The Only Routine You’ll Ever Need


Conrad Anker, perhaps the greatest living mountaineer, lives here in Bozeman. (One more reason to visit, right?)

Recently, he spoke at the college and then answered questions. One of the questions was this: What is your workout routine to stay fit to climb? Conrad sort of laughed and then answered:

My workout routine? It’s called Constant Maintenance.

This is the legendary climber and a true pioneer. No doubt he could package up and sell “10 exercises” or fill up his IG account with badass pics of him doing the impossible along with some quote about “how long it took him” and “how many obstacles he over came” but “look how awesome he is now.” Blah blah blah. We’d eat it up. Because that’s what we do. We love that crap.

But no. He gives a perfectly ordinary and unsellable answer. Constant Maintenance. Or what we like to call, Daily Practice.

Now, no doubt what constitutes constant maintenance and daily practice for him is likely different than what it is for me. I mean, I’m probably not going out at 25,000 feet. Like, ever. I do still enjoy a very full and active life. I also spend too many hours in front of a computer or driving and I’m getting older. So I kind of get why Conrad may have laughed a bit before he answered – because

Constant Maintenance isn’t a workout routine used to train, it’s the #everydamnday habits we use to live.

Still, I’m a householder. Not a professional rock climber. Not a gymnast or a circus performer. Being able to put one leg around my neck and with a foot up my arse, all while balancing on my hands shouldn’t impress you and certainly won’t impress my family. But being able to go on that backpacking trip in Yellowstone with them, that won’t just make them happy – it will make me happy too.

So yeah, my morning asana practice is very much part of my Constant [physical] Maintenance that helps keep me fit. But I’d be lying to you if I said that was all I did all day to be active. I’d also be lying if I said third (or even all of second) series was necessary for this householder. It’s not. The fact is, my life’s enjoyment doesn’t depend on maintaining extreme range of movement or intense levels of strength. If yours does, then different for you. Mine just doesn’t.

Yet even though I’m not training to climb Everest or enter the Olympics – I do have goals. Big goals. The kind of goals I’m not going to achieve In Just Ten Exercises. Yeah sure, some of those goals are for me, but it’s also my goal for it to stop being about me as well.

And why my morning yoga practice isn’t all physical, beginning with the moment I open my eyes. My bath, lighting the candles, and saying my prayers are all also part of my Constant Maintenance. Just as keeping my mind focused with an even breath is as vital as the movement itself. Too bad I can’t take a picture of that along with some quote about “how long that’s taken me” – because it has. Oh but I’m still not awesome at it yet either. So there’s that too. Though daily practice doesn’t end there.

Because daily Practice isn’t just how I move on my mat, but how I act in my day. It’s every bite that goes into my mouth and every word that goes out. And all of this requires a daily routine of, as Conrad says, Constant Maintenance. 

It’s not always glamorous or instaworthy, but it’s real and beats the heck out of crash diets.

Anyway, I did just now go over and check out Conrad’s IG account and or course, climbing is in there, but there’s a whole lot more of LIFE in there too. In other words, it ain’t all about him and how cool he is. (He is beyond cool, though!) Though if you’re not convinced, here’s more soundbites from Conrad:

  • Being in the moment is always the most important thing. It’s not all about the end goal. (Coachmag. 2013)
  • Before I check out of my hotel, I always leave a generous tip for housekeeping. To be respected one must show respect. (Condé Traveler, 2016)
  • Do what you love to do. Do it for yourself and for all humanity. Be a catalyst for positive change. (Bozeman Chronicle, 2017)
  • Let it be a mystery. (Why We Climb, 2017)
  • Enlightenment isn’t found on a full stomach, or on a soft pillow. (Rich Roll, 2015)

And of course, his personal motto:

be good. be kind. be happy.

And to think, Conrad says he only practices yoga on Tuesdays …