed to go quite right. The opportunity to develop new and useful skills as well as know myself in a much more intimate way was a surprisingly welcomed result from challenging my mind and body daily. Most of all, it was the camaraderie and friendship offered by my classmates and fireteam (whom I kept in constant contact with) that brought about that sense of fulfillment and rich community that so many people, especially men, seek in today’s often mind-numbing world. With seriousness and willingness to apply oneself, the Strenuous Life can be a proverbial jumpstart to the battery of dead and seemingly empty life. With those prerequisites — it will, I believe, leave you mentally, morally, physically, and spiritually stronger.”
“The Strenuous Life exposed weaknesses I didn’t realize I had, uncovered strengths I didn’t know I possessed, and removed artificial boundaries I had set for myself.”
“Going into The Strenuous Life, I didn’t know what I was expecting. All I did know was that I needed a change of pace in my life. Completing the 12 weeks of boot camp has helped me personally grow and has put life into perspective. There have been challenges that I would never see myself doing but they turn out to be really rewarding and also fun! Every day is a new opportunity to grow in order to become the best version of yourself and TSL has helped every step of the way. Looking forward to what I can accomplish by living life strenuously!”
“So there I was, running a dirt trail alongside a wooded creek in the middle of suburbia USA, enjoying the outdoors, challenging myself physically and recharging spiritually, when I was overwhelmed by a personal realization. It was actually a very emotional moment that stopped me in my tracks.
To this day, I don’t know exactly what I had hoped to truly accomplish when I registered for TSL, I guess I just knew I needed something. I had experienced my fair share of success, happiness, and excitement in my 46 years up to then, but on that trail run, in the midst of doing something I would have never been doing 2 months prior, it became strikingly clear.
I’m not going to simply slide through the second half of this life! I’m going to attack the next 46 years like it’s my first 46. I’m going to seek new challenges. I’m going to form new relationships. I’m going to hone new skills. I’m going to push my body, my mind, and my spirit out of their comfort zones and remind them what it was like to be hungry for growth.
TSL humbled me and gave me a renewed sense of motivation and accountability. It’s been a long time since I’ve approached each new day with this sense of anticipation, apprehension, and exhilaration. I feel 25 again, and I didn’t even need the new car, new boat, or new wife that so many of my friends needed to regain this enthusiasm for life!
Bottom line, anyone who is reading this is here because they are looking for something. If you’ve made it to this point, then don’t stop here! Everyone’s ‘something’ is different, but I can promise you that if you commit to TSL and welcome the physical, mental, and spiritual challenges it presents, you’ll find what you’re looking for!”
“In a previous life, I was a firefighter in the military, having served two deployments to Iraq. When I came home, I came down with some illness that lasted for a couple of years, affecting my ability to walk. Needless to say, my military career was over and I didn’t think I would ever get back to that place I was before, a place where I was challenged, continuously growing, and felt good about what I was doing. I can honestly say since joining the Strenuous Life that I have gained back a lot of what I feel I lost. I have a goal-oriented outlook now, focusing on continuously challenging myself to ‘Do Hard Things.’ Being with many like-minded men and women out there trying to achieve the same goal has pushed me further to excel, mostly because of the openness in having to share what I had accomplished. There is also a little of that military spirit or camaraderie, something very difficult to put into words but nevertheless is something I can feel as a part of this organization. I am proud of my efforts here and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I look forward to the challenges that await me in the future.”
“The Strenuous Life is what an online community should be and in my opinion is truly ‘social’ media that takes the form of real world action. Over the course of just the first twelve weeks I not only did things I had never done before and will continue in the future, but I’ve learned to be more persistent, confident and generally disciplined to follow through with honesty and integrity my own undertakings. Taking The Strenuous Life seriously means taking your life seriously. Those who do will discover plenty of meaning in the pursuit of all the activities The Strenuous Life has to offer, and just as importantly will find a kind of camraderie and community that is exceedingly rare to discover online, and relatively uncommon offline. Just because The Strenuous Life operates on the honor system does not necessarily mean it makes it easier to slack off. If you truly and honestly put in the work every week and for every badge while sharing your progress with your Class, you earn back one-hundredfold what you pay for within the first few weeks. If you decide to slack off, you’ll pay in lost money, lost opportunity, and lost experience with only yourself to blame. Further, a lifetime of skills, knowledge and even wisdom and being part of a Class (forever!) that helps foster all the aforementioned is easily worth the membership fee. In The Strenuous Life, you invest in becoming a lifelong learner and doer, you invest in becoming physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually resolute and resilient, you invest in becoming a better member of your community, and you earn back in full whatever you believe you may have lost in personal fulfillment and autonomy.”
“I initially joined TSL as a way to grow in strength and character, lose weight, and become more useful as a man. During the 12-week boot-camp I was able to complete two badges, both causing me to grow mentally and spiritually as a man. The Agons pushed me in ways I didn’t even realize I needed challenges in, and some have continued as part of my normal routine. The support and friendships I have gained will continue on with me as I now move towards the 52/52 challenge. TSL is the real deal and has been a life changer for me.”
“I’ve been a follower and avid reader of The Art of Manliness for some time but was always looking for something a little more. I wanted something that would help me translate those words into real action and a sustained lifestyle change. I found what I was looking for in The Strenuous Life. A group of likeminded people who have held me accountable and helped me in becoming the man I truly want to be.”
“The Strenuous Life was a difficult, yet wonderful thing I decided to accept. During our boot camp, I was endlessly encouraged by my fellow classmates and mentors to go far beyond what I thought I was capable of. The visions of camaraderie, challenge, and self-development brought me a renewed sense of meaning and closeness to what is truly important.”
“I had just turned 51 and life was going well, you know fat and happy. I faced very little challenge in my day-to-day life, and really felt something was missing. It was motivation. I had missed a couple of TSL classes and jumped on Class 064 as soon as I got the email! The motivation to get up and move has helped me lose weight and get back to being physically active. Chasing the Agons and badges have moved me out of my comfort zone to learn new things and have new experiences. One example I can give is the journaling badge; I never realized that sitting down and writing a few lines at the end of the day could help clear my mind and help me sleep better. You never know what little thing can make a profound change, I strongly suggest joining if you are cruising along in life.”
“In the spirit of always seeking to improve myself in mind, body and soul, I found TSL to be hugely helpful and I am deeply grateful for the experience. As a 55-year-old father of four with an incredible bride by my side, I’ve always tried to instill and teach my brood to work on three fundamental characteristics as they grow: 1) Be a contributor, 2) be a producer, 3) Be accountable for your own actions. TSL helped fortify and show as example, what this looks like and what it takes to continue to improve on these characteristics for me. The daily check-ins have been a monster help to remind me to stay physically active and to be mindful to continue to help others where and when needed. The weekly Agons were of genuine importance to me as it reminded me to work on hard things, things that perhaps a person may not challenge themselves to do. What a feeling of accomplishment and production completing the “challenges” on a weekly basis. For anyone who is in the frame of mind to better themselves for their own well-being and for others, I would strongly recommend signing up and joining TSL as soon as they can!”
“I’ve been a member of The Strenuous Life for a few years, and it’s great. The best way I can describe it is to say that it’s like scouting for men. It is a fun, challenging and gamified way to become a better, more well-rounded man; to learn and do things I’ve always meant to do, before life got in the way. It’s also a structured way to make good use of one’s downtime, rather than waste time (and life) in front of a screen. I’m not much into groups, so I don’t participate in the social aspect of it, however many men do and seem to really enjoy it, and I understand that such camaraderie is a big benefit for them. Finally, it’s a good value. Two thumbs up!”
“I would say to anyone that is considering signing up for Strenuous Life, don’t hesitate. This has been one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time. As a 40-year-old guy I found the whole program to be fantastic. This 12-week journey really makes you take pause and self evaluate on a regular basis. The structure of the program allows you to take this journey without judgement, but also provides a community that you can check in with and be supportive. I would often find myself inspired by the accomplishments of my classmates on their daily and weekly check-ins. Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe [If the wind does not serve, take to the oars].”
“In my early forties, TSL is providing me with the goals and tools necessary to achieve the type of person I would like to become, as a father, husband, professional, and on my own level. Always forward, with effort and tenacity.”
“The Strenuous Life Challenge has been a unique experience and also a one-of-a-kind program, suited for any individual willing to take increasingly hard, sometimes unusual but rewarding challenges. It is one of the most all-rounded programs that I’ve ever come across, with over 50+ badges delving into various life skills covering, for example, survivalism, gardening, emergency preparedness… specialties such as lock picking, cooking, car maintenance… challenges (physical and spiritual) where you find barbell program, rucking, scout program…Overall, everything that a man needs and will be needing at some points in life seems to have been covered in the program.”
“TSL gives men an opening to do things they always wanted to do, but never got round to doing, also in the process you feel like you are getting into good shape in lots of ways, and making a positive difference to those around you.”
“The Strenuous Life is a great program that forces you to adapt, overcome, explore, discover, focus and prioritize.
TSL reignited my hunger for adventure and living life to the fullest.
I highly recommend it.”
“The Strenuous Life has been a joy. As a busy father of three youngsters I was afraid I would not have time to add more activities to my life but I was wrong. The experience has made the days a little fuller but also a lot more fulfilling. Adding some extra challenges has made my free time more interesting and productive. I highly recommend the program for anyone looking to get off the couch and live a little harder. I have really enjoyed The Art of Manliness’s content over the years and I’m happy I finally signed up for the program. Worth every penny.”
“TSL has given me a structured plan to improve/push myself. The 12-week “boot camp” has been an amazing journey of understanding my limitations and pushing past them. I have looked forward to each week’s Agon and what the test will be. It has been a nice mix of items that have challenged me and items that I have found are in my comfort zone. The badges provide a lot of options for things to learn and do. Like so many things out there, you will get out what you put in. TSL offers so many things to do, it’s easy to find something to work on that holds my interest.”
“The Strenuous Life has been a great motivator for me to do many things that have been on my bucket list for some time. It also provided some great resources to help me improve my skills and knowledge related to craftsmanship, spirituality, adventure, and general manliness!”
“When I started The Strenuous Life, I had become unmotivated, weak and fell into a sedimentary life of work and home. The past 12 weeks have pushed me, tested me, and renewed me. I have become a better person, fitter person, and realized how much of my life had been on hold for the past 10 years.
So, join up, take the leap, and make yourself a better person. So as our class motto says, “Grab the Oars” and navigate to the new you.”