This is a guest post from George Titsworth over at GeekIntoShape.
We geeks have an unfortunate dilemma when attempting to go from geek to super awesome fitness geek of infinite power.
Our hobbies — gaming, coding, reading, correcting people on the internet — tend to be measured in hours and days of time commitment and normally involve some sort of social commitment as well — guild raiding, project deadlines, book club meetings, a lot of dumb people on the internet that need to be corrected. Adding a new heavy time commitment like proper nutrition and exercise seems like an impossible thing to do with all of our other interests and commitments.
But don’t feel like you don’t have time to get fit, and don’t feel like if you dive in to fitness, you will have to leave your geeky hobbies behind. There are so many ways to merge fitness into your geeky lifestyle and incorporate your geeky lifestyle into fitness. And that is exactly what this list is intended to help you out with.
So dial in the 9th chevron, because we are about to open a gateway to new fitness worlds…
Note: the goal of this list is not to get you to peak physical performance (I’ll leave that job to Steve and the Nerd Fitness Rebellion), but rather to give you fun ways to kick start the transition to a healthy lifestyle.
Put down the the controller, take off the headset, and get thee to a paintball field! You may think nothing is more fun than owning newbs on the console, but wait until you pull off a double kill of colorful bliss with your semi-automatic paintball gun.
Note: I do not claim responsibility for you lack of leet-ness on the paintball field. Not only do you get to have fun fragging your friends, but a half day of paintball is one hell of a workout. You will be running, squatting, crawling, and more!
Some estimates show that ~400 calories are burned during an hour of paintball. The best part is, the adrenaline from the battle keeps you from feeling fatigued like individual exercises might. This means you often get a 2-4 hour workout without even noticing it.
Two words: Cobra Kai. Who wants to let those tools run the place?
I sure don’t.
That’s why martial arts is number two on my list. Whether you focus on Jujitsu, Karate, or Taekwondo, practicing any form of martial arts is a fantastic way to get fit — build strength, master body control, and boost mental focus — you will get it all.
Most schools that teach martial arts have fantastic programs and classes that accommodate for novices and experts alike for a reasonable cost. You even get colorful belts as you level up – that’s right, a real-life achievement reward. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a ninja? So find do some dojo research around your town and find your very own Mr. Miyagi – and get one of those cool spinnung hand drums while your there.
I have to thank Branwyn32 from the Nerd Fitness Community Forums for letting me know about hashing. The international group called the Hash House Harriers is, in a simple phrase, a “drinking club with a running problem.”
While there is not anything inherently geeky about hashing, the open and social atmosphere makes it a perfect gateway activity for anyone with an adventurous side and a good sense of humor to get into running. Hashing is basically a bunch of people following a leader down a trail, normally non-established (through urban areas, woods, etc.), that usually ends at bar serving some good brew.
The trails are often set up so it can accommodate all fitness levels and running speeds, though don’t think it is just a walk in the park. Some clubs even celebrate the person who comes in DFL (Dead F-word Last) with extra booze… and who doesn’t love extra booze. Find a local hash near where you live!
You might be asking how disc golf made my list. Well, because: I love disc golf!
I suppose I relate disc golf to geeky activities because this was where my computer science buddies and I would go to blow off some segmentation fault steam. The game is simple, get the Frisbee in the basket in the fewest tosses possible and repeat. All you need to get started is a basic Frisbee or you can spend a little extra to get specialized disc made for long distances or slower discs for putting.
In the past, there were only a few dedicated courses to play disc golf on, but there has been an explosion of new, free disc golf courses: on university campuses, in parks, on green-ways. One rule my friends and I like to add to is no walking. Run everywhere — after drives, between holes, everywhere. Doing this always adds enough movement to the game to get a great workout and have a great time by yourself or with friends.
Zombieland Rule 1: Cardio. Rule 19: Blend in. Well you can knock out two birds with a single stone by going on a zombie walk. Zombie walks have been gaining popularity over the last few years, and I think that’s awesome-sauce.
Zombie-fy yourself and then go for a long walk with hundreds of your un-dead kindred. Zombie walking not enough for you? Some places have even been starting up Zombie 5k’s. I can’t think of a better time than running my ass off while dressed as a zombie Vanilla Ice.
Ice Ice Braiiiinnnnssss.
I have never been live action role playing (LARPing), but I will be the first to admit that it looks freaking fun.
Now, I know this activity is considered by many to be radically geeky (Lighting Bolt!), but who wouldn’t want to don some epic armor and smash some skulls? Many approaches can be taken for a LARP event, from a theatrical event to a full fledge role playing game with quests, boss fights, and mass battles.
Most LARPing events take place in a large open field or wooded area, so there is plenty of room to run, duck, jump, and fight — the perfect way to get a full body workout. The cost of LARPing can vary. The upfront cost of buying a costume can be a big expense, but most events are relatively cheap – between $5 and $50 normally.
If you are a big RPG fan, I highly suggest searching for a local LARPing group. Stop sitting at a table rolling dice or clicking a mouse and start running through the wood swinging a mace! +5 to Dexterity. -5 to Flab.
So I have mentioened ways to become a ninja. And I given you tips on how to become a zombie… What’s next? You guessed it:
The internet and GPS enable smartphones have brought treasure hunting back to the masses. Geocaching is basically a game of high-tech hide and go seek. People plant hidden treasures (caches) and provide clues on how to find the treasures. Your mission is find the caches with the help of GPS and good ol’ fashion brain power.
While some geocaches will take you across a city, some are localized to a smaller area, which is great for running and biking from treasure to treasure. The Groundspeak iPhone app for geocaching is a great tool to get out and find caches near enough to walk, run, or bike, making for a great day of fun physical activity. So get out there and hunt some treasure (you get bonus points if you do it with a parrot on your shoulder).
While Kendo technically falls into the category of martial arts, I had to list it separately because of it’s incredible radness.
I spent upwards of 1 trillion hours watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, and I loved Leonardo. Why? Because he was the leader, and leaders carry giant swords. Like Master Splinter taught the turtles, Kendo teaches you mold the mind and body and always strive for improvement. It is a great way to get fit while learning fun skills at the same time.
I only caution you to wait until you have trained a few months before moving to a real sword. You have been warned. Cowabunga.
And, of course, a list of geeky things to help get you fit is not complete without mentioning Wii Fit. Play video games and exercise at the same time. You can’t beat that. ‘Nuff Said.
The list doesn’t stop here. I’m sure there are things that you do every day that I haven’t even thought about. So please post a comment and tell me and the other readers your favorite geeky activities that launched you into the world of fitness.
What else would you YOU add?
George Titsworth is a father, MMO geek, and software developer who is in the process of converting his flabby software into rock solid hardware. He blogs at GeekIntoShape.com and you can follow him on Twitter @geekintoshape.