A professional triathlete, adventurer and endurance supreme, Colin O'Brady raced in 25 countries on six continents between 2009-2015, but his days of solo effort are now shared with a passion for getting those around him fit. The record-breaking host of BYUtv's "Survivalists" is now inspiring families as they compete in a series of exciting wilderness challenges, saying it's never too late for your own tribe to take on fun quests together.
M&F sat down with O'Brady in Jackson, WY to find out why he loves keeping fit as a family.
Many of O'Brady's achievements, like setting the speed record for hitting 50 US High Points in 21 days, may seem like individual achievements, but at age 37 he understands that having a good support network was vital. "Physical activity is one thing, but I think it really comes down to mindset," says O'Brady, who recovered from a horrific burn accident to excel as an athlete. "I think everything starts with our own inner dialogue, and luckily I've had some really strong, positive influences in my life. First and foremost my mother when I was young and certainly my wife for the last 15 years. My personal ambition is held back by others around me to support my dreams.”
Hosting Survivalists made perfect sense for O'Brady as he already devotes much of his free time to working with young people, taking them on expeditions and using the environment as a platform for education and inspiration. In each show, two families must give up their screens and gadgets in favor of head-to-head challenges like tying knots, rock climbing, or animal tracks. At its core, Survivalists is about getting families outside and moving their bodies more. It's an issue dear to O'Brady, who says the benefits in his personal life and on the show have been life-changing.
Training with loved ones will create great shared experiences
For O'Brady, adding Ms. Jenna to his adventure world has not only given them some amazing moments, but also allowed them to spend more time as a couple. "Jenna had never climbed a mountain before we were together," says the top athlete. "This was new to her, and quite honestly, it's not something she dreamed of as a little girl or in her 20s. But when I was spending time with myself, of course I wanted to show her [this part of my life] and she was interested in it. Jenna is the 88th American to summit Mount Everest, but even now that's not her core identity. she was like
'It was a great experience' and she really, really enjoyed it, but I think part of that was that we got to spend more time together, which is fantastic."
The couple have now traveled to around 65 countries together and feel that sharing experiences by challenging themselves is something that has added an important foundation to their relationship.
Families that are active together communicate better
Whether we're talking about a local hike or going further and competing against Survivalists, O'Brady has observed that families who enjoy being active together increase their levels of communication and form better bonds. "Looking back at my childhood, my father was an Eagle Scout," says O'Brady. "My family didn't have much money growing up, but he always said, 'Nature is free.' I spent many of my weekends and family trips going to a hiking trail, lake, mountain, or bike ride. Here I am, still talking about it, right? In those moments we went out as a family and then it was fun. Being able to solve problems as a 10 or 11 year old, e.g. B. How do we get up there? Are we going through the forest or the ridge line? You learn by being exposed to so much. It really is something special.”
It's never too late for families to go on adventures together
Although O'Brady grew up in an active environment, he relishes the opportunity to share his love of the great outdoors with families who may be new to the party. It's one of the aspects he likes most about his television show. "It's amazing to see," he says. “They end up having this amazing experience. You put people in a difficult position, and suddenly a young daughter and father have a moment of bonding that they haven't had in years. You know, where they're sitting by the campfire after a long day on the trail, or climbing a mountain, or kayaking in the sea, or wherever they're on the show, it's really amazing to see."
Challenging yourself is important to build confidence Studies ( https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/40/3/685/744518 ) show that as we go through puberty we become less physically active. Smartphones and Netflix have turned millions of households into viewers rather than participants, but more exercise is important, both physically and psychologically. With a little boy on the way, the O'Bradys intend to introduce this little one to many of his own adventures.
"Life is where the real growth comes," says O'Brady of digging down. "Especially in our modern society, it's pretty easy to stay in our comfort zone, but I think so
are hardwired to meet this challenge. It really allows us to grow and see things in a new light. Some people resist, like, "oh, I'm uncomfortable," but I'll put it differently; "Oh, I'm uncomfortable, that means I'm going to learn something!" O'Brady says that having a goal and working towards it is also good for self-esteem. "The pinnacle of success is great, but what gets me out of bed every morning is the process," he says. "And when I'm feeling full of passion and purpose, my mind is usually in a great place." doubt for Colin O'Brady and countless others, sharing that spirit with family only serves to make the process special make.
The season finale of "Survivalists" airs this Sunday at 9pm ET / 6pm PT on BYUtv. "Survivalists" is also available for free on the BYUtv app or online at BYUtv.org.