The air’s cold, but Jake Knigge leans into the brisk chill as it hits his face, icicles clinging to his eyelashes. The former pro-snowboarder is no stranger to winter weather whether he’s gliding down chutes nestled between boulders and trees, grabbing air and alley-ooping until the sun starts to set behind the scrim of pines or running along a snowy Alaskan trail.
Knigge’s approach to fitness is two-fold: he pushes himself hard while still having fun.
“I’m not someone who wants to hang out in a gym or go to gym classes,” says Knigge. “I enjoy physically demanding activities that are outside – with elements of endurance. That’s my kind of fun.”
Knigge grew up hiking the Colorado mountains, which helped cultivate his homegrown and family-honed athleticism: his mother, a former gymnast, learned to snowboard alongside him when he was 12 years old.
“And that just kind of became our weekends,” Knigge recalls. “Eventually the whole family took up snowboarding.”
Fast forward three years later and Knigge signed with Airwalk and Helly Hansen at 15 years old, competing in snowboard competitions until he was 22. At that point, he decided to switch career fields after completing his master’s degree in computer science. While he still snowboards for fun, these days, Knigge is an accomplished mathematician; however, he acknowledges that there’s a connection between snowboarding and math – and the fundamental fitness he practices on a daily basis.
“A lot of it is about the process more than the final outcome,” says Knigge. “With math, you’re trying to prove something and there’s a fair amount of creativity in the steps to get there.”
Knigge says it’s akin to snowboarding in that the journey, the ramp up, the determination and practice to land a difficult trick (or solve a complex proof) is more fun than actually performing it on the slopes. “It’s the little pieces that build together and aggregate into something that, to me, is more interesting than just the final result – and that’s the weird commonality between snowboarding, mathematics and, really, life.”
Why Jake Knigge is MTNTOUGH
Knigge discovered MTNTOUGH through an email that invited him to “embrace the ruck.” He immediately enjoyed how physically demanding it was and how it married the elements of strength and endurance.
“It struck me as something completely new and interesting,” says Knigge. “I was very captivated and enamored by the idea that this is a form of fitness very different than what’s promoted through gyms or classes.”
That “embrace the ruck” email was just the tip of the iceberg as Knigge soon found himself immersed in MTNTOUGH workouts, beginning with the 30-30 2.0 Bodyweight Program, which gave him the daily challenge he was looking for after being an active athlete.
As a mathematician, Knigge appreciates the level of process and functionality MTNTOUGH has incorporated into the design of the programs and workouts, noting that each one builds upon the foundations first taught in the MTNTOUGH Foundation Fundamental Program.
“You just take it one step at a time,” says Knigge. “They break things into smaller chunks, each little component, and you emerge on the other side stronger and better for it – even if you’re physically exhausted. You know you can keep going.”
And it’s still fun.
“They prioritize movements that reminded me of things that I would do as a kid playing,” says Knigge of the workouts. “Working out became more like playing when I realized that.”
There’s been other benefits beyond just the physical that Knigge has noticed after working out with MTNTOUGH for the past year. His stress level is lower and he’s sleeping better – two things anyone would appreciate. And MTNTOUGH continues to propel him to try new things, which keeps him interested in the daily workouts and future programs. While he’s not working toward a specific fitness goal, he considers himself training for life – a life of good health and longevity.
“I want to be ready for when a friend calls and asks me to help them carry boxes or be active and fit enough to play with their kids to give them a break,” says Knigge. “At this point in my life, I’m working out to be in good health and, really, just enjoy it all.”
By Kristen A. Schmitt