How to Assemble Your Support Team

The Justice League.

The Avengers. 

The A-team. 

What do these groups have in common?

They’re composed of unique individuals with special talents that help everybody else get better (or stronger, or faster, or more badass).

Contrast this with a homogenous collection of clones where everybody has the same strengths and weaknesses.

Imagine having an army of 1,000 Supermans; pretty awesome right?  Wrong!  If we had 1,000 Supermans, it would still only take a wee bit of kryptonite to take them ALL down.  However, when you have Superman AND Batman AND Wonder Woman AND the Green Lantern…suddenly picking apart your team’s weaknesses is far more difficult.

Long story short: Diversity rules!

NERD ALERT: It’s the same reason why a diverse raid party has a far better chance of success in a role playing game like World of Warcraft or EverQuest.  A group full of Warriors won’t get the job done!  But a group with a warrior a healer, a mage, troubador, and damage dealer will be prepared for any situation and conquer any foe.

Now, I’ve already taught you how to form a Jedi Council – those strong in the Force that you look up to in your life for guidance and wisdom.

Today, I want to help you assemble a group of people that you connect with on a regular basis who are going to push you to succeed in fitness and in life.  If you’re part of the new 6-week challenge over on the NF message boards, this will come in handy.

So what are we creating today?

A Nerd-Team!

Why you need a team

“An army of one” was so 12 seconds ago.

Yeah, it’s cool to feel like being the one lone wolf taking on the world, training differently than everybody else in the gym, swimming up stream instead of going with the flow.  I get it.   I love being that mutant too…but it doesn’t mean I don’t also have a group of people to lean on while “going it alone!”

If you can build a diverse party of people of different levels of experience and success, you’ll be 63.45% (definitely made that up) more likely to get in shape, perform well at work, and level up at life.

It’s been said you are a combination of the 5 people you associate most with.  I doubt there’s any science to back that up, but who believes in science anyways, RIGHT?

Just kidding, science, you’re cool in my book.  Thanks for gravity.

Seriously though, look at the people who you hang out with all of the time - I bet your body composition, eating habits, overall health, wealth, and levels of success are all within percentage points of each other. What does this mean for you?

It’s not rocket science (see, told you I like science!).

It means you are who you hang out with.

Luckily today, I’m going to tell you exactly the types of people you need around you.

…and how to build your own Nerd-Team. 

Who belongs on your team

Let’s build that Nerd-Team! 

In this my humble opinion, there are four crucial people that you need to have on your team in order to level up:

The Mentor – This doesn’t need to be some all powerful Yoda that you worship; this is a guy or girl that you know that has had success in the areas in which you want to be successful.  If you want to get stronger and bigger and you’re a skinny nerd, find somebody that used to be skinny that is now bigger and stronger and find out how they did it.  If you want to lose weight or run a 5k, find somebody who has more experience and learn EVERYTHING you can.

The Brother-in-Arms (or Sister-in-Arms) – This is the guy or girl in the trenches with you, at the same level, struggling with the same things, working on the same stuff.  When you have a crappy day, this person knows exactly how you feel.  Because you’re both doing the same stuff and striving for the same goals, you have somebody to bounce any ideas, triumphs, struggles, or suggestions off of in your quest towards a better life. 

The Student – Want to know the BEST way about to get better at something?  Teach it to somebody else!  Now, you’re probably saying, “but Steve, I’m not an expert, I shouldn’t be teaching anybody anything.”  To that I say, “stop talking to your computer,” and then I would say: “think of teaching on a scale of 1-100…1 being a complete newbie and 100 being the greatest expert in the history of the world.  If you’re a 5 on a scale of 1-100, that still means you can help out the 1-4′s!  I still don’t consider myself a fitness expert (and never will), but I like to think I have a pretty solid grasp on helping folks who are getting started and looking to take those first few steps.”

Find somebody that needs help, maybe a coworker or friend who wants to lose weight or begin weight training, and teach them about how to get started.  As you get stronger, and learn from your mentor, you can then compare are share this with your brother-in-arms and then help teach it to your “student!”

The Wildcard – So what the heck is a wildcard?  He or she is the person in your group that is completely unpredictable.  The wildcard constantly keeps you on your toes, pushes you outside of your comfort zone, makes you try new things, and even attempt new activities.  He/she will make you say “WAIT, we’re gonna do WHAT!?  Sigh, screw it, LET”S DO THIS!”  If you’re not in at least one situation that scares the crap out of you while hanging out with a Wildcard, then you’re not saying “okay FINE!” enough. 

Who’s on my Nerd Team?

These are the fellas that hang out my Nerd Team:

I turn to Vic Magary whenever I have a question about strength training or body transformation.  In fact, for the six weeks leading up to the Rock Boat, I worked with Vic to create a fun weight training program and diet strategy that resulted in a few pounds of muscle gain and a 3% of body fat loss.  Vic and I talk on a regular basis.

I’m moving to Ecuador on April 4th, where I’ll be without a gym again.  Therefore, I’m going to train with Jim Bathurst (Beastskills.com) this week on how to improve my bodyweight-only, rings, and gymnastic training.  I’m excited to be a student and JUST focus on learning about all of these new skills.  I expect to fall a lot, get banged up, scratch my head and go “I’m supposed to do what!?” and then struggle to walk/move for a week.  It’s going to be awesome.

I talk to Saint (who’s in the 6-week challenge this time) pretty much every day, offering up advice whenever he has questions on training, diet, or online business.  Lately we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about a project he’s currently working on that explains how he succeeded in dropping below 10% bodyfat.  Like the Death Star, it’s not fully operational yet….but I’ll post it here on this site when it’s done!

My wildcard is my buddy Cash.  Cash and I have been friends since first grade (we were in Cub Scouts together), and thanks to his occupation as a pilot can often come join me (or convince me to go) on my worldwide adventures.  It was his urging that got me to Peru, he who met up with me in Cambodia, and it was his last second email that convinced me to go spend two weeks in South Africa.  He’s up for anything, he can convince me to try anything (like mountain biking through ancient ruins), and he always keeps me on my toes.  He reminds me of Charlie.

Oh, and it’s a helluva good time watching him operate in a casino.

Who is on YOUR team?

Those are the 4 types that I like to keep in my company

How do you build your team, and who’s in it?

Is your team composed of real-life buddies, or are they online?

Thanks to the wonderful world of the Internet (thanks Al Gore!), your “group” can consist of people all over the world…and they don’t even need to know that they’re in YOUR team – you can have a mentor in Australia, a brother/sister in Germany, a student in Brazil, and the wildcard can be in Antarctica.

Go team!

 -Steve

PS. I wanted to give a quick shout out to Grampa Dan, my grandfather who turns 89 years old today (and is a devoted Nerd Fitness Reader)!  Happy Birthday Grampa!

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  • http://twitter.com/livingroovy Kate Marolt

    This:

    “It’s been said you are a combination of the 5 people you associate most with.  I doubt there’s any science to back that up, but who believes in science anyways, RIGHT?Just kidding, science, you’re cool in my book.  Thanks for gravity.”

    Just made me laugh so hard. Amazing. Also, I love this- it is so key in being successful to have those people who are at all levels around you. It creates a great mixture of student, teacher, and adventurer–always keeping things different and always exploring something new!
    Thanks!

  • Kevin

    Steve,

    Great post.  I totally agree that a team is important in staying healthy and fit.  When I’m looking to surround myself with vital health friends this is what I look for:

    Builder – These friends are great motivators.
    They’ve pushed me beyond my limits, and keep me growing.

    Collaborator – This type of friend shares an
    interest in some healthy behavior, or healthy interest like cooking.

    Navigator – These are people with intimate
    knowledge of the craft I want to start doing like martial arts.

    Connector – This friend helps bridge me to other people I should be friends with, possibly people who can improve my health and fitness or who I might be able to help.

    Companion – This friend is someone I share my
    entire health journey.  It’s nice to have a very consistent presence, for me it’s my girlfriend.

    There are others but people usually fall in one of these categories for me. 

  • Kevin

    Steve,

    Great post.  I totally agree that a team is important in staying healthy and fit.  When I’m looking to surround myself with vital health friends this is what I look for:

    Builder – These friends are great motivators.
    They’ve pushed me beyond my limits, and keep me growing.

    Collaborator – This type of friend shares an
    interest in some healthy behavior, or healthy interest like cooking.

    Navigator – These are people with intimate
    knowledge of the craft I want to start doing like martial arts.

    Connector – This friend helps bridge me to other people I should be friends with, possibly people who can improve my health and fitness or who I might be able to help.

    Companion – This friend is someone I share my
    entire health journey.  It’s nice to have a very consistent presence, for me it’s my girlfriend.

    There are others but people usually fall in one of these categories for me. 

  • Matt

    Great article.  It has me thinking about my support team.  And that was the first thing I thought of when you brought up the “wildcard”!

  • http://twitter.com/lorenwade Loren Wade 

    Can’t believe you’re meeting up with BeastSkills. Love that guy.

  • http://twitter.com/StrongInsideOut Amy Clover

    I didn’t know it was possible, but I think I’m even MORE excited for The Avengers movie now!

    This is a great post, Steve.  So well-written.

    I am so grateful for my nerdy fitness team.  I truly believe that we are the sum of the 5 people we surround ourselves with.  My life changed for the better when I made the choice to be with positive, encouraging, supportive people, rather than energy vacuums.  It hurts to cut them off at first, but life is short.  Spending time with people that drain you is a waste for both of you.

    My team is roughly 75% in person with the rest being online.  I’ve never found a more supportive space than the fitness blogging world.  We rock! ;)

  • Susan Thatcher

    My sister in the trenches is my student: I have a co-worker (we’re both ladies of a certain age. Never mind which one) and weight and she’s following my footsteps, including logging into Nerd Fitness on a regular basis. I showed her the “Proper Pushup” page about 3-4 weeks ago and she’s already showing progress.
    Wild Card…I’ve always been the Wild Card.

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  • Cave Pilot

    The Mentor is The Doc.  Been there, done that, truly lived an epic life.  A Ph.D. in Fine Arts who knew the real meaning of words, was in countries we have never officially been in, and gave several forms of rare cancer a run for their money in terms of body count.  And, has impeccable manners and lives as a true gentleman. 

    Brother in Arms is Gauge, and Auto – they are both a step ahead of me, on roughly the same level.  Auto is doing the Bataan Memorial with me, and I have pushed him in other areas.  Gauge pushes me professionally, and I push him in my own way.

    The Student is Fuzz.  Known him for years, he and I trade tips, more often than not I give him a leg up where ever he is at.  Yet the teacher learns from the student.

    The Wild Card is Dirt.  He is remarkable, but you never know if he’ll be burning a cigar or motorcycling through Vietnam.   Someone with a true joy for life.  His stories are truly epic. 

  • sara donahue

    This post is really timely for me, I have been feeling the weight of working out in “single player mode.” I feel like an alien in the gym, neither the men nor the women know what to think of me and both give me funny looks. My friends ask me about my progress and physical changes and how they can do it, too, but their eyes just glaze over when I start talking. They don’t want to hear that it takes working out seriously and changes in their diet.

    I do have a Student, one of my friends who is listening seriously and applying my tips on getting fit and healthy. And kind of a mentor, but she is on the other side of the world and we can only communicate infrequently by email. I still need to find the other team members…I really need them!

  • Nick


    I worked with Vic to create a fun weight training program and diet strategy that resulted in a few pounds of muscle gain and a 3% of body fat loss.”

    Any chance you could share that program/diet Steve? It’s exactly what I’m trying to do and I’m really struggling on the last stretch.

  • Lessjos

    I am doing pretty good with my team I think. The only one I miss is a wildcard. Somehow I am everybody’s wildcard but don’t have one. I am always the one with the crazy ideas.

    Btw I am terribly jealous of you training with beastskills.

    (always have problems posting a comment here. Is there a trick to it?
    Can only post using ios devices and no editing i.e. tab and fix stuff can only delete all and re-write. Can’t post from safari or ie. says please wait but can’t click)

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

     I’ll have to check with Vic, as I think he had me testing out a new project he’s working on.

    What i ended up doing was 3 weeks of bulk (paleo plus whole milk and some rice) to pack on a few lbs of muscle, followed by 3 weeks of strict paleo…and my last 10 days was Paleo with minimal fruit and nuts (so almost all veggies and meat), working out in a fasted state, and occasional intermittent fasting. 

    I’ll see if i can share the whole thing.  cheers!

    -Steve

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

     I want to be friends with your friends specifically for their names.

  • Carolina_ol

    Steve, i live in Ecuador so if you need help with anything let me know

  • ChampionShip

    Great article. I thought a lot about my goals and support team after this. Thanks for the tip!

    http://www.bodysharp.com.au

  • Julie Y

    Just want to tell you that I LOVE the illustrations you find for your articles. I always enjoy the Lego ones and, today, the superhero easter eggs made me laugh. Your writing and the accompanying photos are a brilliant combination. BTW, thanks to you and VIc, I have lost 30 pounds since Labor Day.

  • Nick

    Hmmm… Not entirely dissimilar to what I’m currently doing. Might give the IF a go, even though I find the whole idea of it quite intimidating (I love to eat!)

    Thanks man!

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  • http://www.ombailamos.com/ chacha1

    Congratulations Julie!

    Just wanted to say: “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” 

    I spent a lot of life going it alone and things are much more interesting, productive, and FUN with a team.  Doesn’t have to be the same team all the time.  Some people are on more than one team.  Most of them don’t even know they’re on my team.  :-)

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  • miamirn

    Great article! Thanks. I have no support team. I start Weight Watchers tomorrow. I need real people. I’m hoping to be awesome in one year. Lol

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