Why I do MTNTOUGH: Online MTNTOUGH'er David Lindley
The pack out’s heavy, but worth it, a smile stretching across David Lindley’s face during the hike back to the truck after a multi-day backcountry adventure that ended in the successful harvest of a Rocky Mountain cow elk.
A natural athlete, Lindley was prepared for the grueling task of hauling over 200 lbs of meat eight hours and 3,000 feet down a mountain in Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area before hiking another four miles to the truck.
But it still took a level of grit and determination that can only be found on the inside – two characteristics that Lindley has mastered over the course of his life after surviving a complicated childhood, a ten-year career with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), injuries from years practicing jujitsu, and much more.
Rather than let these obstacles weigh him down, Lindley only continues his climb forward and has adjusted the trajectory of his life from the second he decided he was in charge.
Today, he lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids, a husky and a flock of chickens, but his world wasn’t always so idyllic. Raised by his maternal great-grandparents, Lindley spent the first ten years of his childhood in Chickasha, Oklahoma with his two sisters before his mother and father returned to collect them.
“I think they realized that my great-grandparents were getting into their mid-to-late seventies and couldn’t take care of three kids,” says Lindley, “but it was very strange to now be living with a mother figure that I had never been around.”
What followed was a chaotic upbringing that included multiple stepfathers, little parental guidance or interest, a car accident that killed one of his sisters and a hard shove toward adulthood once he graduated high school – one that included his enlistment into the USCG days after graduation.
But Lindley doesn’t wallow in the past – and he’s come a long way from his days in Oklahoma, sitting in his great-grandmother’s kitchen as she prepared an afterschool snack. In fact, Lindley’s mental fortitude and perseverance has allowed him to get where he is today.
Why David Lindley is MTNTOUGH
Lindley discovered MTNTOUGH in 2018. He came across an Instagram post by founder Dustin Diefenderfer while recovering from cervical spine surgery after being benched following a jujitsu injury.
“My wife told me that I can’t be squashing my neck, my vertebrae anymore,” says Lindley, chuckling at the memory. “I was like, understandable, but I got to be as healthy as I can for myself and for my family.”
He took it slow, gradually adding MTNTOUGH workouts to his daily running regime – he runs ultramarathons every year and calls running his “therapy” – along with a gradual foray into bowhunting; an outdoor pursuit that would challenge him, but not quite as cruelly as jujitsu.
“Those workouts no doubt helped me get in the mountains,” says Lindley. “Before I started doing MTNTOUGH, I hadn’t been successful in archery and now it’s been about four or five years into the program, into the community, and I’ve had success in only a short amount of time.”
The newer bowhunter recently arrowed a Rocky Mountain cow elk in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area in September 2022 and, in August 2021, successfully harvested a Coues deer buck in the Huachuca Mountains. He has plans to share his off-the-beaten-path backcountry pursuits with his son as soon as he is old enough.
However, one of the aspects he appreciates beyond the workouts was the sense of comradery and community that is unique to MTNTOUGH.
“You look anywhere else and it’s not like that,” says Lindley. “There’s just no ego. With MTNTOUGH, it’s about ‘hey, we’re here and let’s just do the best we can and work hard. Put in the work to be the best we possibly can and nothing else matters.”“I think that’s what really drew me in,” he continues. “You’ve got all of these other organizations or workout people or whatever that are all about the image and MTNTOUGH, they’re real. They’re there to help you do the work. Get stronger. Get better.”
And while the workouts have helped Lindley stay fit physically, he says his connection with MTNTOUGH and its community of like-minded individuals go beyond that.
“Listening to MTNTOUGH instructors talk during the workouts, during the podcast – they’re like mentors, you know?” says Lindley. “That mental toughness, their leadership and people, despite being so far away and me being so removed, it’s been incredible.”
He says the lessons he has gained have translated into other areas of his life.
“The mental toughness it takes to get through a workout, it transcends into you being a good parent, a good husband, a good friend, a good employee, a good leader.”
Lindley coaches his son’s soccer and baseball teams and brings that mental fortitude and consideration to the activity in order to show the next generation how to be leaders – but in a smart, capable way.
“MTNTOUGH instructors and their guests on the podcast,” adds Lindley, “they really inspire you to be better and want to get better as a person all the way around.”
While a difficult childhood and other obstacles could have been setbacks, Lindley has only used them to make himself stronger – both mentally and physically. And for those who may be facing similar hurdles, he offers this advice:
“Focus on what you have to do and put the work in to do it. The harder you work and the better you treat people along the way, the better life is going to be and the better everyone else around you are going to be. It’s what we all want in the end.”
Author: Kristen A. Schmitt