Katherine Donnelly | 05.30.2018

As part of Outdoor Project's Women In the Wild series this summer, I have had the honor of working with outdoor women from all over the industry to dig a bit deeper into who they are, how they got to where they are now, how they approach the outdoors, and more. These women are all rad in their own right, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or how "badass" they might be. Whether they're mothers, daughters, sisters, professional athletes, beginners, weekend warriors, "instafamous," or anywhere in-between, their unique stories, journeys, opinions, and perspectives are incredibly valuable and insightful as Outdoor Project - and the industry as a whole - progresses and evolves to become more inclusive to every type of outdoors person. 

Through in-depth and often thought-provoking interviews, I hope to highlight these women's stories, their work, their adventures, and so much more with an eye toward giving them their well-deserved share of the spotlight while inspiring and empowering even more women to get outside!

In this feature we talk to Amy Schweim.

You'll most likely find this Woman In The Wild shredding the singletrack and surrounded by an equally awesome ladycrew, but there's so much more to know about Amy, and we are excited about all of the big things on the horizon for her. Get the full scoop below, and stay tuned as we roll out more interviews and features all summer long!

Photo by Abraham Lopez.

OP: Give us the skinny on who Amy Schweim is.

Amy Schweim: I'm the owner of Womens Radical Pursuits, a lover of life and wild adventures, a mountain bike and adrenaline addict, and a yogi and mindfulness teacher. I'm enamored with Latin America and traveling, obsessed with Spanish and Latin dance, passionate to inspire and help others live a fulfilled life "on purpose," and lastly and most importantly, I'm a lover of family, friends, and all people and animals on this planet. My brother's words long ago were, “Amy, you have a knack for bringing out the best in others.” And therein lies my purpose: to inspire and help others be their best selves!

OP: When did you first know that you were going to spend your life in the outdoors?

Amy Schweim: I remember my first trip to the mountains like it was yesterday. After I graduated from high school, my dad and I loaded up the truck and camper and headed west to Wyoming. The trip to the mountains was a first for both of us, and it was the most impactful trip I’ve ever taken. I’ll never forget hiking through the Tetons and meeting a woman who was a mountain bike guide. She was probably in her 30s, and I remember thinking, “I want to be her.” Strong, resilient, fit, and happy living in the mountains! I remember her vividly, like it was yesterday. From that trip on, I found myself inching closer and closer to living life in the mountains and outdoors. I owe that to my dad, who brought me out West for the first time; he is one of my best friends and greatest supporters in my journey, and we have a shared love and passion for the outdoors. To this day he continues to support me and encourage me to live my dreams.

OP: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the outdoor industry?

Amy Schweim: It means the world to me to be part of the outdoor industry, and I believe that being in an outdoor environment, particularly the mountains, has contributed to shaping me into the woman I am today.

It means that I’m not afraid to take risks physically, mentally, and emotionally. It means that I value the natural world, which provides me with the passion to share the unforgettable moments of joy, connection and adventure with other women. While in the outdoors I strive to live the vision and mission of my company, which is to inspire, empower, and live life "on purpose." It means that I am unafraid to follow the path less traveled and embark on journeys that not only lead me to beautiful places in nature but also into the truth of myself in those quiet moments when I am in the stillness of the wilderness. It means that I am able stand up and empower myself in a male-dominated industry and say, “I got this.” And not only can I do it, but I can operate my business in my own unique and authentic way that provides outdoor adventures that have the potential to leave my clients transformed and inspired to pursue passion, purpose and fulfillment in life. Travel and outdoor adventure are two of the best catalysts for stepping out of personal comfort zones, seeing different perspectives, and making changes to one’s life. In my humble opinion, that is.

OP: What has the outdoors done for you, and how do you pay it back?

Amy Schweim: The outdoors has shaped me into the strong and independent woman I am today. I go to the outdoors and mountains to connect with myself and a source or life force that is greater than me. It is in the most beautiful places in the outdoors that I am able to see a bigger perspective and feel small in a world that sometimes feel chaotic. There is nothing more magical and moving than watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset with over a mountain; that makes the world stand still for me. The outdoors, particularly the mountains, are the places where I feel free, happy and light. I feel the most beautiful with dirt on my face and wind in my hair, raw and real with sweat and blood instead of makeup , perfume and high heels. Okay...there is a time and place for fancy, and I do enjoy it, but I feel the most comfortable and confident being in the elements of the outdoors. I love the lessons that the mountains teach: to stop and enjoy the simple things in life, to push and challenge yourself, to be flexible when the winds and weather change. And I love how these lessons have taught me to find the balance between the softness and beauty of the landscapes and the toughness that it takes to conquer the climbs and get to the summit.

I have paid it back by providing empowering experiences to other women and young girls. I was an assistant for Tina Ouleys mountain bike program called “Every Pedal” in Durango, Colorado, and I helped her with her mountain bike program for young girls. I loved being part of her mission to cultivate an environment that promotes connectedness, confidence, teamwork, and bike-handling skills. Tina created a fun environment for girls to get out and discover that sense of empowerment that riding a bike, especially a mountain bike, can provide. I also work with the children of Lachatao, Mexico, a little village up in the mountains outside of Oaxaca. I hike with the children at the school and teach them yoga in the outdoors.

In addition to helping kids explore the outdoors, I provide adventures to women through my business, Womens Radical Pursuits, which offers life-changing experiences to women through adventure travel, mountain bike trips around the world, and opportunities to explore new landscapes in different countries.

OP: Conservation and protection of our public lands are central themes in today’s outdoor recreation narrative. As someone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors and on public lands, what role do you think outdoor enthusiasts should play in this evolving conversation and landscape?

Amy Schweim: Outdoor enthusiasts should play a huge role in the conservation and protection of public lands because this is where our passion, joy, and adventure thrives and lives! I think it is our role and responsibility to stay on top of what is going on and take action against the proposed bills that threaten our places of sanctuary and sanity. These are sacred beautiful places that should be open to all for recreational purposes rather than federal profit, the mining or drilling for gas and oil, and whatever other asinine ideas are proposed. There are a variety of ways to stand up against these bills and proposals, some of which include signing petitions, joining alliances, and making calls to Congressional representatives to speak up...and every one of the calls counts!

OP: Who has inspired you along the way?

Amy Schweim: I have enjoyed an ocean of inspiration on my journey into the world of the outdoors and extreme sports, and it all starts with my dad. He was the most influential as he was the one who encouraged me to pursue my passion for the mountains and move out West. And there have been many other people who have added touches of inspiration throughout the 20 years I have lived in Colorado, which is a mecca for outdoor adventures and like-minded adventurous spirits!

OP: What does adventure mean to you?

Amy Schweim: My initial thought and response is adventure in a physical sense: exploring the mountains, pushing the limits, taking calculated risks, mountain biking, enjoying epic vistas and new singletrack through uncharted wilderness, reaching new summits, and stepping into the unknown and unpredictable elements of the outdoors.

But there is the other part of adventure that is more internal and applies to more than just sports or the outdoors, like facing fear and moving forward even though it scares you to the core. It means trusting your gut and intuition to make tough decisions, fulfilling your dreams even though you can’t see the "how," leaving your own legacy behind, and stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning to be comfortable with the discomfort. It means overcoming failure and disappointment and rising up stronger and as a better human, being grateful for every experience, discovering oneself through uncharted territory, and finally, living every moment to the fullest and cherishing every experience and the memories made.

OP: What does the term "badass" mean to you?

Amy Schweim: Years ago, that was a word that I strived to embody and to be identified by when it came to all of the sports I practiced, mainly mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing. I always wanted to push the limits and keep up (or try to be ahead) of the pack. And now, looking back, I can see that it was more of this weird "proving" sort of thing coming from a lack of confidence. I strived for that title through some kind of effort to make myself feel like I was good enough.

Thankfully, that has changed! Now that I am in my 40s and really know who I am and what matters, I don’t need to prove anything, and I view "badass" with a broader definition. "Badass" comes down to “doing you” and being authentic and real in everything you do, whether it is a sports-based activity or the expression of who you are and how you live your life. People can be badass in all sorts of ways: career, art, dance, self-expression, sports, or whatever impressive talent one holds that goes above and beyond and creates that "wow, that’s badass" response!

Personally, I’ve identified "badass" in a softer way, like listening to my body tell me when to push versus when to take it easy. This means charging and pushing it when I feel like it instead of accommodating external pressures. It means learning how to express myself and be vulnerable when something scares me, because stuff comes up when we expose ourselves, and it means learning how to communicate with myself in a loving and compassionate way when I beat myself up for coming short. Between my passions and interests outside of sports and the person I strive to be, there are so many other areas of my life that take precedence over having to be a "badass" athlete. Now I just make it a goal to “do me” and to give 110% to anything and everything I do, whether it is mountain biking or another life passion.

OP: How have you managed to align your career with your passion for the outdoors? And do you have any advice for someone who is looking to do the same?

Amy Schweim: I decided to take all of my passions and wrap them up into my career adventuring in the outdoors and exploring new mountains on two wheels with the opportunity to explore different countries and cultures! For me it was easy to identify my passions and put them together: mountain biking + yoga + travel and cultural exploration = my dream job. I love creating unforgettable experiences and memories along with inspiring and impactful opportunities that have the potential to help my clients make big life shifts and positive changes! My advice to someone seeking to do the same is to get clear on what you want (identify passions!) and what your "why" is for wanting it! I worked with a transformational life coach who really helped me break through my limiting beliefs and think outside the box in terms of how I wanted to live my life, what I wanted to do, and how to make it happen! I would highly recommend getting some sort of assistance, whether it be life coaching another form of support that works for you. It helped me greatly!

OP: We are seeing a shift in what the term woman or female might bring to mind (LGBTQ), both in the outdoor community and throughout the world. What does being a woman mean to you? Femininity?

Amy Schweim: I am grateful everyday to have been born a woman because I feel a natural, subtle and unspoken strength. I love the emotional depth of feelings and the complexity of thought processes that I am able to experience. Through my mindfulness and yoga practice I've learned to appreciate both of these characteristics and use them to my advantage rather than being controlled by the ups and downs. It is a true gift and blessing to be able to deeply feel life.

Femininity to me means being smart, strong, and independent while embodying an inner and outer beauty. To be kind, soft, and sensitive while at the same time filled with inner strength and a healthy dose of "toughness." I find this combination helps me to be bold, brave, and to move forward and pursue what I want in life while standing up for myself.

OP: What mantra or set of words do you live by?

Amy Schweim: Set of words: “With confidence and belief in myself; I can do, have, or be anything I want in life.” Mantra: "Om Namah Shivaya," which means "I bow to the inner self."

OP: In a perfect world, what does the outdoors (the people, the places, the community as a whole, etc.) look like to you? And what can outdoor brands and media companies, such as Outdoor Project, do better to help get us there?

Amy Schweim: It looks like happy outdoor enthusiasts exploring and adventuring while respecting, valuing, and taking care of the wilderness! Everyone has that unique place in the outdoors that calls to them, whether it is climbing a 14,000-foot mountain, rafting through the Grand Canyon, or just strolling around a beautiful lake! One thing I think is super important is to get youth into the outdoors, particularly those who live in cities and who may not have had previous opportunities. I believe the outdoors has the powerful potential to shape and change people through the subtleties of the natural beauty, adventure, and exposure to the elements. Getting outside allows people to step outside of their comfort zones and push themselves through sports, a process that greatly influenced my life at an early age! The perfect outdoor community encompasses people of all ages, from babies in backpacks to elders!

I think outdoor brands and media companies can build this community with articles, photos, and information on how and where to access these beautiful places! I especially love seeing these companies supporting environmental activism because that is a huge part of protecting and respecting these places where we recreate. As more and more people are discovering this world, it is super important for them to understand and be aware of best practices and to how to respect these beautiful natural “playgrounds!”

OP: What is one thing that you never leave home without?

Amy Schweim: A positive attitude and heart full of gratitude!

OP: Let’s talk gear - What are your thoughts on women-specific gear? Love it, hate it? Are there any companies out there doing it right? And how so? When does it matter to you most to have gear specific to women versus unisex products?

Amy Schweim: I’ll be honest here, I’m not a big gear guru or junkie! My Crested Butte ladies will giggle on this as I spent the majority of my mountain bike years in my camoflauge river shorts! I’ve always just rolled with the basics and never paid close attention to attire and having the latest gear. I rode a hard-tail Voodoo up until six years ago, skied used skis, and paddled hand me down used kayaks! I’m quite simple; however, I sure do love my Kona Process, which was the first new full suspension mountain bike I bought, and there is a huge difference in the performance! I do see the value and difference in the latest gear, attire and improvements. Maybe that simple style stems from the way I grew up on the farm in my early years.

I will add that I upgraded my mountain bike shorts a few years ago once I discovered Ashley Rankin’s “Shredly” shorts! They are the best women's mountain bike shorts out there, and there are super fun styles for a little fashion and flare while ripping down sweet singletrack.

OP: What is the greatest piece of advice or direction that you’ve ever received, and what’s the story behind it?

Amy Schweim: “90% of what we worry about never happens. Focus on the 10% chance that something amazing can happen.” Once again, my dad always reminds me of this fact, and it’s helped me a lot. I have a tendency to worry. My yoga/mindfulness practice helps, as do these words. Such truth.

OP: If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were just starting out with Womens Radical Pursuits, what would it be?

Amy Schweim: “Have patience and allow things to unfold in their time.” I still have to tell myself this, especially when things aren’t always clear, predictable, and happening when I want or need them to. Embarking on this path hasn’t been the easiest, and certainly not the most predictable, but it is worth every step because I have broken through limitations in my mind. It’s been a really empowering and beautiful journey. But patience, still, can be a tough one for me to practice.

OP: In a world seemingly run by online personas, how do you approach social media, and how does it play into your lifestyle - both work and play?

Amy Schweim: Ah, social media: a love-hate for me. There are many times I want to pull the plug and just be anonymous! However, it plays one of the largest roles in my business right now as it is where I have gotten the majority of my clients thus far. It definitely has a presence in my lifestyle as I have to check in to engage with my audience, but mostly it is very positive and creates connection with friends, family, and those seeking adventures! I put boundaries around the time spend on it: I try not to check it before 10 a.m. and not after 9 p.m. I shoot for those two times, of course, with flexibility. This helps me feel more balanced, because social media can certainly be a time and attention sucker if you aren’t intentional about usage!

OP: What’s next for you in the coming months and years?

Amy Schweim: More breaking through fears and making dreams come true! There are no guarantees in the beginning stages of building a business, and every day takes discipline, perseverance, and an effort to hold on to the vision of what I want in my mind. In the upcoming months I will make a maiden voyage to Peru and Cuba! My long-term goal is to have trips in eight different countries, one a month! Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Spain, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador are on the horizon!

OP: The title of your autobiography would be...

Amy Schweim: Just. Do. You.

OP: In your next life, you will come back as...

Amy Schweim: A smart and sexy Colombian woman with Latin dance moves that will make men drool.

OP: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

Amy Schweim: Sorry, I can’t answer this one! I seriously can’t think of anything that No one knows about me!

OP: If our readers were to take one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

Amy Schweim: That you can be, do, and have anything you want in your life with clear intentions, tenacity, self-confidence, and trust and faith that it will all work out.


Learn more about Amy and Womens Radical Pursuits here, and follow along on Amy's adventures through Facebook or Instagram.


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