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July 18, 2023

Performance Coach + Mountain Guide Jason Antin On Overcoming Limitations And Getting Outside

Tatyana Grechina

Performance Coach + Mountain Guide Jason Antin On Overcoming Limitations And Getting Outside

How many times have you wished you could do something – make a trip to see a friend, hike a new mountain, take a course, do a retreat – only to have the logical part of your brain table the idea. 

“Just for now,” you tell yourself. “There’s not enough time.” (Or, “It’s not in my budget, I can’t take off work.”)

Then, before you know it, months have passed. You’re still in the same grind, the bucket list remains untouched, and more time still hasn’t materialized.

Jason Antin

Easton student, mountain guide and performance coach Jason Antin has managed to take this quandary and put it to bed. 

In 2014, the outdoor athlete, along with his good friend Mike Chambers, launched something called Beat Monday. The project, designed to get people outdoors and making time for what they love,  inspires people to “push the boundaries of what’s possible between Friday night and Monday morning.”

Born out of the difficulty of finding time that worked for both founders to take an adventure together, Beat Monday has since evolved into a TV show that takes its audience everywhere from the trails around Lake Tahoe to the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Having a family or a job shouldn’t mean you can’t keep following your other dreams.

A drive for adventure

Jason and Jenny Antin

Jason first began doing weekend adventures when he moved to Colorado from Massachusetts in late 2010 with his now wife, who shares his love for travel and adventure. The two were immediately enamored with the adventure right at their backdoor and spent every weekend exploring something new.

“I think we stayed at home less than five weekends that first year,” says Jason.

Growing up in New England, Jason spent a lot of time outside hiking and biking. Outside of a few years of Tae Kwon Do, he focused largely on more traditional sports like football and baseball, including NCAA football in college.

With the intense commitment of an NCAA sport taking up nearly 50 hours a week of his time, Jason felt a definite void after graduation. No longer a traditional athlete, he needed a new outlet. He began to put it all into outdoor sports and exploring the outdoors.

Around 2014, Jason had a pretty busy schedule in Colorado but, when he wasn’t working as a guide, had most weekends open. His good friend back in Massachusetts, Mike, also worked a pretty demanding nine to five job. The two would often call each other just for little adventure check-ins – what was the other one excited about, what should they make happen?

Mount Rainier National Park

At the time, neither had yet climbed or skied Mount Rainier in Washington, and both wanted to. Jason remembers vividly the impossible task of blocking off time – going back and forth, throwing dates, realizing that neither of them had enough vacation time to facilitate another trip. 

“We kept trying to find dates, shuffle around vacation days and PTO, but couldn’t make it work,” recounts Jason. “Finally after trying to find time for like an hour, I said, hey – do you think we could pull this thing off in a weekend and not have to take any time off?”

The thought of doing a full work week, punching out at 5 PM Friday, flying to Washington, climbing Mount Rainier and skiing it and getting back before work Monday might feel like madness. Yet, the two made it work.

“It completely opened my eyes to what you can accomplish in a weekend,” says Jason of that moment in 2014 that launched his mindset shift.

From there, Jason made a spreadsheet with hundreds of lifetime bucket list adventures and realized that about 75 percent of them he could accomplish in a weekend. 

“For so many things, you think you need all this time,” says Jason. “But with a little bit of planning and the ability to move quickly outdoors, you can do a lot.”

Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run, 100k & 25k

Overcoming obstacles and doubts

Generally, the barriers that hold most people back from following their adventure day dream come down to skills, finances and time.

Some things are intimidating – physically and mentally – and staying confident in your body’s and mind’s abilities becomes crucial in prepping your mindset.

Rocky Mountain National Park

With the mountains, Jason tells us, it’s a bit tricky because you don’t necessarily want to encourage people to “just go do it.” Technical knowledge and ability to manage risk are paramount when outdoors, so before chucking yourself into the wilderness, you need to first feel proficient in those areas.

Jason felt confident with his technical skills and fitness, and over time has found ways to make it work financially – once, he and his wife went backpacking in Guatemala and between the two of them spent less than $800 for flights, food and travel.

With the skill set and financial portion under control, that leaves time as the final barrier. Often, this part is mental and it becomes the first huge step. Rather than waiting for the right time, stop thinking about all the reasons it may not work, and book the flight. Book the permit on the mountain, block off the time. Plan it out, precisely and strategically.

“I try to never say ‘no’ to an opportunity,” says Jason. “Even if at the time it’s not the best financial decision on paper.”

Time does become trickier when it’s not just you; balancing a family and work make it harder.

When Jason and Mike first started the project, they had no kids, and while both had demanding jobs, they had weekends open. Once they punched out at 5PM, they had 64 hours of adventure.

While overtime finances can become less stressful, schedule changes (forfeiting the nine-to-five for a more fulfilling – and intense – career in training and guiding) and a growing family can pack a schedule twice as tightly as before. Additionally, it adds the element of not just talking of passion and adventure, but walking the walk to set an example.

“Having kids is a next-level challenge,” says Jason. “I want to show them that it’s important to have a passion of your own.”

The AMGA certified rock, ice and snow-climbing guide has also had many family Beat Monday adventures.

An aspiring mountain guide since 2008, about six years ago Jason leaned in completely to force himself to lead an active lifestyle in the outdoors. The driving force became: “I wanna do it, how do I make it work, and make it part of my lifestyle and profession.” Since he and Mike have been able to turn Beat Monday into a professional avenue which in turn supports their families, taking time has become more justifiable – and sustainable.

More family responsibilities and less free weekends means needing to get strategic with time and balance – especially the balance between selfishness and selflessness. On one hand, it’s important to showcase the passion of following your dreams; on the other hand – how many soccer games or kids events is appropriate to miss? Being there for you kids’ journeys becomes just as important as setting out on your own.

Having kids adds an element to one’s risk tolerance, since you now have others who depend on you. With the shift in rhythm, sometimes Jason gets nervous about his relevance to inspire people when he can’t go as hard as he used to. Ten years ago, he could charge everyday; even with his office job, he’d go trail running in the morning and mountain bike at night. 

When priorities shift and you can’t go as hard anymore, it can feel a little scary – especially if you’ve built up a career, including working with a lot of related brands, around your charged-up active lifestyle. It has forced Jason to re-evaluate how to sustainably continue and show evolution despite new perimeters.

The benefits of martial arts

Along with making a great physical outlet, Jiu Jitsu has helped provide Jason with additional mental training that helps the psychological fitness he can take to the mountains

Jason first joined a submission grappling school during college football’s off-season, where he trained irregularly for a couple years before graduating and dabbling in a few other BJJ schools in the Boston area. He didn’t fully dive back into martial arts until finding Easton in 2018, where he’s trained regularly since with the exception of a pause during Covid.

BJJ allows for a parallel lifelong journey of craft-building which Jason deeply values, reflected in his desire to continually grow and improve – such as his current pursuit of his IFMGA certificate to become an internationally-licensed mountain guide.

It also gives him a space which challenges him, one where he isn’t the expert.

Teaching mountaineering objectives with Colorado Mountain School

“In the mountain community,” says Jason, “I feel like I’m viewed as an expert, and while I like that, one of the reasons I go to Easton is I’m not the expert. It’s not my home court.”  

As a guide, he’s a teacher of the mountains, and as a coach he’s the instructor. Going to Easton forces Jason to truly view things as a student, which helps him then translate and appropriate certain aspects into his own teaching role. 

When he took a two year hiatus during Covid, he found himself nervous to come back to the mat. Rusty and primed with the blue-belt target on his back, like many of us, he felt anxious about walking through Easton’s doors again. He recalls sitting in his truck before that first class, talking himself up to go inside, when Arvada’s Coach Josh Baerwolf spotted him and yelled across the parking lot at him. 

The warm welcome and encouraging attitudes of the coaches at Easton helped melt Jason’s fears in that moment and continues to show him how he can help his own students – how he can help relieve their stress and anxiety. Looking at life and training as a student allows him to in turn serve others as a better guide and coach.

Integrating the adventure

North Cascades National Park

Integrating an adventurous lifestyle into a sustainable daily life with family can require making some high-level connections between various components.

“People often ask, why do you have all these jobs,” says Jason, who coaches at Alpine Training Center in Boulder and helps coach people all over the world via Uphill Athlete.

For Jason, it comes down to helping people get outdoors – that is his job and goal, to take them into the mountains and teach them the technical things they need to achieve their own goals.

As a whole, all parts of his work and life connect – from the coaching side, helping people get mentally and physically ready, to Beat Monday as a way to share the adventure and inspire them. 

How does Jason find time to rest and relax? Mornings, before the whole world rises, comprise his most relaxing time of day. But mostly, Jason likes to unwind with water.. 

“I’ve been an adult bather for a long time,” Jason laughs. “I’m a huge fan of a hot bath.”


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