Turn Fitness Into a Game: New workouts, Fun Quests, and Epic Boss Battles

Today is a really cool day for me and Team Nerd Fitness, as I get to make two massive announcements.

This first announcement is about our flagship program, the Nerd Fitness Academy. 

For those who don’t know, The Academy is an online, self-paced course and fitness “quest” tracking system with over 20,000 students from every corner of the globe. We’re proud of it!

For the past six months, we’ve been diligently working on our 3rd massive Nerd Fitness Academy overhaul, and I’m fired up to tell you all about it. Our previous update brought a questing system (so you can level up by completing fitness missions) and an uber supportive private community.

This new update is even bigger! Here are some of the recent things people have said:

Academy Testimonial 11
Academy Testimonial 2

Academy Testimonial 3
The new updates were a lot of energy and effort – but these posts make it all worth it! We’re excited to see current members digging in and using the updates to get results.

How to Read a Recipe and Not Want to Punch a Hole in the Wall

This is a recipe from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

I don’t know about you, but I have never liked reading the instructions for board games. The tutorials at the beginnings of video games bore me to death. When I play a game, I go basic. No fancy moves, no secret codes, and no strategy guides. I figure it out as I go.

I suppose you could say that this is why I’m also not very good at games.

But something has recently begun to change my mind. I attended a game night at a friend’s house, and they told me to go read the instructions for the game we were about to play. They wouldn’t tell me the rules, no, they made me read (the horror!). And when we played, I still didn’t win, but I was far better than I usually was. I could even see how I would be a force to be reckoned with if we played again.

I imagine a lot of you are like me and games when it comes to cooking. It’s not fun. You don’t enjoy it. You tried it once or twice, but you’ve lost interest.

The instructions for a game feel tedious to me, and I wouldn’t blame you if recipes feel tedious for you.

The recipe for a dish is not only the basic instructions, but it’s also a sheet of cheat codes for the cook. So today, we’re going to learn how to use a recipe to your advantage.

Why You Should Make Your Bed Every Morning

Have you heard the story about Van Halen and Brown M&Ms?

As the story famously goes, 80’s rock band Van Halen (feel free to listen to “Right Now” while reading this article) had a line in their incredibly detailed contract from their tour in 1982 (the list of things they expect to have at every concert) that required they have a bowl of M&Ms in the green room… and there were to be NO brown M&Ms in that bowl.


For years everyone assumed that was just a crazy band making crazy demands (like in Airheads), simply because they could. In fact, there was a show in which they found brown M&Ms in their bowl and reportedly refused to play and trashed the dressing room!

What a bunch of asshole rockstars, right?

Maybe not. 

It turns out, there was a calculated method to this madness, and it might make you think you need a brown M&M clause in your life.

Your beliefs are wrong. Are you willing to change?

“Your opinion is irrelevant! I’m correct! Look at this study!”

Whether it’s Paleo vs Vegetarian, Stretching vs Mobility, Fat vs Carbs, Cardio vs Strength, Star Trek vs Star Wars, or Captain America vs Iron Man, we all have belief systems that cause us to accept certain ideas and immediately discredit others.

Go to any article on any of the subjects above and spend five minutes in the comment section, and you’ll see people either championing the article or skewering it and destroying the other side.

Can both sides be right? Can both sides be wrong? Why is it that whenever we read something that goes against what we say, we stick our heads in the sand, ostrich-style, and discredit it, only to turn around and proudly share any news that reaffirms our beliefs?

Would you be able to recognize when you held a wrong belief? Do you have the clarity to hold strong when you are in fact, right?

Gaining the right mindset to discern what’s real from what’s BS requires us to admit two big things to ourselves:

  • I don’t know shit.
  • Nobody else knows shit either!

Stop Lying: How Painful Realizations Can Unlock a Healthier Life

This is a post from NF Wordsmith Taylor.

Excuses are a tricky subject. Try to point out an excuse to a friend, and you’re sure to get blasted with his or her wrath, being called an insensitive jerk:

“Easy for you to say!”

“You have NO idea what it’s like.”

“You don’t have this shit to deal with!”

On the other hand, when we can really break through and talk honestly and with some vulnerability, excuses we’ve championed for years can be pierced instantly:

“Wow, maybe I do have time, but it’s just that I haven’t made it a priority.”

“I do have some medical issues, but I’ve been using that as an excuse to do nothing all these years.”

We all play this game of life on different difficulty levels. We begin in different starting areas, with different gear, and different advantages and disadvantages. That’s just how the game works. Our job is to make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt. And it’s only us that can change us.

Only me that can change me. Only you that can change you.

Just take a moment to consider the implications of that: It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve had it. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or how much easier others may have it.

If you want to be healthy (or accomplish something else), it’s up to you to find a path to get there. It might be slow. It might take some trial and error. But nobody can do it for you. One day YOU have to decide: “I am going to do this.”

The Matrix Has You Prisoner! Take The 2-Week Break Free Challenge.

Every day, billion-dollar companies conspire against us. They use every possible tool at their disposal, hiring behavioral psychologists, and recruiting freaking scientists to capture the world’s most precious resource.

No, not money. Our time and attention!

You probably don’t even realize it, but we are being played at this very moment.

From Buzzfeed articles BEGGING us to click on them (“You won’t believe #5!”), to that tiny hit of dopamine we get with every new text alert, Facebook message, or email. And this has an impact on us – not just as we get distracted from our task at hand,  but long-term we compulsively seek out this “hit” more and more often.

In fact, I just checked my phone as I was writing this introduction because a text came in.

I feel like I’m trapped in a real-life version of The Matrix. This nerd classic explores a world in which the entire human race is hooked up to a virtual reality system designed to keep us blissfully ignorant and complacent, so we can be used as batteries for the machines. In short: we built machines to make our lives easier, and they ended up owning us.

Sound familiar?

In non-nerd terms, we’re hooked on digital “junk food:” Empty calories that we consume, making us temporarily happy but ultimately unfulfilled: soda, chips, candy. Because these things have minimal nutritional value, we eat them to feel satisfied in that moment (RIGHT NOW THIS MAKES ME HAPPY!), and then feel empty after and need to eat more.

Me, you, and everyone else — we are all addicted to hits of dopamine, checking our notifications, browser tabs, and phones which keep ourselves artificially busy. The system has grown to enslave us, exploiting our nature for their gain.

But like Neo, it’s the society that we’ve inherited, and it’s up to us to take back our free time and attention. Speaking of which, I’m currently resisting the urge to check the likes my most recent post on Facebook got. Ugh.

How to Cook Thai Zoodle Stirfry

This is a recipe from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Have you tried making a recipe thinking it’s going to be one thing, and it turns out to be something completely different? It happens to the best of us. Sometimes in the kitchen we set out to make something we think is going to taste great, but then it tastes awful. Or you think it’s going to be awesome, but it’s just “meh.”

And sometimes it’s not quite what you wanted, but it’s unexpectedly tasty.

When it’s edible (and just different), there’s no reason to be disappointed; you made a thing, and it actually tastes good. You can feed yourself and your family. You can impress your friends with your ridiculous looking zucchini noodles. You are a rockstar.

Take that XP for cooking that meal and move on with your life.


I recently returned from completing an Epic Quest in Asia and was feeling pretty inspired by their flavorful, noodley dishes. After returning home I tried to put together some dishes that tasted similar. While the Thai noodle stir fry below wasn’t exactly the flavor I originally had in mind, it sure was tasty. Plus, it’s incredibly simple (veggies, protein, sauce, done).

A note on zucchini noodles… I will never ask you to buy a piece of equipment as ridiculous as a “zoodler.” If you have one already, that’s great. If you’re looking for an excuse to buy one, this recipe might be it. If you’re not convinced and/or you don’t have time to zoodle, just cut the zucchini as you would for any other stir fry recipe. You won’t hurt my feelings.

The Superhero Civil War Workout: Choose Iron Man or Captain America

Today’s article is from Nerd Fitness’s newest team member, and Master of the Fitness Universe, Jim Bathurst. Take it away Jim!

Have you seen Captain America: Civil War yet?

Last week, we talked about why Captain America or Iron Man might be right in the epic battle within the Marvel universe.

Today the choice is yours: The Iron Man Workout or the Captain America Workout.

Iron Man wants to work within the new superhero registration law. He believes that the heroes of the world need to operate within the rules and regulations for the safety and well being of everyone. That’s why the Iron Man workout includes more classic, structured movements. And because this is Iron Man, we’ll primarily be using iron (weights) — these things write themselves!

Captain America is opposed to these superhero regulations and wants to be able to move and operate freely. You’ll notice his workout includes more bodyweight movements and non-traditional movements in multiple directions.

Civil War Week: Can You Adapt Like Iron Man?

We talked Monday about why Captain America might be right in the epic battle that has come to light between two sides of the Marvel superhero universe.

Today, I want to talk about why Cap, although noble in his efforts to stick to his guns, might be a bit confused and stuck in the past.

Nothing in this world is permanent, and the only thing that is truly constant is change. The great moments of history are marked by change after change after change. I’m not just talking about our evolution as a species, but as a culture and society.

Today we still struggle with so many things that need to change. (Cough, conventional wisdom, cough.) But we’re stuck in the past, and making changes even when there is overwhelming new evidence can be brutally challenging.

Today, we explore why you need to adapt and change like Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man.

Civil War Week: Stick To Your Guns Like Captain America

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

This is a monumental week for Nerds and Rebels worldwide, as Captain America: Civil War hits theaters this Friday. Reviews are glowing, but this movie puts us nerds in a seriously awkward position. Why?

Well, in this story, Captain America and his friend Tony Stark find themselves on opposite sides of a brutal argument. And a civil war of epic proportions ensues.

Instead of taking sides, we’re going to highlight why both characters are partly right, and partly wrong. Up first, Team Captain America.

Player One: You are about to die.

Are you wasting your most valuable resource? 

Imagine I told you today that you had a wallet with $1,000 in it. You could spend it on whatever or whoever you want. But you wake up again tomorrow with a new $1,000, whether you spend none or all of it.

What would you choose to do?

I’d guess you’ll spend it! You might spend it on an experience, something you’ve always wanted to buy, or maybe you’d spend it on others.

Right? After all, if it’s gonna disappear tomorrow might as well spend it.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not really talking bout money. I’m talking about the resource that’s infinitely more valuable, non-refundable, and non-renewable:

I’m talking bout, TIME, sucka!

Every day, if we’re not careful, we can spend our most valuable non-renewable resource on things that just don’t freaking matter:

  • In a job that we hate, or one that doesn’t fulfill us.
  • With people that don’t bring us happiness instead of with those that do
  • Being angry or mad at things that don’t matter
  • Not doing the things we actually want to accomplish.

Over the past few years, after losing many friends at young ages, I’ve started to remember death daily. It’s a bit morbid, but also a bit inspiring and hopeful.

One thing is for sure: it’s changed how I attack each day, remembering that time is not infinite, so I might as well focus on the important.

“Am I Too Old to Get in Shape?”

I bet I’m the oldest member of your community!”

“Am I too old for this? I don’t get all the references.”

We get these sorts of emails a few times a week.

If you’ve ever pulled a Danny Glover and said “I’m getting too old for this sh**,” you’re not alone. But did you know we have kick ass members of the Rebellion that are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s?


Did you know you’re never too old to start? Yup.

When 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi was asked how long he thought he could continue competing at an elite level, now being over the age of 40, he responded: “If no one ever told you when you were born, how would you know how old you are?”

Tamae Watanabe of Japan summited Mount Everest at the age of 73, 10 years after setting the previous record at 63! I met many Rebels over the age of 70, including Gay from New Mexico who is 73, has nine grandchildren, and lost 90 pounds on her journey!

Believe it or not, we get emails from 30-year-olds explaining why they are too old – how it’s too late for them to get in shape, learn a skill, travel the world, etc.

The problem is – whether you are 30 or 80 – if you believe you are too old you ARE too old.  This belief that you are too set in your ways to change becomes paralyzing.

Those who subscribe to the belief that they are “too old” see the person who declares “age is just a mindset” or “you’re never too old to change” as a naive or foolish statement. “They don’t understand. When they are my age/in my situation, they’ll get it.”

And it’s hard to see the other side if you believe this about yourself. Really freakin’ hard. The belief has hardened so much that you can’t even realistically imagine yourself changing. But I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of people in the NF Rebellion change their mindset after proving to themselves they CAN change.

I mean, if Willie Murphy, this 78 year old grandma, can power lift, there’s probably something you’re capable of too. Oh and by the way, and she started her fitness journey at 56!

Breaking through the wall of: “I can’t because ___” is a tough task. That’s why today we’re going to let our veteran Rebels do the talking for us. Whether you have health issues to work around, weight to lose, habits to build, or haters to prove wrong, let’s get inspired by some Rebel bad-asses who have already walked the path.

I wanted to share a few stories from some of our veteran Rebels out there to let you know that no matter what age you are, or how far you have to go on your fitness journey, starting today is the best gift you can give to yourself.

What Essential Items Do You Need to Bring to the Gym?

“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” -The Old Man, The Legend of Zelda (NES).

It’s time to go to battle, infiltrating an compound full of muggles and carry out your mission that helps you level up your life and helps further the cause of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

You, a Nerd Fitness Rebel, are going to train in an commercial gym.

They’ll expect you to use their rigid weight machines, expensive cardio equipment, and ab torture devices machines; they’ll gleefully take you on a tour of all the AMAZING amenities you clearly need in a gym, and expect you to fall in with the masses.

You nod politely, and then go about the business of actually changing your life in an enjoyable, fun way.

You see, like Link in The Legend of Zelda, you’ve come prepared. You have a compact gym bag that comes with you every day with the right items required to level up your life.

I’m not talking about the latest and greatest pair of spandex or the best lifting gloves (in fact, I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t wear them).

Instead, I’m going to walk you through what you should be bringing with you to the gym.

Note: this advice will revolve around best equipment for people looking to use free weight and bodyweight training in the gym primarily.

Why You Should Stop Dramatizing Your Fitness and Health Goals: A Plea for Easy Boss Battles

This is an article from NF Team Member Staci.

I recently decided to re-play the Legend of Zelda – the game that got me hooked on video games – and  I made one big observation:

The boss battles are really weak.

Seriously, you go through the dungeon, through countless rooms full of ridiculously hard bad guys, just to get to a boss that takes three or four hits. Yep –  a few hits and you’re done.

But then I got thinking – maybe this is how it is SUPPOSED to be. Maybe boss battles shouldn’t be built up to be ridiculously hard. And maybe boss battles shouldn’t be so hard in real life, either.

How Zach the Chemist Lost Over 100 lbs

Meet Zach – a huge goober and nerd, and a formulation/polymer chemist.

For you non-science nerds, this means Zach makes coatings for magnet wires and gets to play mad scientist at his job. I can’t speak to the quality of his maniacal laugh, though.

Zach’s story isn’t like some of our other heroes – there wasn’t a specific moment from a doctor’s visit or a ‘call to action’ where he drew a line in the sand to get healthy. In fact, Zach thought everything was fine:

“About a year ago I thought that I had life figured out, but I was very much overweight and just topped the scales at 300lbs. I thought I was happy and I did everything I could to convince myself that I was. I used food and video games to escape the stresses of life.”

When crisis struck, Zach’s marriage came to an end – he coped not by eating his feelings or bingeing on Netflix for days on end; instead he chose to level up his life. He turned an incredibly painful experience into his motivating drive; each day he shed weight, got stronger, and pieced his life back together.

Many of us have had to deal with incredibly tough moments in our life – from the loss of a relationship or the a loss of a loved one, to dealing with illness and pain along the way. Although it sucks at the time, it also gives us a chance to become stronger than before.

Let’s take a look at how Zach overcame.

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