Revenge of the Nerds: A Look Back at 2012

Holy crap, what a year!

As the sun sets on 2012 (awesome Ecuadorian sunset above), it’s crazy to look back and see just how far this community of underdogs has come. Back when I started Nerd Fitness in 2009, I never would have dreamed we would reach the size and scope that we are today…which has me downright giddy to see just how far we can take this Rebellion.

Today I wanted to talk a bit about what went right (a whole bunch), what could have gone better, and what we can look forward to in 2013 (a whole lot more).

How did 2012 go?

Oktoberfest

2012 was yet another crazy year of travel for me, despite my best efforts to “travel less.”   Over the course of the past twelve months, I’ve lived in Washington D.C., Ecuador, Portland and most recently Nashville. Meanwhile, I visited Las Vegas (twice! eep), Germany, Dublin, San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans, Mexico, Cape Cod, Boston, Vermont, Houston, Chicago, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and probably half a dozen other places that I can’t remember.

And as far as Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion goes, it’s been an even crazier year:

Growth of Nerd Fitness - Back at the beginning of 2012, I set a goal that I thought was unobtainable: 40,000 regular subscribers.  Last week we passed that number and I’m truly amazed.  When I started Nerd Fitness in 2009, it took me NINE months to gain my first 90 subscribers. These days we are adding over 1000 rebels a week!  I feel very honored to be able to connect with so many people!

On top of that, we just passed one million total views on our Nerd Fitness youtube channel!  I’m still in shock that so many people want to read about Star Wars and push ups (on the same page), but I’m glad to see that we nerds are so many.

Growth of Team Nerd Fitness Up until March, Nerd Fitness was pretty much a one-man operation.  I had hired Staci (Spezzy as she’s known to most of the NF community) to help me with some things here and there for the previous six months.  But I knew I needed more help, and the community needed more attention.  Staci joined the team full time back in March, and we added Taylor as our managing editor back in June.  I can honestly say that I couldn’t have picked two more perfect team members to help grow Nerd Fitness.

Growth of the community - Along with the growth of the site, Nerd Fitness has experienced monumental growth in our dedicated message board community.  As of today, we have 11,500 community members, over 20,000 topics and over 350,000 posts.

I have never been more proud to be part of anything.  Rebels are organizing their own Nerd Fitness meetups, setting up their own contests and competitions, offering up ridiculous amounts of incredible support, and even dating each other.  Yup, nerd dating.  If you’ve been an active member of the NF boards, thank you – I’m honored to be in this Rebellion with you.

With a community of this size, I have to give special thanks to all of our moderators.  We’re fortunate that we have very few issues with our community, but these moderators and volunteers organize our challenges, provide tons of knowledge and advice, and generally make sure things run smoothly.  A HUGE thanks to 67alecto, barefootdawsy, bigm141414, CalvinHobbes, CapN_Tommy_Sunshine, chammy, CoreyD, Crooked, JBarduhn, jdanger, Josh_C, Knightwatch, Loren Wade, Mama T, nightlight, Pat G, So Late So Soon, Spauracchio, and NukeTheUnicorns. (If I missed anyone, let me know!).

Growth of our Battle Gear  - We finally partnered up with a killer company to take care of the Nerd Fitness apparel back in October.  This allows us to create far more variety to see what you, the Nerd Fitness rebel, needs to prepare for your epic battle with getting healthy!  Expect more variety and continued high quality options.

New projects - I wrote three ebooks in the first eighteen months of running Nerd Fitness: the Rebel Fitness Guide, Rebel Strength Guide, and Rebel Running Guide.  I didn’t actually put out a single ebook in 2012, as I was interested in exploring other avenues through which we could help Rebels level up their lives.

The Level Up Club - This “habit building course” of sorts was my first attempt at creating an interactive environment to help people live better lives.  We had over 250 people join us for our two Level Up Club classes, and it was so much freaking fun to follow along with everyone as they learned to build habits and find success in their lives. I learned a tremendous amount about the power of classes and interaction in helping people get healthy, and I’m excited to apply these lessons to future projects with Nerd Fitness.

First iPhone AppBack in May I reached out to my friend Saint (yeah…THAT Saint) to help me build Nerd Fitness’s first iPhone app: Paleo Central, an app that helps people figure out which foods are Paleo!  On the day we released the app we managed to climb all the way to #3 in for paid apps in the Health and Fitness category, beating out Jillian Michaels and P90X…ha! And don’t worry Android users, we’re working on it!

Rising HeroesThree years ago I had an idea: I wanted to create a program that turned our lives into one giant video game.  Unfortunately, back then I had no money, a full time job, and zero programming experience.  Thanks to the growth of Nerd Fitness, this year I was finally able to take some SERIOUS steps towards making this game a reality.  In June, we officially announced our plans to develop Rising Heroes, a real life/online multiplayer fitness game.  The Rising Heroes team and I have been hard at work on this project since early 2011, but over the past six months we’ve really kicked things into high gear. I’m proud to be able to  definitively list the launch of Rising Heroes as a part of the 2013 section later in this article.

My favorite articles of 2012


Exercising Around the World Video - Watch on mobile devices

Exercising Around the World - 18 months and 120,000+ miles in the making, Exercising Around the World is one of my proudest and most enjoyable accomplishments of 2012.  Looking back just eight months later, it’s like watching somebody else’s life; it just doesn’t seem real.  We’re about to pass 200,000 views on the video – crazy!

Joe’s Success Story - Joe has become the unofficial superhero mascot for Nerd Fitness. He’s had one of the most inspiring and amazing success story I’ve ever seen: nearly 130 pounds in 10 months, with month-by-month photographic proof!

Are You Collecting a Pile of Underpants? - I giggled while writing this entire article.  It somehow ended up getting passed around a Silicon Valley newsletter to help entrepreneurs start companies. Go figure!

Why “I don’t have time” is a Big Fat Lie – This article lit a fire under a lot of people, as it finally got them to address the real root of their struggle with getting healthy

A Hobbit’s Guide to Walking – One of the best responses and most excitement I’ve ever seen out of the nerd Fitness community came after this article organized a fellowship of nerds to “walk” to Mordor.  Don’t worry, there are a LOT more things like this coming up!

How to become a Productivity Ninja – This outlined the system I used to completely change how I get work done. As one of the most popular articles of the year, I was thrilled to hear that even many of my blogger friends were able to learn from the tips in the article.

How to Calculate your Body Fat Percentage – This is one of the most well researched articles in Nerd Fitness history. I know it’s helped a lot of people understand how body fat percentage works and why it’s so much more important than just considering weight or BMI.

The Foolproof Guide to Building New Habits -  After publishing over 400 articles on fitness and diet education, I wanted to start digging into the psychology behind the reasons why some people can get healthy with ease, and others struggle for years and years. I’m fascinated by this stuff, and I’m excited to continue my research to make sure Rebels are addressing the root of the problem.

What could have gone better?

Steve Squished Face

While I’m certainly not one to dwell on the past, I think it’s important to take an honest look back at what could have gone better and what we can do to improve things next year:

The learning curve of software development: I barely know how to program a remote control, so suffice it to say I’m a little slow when it comes to app/software development.  With projects like the Level Up Club, Paleo Central, and Rising Heroes, I’ve come to learn that quality work takes a LOT of time.  For these reasons, I’ve done what I can to put the right people in the right places and make sure that we do our best in testing before the launch to ensure everything works like it’s supposed to!

Selection of projects: I tend to say yes to everything: every interview, project idea, article idea, collaboration. I spent a lot of 2012 trying to do fifteen projects at once, and ended up getting many of them HALF done (but very few of them ALL done). I’ve since become far more selective in the projects I choose to work on, specifically picking projects that excite the hell out of me, ensuring that I’ll actually keep my ADD-filled brain focused on them long enough to finish them!

Work-life balance: It is impossible for me to stop thinking about Nerd Fitness: every waking moment of every single day. My brain is focused on Nerd Fitness: new ideas, solving current problems, predicting future needs, and so on.  This behavior leads to incredible growth in Nerd Fitness, but very minimal growth with the rest of my life!  I’ve recently finished The Happiness Hypothesis, and it’s hit home with me in a way no other book has.

Moving forward, I’m going to focus on making sure I close my laptop more often so that I can level up IRL (in real life); We need to practice what we preach, right?

Epic Quest: In 2011, I completed six full levels on my Epic Quest of Awesome, and in 2012 I only completed two full levels.  I knew up front that this year was going to be slow for the Epic Quest since I really wanted to focus on building the Nerd Fitness team to dominate our big projects. In 2013, I feel confident that I can do both!

What’s up for 2013?

Nashville

2012 was big.  2013 is going to be even bigger.  Now that I’m all settled into Nashville, here’s what we have in store for the Rebellion.

Well, everything that I’m allowed to talk about :)

The official launch of Rising Heroes - After years of work, it’s finally happening.  Last week, we added another crucial member to the Rising Heroes Team (glad to have you on board Joe), and we even started letting some of our original beta testers into the “game!” Make sure you’re signed up for updates at RisingHeroes.com if you’re interested in joining the fight for Arcadea.

Nerd Fitness Academy - We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes on what we expect to be the future of Nerd Fitness: combining the ease of ebooks, the necessity of community support, and a class/course structure that allows “students” to learn at an individualized pace.  Think of it like the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, but with less mutant powers and more of a focus on getting stronger and healthier.

More speaking engagements - I’m working with a good friend of mine to help track down more speaking engagements in 2013 – I’m hoping to do at least one a month, with my eyes set on a few big ones!  If you happen to work for a company or conference, email me and let’s see if I’d be a good fit!

More ways to spotlight Nerd Fitness community members - We just upgraded our community software, and we plan on doing as much as possible to highlight the Rebels that make Nerd Fitness Rebellion the amazing community that it is.

Epic Quest domination - Even though I have an actual home now, I still plan on going on some serious adventures.  In the next six months alone, I’ll be in Brazil (for Carnival), Miami, the Bahamas, Norway, England, San Francisco, and Tanzania (to climb Kilimanjaro). These plans could change in an instant, but I’m excited to start crossing more things off the Epic Quest.

Taking Nerd Fitness offline - Nothing makes me happier than connecting with Rebels in real life, and I want to be able to do that on a much larger scale.  Most of the big stuff won’t materialize until the end of 2013, so I can’t say too much yet…but look out for big things…cough Camp Nerd Fitness cough…

The Nerd Fitness App - This one is a no-brainer! Expect a full-blown Nerd Fitness app with everything you’d expect to see in it.  I want this to be done right, so it may take quite a bit of time, but I promise that the wait will be worth it.

A Social Life - The reason a lot of the things above might not happen overnight is that I also expect to fit things in like “a social life” and “sleep.”  I’m on the hunt for various clubs, groups, and volunteer opportunities to get connected here in Nashville.

Looks like we have our work cut out for us in 2013, but I couldn’t be more excited to get started.  Whether you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a day or for years, thank you.  Thanks for reading, thank you for supporting your fellow rebels, thanks for sharing your successes and struggles with others, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to live a life dedicated to helping people get healthier.  I am so grateful, and promise that the Nerd Fitness team and I will do everything in our power to make you proud to be part of this community.

I’d love to hear how 2012 went for you, and what sort of adventures you’ll be going on in 2013!

Also, what sort of things do you want to see from Nerd Fitness in 2013? 

I’m honored to fight alongside you in this battle for a better life.

One day at a time, let’s level up.

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

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  • http://theunintentionalvegan.com/ Ashley F.

    I did a short year-in-review similar to this one for my blog. Lots of good things in 2012 but definitely a lot to do yet in 2013! I’m excited for the challenge! http://theunintentionalvegan.com/2012-year-in-review

  • Chauncybryana

    Steve, thanks for posting your year in review and your forecast for 2013.  I’m so energized to hear about the successes of NF!  Some of my successes for 2012 include getting married and gaining the workout confidence required to reach my level 50 (getting in shape so that I can be a bad-ass 90-year-old someday; thank in no small part to NF).  Some of my goals for 2013 are to participate in NF 6 Week Challenges (increased accountability), to become a better global citizen (ie, reading local and international non-corporate news), and to minimize both physical clutter (ie, unneeded “stuff”) and cognitive clutter (unneeded mental overload) in my life. Here’s to a successful 2013 for all of us!

  • Chiara

    you definitely inspired me and made me believe that an alternative lifestyle is reachable. looking to focus on that in 2013! keep being an inspiration not only in fitness, but in life! thanks steve!

  • Pau

    Great work, Steve, go get them next year!

  • http://twitter.com/TT_7 Tim Tender

    Great post, Steve!  Happy New Year!  2012 was a great year that saw me creating my own board game, visiting Denver and Puerto Rico, traveling to NYC during Hurricane Sandy, surviving an acquisition by The Weather Channel, and so much more.  Let’s hope 2013 is just as good for the entire rebellion!

  • Vinicius Esposito

    One of the highlights of my 2012 was finding out Nerd Fitness! “Leveling up in life” has become a usual term in my vocabulary, thanks to you, Steve. Best regards from Brazil!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.leppard.9 Eva Leppard

    Great summary. And thanks to you, my NY resolution is to ‘walk to Mordor’ in 2013!

  • TheNewo

    Camp nerd fitness?!?!?!?  You wouldn’t tease a girl, would you?

  • http://www.adventurestrong.com/ Tim

    Some awesome plans, Steve. Happy New Years!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Looks like you had a great year and an even better one to come. Congrats on your continued success, glad to have found your blog this past year.

  • http://twitter.com/bowhite Belinda Thomson

    Great work this year Steve. Thanks for leading the rebellion!

  • http://massagedreams.com/ Ion

    The video is great! How did you manage to visit so many countries in one single year? 

  • http://ogcoffeecorner.com/ Paula S.

    I just accidentally ran across this blog and I love the concept! Congratulations on your growth over the past year. I’m very impressed and looking forward to your future posts. What a fun way to get in shape!

  • Joia J

    Dear Steve,

    Thanks to NerdFitness, this year I dropped 21 pounds, all due to 1.) Going Paleo and 2.) Walking to Mordor.  It doesn’t sound like much, but considering my ongoing health problems, it’s huge.  Didn’t even gain over the holidays, which is a first :).  Ten pounds away from my college weight, and looking forward to a much better year.  Thank you!

    Joia