The 2020 Couch-2-Whitney Project

Are You Ready to Get into Shape in 2020?

So many of us have become fed up with our sedentary lifestyle, but we don’t have a realistic way out of it. Sure, there are plenty of gyms and fad diets to sign up for, but we know intuitively that these things are not enough – so we stay in the status quo. Five years ago, after I had a TIA (a small stroke), I knew my status quo had to change. And it was then that I realized my life depended on it. Thankfully, I was able to make that mid-life health pivot and I learned some surprising things. You can read about some of this in a series of articles I’ve written called My Fitness Journey. The most important lesson I learned was that I needed two key ingredients: Adventure and community. I needed an adventure to train for because I would never have the discipline to go to the gym without one. I also knew I did not have the emotional energy to stick with it alone. I needed other people with me who were as committed to getting fit as I was. And I was right. Recent research has shown that being fit and being sedentary are both “contagious,” so having a fitness community is mandatory if we truly want to make a lifestyle change.

How the Couch-2-Whitney Project Works

I didn’t want to simply write about what I’ve learned on my fitness journey. I wanted to take others through the experience, and the Couch-2-Whitney Project is my attempt at doing that. Here is how it works. Myself and 5 to 8 other men will journey with one another in a fitness transformation initiative that will last for nine months, starting January 1, 2020. There are six key elements that will make up this journey.


Kickoff Excursion

In January we will do a Kickoff Excursion in Joshua Tree. We’ll do an overnight camping trip with a little hiking, rock climbing, goal setting, and campfire time.


Body MetRX Assessment

Each of us will schedule an appointment with Body MetRX for an assessment. We will take two tests. First, a Body Composition Test will calculate our Certified Body Weight, Fat Mass/Fat-Free Mass, Skeletal Muscle Mass, Total Body Water/Extracellular Water, and Visceral Fat. Second, we will take a Resting Metabolism Test which will be used to set our target calorie zones for food tracking. After the Mount Whitney trip at the end of the project, we will all take another Body Composition Test. This is optional but highly recommended.


Weekly Zoom Calls

Each week, we will do a Zoom call, where we will spend an hour talking about the highs and lows of the week, food tracking, and mutual encouragement toward our goals. We will not be prescriptive about the kind of diet you follow, as long as it is healthy and moves you toward your goals. I will be available for calls, questions, and encouragement throughout the course of the project.


Weekly Physical Conditioning

Team members are expected to train during the week. This may include running, training on a stepmill at the gym, CrossFit, or other conditioning sport. Training should be done with other people as much as possible. Community is not optional. You will fail by yourself.


Food Tracking

Team members will track their food on an app and report in on this data during the weekly Zoom calls. This is optional but highly recommended.


Monthly Hikes + Whitney Expedition

Each month the class will meet at a trailhead on a Saturday and hike to a local peak. These peaks will likely include those listed below, but may change based on snow conditions in the winter. In most months there will be two opportunities to hike to ensure that no one misses the hike for that month. In September, the team will do a four-day backpacking trip that will culminate in summiting Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states.

The Peaks We Will Be Hiking

  • Mount Wilson (5,712′)
  • Timber Peak (8,303′)
  • Ontario Peak (8,694′)
  • Telegraph Peak (8,986′)
  • Cucamonga Peak (8,858′)
  • Mount Baldy (10,069′)
  • Mount San Jacinto (10,834′)
  • San Bernardino Peak (10,649′)
  • San Gorgonio Peak (11,503′)
  • Mount Whitney (14,508′)

Costs and Commitments

In the words of my father, you can’t “half-ass” this one. This is a substantial life commitment. The biggest mistake you can make is to underestimate what it takes to win. This is not going on a diet to lose a few pounds, this is rewiring your brain, your habits, and your body so you can move from a sedentary life to a strong level of fitness – permanently. It is going to require time, money, relationships, and suffering. You will need to say “no” to some things to create enough space to make this work. Here are the costs…

The Program Itself is FREE

The program itself is FREE. That’s right. This is a labor of love for me. That said, if you have been helped, pay it forward for someone else. I’d encourage you to make a $500 to $1,000 donation to my donor-advised fund, but this is purely optional. These donations are tax-deductible and I use these funds to donate to charities where I have invested my time serving at-risk kids and veterans.

Things You Will Need to Participate

You are not going on a crash diet. You are changing the trajectory of your life – possibly adding years to it. This is one of the most important investments you can make in life. That said, here are big items you will need to get…

  • You will need to join a gym (ideally, a CrossFit gym) for weekly conditioning. You can also join a weekly running or cycling club or similar sport that involves weekly cardio conditioning. Gyms run $20/mo and CrossFit runs roughly $120/mo.
  • You will need to take a Body Composition Test and Resting Metabolism Test from Body MetRX – about $150.
  • You will need to get an app to track your food. I use My Net Diary, but you can use any app that works for you. Apps like this run $20-$60. We’ll be talking about your data on our weekly calls.
  • You will need to buy or rent backpacking gear for the Mount Whitney trip. Rental usually runs less than $300 for a 4-day trip.
  • You will need to get hiking shoes, a day pack, and miscellaneous day-hiking gear and clothing layers. This may run from $100 to $500, depending on what you are starting with and what you can borrow. Here is what I recommend for a day hike.
  • Any other related expenses or gear you need to support your fitness initiative.

There Are Only 5 to 8 Spots Available

To get on the interest list, fill out the form below. I’ll be taking application submissions from May 1, 2019 through November 30, 2019 for those interested in participating and we will officially start on January 1, 2020.

Mount Whitney Gallery


I am not a doctor, dietitian, or mountain guide. I am a philanthropy advisor and an outdoor enthusiast. That’s the extent of my professional credentials. When it comes to making a successful midlife fitness pivot, I’ve “been there and done that”, and I’d like to be a convener and encourager of others on a similar journey. I am not giving medical, nutritional, or fitness advice. I highly recommend that you get a physical exam from your primary care physician before going hiking to make sure you don’t have risks for cardiac disease or other health issues that may prevent you from high-intensity activity. By coming on hikes with this group, you agree that myself (Bryan Feller), your fellow hikers, and other organizers are not held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur carpooling to and from hikes, or for any injuries or accidents before, during, and after group hikes. If you sign up and come on these hikes, you are acknowledging that you freely and voluntarily assume all risks of injuries and damages and agree to participate in the hikes.