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Power of Discomfort

Campouts, Summer BBQ’s, and sunburns are in full swing!

For the next two months this summer, we will continue to explore the surprising adverse effects on our health caused by comfort. And learn the enriching power of stepping into discomfort!

Is it possible that much of our physical, mental, emotional, and relational health can be tied back to one’s willingness to get uncomfortable? 

We wake from our pillow-topped mattresses, take a steamy hot shower, shuffle to the temperature-controlled car, where we sit before sitting some more at our desks, only to drive home in the evening, sitting down in our overstuffed La-Z-boy chair to watch some screens. We had a “hard day” in the office so we eat comfort food that contains far more calories than we burned in our sedentary lifestyle; rinse and repeat. And we wonder why we are overweight, tired, sick, and depressed. 

Our modern lifestyle of unquestioned and unchallenged comfort is turning us into the round immobile people of Wall-E.

But the solution isn’t always found in a pill, tech, or some life hack.

Our prescribed reading for the summer is Comfort Crisis, by Michael Easter.

An excerpt from the intro:

“In many ways, we’re more comfortable than ever before. But could our sheltered, temperature controlled, over fed, under challenged lives actually be the leading cause of many of our most urgent physical and mental health issues? . .  Easter uncovers the blueprint for leveraging the power of discomfort that will dramatically improve our health and happiness.”


Study after study as revealed in the book is showing that if we are willing to get a little uncomfortable, huge shifts can be made in our overall health, happiness, and longevity.

It wasn’t until the most recent timeline of human existence have we exchanged our survival grit for the comfortable unchallenged lives we now “enjoy”.

No longer are we hunting or gathering our food, going days on end without eating.  We don’t sleep outside on the ground in the elements.  We don’t bathe in cold creeks and rivers.  We’re beginning to discover all of these previous inconveniences our ancestors endured, were actually healthy and formational!

For the past seven years of doing PURSUIT, we have stumbled into the power of discomfort.  Getting comfortable being uncomfortable in our bodies through the workouts has enriched our mental, relational, and spiritual lives.

In our inception the concept was proven through Neil’s pier jump, overcoming his discomfort with heights and hurling himself over the edge of the pier into the cold water below. By him stepping into discomfort, a brand new sense of adventure and freedom was unlocked in his heart and life.

 Another member of PURSUIT found his way to us in the midst of the hardest time of his life. His marriage was unraveling.  He stepped into the discomfort of being vulnerable with us about his pain and loss and found a community willing to carry it with him.  What a privilege it’s been to witness the restoration that has taken place in his life.

 Anxiety and depression plague 1 out of 10 men.  One of the most difficult things I see men overcome is to show up when they are depressed.  In our last 90-Day challenge, one member shared with me that he was suffering from deep depression. After just one workout with us, the next day he reported his first solid night’s sleep and anxiety-free day he’s had in a long time.  That took tremendous discipline to overcome the feeling to hide.

 Witnessing spiritual discomfort has been the most interesting for me to observe.  We have all walks of life, faiths, or lack thereof, join us on the beach.  For some, the spiritual conversation is unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  Talking about God can bubble up trauma and pain caused by the church or other Christians.  Others, there is curiosity about this alternative way of living.  And still, others are inspired and opening their hearts to walking out a life of faith, integrity, honor, and love.

The PURSUIT prescribed lifestyle is modeled after the life of Jesus. The Bible claims him as the perfect man, and so we follow His way. His disciplines, challenges, and discomforts lead us to our edges.  Because the end of ourselves is where His abundant life in us begins.

 The stories over the past seven years are endless, and the evidence is overwhelming that when we step out of our comfort zones, the power of discomfort is unlocked in ways that modern science and medicine are only beginning to validate.

 As we can see in the examples above, discomfort transcends the physical into deeper parts of us. 

The physicality of PURSUIT is important, but it is merely the baseline on which we build everything else. Our mission is to activate men to become who they are, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Going beyond where you thought possible is faith. Faith is stepping into that which you are not sure about.  Faith is risk; releasing control to something beyond you. A starting point is to push your body past your comfort zones. It makes space for God to meet you and show you who you are and what you are made of. This is why I believe personal challenges are so important. They take us to the edge of ourselves.


Imagine discomfort as a key to unlocking the things you desire in life.

If you want to lose weight, allow yourself to experience hunger.

If you want to get fit, commit to regular exercise.

If you want to have meaningful relationships, serve others and make time for them.

If you want more money, experience lack and spend less.

If you want to experience deeper intimacy with God, spend quality time with Him in daily worship, prayer, and study.

If you want to see miracles, step out in faith and pray for strangers.

On and on it goes.


We become self-controlled, powerful, and free men when we embrace discomfort.

So we begin on the beach, (or your garage where ever you are) at 6:00 am to push our bodies minds, and spirits to discover the enriching power of discomfort.


See you on the sand.






Assumption of the Risk: I am aware that there are significant risks involved in all aspects of physical training.  I understand that the reaction of the heart, lungs and vascular system to exercise cannot always be predicted with accuracy.  I understand that there is a risk of certain abnormal changes occurring during or following exercise, which may include abnormalities of blood pressure or heart rate; chest, arm, or leg discomfort;  transient light-headedness or fainting; and in rare instances, heart attack, stroke, or even death.  I should look for any signs out of the ordinary,  including but not limited to excessive soreness, darkened urine, and pain in the kidney areas in the days following a workout. While this type of injury is very rare, it can occur due to many factors that may be beyond the control of PURSUIT/ Garden Church. I understand that the programs and classes offered by PURSUIT are of a nature and kind that are extremely strenuous and can/may push me to the limits of my physical ability.  These risks include, but are not limited to falls which can result in serious injury or death, injury or death due to negligence on the part of myself or other people around me, injury or death due to improper use or failure of equipment.  I am aware that any of these above-mentioned risks may result in serious injury or death to myself and/or others.  

I willingly assume full responsibility for any and all risks that I am exposing myself to as a result of my participation in PURSUITS’ programs and classes and accept full responsibility for any injury or death that may result from participation in any activity, class, or physical fitness program.    

Liability Release: I fully understand that my personal exercise program may be strenuous and I choose to participate voluntarily. I accept all responsibility for my health and any results, injury, or mishaps that may affect my well-being or health in any way. I waive any claims, demands,  causes of action, or any claims for relief whatsoever against, and release PURSUIT (as well Zac Ernst, Garden Church and its owners, employees, or other authorized agents, including independent contractors) from any and all liability, claims and/or causes of action that I may have for injuries or other damages, arising out of participation in PURSUITs’ activities, including, but not limited to the programs and classes. 

I agree that PURSUIT is in no way responsible for the safekeeping of my personal belongings while I attend its programs and classes. I understand that programs and classes at PURSUIT may be physically strenuous and I voluntarily participate in them with full knowledge that there is a risk of personal injury, property loss, or death. I agree that neither I, my heirs, assigns or legal representatives will sue or make any other claims of any kind whatsoever against PURSUIT or its members for any personal injury, property damage or loss, or wrongful death, whether caused by my negligence or otherwise.    

Description of Potential Risks: I understand that no exercise program is without inherent risks regardless of the care taken by an instructor and that my personal safety cannot be guaranteed by my instructor. I realize that when participating in any exercises, particularly those that induce cardiovascular stress, muscular endurance, strength building, and other fitness activities, there is a chance of serious injury, including but not limited to bruises, musculoskeletal strains, and sprains, more serious injuries including but not limited to heart attack, stroke, muscle tears, herniated disks, torn rotator cuffs, or other cardiovascular injuries, or catastrophic injuries including but not limited to death and paralysis.   

Participant Responsibilities: If Participant is able to answer affirmatively to any of the following questions, please consult a physician prior to any  involvement in PURSUITs’ programs and classes:   

  1. Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should perform physical activity recommended by a physician?  
  2. In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?  
  3. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?   
  4. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?  
  5. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs for your blood pressure or heart condition?   
  6. Do you know of any reason why you should not engage in physical activity?   

I understand that it is my responsibility to:  

  1. Fully disclose any health issues or medications that are relevant to participation in a strenuous exercise program to the instructor;
  2. Cease exercise and report promptly any unusual feelings (e.g., chest discomfort, nausea, difficulty breathing, apparent injury, etc.) during  the exercise program; and
  3. Clear my participation with my physician.   

Participant Acknowledgments: Agreeing to this exercise program, I acknowledge that my participation is completely voluntary. I understand the potential physical risks involved in the exercise program and believe that the potential benefits outweigh those risks. I give consent to certain physical touching that may be necessary to ensure proper technique and body alignment. I understand that the achievement of health and fitness goals cannot be guaranteed. I have had a voice in planning and approving the activities I have chosen to participate in. I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have, and have had those questions answered to my satisfaction. I am in good physical condition,                                       

I have no impairment which might prevent my participation in such activities, and have been advised to consult a physician prior to beginning this program. I have been advised to cease exercise immediately if I experience unusual discomfort and feel the need to stop. I have read and understood the above release; I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have; I have had those questions answered to my satisfaction.

I understand that my medical history is a very important factor in the development of my fitness/wellness program. I understand that certain medical or physical conditions which are known to me, but which I do not disclose to PURSUIT may result in serious injury to me.  If any of the above conditions change, I will immediately inform PURSUIT of those changes. I, knowingly, and willingly, assume all risk of injury resulting from my failure to disclose accurate, complete, and updated information in accordance with this release.   

I hereby certify that I know of no medical problems that would increase my risk of illness and injury as a result of participation in a fitness program designed by PURSUIT.  With my full understanding of the above information, I agree to assume any and all risks associated with my participation in PURSUIT programs and classes.

I acknowledge that I have voluntarily chosen to participate in a program of progressive physical exercise. I acknowledge being informed of the strenuous nature of the program and the potential for unusual but possible, physiological results including, but not limited to, abnormal blood pressure, rhabdomyolysis, fainting, heart attack, paralysis, or death. By signing this document, I assume all risk for my health and well-being and hold PURSUIT, Garden Church, as well as Zac Ernst, other owners, employees, and authorized agents, including independent contractors, harmless therefrom. I understand that questions about exercise procedures and recommendations are encouraged and welcome.           

Indemnification: I recognize that there is risk involved in the types of activities offered by PURSUIT. Therefore, I accept financial responsibility for any injury that I may cause either to myself or to any other participant due to his/her negligence. Should the above-mentioned parties, or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney’s fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree to reimburse them for such fees and costs. 

I further agree to indemnify and hold harmless PURSUIT, Garden Church, Zac Ernst, owners, agents, employees, independent contractors, and volunteers from liability for the injury or death of any person(s) and damage to property that may result from my negligent or intentional act or omission while participating in activities offered by PURSUIT.  

I have carefully read this Agreement and fully understand its contents. I am aware that this is a release and waiver of liability and sign it knowingly, voluntarily, and of my own free will.