Couch Potato Conquers Mt Rainier


We all have dreams, but turning them from thoughts into action can seem tougher than climbing a mountain. To help you reach your goal, Men’s Fitness mined advice from a guy who did just that: Brian Morgan, 36, a former couch potato, started his own adventure company after college that morphed into a multi-million dollar business, and recently conquered Mount Rainier.

Back when Brian graduated from the University of Montana in ’97, Adventure Life consisted of only himself, his mother, a cell phone, a laptop, and a simple tri-fold brochure of his trips. Now the company has grown into 16 full-time employees and part-time interns, with gross sales of more than $11 million. The biggest proof Adventure Life hit the big-time might be National Geographic Adventure naming it one of the best adventure companies on earth for two years running. But while Brian’s business was booming, his fitness was lagging.

From ’99 to ’05 Brian was so busy getting Adventure Life off the ground that he didn’t make time to work out. He lived mostly off frozen pizzas (Freschetta was his go-to meal), was flying all over the world, and often working 15 hours a day. After a train strike in Peru forced him to lead his clients on a hike out of the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu—and left him seriously sore—Brian realized being in shape was a job requirement.

Here’s his advice on how to succeed:

1. Find Strength in Numbers
Brian before: “Working out used to fall to the bottom of my to-do list, so I joined a biking group to get me riding twice a week,” says Brian. “When you’re with a bunch of people, you tend to stick to your workouts because you’re made more accountable, and you also push yourself harder than if you were doing it alone.”

Brian after: Between road biking, mountain biking, and commuting to work via bicycle, Brian is now cycling 100+ miles per week. Twice a week, he still meets a group for extreme downhill Montana mountain biking, and usually takes one 25 to 50 mile road ride with a friend each week.

Do It Yourself: To find a group that’ll make you more motivated to exercise-doing from biking to running to basketball-go to Then type in your zip code and search groups by topic.

2. Set a Goal
Brian before: “The more that my business grew, the busier I got until I stopped working out all together. I’m very goal oriented, so I decided I needed something solid to work towards in order to get in shape. I heard about a fundraising bike ride called RatPod. I figured, training for it will force me to exercise because I can’t fall apart at the end of the race-I’d look like a wuss!”

Brian now: He finished RATPOD this summer, a 137-mile, one-day intense bicycle ride over mountain passes with a lot of elevation gain. The ride benefits Camp Mak-A-Dream, a cost-free medical camp in Western Montana for children and young adults with cancer.

Do It Yourself: Give your workouts a purpose by training for an event and you’ll score extra incentive for getting in shape. Check out Team in Training, a national program that helps get people ready for half and full marathons, triathlons, 100-mile century bike rides, or hiking adventures. Training also helps raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

3. Talk the Talk
Brain before: “When I have a dream I want to accomplish, I start out by telling everyone about it so it becomes more real. That’s how I first acted on the idea of Adventure Life. Then when it’s time to actually start, I have some social pressure to follow through. One of my friends is a guide and told me I should climb Mount Rainier with him. I said okay, and ended up talking about it so much that I had to start training for it!”

Brian now: He spent his 36th birthday on the summit of Mount Rainier last month, climbing about 4,000 feet in four hours. Ironically, the altitude of 14,400 feet was about the same as the highest spot on the trail that lead him to Machu Picchu, but he felt stronger this time. “You’re walking with an ice axe, hearing rock slides above, and thinking, ‘What the Hell am I doing up here?’ Then you look around and see walls of ice and think, ‘This is amazing!’ At the top, it was spectacular to watch the sun coming up over the curve of the earth.”

Do It Yourself: Rather than keeping your dreams to yourself, put your dream in writing by sending an email to your girlfriend describing exactly what you want to do, or announce your plan to your friends during the next game. Once people start asking you about how it’s going, it’ll be tougher not to follow through. And if you’re really ambitious, you can sign up to climb a mountain yourself at RMI Expeditions (

For more about Adventure Life, check out

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