Working Out as Practice to Re-Define Your Edge

Working Out as Practice to Re-Define Your Edge

We have no idea what exists on the edges of our potential. And by not having any idea what it’s like out on the edge … man, we really miss something vital.

David Deida

The Back Story

Over the years, RYU athletes, ambassadors, and cousins, Joel and Ryan Primus have endeavoured to push themselves to their physical and mental edges. Originally, this was only an accidental by-product of adventurous spirits and love of the wilderness. The intentionality came later.

Somewhere between an arduous 12-hour slog to a remote cabin in record minus-40-degrees-Celsius temperatures, and an 18-hours all-night march off a Grizzly-bear-infested mountain in a thunderstorm, that “accident” became a tradition.

Pushing through physical exhaustion led to new levels of fitness.

Pushing through mental doubts and fears, however, provided a new perspective of what was possible — not just physically, but in life as a whole.


Exploring by GPS in Northern British Columbia

Mountains at Sunset


Purposeful discomfort, that takes us to the edges of what we thought was possible, can re-define our potential while offering a whole host of other mental benefits — such as gratitude, self-confidence, patience and trust. Now, with all life’s comforts instantaneously at our fingertips, pushing ourselves to the edge is more important than ever.

As you open yourself to living at your edge, your deepest purpose will slowly begin to make itself known. In the meantime, you will experience layer after layer of purposes, each one getting closer and closer to the fullness of your deepest purpose. It is as if your deepest purpose is at the center of your being, and it is surrounded by layers of concentric circles, each circle being a lesser purpose. Your life consists of penetrating each circle, from the outside toward the center.

David Deida

The Location

Although there are endless ways to challenge ourselves and push ourselves to our edges, physical fitness provides a straightforward entry point. The natural world is the most inspiring and experiential place to do it. The uncontrollable elements of the wild, spice up the mental challenge while connecting us back to our most primal roots. It’s one thing to do another rep in the gym. It’s something else entirely do another rep when the wind is howling, you’re blistering hot, deathly thirsty and the very earth below your feet is giving way. Only when the fear that we just may not make it seeps into our mind do we begin to tap into the well of our unlimited power.

Arriving at the peak of the dune


In the heart of British Columbia’s rugged mountains, about an hour east of Williams Lake, the dramatic sandstone hoodoos of Farwell Canyon erupt from the raging and winding Chilcotin River. Above the hoodoos, surrounded by sage bushes, cacti and rolling grassland, is British Columbia’s largest sand dune. Its face is roughly 75 metres long.

Truly, one of the province’s most dramatic backdrops is the location of this edge-defying workout.

The Sand Dune Workout

There is no easy way to the dune. An undulating one-mile trail across three ravines and up the backside of the dune is the only way there.

It is along this trail that Ryan and Joel haul  almost 300lbs of workout gear including two kettlebells, two weighted vests, a medicine ball and two 45lb weight plates.

90lbs Farmers Carry up the face of dune


After an unseasonable cold spring in British Columbia, the temperature hit the mid 20s with a scorching sun on the day of the workout. At times, the wind blew the sand until it was nearly blinding.

Once they reach dune they did this workout:

  • 75 Push Ups

  • 90-Pound Farmers Carry up the face of the dune

  • 50 Push Ups

  • Medicine Ball Thrusters up the face of the dune

  • 25 Push Ups

  • Bear Crawl with Weighted Vest up the face of the dune

  • 50 Push Ups

  • 100 Kettlebell Swings

  • 5 x Short Sprints (Steepest Section)

Weighted bear crawl Up the face of the dune

Kettlebell Swings

25lb medicine ball throws up the face of the dune


The Power of Sand

For what this workout lacked in overall duration, it makes up for with the element of resistance. Gains through sand and steep grades are not achieved by raw force, but instead, by gentle power. Much like a river erodes through rock with persistence, sometimes with only a gentle flow, so too must one face the sand. If not approached with reverence and respect, it will give way with every step, boiling the blood and muscles into a searing state of anaerobic agony. The requisite is staying loose, adapting as the sand moves, while not getting carried away with any one motion. Too much exertion only results in more exhaustion. It is through finding the balance of strength and relaxation that one gets up a dune.

Still, the fatigued mind can give way to the fear; it’s simply too difficult to surmount. From here, visualization and determination enable the body to move past its perceived limits.

New perspectives are formed. New edges reached.

In this way, a workout on a sand dune is a metaphor for life.

Joel Primus – Edge of the Sand dune



The experience of working out on Farwell Canyon’s sand dune served as appetizer of sorts for larger aspirations. Although humbling in the moments when both Ryan and Joel fatigued — doubting the speed at which they could complete the workout. Once they found a manageable rhythm with the workout, the cousins clearly stated through heaving breaths of dry air that they wanted to do more; however, a relentless sand storm made it impossible to continue.

Joel’s experience as an elite long-distance runner, and Ryan’s experience as a bricklayer and outdoorsman, were natural introduction into strenuous workouts with a creative flair — motivated by the desire to test their physical and mental edges against nature’s elements.

As the pair toiled in the sand, a small herd of mountain sheep raced along the base of the hoodoos and up and down the chutes. Clearly, superior creatures at climbing, the sheep’s abilities inspired the next challenge.

Leaving the dune

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