Beyond the Gym

Beyond the Gym

April 03, 2021

Humble Start: V0 / V1

by Tim Donovan

When I first went to the climbing gym with Jordan (@cannonjtc), he made it clear that I would not be climbing grades other than V0 and V1 for the first 3-4 weeks. The V-Scale, short for Vermin and named after a famous Hueco Tanks climber, is a simple rating system that grades boulder problems on a difficulty of 0-17. Occasionally, you may see a “+” or “R” thrown in next to a V rating, but these merely note the height dependency of a problem and are not widely used. Generally speaking, V0-V2 is designed for beginners, V3-V6 for intermediates, V7-V10 advanced, and V11-V17 for professional climbers.  

Once I began solving problems, I quickly realized that sticking to V0’s and V1’s out the gate was fine by me. I was on-sighting a few – cleanly climbing a route on a first attempt – but the strain these simple problems were putting on all tranches of my fingers and forearms was intense.

I knew that the art of dancing on walls would ask a lot of muscles I seldom use, but feeling the weakness of my fingers and forearms at the lowest grade was humbling and gave me an even greater appreciation for the projects that professional climbers like Jordan send year-after-year.

The moral of today's post: don't be too proud to start at the beginning - the very beginning. Jordan has been stressing to me that quality attempts, regardless of their outcome, are much better than sloppy sends. They're better for my techincal growth, my tendon and muscle strength, and for the ambitious projects I hope to pursue in the future.


My Climbing Journey

by Tim Donovan 

Over the past six months, I have heard mixed opinions on virtual mentorship and whether you can learn the technicalities of sports like surfing, cycling, or ultra-running through our digital consults.

To show you how virtual guidance is not only effective but rewarding, I have decided to blog about my climbing journey with my mentor and coach, Jordan Cannon.

Jordan is a big wall climber who spends a lot of his time in Yosemite Valley. Last November, he free climbed El Cap’s Golden Gate in a day: a feat that only four other climbers – Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Brad Gobright, and Emily Harrington – have overcome.

Last month, Jordan and I grabbed lunch in Denver to talk about him joining our team of athletes. I never intended on Jordan becoming my climbing mentor, but as we got to talking, I realized we had a lot in common – maybe not professionally, but philosophically – and I asked if he would take me on as a client.

Climbing is something I have always wanted to try but it always seemed too technical and out of reach. If you feel the same way about climbing or any other sport on our platform, I hope my blog offers you a sense of encouragement, helps you understand how our athletes can help, and shows you that it’s never too late to start.

Luckily, Jordan was in town for a few weeks after our lunch and we were able to get a few sessions in at the climbing gym. Here’s a shot after our last training day before he shoved off for Bishop, CA.

Here's to being a beginner again, finding joy in the process, and embracing the unknown of a new adventure. Look forward to bringing you along for the ride!

Max King Trail Running Camp

by Tim Donovan

Max King, Salomon trail and ultra runner, competing in Mountain running competition.

During my podcast with Max King (@maxkingor), we talked about a trail running camp he has been leading for the past five years. Throughout Max's career, it has always been a dream of his to put together a running camp focused on the fun aspects of trail running and also provide the skills required to be self-sufficient in the forest and mountains.

For both adult and youth runners

Envisioning programs for both adult and youth runners, he finally made it happen – a true trail running camp that does not just take you on guided trail runs, but actually teaches you more than you ever thought you needed to know about being outdoors.

Mountaineering team exploring Mount Shasta, California at the Max King Trail Running Camp

And for those who do not have access

When making his dream come true, Max also thought about how he could pay it forward. During our conversation (43:00), he talked about a Salomon sponsored camp he organized for disadvantaged youth in Central Oregon.

This program, like others he has organized with Mario Mendoza (@mendozarunner), was focused on helping those who never had a chance to experience the outdoors. Here’s one of the excerpts he shared about the program:

“There was one kid who joined us from a Native American reservation called Warm Springs in Bend, Oregon. He went from being on the reservation, not seeing a lot in his future and being kind of stuck there, to gaining confidence, hopefully through the sport of running, to get out and go to college. To know that he continued running and used it as a way to advance himself, that was pretty cool to hear. He went to college, is still running, and doing good things.”

Youth group, trail running team, overlooking valley at Max King Trail Running Camp.

Making friends, taking in the views, and gaining confidence

As Max emphasizes, these camps open dialogue, build bonds, and change lives. You will take away memories of not only great trail runs with new friends but skills in map reading and navigation, how our trails are made and maintained, and an appreciation for your role as a steward of wilderness and trails from wherever you hail.

If you are interested in attending Max's camp, he has two scheduled next year at Mount Shasta, CA from July 6-10 and September 17-20. If you would like to learn more, checkout his website at or let him know on Instagram @maxkingor.

I plan on attending one myself, so let me know too. I may join you!


Wise Words: Highlights from our Podcast with Joseph Sinagoga

An outdoor, cross trainer, using a TRX on a blue sky day in Central Park

What lessons have you learned not just as a trainer, but an outdoor trainer?

I have learned that all of us have a sense of adventure within us, a kind of spirit that, by being outside, has slowly been unlocked within me. I never thought that I would ever want to travel, trail run, or climb a mountain. I never thought that was something that I would really embrace. It all goes back I think to that sense of adventure that I think we all innately have.

That is the physical part. Spiritually, I really like my connection to nature. I am usually in Central Park. It is not the woods proper, but there is so much life – people, trees, flowers, animals, dogs – you learn to appreciate your connectivity to your surroundings much more. It has also done wonders for my mental health. To get fresh air every day, meet people, and explain what I do, there is so much to appreciate.

How did you come up with your "Mindset in Action" philosophy?

"Mindset in Action" came about through a dear friend of mine, Mitch Aguiar. He and I connected via Instagram. He is a former-Navy SEAL and he is an entrepreneur now. His credo is "Mindset is Everything," and I got to thinking about that. I thought, "Mindset is Everything" is a very inspirational quote. However, inspiration is perishable. In other words, if you are not going to do anything with that inspiration, it just goes into thin air.

Mitch and I have been good friends and he has helped me a lot, so I was thinking about gratitude and thanking someone for helping me along those lines. I thought to myself, people always say, "How can I ever thank you?" or "What can I ever do to thank you." To me, that is BS. The way you thank someone is to embody what their philosophy is, make it your own, and show that person, through your actions, that you are thanking them and that they have made a positive impact on you.

So "Mindset in Action" really came about as a logical step from "Mindset is Everything." Without action, it does not do anybody any good.

What difference do you see in your clients outside?

Their sense of accomplishment, especially when there are freezing cold temperatures and snow. I think it comes from a sense that they got out and did something different, above and beyond what they would have experienced in a gym.

Can you tell us about the rocks? How are they different from gym implements?

The rocks I work with range in weight from 10-100lbs. You cannot compare them to balanced implements like a barbell or kettle bell. A 50lb rock is going to feel like an 80lb dumbbell. It has to do with their random distribution of weight and composition. Two rocks may look the same but when you pick them up, they feel completely different. This lack of even distribution makes movement harder and works muscles you would not normally work in the gym.

What do you love about training outdoors?

“The great part about being outside is that you are not compartmentalized. You look around and you see possibilities. You get more creative and start to think about how to use objects that, in everyday life, you would just walk by. When it comes to training outdoors, the sky is the limit.”

What are the advantages to training outdoors instead of in a gym?

There are fewer modern distractions outside. In a gym, there are sounds systems, machines, Wi-Fi, televisions, monitors, mirrors, and LED lighting. When you are outside, it really becomes about the people around you. You feel more connected and in it together.

Why do you think training outside is more effective than training indoors?

Training outdoors prepares you for life. It is about doing the hard things and seeking adversity. Most of my clients start in the warmer weather, so it is a gradual progression into the winter. Once that winter loosens its icy grip in March and April, I see it on their faces. They can appreciate the warmth, the sun, and the light because they have gone through the cold, the rain, and the hardship.

What is the physical difference between training in warm weather and training in the cold?

When it comes to training through the winter, you burn so many more calories, it is unbelievable how much more you burn, just through the effect of your body trying to stay warm through the cold.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News


May 02, 2020

Read More