September–October 2022


Challenge Accepted

Chance York discusses recreation, inspiration, and Outside Chance, the TV show he hosts.

Hiroto Hayashi

Chance York wears many hats as a yogi, emcee, rapper, gardener, and wide-ranging outdoor enthusiast. This multitalented lover of nature is the host of a new show streaming on Twin Cities PBS called Outside Chance. Season One followed York throughout Minnesota to take on snowkiting, photography in frigid Lake Superior, rock climbing, geocaching, mountain biking, urban farming, shore fishing, and log rolling. In each episode, he is joined by a local expert to cover the history and practice of their favorite Minnesota pastime.

York ascribes his love for movement and outdoor recreation to the lessons he’s learned about health through his yoga practice. “Wellness doesn’t have to be super complicated,” he says. “I think simplifying our path to wellness by building on the things we like is powerful. I think just stepping out of the pace and rhythm of the city and back into the rhythms of nature is a natural, easy way to reset, ground, and be present.” 

We recently spoke with York about outdoor recreation, his life, and his role in Outside Chance.

Q | Where did you grow up?

Near Lake Minnetonka in Deephaven, a little town in between Minnetonka and Wayzata near Robinson’s Bay and Carson’s Bay. We were a short walk away from a couple of different beaches, so we would go fishing on the weekends and my grandpa would bring his boat out. When I was a kid, I loved fishing. Lake life was definitely a part of where I grew up. 

Q | How did you get into yoga?

When I was a freshman in college, I bought the book Yoga for Dummies pocket edition, and that’s what got me started with yoga. It was always part of my life but way more in the background. Then I slipped into a midlife crisis type of experience that led me back to a deeper commitment to self-study and meditation—to taking care of myself and making better decisions. My first yoga mentor was the first guy who told me I should be teaching yoga.

Q | How did you get involved as the host of Outside Chance?
That comes down to my music background. When I first met Ryan [Klabunde], the producer of this show, he was directing a regional show. Then, when the pandemic hit, he produced a series called Pandemic Performances. They sent a crew over to my house, and we performed a couple of songs in my garden. A few months later, just hanging out and talking, he was very curious about my wellness background and asked what my day job was like. Two months later he and Luke [Heikkila, production manager] said they had this idea for a series and asked what my risk tolerance was—how I would feel about things like surfing in Lake Superior. Well, my risk tolerance is pretty high. I like challenging my comfort zone. After that sit-down we decided that I would be hosting the show. Then, after we shot the pilot and it was approved, we thought of the name Outside Chance.

Q | What is your approach to the show?
Every episode that we shoot has a unique physical activity and a unique physical relationship to the outdoors. I’m just challenging myself. It feels good to fail and then succeed. The most important thing that I try to model to everybody is it’s OK to try something new. It’s OK to be nervous or hesitant or overcome your fears because that is part of being a person. The attitude that we take toward challenge is the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, which changes “I can’t do it” into “I can’t do it yet.”

Q | What will be some of the topics for Season Two, which launches this fall?
The next eight episodes will probably be summer and fall activities. Then, if all goes well, we might do a full winter season as well.

Q | What else have you been working on?
The show and the PBS education group teamed up, and we’re creating lessons for middle-schoolers based on each episode of Outside Chance. We’re coming up with lessons that teachers can take and do different activities with their kids. 

Q | How can people get involved teaching others about the outdoors?
If you’re going fishing, bring somebody with you. That’s what it is. It’s each one, teach one. Not all of us are given a giant platform or a bunch of students or a TV show to do so, but we all know somebody or several people that we can take outside with us.