Athlete Profiles

Axel Yount and Mary Anderson

You’re both two of our original TMP athletes! What first motivated you to come train at The Mountain Project? 

Mary: We moved to Bozeman right before TMP opened and were looking for a gym. I trained with Emily a bit in Missoula and loved her classes so knew I had to try it out! As I was getting more into trail running and running longer distances, I was nervous about getting injured and also wanted to improve overall strength. TMP helps me stay healthy and achieve running and skiing goals. For example, Ive been working towards running a 50 miler for a few years and TMP helped me accomplish that this summer.

Axel: I was attracted to the focus on functional strength. I like how the exercises make me better in the mountains rather than just making me better in the gym.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves! How you met, your lives here in Bozeman, how you like to spend your time outside…

Mary: I met in college in Missoula (Go Griz!). We went running on our first date, Axel got us lost, and I kept hanging out with him since he had a car and could drive me to ski at Snowbowl. We’ve been married for 5 years now! Outside of our day jobs, we do a lot of running and skiing. If I could do anything any day, it would be skiing. I’m also trying to get into mountain biking, which is terrifying!

Axel: Sounds about right!

You both recently went and backpacked England’s Coast to Coast trail – tell us about it! Any more big adventures planned in the future? 

Mary: England was really cool! My parents let us tag along their trip so it was great family adventure time. A lot of sheep, good Indian food, and who knew England had such cool mountains and lakes? We’re currently working on exploring more of MT and feel lucky to live somewhere with such easy access. Hopefully international adventures will happen again soon too!

Partner  fitness duel: ski battle, TMP battle, run battle — who would win which?

Axel: Ski Battle: This one is close. We always try to release the other out of their bindings but no one seems to gain the upper hand. Poles can usually be stolen pretty easily and a blind-sided tackle is never out of the question on a pow day. That the kind of battle you’re talking about, right?

TMP Battle: Planks: me. Every other exercise: Mary.

Run Battle: I might win a shorter race but Mary is undefeated at 50 miles.

How would each of you describe The Mountain Project? It’s athletes, community, coaches, etc….

Mary: All aspects of TMP are welcoming and fun. I never feel intimidated by class, the coaches, etc. even though everyone is a total badass. The coaches are thoughtful and attentive. I love running into other TMP athletes around town and in the mountains, it’s a great connection to share.

Axel: I agree!

Marypat Zitzer

Tell us about yourself, your family, and your journey to calling Bozeman your home.

I’m 63 years old and married to my partner, husband, and father to our 3 amazing children, (Al). I came to Bozeman for the first time in the 70’s and moved here on a whim in 1980. My sister was here already and visiting me in Wisconsin and asked if I wanted to move to Bozeman and I said “why not”, so here I am. I worked for Kletterworks, Dana Design, Mojo systems, wilderness experience and Mystery Ranch while gaining residency and going to MSU graduating as a Bobcat in May of 1985. In June of 1985 Al and I set off on our first cross Canada expedition of 14 months – read Al’s first book Water and Sky for all details. We got married upon our return and continued our lives skiing, biking, hiking and going to Canada in the summers to get away from the crowds – HA!

Becoming a Mother was such a privilege and I loved it. My community of women, friends, family, and my partnership with Al helped keep us all outside and in the wilderness. We had the kids on river trips by the time they were a few months old and skiing all kinds, biking and hiking, running and swimming. It is such a joy to share the outdoors with your kids – they show you and teach you so many things! Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of energy to get there but, once there, the rewards are grand! Hard and uncomfortable at times and we questioned ourselves all the time, but the rivers and mountains always won out! Bozeman was a great place to raise kids.

How did you first come to find yourself taking classes at The Mountain Project?

Al and I have been friends with Mike and [his brother] Patrick’s parents for years and watched the two grow up. So when Mike opened his gym I wanted to support him. Needless did I know how hooked I would get. And, bonus, two Super Women Emily and Colleen came into my life! Plus two of my kids got hooked also.

We know that you’ve been able to go on some pretty amazing trips, adventures and treks – what advice would you give to a young athlete first starting out with their own adventures?

Picking your trip or adventure partners is key to success. Choose people who are well versed at whatever the activity; not hard-driving-goal-seeking so much but personable, capable, strong and has a good sense of humor and can laugh at oneself.

If you could only pick one outdoor activity to do for the entire summer – the one that truly puts you in your happy place – what would it be? 

I have found that most often it’s the people you’re with that make a difference in the activity. In the mountains, on the water, on the snow, on the bike or trail, if I am with my family, kids, and Al I am the happiest; then my gal pals and all my friends. The outdoors always gives me peace and strength. Solo time is very important.

 Thomas Hellman

Tell us a little bit about yourself. We know you work for REACH Air Medical, are happily married to Nora Hellman, and often provide some sarcastic, comedic relief in the gym – but, what does a day in the life of Hellman look like? 

A day in the life? It’s usually pretty vanilla. My job affords me a deluxe schedule that leaves plenty of space for recreation, community involvement, and family. My interests are similar to most of us living in and around Bozeman. I’m drawn to the energy found playing in the mountains. Quality of life is a priority and that means a healthy work – life balance that includes bicycles, skis, running shoes, coffee, a camera, Nora (hot wife), usually a dog and always adventure.

What first brought you to The Mountain Project to train?

I have known and worked with Mike Foote for many years. He, along with some old Missoula friends, told me that Mike Wolfe was creating a place for everyone. This was something different and it has not been a disappointment. The Mountain Project cultivates dynamism. We are challenged as athletes to train and develop physical as well as mental strength and endurance. It also happens to be fun.

We’ve heard a lot of thoughts and opinions on TMP’s playlists during class. Tell us, for music, Wolfe, Kipp, or Colleen? 

I’m confused why this is still a question. Wolfe.

If you were to describe The Mountain Project – it’s community, classes, and coaches – in three words, they would be: 

1. relationships
2. dynamism
3. tribe

If you could stock the gym’s mini fridge with one food or drink that was all yours to snag post-workout, what would it be? 

Coconut water. I really like coconut water.

Brianne Stevenson

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you chose Bozeman as your home? What do you do for work? And what does an average day in the life of Bri look like?

Moving to Bozeman 5 years ago was coming home to the state that had my heart. I grew up in Missoula and knew I wanted to get back to Montana eventually. The backyard playground lifestyle of Bozeman intrigued me to job hunt here. I’m a physical therapist and love that I get to help the community get back out to adventuring in our mountain trails and rivers…or shoveling all the snow in their driveways!


What brought you to The Mountain Project for your first training session, class, or event?

I was looking into different workout classes to get some conditioning before ski season and heard about this new gym opening called The Mountain Project. Their training philosophy and workout style of cardio/strength/agility/plyometrics was exactly what I was looking for. I came the first day the gym opened and haven’t looked back. This is an amazing community of friends/adventure buddies!


What motivates you to keep coming back and doing the work? Are there specific events/races you’re training for? Or is it simply the desire to be in your best shape for whatever adventures come along?

I’m a fan of getting my sweat on and the classes at TMP make that happen! They keep me in shape so I can attempt to keep up with my uber athletic friends. I do a few races a year for fun, but mainly just adventure to keep me young at heart.


What are the top 3 words you’d use to describe the community of coaches at The Mountain Project?

Bad-ass. Witty. Passionate


OK. Now for the important stuff. What’s your post-adventure beverage or indulgence of choice?

I’m not too picky when it comes to imbibing post-adventure drinks… usually a cold beer with good company!

Oksana Masters

You’re a world-class athlete and total badass!  What first brought you to The Mountain Project as the best gym/training option to hit your competition goals?

The mountain project had everything we were looking for in training for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. I absolutely love the layout and the bad ass feeling you get when you workout there. The way you can train there you can’t train in any other place. 


Tell us a little bit about your training sessions at TMP.  What keeps you motivated while pushing you to new limits of physical and emotional strength for Olympic level competition?

Our training sessions will vary on what the training block is. A month out from the Paralympic Games we are doing power lifts. I get motivated to push my self in the gym by seeing so many new innovative workouts the coaches set up for classes and it’s always good to change things up and keep your body guessing. Every time i am in the gym Mike and Emily are always psyched to follow our success at races and go above and beyond in making sure we have what we need. It’s an amazing feeling knowing the place you train is so supportive. I love working out there. PLUS their music there is always on point!

Where have you felt the most progress in your competitive edge while getting your sweat on at TMP? 

I would have to say having the ability to train during the weekends and holidays like Christmas and thanksgiving. We have been super lucky and fortunate to have the ability to get our sweat on when ever our training calls. I am so grateful for the generosity the Mountain project has given us. When we bring home a medal for team USA, The mountain project will own half of that medal because our success wouldn’t be possible without the ability to get our sweat on off the snow.

Give us a glimpse of the events you’ll be competing in during upcoming weeks and months, and how you’re mentally preparing in addition to all of your physical training?

I will be racing in all Cross Country events, sprint, middle and long distance. And all of the Biathlon, sprint, mid and individual and possibly a cross country relay. Right now my mental prep is just believing in the work I have put in on snow and at The Mountain Project.  Now it’s just sharpening things and staying relaxed.

When the TMP community gets together to cheer you on and celebrate your victories, should we toast with IPA, champagne, or kombucha?

Ooohhh that is a tough one.  But, of course I would have to go with an IPA or maybe a whiskey!

Aaron Pike

You’re a world-class athlete and a total badass!  What first brought you to The Mountain Project as the best gym/training option to hit your competition goals?

The Paralympic national team has made Bozeman home for the past two winters.  One of the first things that we tried to figure out was where we were going to get our strength workouts. We checked out a couple places in town and quickly gravitated to The Mountain Project.   Mike and Emily were awesome about letting us move anything around to accommodate our lifting session.  The gym gives us endless possibilities for plyometric exercises.

Tell us a little bit about your training sessions.  How do TMP coaches keep you motivated while pushing you to new limits of physical and emotional strength for Olympic level competition?

We usually have a few  basic lifts like pull-ups and bench press.  We also utilize medicine balls for many different plyometric workouts.  We have about 10 different standard lifts and then also a bunch of dynamic core  exercises that are important to Nordic skiing.  The coaches at the Mountain Project are always positive and engaged in the workout.  I think that when you are training at the highest level you usually don’t need motivation –  but with that said the coaches at the Mountain Project create a awesome relaxed and focused environment that promotes a very positive and fun place to push yourself and work for big gains.

Where have you felt the most progress in your competitive edge while getting your sweat on at TMP?

I think that I have made the most progress in my explosiveness on snow and I have continued to improve my core strength which has made a major impact in my skiing.

Give us a glimpse of the events you’ll be competing in during upcoming weeks and months, and how you’re mentally preparing in addition to all of your physical training?

We are now down to the home stretch we have had a couple world cups one in Canmore Canada and then another in the Black Forest in Germany.  The main focus this year though is obviously the Paralympic Winter Games and we will be heading to Korea the 1st of March and competition starts on the 9th of march.  I will be competing in 2 cross country races the Sprint event and the middle distance which is 7.5km.  I will also be competing in 3 Biathlon races the Sprint, middle, and Long distance race, the distances vary from 1km to 15km.

When the TMP community gets together to cheer you on and celebrate your victories, should we toast with IPA, champagne, or kombucha?

I’m a pretty simple guy and would definitely appreciate it if everybody enjoyed their favorite beer should I make the podium !   Only in Bozeman would someone make Kombucha an option to celebrate with haha, you have to love this town.

TMP Note:  Kombucha would never be our first option either, Aaron.  Bring on the PBR.

Patrick Burr

Give us a little background info about you – like  how you picked Bozeman as your mountain adventures hometown, what you do for work, and what your average day is like?

I moved to Bozeman in 1996 with my parents. My dad often jokes about how I’m not grateful enough that he brought us here instead of some city. I grew up snowboarding, hiking and fishing. Now my main outdoor activities are trail running, backpacking and foraging for mushrooms, berries and whatever else I can find.

I own Roots Kitchen & Cannery which is a small batch cannery focused on using local produce and fruit. My day involves sourcing produce, coming up with fun new recipes, sales calls, jamming, canning and whatever else comes up.

What brought you to The Mountain Project for your first training session, class, or event?

My kitchen has been located at 507 Bond St for 4 years now and I was so fortunate to have Mike Wolfe purchase the building and move in next door. It has been incredibly motivating and inspiring to have him and his crew as neighbors. They invited me over to train on their opening day and I’ve been consistently working out there since. It has been incredible to say the least.

What motivates you to keep coming back and doing the work?  Are there specific events/races you’re training for?  Or are you just looking to kick a@# whenever adventures come along?

I have a few races that I’m training for including a 50k, but mostly I just want to be in the best shape that I can be so I can run around in the woods like an animal. The training at the Mountain Project has made me more sure footed and increased my endurance to a level I didn’t think I would achieve especially in such a short amount of time.

Give us the top 3 words that come to mind when you think about the community of coaches and athletes at The Mountain Project

Compassionate, inspiring, and FUN!

What is the post-adventure or workout indulgence of choice that keeps you going when you need some extra motivation to get it done?

When I get back from a backpacking trip or a long run I usually crave Snickers and Doritos, which I rarely eat on my day to day.

Cory Reistad

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How long have you called Bozeman home?

I was born and raised in Bozeman.    During my college years, I spent a semester in St Petersburg Russia, then came home briefly before moving on to sojourns in New York City, Milan Italy, and San Francisco, CA.  In the year 2000, at 30, I decided it was time to move back home.

Why did you decide to check out The Mountain Project for the first time?  Was it a certain coach, class, or open gym availability?

My girlfriend introduced me to Mountain Project.   She was at the time a fitness trainer and believed that the type of  training at Mountain Project would fit my lifestyle.

What are the biggest rewards for you – both in terms of your training or fitness levels. as well as the community of other athletes and coaches you’ve met?

The rewards from The Mountain Project are profound:   I run further, I run faster, I can ski hard all day, I feel stronger. Mountain Project teaches us-or perhaps reminds us- that working hard produces benefits.

What would you tell someone who’s intimidated to try working out at TMP because they think it’s for elite athletes?

For a first time at TMP’er:  Get ready to understand and acknowledge muscles in your body that you never knew you had.   Im not a fitness guru, but Mountain Project is about balance and agility as much as it is strength, and that means we find new muscles to tweak every day.

Ruby Zitzer

Give us the low down on who you are and what makes you tick!

My name is Ruby Zitzer. I am 22 years old I was born and raised in Bozeman.  I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up in such an awesome town with a solid community and outdoor opportunities.

I grew up in a family passionate about the outdoors and exposing the beauty and opportunities it offers.  I grew up nordic ski racing for BSF along with running, paddling, mountain biking and whatever else got me outside. I took some time off after high school to travel, ski and adventure. I am currently a student at MSU trying to confirm my major in Human Development and science or snow and avalanche forecasting.

How did you decide to make The Mountain Project your gym to keep you primed for all your mountain adventures?

I began going to mountain project because my mom and brother were and loved it. I also grew up knowing Mike and was interested and excited to check it out. I really fell in love with it all the first class.

I have a hard time going to the gym by myself and doing quality workouts. The gym is so important when it comes to doing other sports, working out at mountain projects builds the strength I need in order to avoid injuring myself when exploring the outdoors. I think Mountain Project has a wonderful, warm, welcoming fun atmosphere along with the guarantee that the workout will make you sore.

What progress have you seen since you started training at TMP?  (in terms of both physical and mental performance/attitude)?

Since I started working out at mountain project my overall strength has drastically improved as well as my balance. Mountain Project has helped me become faster and more confident when I am out in the mountains.

What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about TMP because they think it’s for elite athletes?

I would tell them that I work out there and I am far from an elite athlete. I would encourage them to come because there are people of all ages with different ranges of strengths and weaknesses. You go to the gym for yourself and your own improvement so it shouldn’t matter what the other peoples abilities are. Not to mention no matter how elite the person is I guarantee that they are having their own challenges and soreness from the workouts.

How are you planning to use your mountain fitness and stoke to get out there this winter?

I will be in Idaho this winter so I will have a lot of new mountains to ski and explore, I will need to have full body strength to keep adventuring and prevent injuries. I will also be nordic coaching and will need to be in good shape so I can keep up.

Doug Eby

You’re one of the original athletes to sign up for training at The Mountain Project. Tell us what drew you to the gym and training programs in the first place.

I started working with Mike in the summer of 2016, while training for The Rut 50K. He was offering Rut training plans, and I decided if anyone would know how to train for The Rut, it would be him. I knew of his previous accomplishments, and I was excited to work with him. Through training, I learned that he was moving to Bozeman to open a gym in August of 2016. I checked out the gym and fell in love with it.

Who have been your coaches at TMP? How did their coaching style and customized training program work for you in terms of keeping you motivated and committed?

All of the coaches are amazing! They take training seriously, but have positive and energetic personalities. The Mountain Project community is awesome; it’s not just coaches and clients, but a team of friends united by a common passion for being in the mountains. As an ultra-runner, I have been working primarily with Mike. It has been incredible training with him. He’s a legend. The goals I want to accomplish someday, He’s been there, done that. That really keeps me motivated and inspired to train hard. As a coach, He is really down to earth and truly cares about his athletes and helping them accomplish their goals.

Where have you seen the biggest performance results since starting your The Mountain Project workouts?

Mobility and Flexibility. Apparently you’re supposed to work on stuff like that as a runner. I started taking the mobility class last summer as a focused recovery/stretch session, and since the first class it has kicked my butt. Strength training with TMP, especially during the off season, has also played a huge part in correcting weaknesses and building the strength needed to run up mountains.

What are the mountain adventures or athletic goals that keep you coming back to The Mountain Project for a good sweat and steady progress?

I love spending big days in big mountains. I’m drawn to a spiritual side of ultra-running, diving into the unknown in search of my own limits, until I’m defeated in humility by the biggest mountains. I have my eyes set on races like Hardrock, UTMB, even Tor des Geants.

If challenged to a fitness duel, would you choose burpees, pull-ups, or squat jumps?

Squat jumps. It’s going down.

Emma Stein

Tell us a little bit about yourself in terms of where you grew up and what your life is like now.  Why have you chosen Bozeman as your current base camp for life’s adventures, big and small?

Born and raised here, my roots have always been in Bozeman. I left for seven years after high school, attending college in Vermont and spending a few years beach running, road biking, and working in San Francisco, but this August Bozeman wooed me back, as I knew it eventually would. I love that phrase, “base camp for life’s adventures” – it so adeptly describes what Bozeman is to me. It’s a place you long to come back home to and a place from which you eagerly take the first step out of, into unknown adventures, challenges, and yet-to-be-friendships that lay before you…. plus, for a landlocked state, the sushi ain’t too shabby either.

What mountain adventures or fitness goals brought you to TMP?  How have the classes and/or training programs helped you make steady progress toward those goals?

The longest and truest friendships in my life have been made experiencing memorable (typically painful), unplanned, and untimed training in the mountains together. It’s those individuals that brought me to the front door of The Mountain Project this year. What I’ve come to know over the last 6 months is that The Mountain Project coaches are made of the same cloth as those friends I’ve made running (slogging), skiing (falling), and biking (definitely falling) in the mountains. Their expertise, easy laughter, friendship, and focus on the Bozeman community have me walking through the front door every week, smile on my face, determined to be better, do better, and strive for bigger goals.

Where do you want your TMP training to take you in the next year? Any specific races or events on your horizon?

My highest priority for the next year is to stay happy, healthy, and injury free to participate in the multitude of races and events that happen throughout the summer and fall. Most recently, I’ve been mulling over an idea which involves choreographing a 200+ mile, 30+ hour, relay race through Yellowstone National Park…pending wildlife cooperation.

What’s your favorite way to rest, recharge, and celebrate the end of a hard training session or big outdoor adventure?  Food or beverage indulgence recommendations welcomed 🙂

Pizza. It’s all about the pizza. (Bonus points awarded if said pizza is paired with fresh, cold Moscow Mules.)