The Homer J. Simpson Guide to Success

Homer Simpson is easily one of the most influential, infamous, and idiotic characters in television history.

This is a guy who once said “oh, they have internet on computers now!” and “With $10,000, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love!”  I love the man, but he is clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed.

The longest running television sitcom ever, The Simpsons has always cranked out twenty-two minutes worth of hilarious comedy every Sunday night.  Funny story: I wasn’t allowed to watch the show as a kid because my parents thought it wouldn’t be a good influence… and then they actually watched an episode.  Every Sunday night after that became “Simpsons watching time” at the Kamb house.

With the season premiere right around the corner, I figured it’s time I finally did a post about the man, the myth, the moron: Homer J. Simpson.

Below are some of my favorite Homerisms and what we can learn from them in our epic quests to succeed.

Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.

Although he’s trying to pass along some decent words of wisdom to Bart, Homer sounds like Bowser than Mario.  He knows that life isn’t easy, that anything worth chasing is going to be difficult, but he’s really just too lazy to do it himself.

What we can learn - like with most things in life, it takes a dedicated effort to get in good shape and stay that way.  If everybody could get really healthy with a magic pill (or by winning the lottery), nobody would appreciate the hard work that is usually required!  When I see people busting their butts to get stronger and healthier, I smile.  When I read about the newest miracle cure or watch the latest infomercial (shake weight anyone?) part of me dies inside.  Doh!

Are you waiting for your number to be called?  Do you keep talking about how you want to do this, or look like that, or have this, without ever actually doing something about it?  Less yapping, more action.  Go.

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

Hilarious, but oh so wrong. In fact, failing is a huge part of success.  Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times to find the right filament before inventing the light bulb.  Each “failure” allowed him to cross one more material off the list of possibilities, getting him one step closer to finding the right one.  Why was he eventually successful?  Because he kept failing in different ways.

According to Albert Einstein, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If counting calories and running on a treadmill has failed you repeatedly in the past, what makes you think it’s actually going to work this time!? Why not try the Paleo diet and never count calories again? Have you considered a solid weight lifting routine, which has been shown to burn more calories and build way more muscle than just running for hours?

Mix it up, try different things, expect to fail, and use each failure as a “okay that didn’t work, onto the next thing!”  The lesson is to not “never try,” but to repeatedly try over and over long as you’re trying different things.

Alright Brain, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you. But lets just do this, and I can get back to killing you with beer.

Replace “Brain” with “Body” and I think we all can relate. If you’re just getting started on your quest for a healthier lifestyle, every day will be a fight against your body – it wants to sleep, it craves bad foods, it wants to cut workouts short, and it wants to keep doing what its been doing for decades.  Unfortunately you don’t really get to pick a new partner – you have to work with the one you have.  If you want to live a long life full of win, you need to play nice.

Try this – “Alright Body, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you.  But let’s just do these workouts and start eating better, and I’ll be able to keep you around much longer and occasionally kill you with beer and bad food.”

Although I’m currently following the Paleo Diet for my meals on the current 28-Day Challenge, I still eat unhealthy food every once and a while.  Yesterday I ate pizza and drank beer at a bar, and it was awesome.  I work out consistently and 95% of my meals are healthy, which means I can eat bad foods on the weekend guilt-free.

Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a while, you know that there are certain things that I (and the NF Rebel Army) truly believe in:

  • Lift weights – more efficient than straight cardio at burning calories and will help you maintain muscle
  • Eat better – Get rid of liquid calories, cut out processed carbs and start eating real foods
  • Be consistent – you’re not dieting, you’re making changes that will last a lifetime
  • Have a purpose - set goals, train with conviction, and stay on target

Every article I write probably can be traced back to one or more of these ideals.  I can certainly teach you how to lift weights, I can teach you what to eat and what not to eat, and I can provide you with tips and strategies for how to make life-long changes.

What I can’t do is give you a reason to care – that’s gotta come from you.

When I see somebody who is struggling to succeed, I see somebody who hasn’t found his/her “reason to care” yet.  One day, things will click, that reason will make itself known, and success will soon follow.  NF reader Matt just woke up one day, decided he wanted to get in shape, and lost 160 pounds in twelve months.  Tony thought he was having a heart attack, went out for a walk, and now runs marathons and half-marathons almost weekly.

Maybe it’s for your first kid being born.  Maybe it’s your doctor telling you how much longer he expects you to live.  Maybe it’s because you got cut from your high school basketball team (that was my reason).  Once you know your “why,” the “how” part becomes remarkably easier.

Have you found your reason to care yet?

Other great quotes

Now, just because these aren’t part of the article’s overall theme doesn’t mean they’re not great.  Here are a few more Homer Simpson quotes that everybody should know:

I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman!

There’s so much I don’t know about astrophysics!  I wish I read that book by that wheelchair guy.

You can’t keep blaming yourself.  Just blame yourself once, and move on.

In this house, we OBEY the laws of thermodynamics!

Don’t eat me.  I have a wife and kids.  Eat them.

Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems.

Good things don’t end in ‘eum’, they end in ‘mania’… or ‘teria’.

Well, it’s 1am. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids.

Thanks Homer

Homer’s the man.  He’s dumb as a brick, often neglects his family, and drinks far beyond a healthy amount, but he means well.  Do we have any other Simpsons fans out there?  Any other Homerisms that I missed?

-Steve

###

photo

5 Ways to Instantly Appear More Confident

Today I’m going to teach how you to appear more confident.

Why?  Because confidence is one of the most important skills in life that you can acquire (other than learning to use the Force, obviously).

Now, I’m not teaching you this stuff just so you can become some sleazy pickup artist. I’m teaching you because I know how important even a little bit of confidence can be in everyday situations, whether it’s negotiating with your boss for a raise, buying a car, giving a presentation, or meeting your fiance’s parents.

We’re naturally attracted to and will have our opinions swayed by those who have (or appear to have) a lot of confidence.  Nerds usually get the short end of the stick in the “naturally confident” department, but that doesn’t mean we can’t acquire it like a new skill, Matrix-style!  If you’ve started losing weight, I’m sure part of you still feels like the old you, even if you’ve changed physically – it’s time to take pride in yourself and truly be comfortable in your own skin.

Here are five steps that you can take to start seeing a difference immediately.

Stop slouching

If you can develop good posture, a trait that always seems to bypass nerds, you’ll appear approximately 145% more confident within seconds (I definitely made up that stat, by the way).

I used to have awful posture through most of my life (which caused lots of lower back pain). It wasn’t until I made a conscious effort to focus on standing up straight and strengthening my lower back that the pain went away.  In order to stay on target, I actually hung a “POSTURE!” post-it on my bedroom door so I wouldn’t forget each morning.  Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Stand up as TALL as you can, like you’re a puppet and somebody just pulled the string that’s attached to the top of your noggin
  2. Pull your shoulder blades down and back as far as possible – This will feel really weird if you spend a lot of time hunched over a desk
  3. Pick your chin up and look straight ahead – stop looking down while walking around, there’s a whole world out there for you to see

If you have trouble pulling your shoulder blades back, try doing two back exercises (say, lat pull downs and dumbbell rows) for every one chest exercise in your workout.  This will build up the muscles in your upper back and allow you to actually pull those shoulder blades back together.  Want something easier?  Try standing with your heels, butt, and head against a wall, and then pull your shoulder blades back until they’re touching the wall too.  Do this daily and increase the length of the stretch each time.

If you spend all day in a chair, try this: sit down in your chair, and then stand back up WITHOUT having to rock forward.  If you have to lean forward even slightly, you’re doing it wrong. Sit straight up like you’re always ready to stand without having to lean forward.  Your lower back will probably get tired as hell sitting like this because it’s not used to the new position – work on it.  Do planks every other day (working your way up to two minutes), and you’ll have a rock-solid core and incredibly strong lower back.

This is probably the hardest step of all, as you’ve probably spent years and years developing poor posture without even thinking about it.  Spend a month making a concerted effort to have better posture however, and you’ll be well on your way to a more confident appearance.  Pretty soon you won’t even have to think about it!

Slow down

I am terrified of public speaking. Seriously, I hate being in front of even a small crowd.  However, at my old job I was put on stage in front of thousands of people to introduce bands and I sounded like I belonged up there.  You know how I did it?  By taking a deep breath, slowing down, and practicing.  I still get really nervous, but I’ve learned to manage it so well that nobody notices.

What’s the importance of slowing down?  When you get nervous, your voice tends to go up a few notes and you’ll talk faster than you realize.  These are two dead ringers for “scaredy cat.”

I’ll never forget presenting my senior business proposal back in college. About thirty seconds into my presentation – which I thought was going well – I noticed my friend Deepa in the back of the room frantically waiving her arms at me, mouthing “SLOOOWWW DOWNNNN.”  I quickly readjusted my speech, talked WAY slower than I thought I needed to, and took longer breaths between sentences.  She later told me that she couldn’t understand the beginning at all but the rest of it came out perfectly.  The rest of that class was molded by that presentation, so thanks Deepa for saving my ass!

If you get nervous in front of people no matter how big or small the group, talk slower than you think you need to, and don’t forget to breathe.  In your head it might seem way too slow, but out loud it’s just right.

Smile

People don’t smile enough these days, so we’re bringing it back.  When dealing with any situation or scenario where you’re uncomfortable, it’s easy to get caught up in your head, which means you probably have a stupidly sad look on your face.  Pretty soon, you’ll develop the reputation of “that creepy guy in the corner who smells like cheese.”  Now, if you don’t smell like cheese, you’re already halfway home!

We’ll just work on the other half: smile.

Not a fake smile, not a creepy smile, but a genuine smile.

Don’t know how to smile correctly?  Stand in front of a mirror, close your eyes, and look down.  Look up, smile, and open your eyes at the same time.  See that smile right there?  THAT’S a genuine smile.  Just like Butters.

Win the staring contest

Unless you work at home in your underwear and only interact with your cat (my day is way different than that – shut up), you probably have quite a few conversations with people on a daily basis:

  • Your coworkers at the water cooler
  • The lady behind the counter at CVS
  • Your waitress at lunch
  • Random strangers that you pass on the street.

When was the last time you looked somebody in the eye until THEY looked away first?  If you’re like me, you’ve probably always been the first to “flinch.”

I say no more!

Starting right now, you’re going to be the person that doesn’t look away.  Think of each interaction as a mini-battle – your eyes against theirs.  As long as you’re smiling and blinking, you won’t come across as creepy…unless, of course, you’re actually a creep.  If you’ve always been shy, the first few times doing this will be absolutely nerve-wracking – power through it.  Once you start to be the non-flincher consistently, you’ll quickly learn that everybody else is nervous as hell too and will quickly look away given enough time.

Get out of your head

After going through some physical changes, it’s going to take time for you to adjust how you feel on the inside versus how you look on the outside. I sometimes still feel like the 5-foot, 100-pound high-school sophomore with braces even though I haven’t looked like that for over a decade.  I have friends who used to be fat guys who still feel huge even though they have a single digit body fat percentage.

It’s time to stop living inside your head.

If you feel out of place in a situation, everybody around you probably does too. We all have our own insecurities; it’s those of us that can exist outside of our brains and project confidence that usually get what we’re chasing.  As a fellow nerd and chronic over-thinker, I know this is tough to do: stop thinking so damn much and just go for it.

  • Once you spot somebody you’re interested in, don’t give yourself more than three seconds before approaching him/her.  Anything beyond that will cause you to over-analyze the situation in your head and probably end up doing nothing.  You’ll quickly learn that “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” so you have nothing to lose.
  • Introduce yourself immediately to strangers at a party – get the awkward out of the way immediately, and you’ll come across as cool and collected.
  • Once you have your speech or presentation prepared, don’t give yourself hours to get nervous – concentrate on something else to occupy your mind until it’s time to present.  Don’t over-think, just follow the plan and talk slowly.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

I bet those three things listed above seem scary to 95% of the population (they all scare the bajeezus out of me, which is precisely why I force myself to do them).  Part of building confidence is taking risks and having the ability (and the guts) to do stuff that scares you.

Your mission

As you follow these five steps, you’ll start to appear more confident, which will make some of your encounters more successful, which will instill more confidence in you, which will then make even MORE of your encounters successful, and so on.  Think of your confidence like a giant snowball with lots of inertia – tough to get started, but once it’s rolling the momentum will take over.

Your homework for today - while walking down the street with your head held high, shoulders back, and a big smile on your face, make direct eye contact with at least five strangers that walk by and give them a simple “hi.”  Remember, they have to be the ones to look away first, not you.

The first few times will feel really awkward, but who cares – you’ll never see them again.  As you get more “missions” under your belt, you can progress to other more challenging objectives, like striking up a conversation with a stranger, giving a speech, robbing a bank, etc.

One last thing: with great power comes great responsibility. There is a fine line between having confidence and being cocky – nobody likes the cocky guy who is full of himself, so cool it with the cheesy pick up lines, stories proclaiming your awesomeness, and creepy seduction techniques.  Fear and nervousness are easy to detect, but so is being transparently fake.

Don’t change what you are, just learn to be more confident in who you are.

So, what tips did I miss or mess up? Any other words of wisdom to pass along?  Us nerds need all the help we can get!

-Steve

###

photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo

Talkers and Doers: Are you Bowser or Mario?

This article is heavily inspired by J.D. Roth’s awesome article over on Get Rich Slowly.  J.D., hopefully you don’t mind me borrowing your concept and nerdifying it!

Life is made up of Bowsers and Marios: talkers and doers.  Some people wait for life to come to them, others grab it by the horns.  Some people put off until “the time is right,” others start today.  I am a former Bowser/current Mario, and I’m here to hopefully inspire you to make the switch along with me.

Are you in?

Talkers and Doers

Bowser is a talker.  Sure, this big green reptile loves to discuss his plans world domination, occasionally taking the time to kidnap Mario’s girlfriend, Princess Peach.  What does he do after that?  Does he:

  • Go out and recruit a bigger army of koopas?
  • Kidnap other princesses, demand huge ransoms, and hold the whole Mushroom Kingdom hostage?
  • Hone his skills to prepare for the inevitable epic battle with Mario?

NOPE.  He simply sits in his castle like a complete chump, waiting for the action to come to him.  Eventually Mario shows up, kicks his ass, rescues the princess, and he goes back to being a waste of space.  A lot of talk and not a lot of action.

Mario, on the other hand, is a doer. When he sets out to rescue the princess, he has no idea where he’s going or what he’s doing – he’s a plumber for crying out loud!  He fails constantly by falling into pits, running into bad guys, and getting attacked by damn Lakitus.  Each time he dies however, this short stocky Italian gets a little bit smarter, progresses a little bit further, and eventually does the impossible – he defeats Bowser and rescues the princess!

Why is he so successful? Because he puts one foot in front of the other.  He isn’t afraid to fail, he doesn’t allow his fear of the unknown to slow him down, and he does what he has to in order to succeed.  Sure he doesn’t always know what he’s doing, but he knows that just by doing SOMETHING he can fail, fight, and figure out the rest along the way.  He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t blame others, he simply takes care of business.

In short, Bowser is a loser and Mario is the man.

My Experiences With Bowser and Mario

I’ve definitely been Bowser many times in the past.  Here are the three biggies I can remember:

I “worked out” for five years without really having a clue about what I was doing. I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to exercise properly, and I blamed my lack of strength on my genetics.  It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego that I really understood the basics of strength training and proper diet.

I bought the domain for NerdFitness.com four years ago, and told myself that eventually I’d start a website. It wasn’t until last January that I finally stopped waiting around for the perfect time and decided to just launch a blog.  I didn’t have a perfect master plan and I had no idea how things would work out, but I figured I’d just start writing and figure the rest out on the fly.  So far, so good!

Last fall, I realized that Nerd Fitness had the potential to becoming a full-time job. I told myself for eight months that eventually I would start a company, “when the time is right.”  Heck, I wrote my first draft for the Rebel Fitness Guide back in October of 2009!  It wasn’t until May of 2010 that I decided to stop waiting for “eventually” and went with “now.”  I quit my job, spent a few months finishing the guide, and started my own business.  I don’t know how the next few years of my life will go, but I can’t wait to find out.

In each situation, I had an opportunity opportunity staring me dead in the face,  but I chose instead to wait until “later.”   Fortunately, I eventually snapped out of it and forced myself to take action – my only regret thus far is that I didn’t take action sooner.  This is what I’ve learned from my experiences:

  • Eventually never comes. Stop telling yourself “tomorrow is the day” – years will go by if you let them.
  • Don’t wait for the stars to align, don’t worry about having a plan that is 100% perfect, just start doing SOMETHING.
  • Have a goal. It’s much easier to get stuff done when you’re doing it for a reason.
  • Recognize that failure is an inevitable and important part of success.

Which one are you?

How many times have you told yourself “I’ll get in shape next week, because I’m busy this week?”  It’s easy to talk a big game like Bowser. It takes a special breed of person to take action like Mario, knowing full well that it’s going to be difficult.  Sure, you will stumble, you will fall, you will fail.  Ultimately however, you will succeed if you refuse to give up.

Need some more inspiration? Try these quotes on for size:

Thomas Edison: If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.”

John Beluschi in Animal House: Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!


John Belushi in Animal House

It’s the day after Labor Day, the unofficial end of Summer. It’s easy to tell yourself “It’s almost Fall, so I don’t have to worry about getting in shape right now; I can do that next Spring.”  After a long day of work it’s easy to skip going to the gym because you had a tough day, especially as it starts to get darker earlier.

Talkers and complainers need not apply: Nerd Fitness is for DOERS!

If you want to get in shape, start today.  If you want to lose weight, make your very next meal a healthy one.  If you need to get out of debt, put a plan in place immediately.  Whatever it is you want to do, find a way to do something to get you closer.  “Tomorrow” can quickly become next week, which can become next month, which can become next year.

Start now.

The 28-Day Challenge

Today is the start of the next 28-Day Challenge. Hop on the Nerd Fitness Message Boards (completely free), and post THREE goals that you hope to accomplish in the next 28 days.  Two of these goals can be fitness related (do three pull ups, fit into size 36 pants, or follow a Paleo diet, for example).

The third goal needs to be something related to leveling up your life outside of fitness: whether it’s setting up a 401k or Roth IRA, starting a blog, taking a Spanish class, building that swing set that’s been sitting in a box for months, whatever.  Nerd Fitness is about more than just losing a few pounds and getting stronger – it’s about finding balance in your life, taking action, and making things better.

At the end of the challenge, I’ll pick one winner who accomplished the three goals to the best of his/her ability.  The winner will get a free Nerd Fitness t-shirt! (see my goal #3)

I missed the last challenge – inexcusable, I know – but I’m back! Here are my goals for the month:

  1. Put on 5+ pounds of muscle - this will require a heavy diet of GOOD foods and enough sleep.
  2. Strength train 3x a week and go for 30-minute walks on off days - I usually don’t do much on my rest days, but I think a good brisk 30-minute walk will keep me focused and give me plenty of time to brainstorm article ideas.
  3. PRINT NERD FITNESS T-SHIRTS. I have sent three designs to my buddy Joe, so you’ll soon be able to vote on which shirts you’d like me to have printed.  Sorry for Bowsering this one for six months.  Jeez.

Less Bowsering, more Marioing (hopefully that makes sense). Hop on the boards, post your three goals, and then DO IT.

-Steve

###

photo

September Rebellion Update: Going Global?

What a crazy eight months to start 2010!

Honestly, back in January, the thought of running my own business, selling fitness guides, and planning some exciting adventures still seemed to be years away, and yet here I am!  By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane headed back to Atlanta after spending nine days visiting my family up on Cape Cod.  The Rebel Fitness Guide is officially off and running to a great start, so I gave myself a day off yesterday – kinda – which allowed me to finish reading A Game of Thrones (AWESOME).

It’s September 2nd, which means we only have four months left in 2010! I wanted to share my plans for the rest of year, covering my own personal goals and also my goals for Nerd Fitness.

Expanding the Rebellion

Since quitting my job back in June and taking on Nerd Fitness full-time, I’ve received a bunch of emails from readers who are/were in the same boat as me, wanting to know how I did it, how I plan on keeping myself afloat, and what my plans are for the future.  I really enjoy these emails, and I love hearing from other people who are interested in creating their own small business, so PLEASE keep sending them!

This has been planned for months, but I want to expand the scope of my writing here on Nerd Fitness. Although the NF Rebellion began as a way to fight against obesity, conventional wisdom, and nerd stereotypes, I’ve realized that it has also become a rebellion against a life without passion and plans that happen eventually instead of now.

I want to help people who are interested in making changes and improving their lives.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan on abandoning the type of articles that I usually write; I’ll simply be augmenting them with stories about my adventures, experiences from building an online business, and advice for others looking to level up their lives in ways other than fitness.  Even if you have no desire to quit your job and you’re perfectly content with the life you live, these articles will still provide value.

I had this great idea to call the part of the Rebel Army who want to break free “Freedom Fighters,” and then I realized why I thought it was such a good idea: because my friend Karol Gajda already took it like two years ago.

You win this round Gajda!

Travel Plans

Back in January, I discovered the art of travel hacking from Chris Guillebeau and his excellent Frequent Flyer Master book. The guide turned me on to some great communities and killer credit card deals (don’t worry Mom, I pay them off in full each month).  Even though I’ve been minimizing my expenses for the past year, the Frequent Flyer Master has helped me acquire:

  • 127,000 American Airline miles
  • 110,000 British Airways miles
  • 50,000 SPG points
  • 25,000 Delta miles

Now that I have freed up my time and my location, I think it’s time for me to start using these points to see the world. Seriously, I’ve never even been outside of North America! I want to step outside of my comfort zone, see some beautiful places, and go on some kick-ass adventures.  In order to afford everything, I’ll be traveling on a tight budget, using every connection I have, applying every travel-hacking tip I know, and cutting my expenses to a bare minimum.  Not only that, but I also plan on getting rid of ALL my crap – my digital piano, amp, dvds, videogames, books, old clothes, and more.

After spending months reading about the clutter-less and experience-filled lives of people like Leo of Zen Habits, Baker of Man vs. Debt, the aforementioned Karol (who is a big hit with old ladies),  Corbett of Free Pursuits, and Evrett Brogue of Far Beyond The Stars, I have fallen in love with the minimalist concept – stop buying stuff you don’t need, sell the crap you already have but don’t use, and spend the extra money investing in yourself and life-changing experiences.

I fully plan on writing two articles a week even while traveling, so you won’t see any drastic changes as far as the format of NF goes.  More details on where I’m headed and when are coming soon!

Immediate Nerd Fitness Plans

The Rebel Fitness Guide is launched, but my work has only just begun. The initial sales of the guide definitely surpassed my expectations, but if I’m going to continue making money through this site I need to really focus on constantly growing the Rebel Army.  I want to put out at least two guest posts a month along with creating my usual two posts per week here at NF, which means I’ll be writing like crazy.

Nerd Fitness t-shirts. They’re coming, I swear!  Now that I have a quasi-income and time to dedicate to getting the project off the ground, I’m ready to finally start making some NF t-shirts!  I apologize to those of you that have been waiting months to get one; obviously quitting my day job kind of forced me to slightly reorganize my priorities.  I have a few different designs that I’m considering, and I’ll put it up to a vote soon to see which shirt you like the best.

My next guide. I want to get started on the next guide as soon as possible: a strength and muscle building guide.  This next guide will focus more on the muscle building aspect of fitness, teaching people how to really build muscle and power safely and efficiently.  It will also have a huge diet component, as your diet is 90% of the battle when it comes to packing on the muscle.  Time to get started!

Leveling Up My Life

I have a confession to make: I completely neglected my own personal health and well-being over the past few weeks while finishing up the Rebel Fitness Guide, and I expect that to continue during Labor Day Weekend (I’ll be in Nashville at the Vandy-Northwestern game, go Dores!).  Starting next Tuesday however, I plan on re-dedicating myself to getting in great shape by the end of the year.

Next Tuesday will also kick off the next 28-day challenge (which will have a twist…).  So be ready to kick some butt on the 7th.

Just because it’s the end of the year doesn’t mean there’s not enough time to do something significant. What do you want to accomplish in the next four months?

-Steve

###

photo

The Rebel Fitness Guide is NOW AVAILABLE!

Release the biodegradable eco-friendly balloons, I did it!

After a month of planning, four months of writing, 100+ guinea pigs testing, five weeks of editing, a few late-night edit/brainstorm sessions with Jess, a brief launch delay, last minute edits from my mom, and one final all-nighter…

I am FINALLY officially releasing the Rebel Fitness Guide!

Since quitting my day job back in June (and even for a few months before that), I’ve been busting my butt to create a guide that will help people of all shapes, ages, and sizes get in shape without taking up all of their time or breaking the bank.  For less than the cost of one personal trainer session (or less than the cost of one video game), you can get in the best shape of your life with just a set of dumbbells and some determination.  I’m incredibly encouraged by the feedback from the first group that purchased it, as many of them are already starting to see noticeable results after only a month.

Pardon my biased opinion, but the Rebel Fitness Guide kicks ass. This guide is my future, so I’ve done everything I can to make sure its fun, easy to understand, and produces results.

Testimonials

I won’t go crazy with the testimonials, but here are three from the first group of rebels that purchased the pre-release version of the guide that really stuck out to me.  Hopefully you know me well enough to know that I would only use actual testimonials from actual customers:

“The NerdFitness guide is a simple, to-the-point understanding of why a person gains weight, how to eat so you lose weight, and how to exercise without killing yourself.  In 30 days with a strict follow to the guide, I dropped 26.4 pounds…I have much more to go but this is the lowest I have weighed in years!”

-Stephen S., Analyst

“I have been in the fitness industry for 15 years and have seen a lot of fitness programs.  Steve has created a comprehensive plan to better fitness for anybody, anywhere.  Lose body fat and get stronger with an exercise program that really does work and does so without a lot of equipment, a lot of time, or even a gym membership.  Steve guides you with honest, sound advice that is fun to read and easy to understand, helping you ‘level up’ to higher workout ranks.  If you have the drive but don’t know where to start, The Rebel Fitness Guide can help!”

-Jason Varley, fitness professional and owner of corebody.net

“The Rebel Fitness Guide is massive, filled with endless amounts of useful information. I really liked how Steve modifies the workouts so that, even if you can’t do a pull-up, you can still work the same types of muscles. The Rebel Food Fighter is my favorite part of the guide, going into detail about nutritional labels and what’s good and not good for your body. It’s helped me learn how to judge the quality of my food, which I believe is one of the most important aspects of healthy living.”

-Jess S, HalfofJess.com

This is awesome!

-Steve’s mom (she’s the best, and completely unbiased in her opinions of my work)

Well, what are ya waiting for?

So, head on over to the Rebel Fitness Guide Page to pick up your copy today! Whether or not you decide to pick up the guide, thanks for reading Nerd Fitness, and get ready because I have some big plans for this community.

NOTE: If you already purchased the guide last month, you should be getting an update from me in an hour or so with a download to the Deluxe version of the guide with all of the updates. Thanks again for your support from the beginning, your feedback was so crucial in making this guide what it is.  If you bought it and you DON’T get an email update, email me later on today and I will look up your email and then get things fixed up for ya!

Thanks again, let’s go Rebel Army!

-Steve

###

photo

How To Become A Superhero In 4 Easy Steps

Last week while watching Kick-Ass, I was trolling around the Nerd Fitness Message Boards and came across an introduction post from Crizomaticus which ended with this:

Crizomaticus is a name I took on with my health kick, which started by doing the warrior dash. It stuck.

I then thought back to my buddy Tony who had adopted the persona “Endorphin Dude” for every time that he ran in a race.  Tony has even created a uniform for himself, including a custom headband with “Endorphin Dude” written on it and a cape that billows in the wind as he runs.  I can’t believe it took me this long to write this article, because it just fits:

It’s time for you to become a superhero.

If you’re struggling with motivation, or you’re just getting started on your quest to level up and you’re intimidated, building an superhero version of yourself could be the jump start you need.  Here’s why:

Superheroes kick ass!

Whether they’re in video games, comic books, or movies, superheroes are so damn awesome because they can do the impossible, giving us a chance to escape the real world and live vicariously through them.   They’re lighting fast, incredibly strong, and invincible; they can fly, stop bullets, and scale buildings.  They’re brave as hell and enjoy walking into dire situations with a giant smile.  They beat the crap out of any adversary, save the girl/world/dog from certain death, and then brush it off with some witty double entendre.

Superheroes are bad ass mofos, and it’s time for you to become one too.

1) Decide what you want to accomplish

You might be overweight, out of shape, scared to leave your house, and embarrassed about your life. However, you can create an alter ego that is the exact opposite of those things, and THAT’S the person that will turn things around.   Just think of all of the scenarios that play out in your quest to get in shape:

  • You might give up two miles into a race because you’re tired. Your alter ego would push through the pain and finish.
  • You might quit your weight-lifting session early because you had a rough day at the office. Your alter ego would get angry (and you wouldn’t like him/her when he/she is angry), get motivated, and power through the rest of the workout.
  • You might be incredibly self-conscious. Your alter ego isn’t self-conscious in the slightest, thanks to a “costume” and persona that is different from how you normally dress and act.  If people can’t recognize you, there’s no need to be self-conscious, right?

Make the superhero version of yourself do all of the things that you’re afraid of or struggling with. Why? Because superheroes attack problems in way different ways than a normal cubicle dweller.  That’s why they exist – to do stuff that ordinary people can’t.

2) Determine your persona

By day, Tony is an ordinary employee for Dolby Laboratories. He hangs out with his dog Chewbacca, creates short films with his friends, and lives an relatively ordinary life.  However, practically every single weekend, Tony dons his customary uniform and becomes Endorphin Dude.  He has a cape, a custom headband, and a huge freaking smile.  Wearing this uniform makes Tony impervious to pain and allows him to finish some excruciatingly difficult races where normal Tony might have failed.

Normally, I’m just plain ole’ Steve. I spend my time working on Nerd Fitness, answering emails, writing articles, and hanging out on  Twitter.  I’m always really happy and smiling.  Things change whenever I go to the gym, however.

I throw on my uniform: a ripped up t-shirt, basketball shorts, my Vibram five-fingers shoes,  and a permanent scowl.  My headphones are in, I jump around between sets to pump myself up, and get this crazy look in my eyes before every set.  I become a much angrier, stronger, and more determined version of me, and it WORKS.

What about you? Some superheroes have elaborate costumes to hide their identity.  Others like Superman simply remove their glasses and throw on some spandex and suddenly nobody can recognize them.  Some people become funny and confident when they transform; others become more businesslike and hardcore.  Some like to work together in groups.  Others like to work alone.

Your alter ego can be whatever you want it to be, so dream big, kid.

Each day, as you shed your shirt and tie (or skirt and high heels) from the office, you are transforming.  As you start to put on your workout clothes, your daily worries, troubles at home, and anxiety about tomorrow’s presentation cease to exist for the time being – you’re  now a superhero and you have bigger fish to fry.

As you’re getting prepped and ready, imagine your pre-workout ritual being filmed with dramatic camera angles and inspiring music playing.If Tony Stark can have a montage, so can you.

3) Pick a theme song

While transitioning from normal Steve to Super Steve, I always turn on music to get fired up.  My song of choice is  Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” – it puts me in the right frame of mind to get angry and go kick some ass.  Seriously, listen to this song and imagine me dramatically strapping on my five-finger shoes and leering menacingly into a mirror.  Ridiculous, I know…Ridiculously awesome.

Get yourself a montage pump-up song.  After that, make sure you have some other songs that can be used for the other super dramatic or action-filled moments of your super hero life.  I have a workout playlist that makes me excited and motivated.

Do you have songs for these moments?

  • If you’re a runner, do you have a songs that help you climb those hills when giving up is the easier option?
  • If you’re a weight lifter, do you have specific songs you can turn to when you need that extra bit of oomph to finish the set?
  • If you’re into martial arts, how many times a day do you listen to “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito? [just kidding. kind of.]

4) Decide what you stand for

What are you fighting for? Superman adheres to a strict moral code when dealing with crime, fighting to protect Lois Lane and save Earth.  Batman does everything in his power to clean up the streets of Gotham, striking fear in the hearts of would-be criminals and thieves.

Whenever I lift weights, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is in the front of my mind.  I exercise to inspire and motivate, because you inspire and motivate me.  It’s easy to fight with conviction when you have something worth fighting for.

Think of the NF Rebel Army like a real life Justice League.

We’re all different, we all have unique talents and abilities, and we’re all dealing with our own Kryptonite.  We’re also all fighting for the same cause: to become better people, to help those around us, and to leave the world a better place for our kids.  We have certain standards that we must live up to, and we know that with each others’ support we can create a movement that is more powerful than anything this world has seen.

We’re the good guys, and we want you on our side.

Who are you?

I challenge you to create an alter ego for yourself.  Think up a cool name (not something lame like Super Steve, jeez), pick a theme song, pick your uniform, and pick your special power.

Who is your alter ego, and what special powers can you bring to the Rebel Army? Lastly, what are you fighting for?

-Super Steve (only a temporary name until I come up with something worthy)

###

photo

Waiting Is the Hardest Part…

Today was SUPPOSED to mark the official launch of the Rebel Fitness Guide.

This past week, as I was gathering some final feedback from the 100+ people that picked up the beta version, I realized that there was something more that I could add to the diet guide, namely how to prepare a few healthy meals, how to shop at a supermarket, and so on.

Well, that small addition quickly developed into a monster. Five straight nights of working til 5AM and 10,000 words later, I’ve created an additional 60-page guide  appropriately named the Rebel Food Fighter.  It started as a small project and quickly progressed into something that could probably be sold as a stand-alone product, but I’ve decided to include it into the giant conglomeration of awesome that is the Rebel Fitness Guide.

So, now when you buy the guide (beginning NEXT Monday, August 30th), you’ll receive in an instant download:

  • 40-page Rebel Fitness Guide
  • 35-page Rebel Diet Guide
  • 60-page Rebel Food Fighter
  • Level 1 Rookie Workout Guide
  • Level 2 Recruit Workout Guide
  • Level 3 Outcast Workout Guide
  • Level 3 Outsider Workout Guide
  • Level 4 Rebel Workout Guide
  • Level 4 Renegade Workout Guide

For each of the workouts, you get the full guide explaining the workout, written descriptions and videos for each exercise, and pdfs and excel sheets for each workout so you can print out/type in your workouts and track your progress.

I’ve also made each workout completely scalable with multiple exercises listed depending on your ability and strength, so now “leveling up” is based more upon experience rather than just pure strength.  This way, it’s possible for two people of various fitness levels to do the same Level 3 or Level 4 workout and have vastly different experiences.  For example, a level 4 workout might call for 4 sets of 8 divebomber push ups, but it also lists decline push ups, regular push ups, or incline push ups as alternative exercises that can be done instead.  This means that no matter if you’re a man or woman, young or old, big or small, you WILL be able to level up to Level 4 if you stick with the program!

What’s in the Rebel Food Fighter?

So, what’s the difference between this Rebel Food Fighter and the Rebel Diet Guide? The Rebel Diet Guide deals with the Nerd Fitness eating philosophy and how to mentally prepare for a life of healthy ass-kicking, while the Rebel Food Fighter is all about ACTION.

It’s designed to help out guys and girls who are ready to start eating better but have no clue how to cook or how to buy healthy food at a grocery store.

These are just some of the topics covered in it:

  • How to Read a Nutrition Label - A breakdown of everything that shows up on a nutrition label, which parts are most important, and which natural foods give you the most bang for your buck for each nutrient.
  • Building a Game Plan – How to attack your trip to the grocery store with a great game plan – what to buy, where to buy it, what to avoid, and how to do it quickly.
  • Beware the Camouflaged Enemy – a list of foods that are marketed as healthy, but are actually quite awful for you.  Learn what these foods are, how to identify them, and how to pick healthy alternatives.
  • My Game Plan and Go – To Meals – I’m not kidding when I tell you that I used to be useless in a kitchen, but I’ve gotten so much better.  I include a few recipes and explanations for exactly how I shop, what I cook for my go-to meals, and more.  If you’re as clueless as I used to be, this is a great starting point.
  • My favorite ways to prepare vegetables and my favorite spices – I didn’t buy my first vegetable from a grocery store until I was probably 22; that’s how sheltered my taste buds were.  Now, I can teach you all kinds of ways to cook ‘em!  Learn which vegetables in particular are super easy to get started with and different ways to prepare them.  Also, learn how to spice up your meals without destroying your calorie count for the day.
  • The Best Recipe Resources – Along with a list of my favorite healthy snacks, I also list recipe resources for primal diets, regular diets, vegetarian diets, and vegan diets.  Most of these resources list well over 100 recipes (along with great pictures, solid instruction, and even length of preparation time), which means you’ll never go hungry and unhealthy again!

Now, obviously adding a guide of this size was quite the undertaking; I realized yesterday morning that trying to force myself to put all the additions together and launch the product today was a pipe dream.  Now that Nerd Fitness is my only source of income, I need to make sure this guide kicks the most amount of ass possible.  So, rather than force an incomplete product out the door simply to hit an arbitrary deadline, I decided an extra week of revisions and testing was the right decision.

Winners of the Free Rebel Fitness Guide Giveaway

That being said, I still promised to give away two free guides, one to a person who left a comment on the blog last week and one to a person who left a comment on the NF Facebook page (closing in on 1,000 fans!). Using a random number generator, I’ve selected our two winners.

From the blog, our winner is Dawsy, who answered the question “why do you exercise?:”

I was never one for exercising…I’m a programmer by trade and pretty lazy by nature. Then along came my son, and I realised just how important it is to be able to maintain a high level of activity all day long. Also, I want to be around for my family for a long time. I don’t want to let the team down by dropping off the perch before my time because of my own laziness.

And from Facebook, Peter S. won for his comment on “What do you want to do before you die, and how will fitness help?”:

I want to set a good example for my children. I’d love to be able to keep up with them when they bike, hike, climb, run, or whatever outdoors activity they might enjoy. I know that I started falling down once my oldest started really riding a bike – left me in the dirt. Obviously, if I’m not in shape, I won’t be able to keep up and will have to just watch from the sidelines, which isn’t nearly as much fun.

I’ll be emailing the two winners later on today, so congrats guys and thanks for participating! Lastly, I’m working on a few more surprises for next week’s launch.

Everything listed above will be available in the Basic Training version, and I’m also going to offer a higher-priced version with a bunch of bonuses and 1-on-1 support from yours truly.  If you’re one of the 100 that have already bought the guide, don’t worry – you’ll get everything in the higher priced version as my way of saying thanks for buying the first edition last month!

Shipping Up To Boston

Tomorrow morning, I’m shipping up to Boston (well, Cape Cod) to visit my family and friends for a week. I’m looking forward to spending a few days at the beach, checking out a concert by Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers (one of my favorite bands) at the Beachcomber in Welfleet on Thursday, and finishing up this guide for next’s week launch!

So, sorry for the false-start today, but TRUST ME that it will be worth the wait.  I’m really excited about what I’ve created and how well things have gone for the first group that have used it.

I’ve got big things planned for the Nerd Fitness Rebellion my friend, big things.

-Steve

###

photo

Win a Free Copy of The Rebel Fitness Guide!

Next week, I plan on officially releasing the Rebel Fitness Guide to the world (cue the fireworks).

Back on July 26th, I made a beta-version of the guide available for only 72 hours.  In those few days, over 100 rebels-in-training purchased the guide and have been leveling up their lives ever since.  During these past three weeks, I’ve been emailing, skyping, and g-chatting with these folks to get their opinions on the guide, answer any questions, and keep track of any suggestions they might have on how to improve it.

I’ve been working hard to make this e-book the best and most enjoyable method for people to get started on their journey to a healthy life full of awesomeness, and I plan on many long nights this week as I do what I can to make it absolutely perfect.  Check out the product page if you’re not sure what’s in it.

Because I’m releasing this sucker next week, I figured I might as well give away two free copies! Two is better than one, right?

How to Win Copy #1

You can win one copy here by leaving a comment on this article answering the question:

Why do you exercise?

This is why I exercise: Exercise makes me feel complete.  I have so many things I want to accomplish in life, and I can only do those things if I am healthy and in shape.  I want to be around for a long time, and I know that making an investment now and establishing good habits early will pay dividends later and allow me to watch my great-grandchildren grow up.

I love acquiring new skills (like in The Matrix), and I can only do those things if my body is prepped and ready for exciting activities.  After all, it’s tough to become proficient in Parkour, Capoeira, or rock climbing if all of my free time is spent eating Oreos, watching the Jersey Shore, and going to the doctor for unhealthy issues.  I exercise because I am inspired daily by the Nerd Fitness Community (that’s you!), and I want to continually better myself to be a good example.

I exercise because it makes me happy.

How to Win Copy #2

Become a fan of Nerd Fitness on Facebook, and comment on the latest post:

What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do before you die, and how will getting in shape help you get there?

I’ll post my answer on Facebook, and then you can do the same.  I’ll pick one random winner from the comments on that post (as long as they’ve been posted before Sunday at 6pm Eastern).

Your Turn

Why do you exercise? If you’re not exercising currently, what will be your motivation to exercise next week when you pick up the Rebel Fitness Guide? (wink wink, nudge nudge)

Simply leave a comment on this post with your answer before Sunday, August 22nd, at 6PM eastern, and I’ll pick a random winner from the people that leave an answer.  If you happen to win and you already have a copy of the guide (thank you!), let me know if you have a friend you’d like to give it to and I’ll send it to them instead.

The rebellion is growing stronger by the day, and I couldn’t be more excited.

-Steve

###

photo

The Beginner’s Guide to Parkour

This is a guest post from NF community member Dakao, who trains in all kinds of awesomely nerdy things like weapon making, martial arts, and parkour.  I’m fascinated with the concept of parkour but haven’t tried it yet, so I asked Dakao to put together a guide for people who want to get started but don’t know how.  Take it away Dakao!

It’s inevitable that someone would connect the dots between Nerd Fitness and parkour. After all, parkour’s approach closely follows the precepts of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion:

  • Train naturally: parkour is a stellar poster child for natural movement training.
  • Train with conviction and intelligence: parkour’s emphasis on awareness of your environment and circumstances, as well as performance under pressure, requires as much of these qualities as you can muster, then challenges you to dig deep down and find even more.
  • Train for fun: the playful and spontaneous nature of parkour encourages creativity in a way that I can only liken to improvisational jazz and dancing.

If you have NO idea what parkour is, watch this quick 4-minute video and get inspired:

Parkour Australian Team Video

What Is Parkour?

Parkour is natural, effective movement. That’s it.

In French, we use the term passement for overcoming any obstacle. You pass or traverse a barrier in whatever way suits you and the moment; there’s no one prescribed method for anything. Parkour is a lens of efficiency applied to every aspect of your movement through life. At its broadest definition, it implies a low-impact and considerate attitude towards bosses, co-workers, family, friends, driving, consumer purchases, and the environment (natural or manmade).

What is the least effort and stuff you need in order to live the most meaningful and happy life you can make for yourself? As with the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, it is an exuberant and responsible celebration of life.

What Is It Not?

Flips, tricks, aerial acrobatics, etc. These movements can be used to traverse certain obstacles more rapidly or aggressively, but their use in parkour is ultimately dictated by need.

Will your zombie pursuers be deterred by a double front tuck flip as you clear a 14′ gap? Or do you just need to leap and roll the gap? Or again, maybe a quadrupedal crawl across that fallen log bridge might be best.

Success is a must, and looking cool comes from success.

People who have never done parkour (or any other high-risk physical activity) tend to see only the sensational end results on youtube, and not the obsessive levels of meticulous and conservative training that underpin the visible final product. Safety is huge, but ultimately a part of “effective.” The speed and airborne moves you may have seen can be a part of parkour, but are far from necessary.

Parkour is for Everyone

Anyone can figure out a way to traverse an obstacle.

Parkour is just a mindset to find your own best way through in each particular situation and moment. From one week to the next, you could be looking at the same obstacle.

Your developing traceur’s eye (a traceur is somebody who practices parkour, by the way) will see different ways over or around it depending on conditions. Is it wet, dry, hot, dark, cold, sunny, etc.? These are conditions over which you have no control. Ignore them at your peril, but become familiar with them and you may find ways to turn them to your advantage.

Conditions you CAN control relate to your mind and body: are you tired, fresh, fed, hungry, on or off balance, distracted, fit or out of shape? You can take care of these before training; you will likely not be able to control them if you are fleeing from bears, zombies, or the Pope (heckuva sprinter), so come prepared.

Start Taking Charge of Your Life

Anything we do in life can be as easy or hard as we care to make it.

Parkour just makes us realize it up front. Taking five or ten seconds to set and prepare for a standing jump is easy. Carefully climbing over a four-foot wall is easy.  But when preparation time is taken away, the pressure to perform makes the same task much harder. Any traverse or passement rapidly becomes challenging when you have to do it at a dead sprint.

The hardest and most beautiful thing about parkour and other challenging activities is that they unequivocally call shenanigans on us when no one else will. When you stand on top of a 6-foot wall and look down at the concrete or grass below, you can say whatever you like. “It’s easy!” “Man, that looks scary!”

But that knot in the pit of your stomach will tell you what you really feel. Your mind will know whether you trained a hundred jumps and landings this past week, or whether you slacked off and played Xbox for three hours every day. If you trained up on your shorter jumps and landings, the knot will be smaller or not there. If you didn’t, the knot will be so large it’ll threaten to choke you with fear.

Good parkour is fairly easy.  Impressive, fast, and aggressive parkour is hard.

If you want to perform YouTube or District B13 movie quality parkour, your typical time per passement goes from five seconds to half a second, which is a tenfold increase in difficulty. Your methods, movements, and relative safety considerations must all adapt when your time changes. Got it?  Good!  Let’s move onto some basic training on how to get started.

Beginner Training For Parkour

If you’ve done any of the workouts discussed on the Nerd Fitness forums or body weight circuits, you’ve already begun to train for parkour.

Do not take my advice here as a requirements set in stone but instead learn your body, and you will be able to learn parkour.  Activities like yoga, lacrosse, boxing, swiming, and running (and so on) will keep your body in peak physical condition and ready for anything.

If you need more direction than that, here’s a basic Parkour training routine:

Do two sets of this list, every other day. If some or all of this list is too hard, reduce your reps per set for the hard exercise(s) until you can do two sets. I started on pull-ups with 1.5 pull-ups per set. It’s OK to start with even half a pull-up or merely hanging and flexing. The important thing is to do 10% more next week than you can this week.

Here’s how to progress:

  • Each week, add 1-2 reps to each exercise (2×12, 2×14, 2×15, etc.)
  • After doubling the reps for each exercise (2×20), add another full set to your workout (3×20; you may have to temporarily reduce reps on that final set back down to 10 or less).
  • When you can do 4×20, perform each rep a little faster, more explosively, to get in a more plyometric and aerobic workout.

My own goal is a fairly arbitrary 5×20 b/c it’s a nice, round number. Once I achieve it for an exercise, I give myself the okay to tackle new and more difficult exercises.

On To the Good Stuff

Let’s start with our jumps.

Find some stairs or outdoor steps, and practice jumping with your whole body. Jump from the ground up to one step, then two, then three, etc. You should be relaxed, well-balanced with a relatively upright posture, and land softly on your toes 10 times in a row before you add another step to your jumps the next session or week:

  • 1-2 steps is easy
  • 3-4 is a moderate challenge
  • 5-6 is difficult
  • I’ve never seen anyone clear 7 steps.

Chug water after each set. You may pee a lot now, but it’s a good habit for later when you’re outside tearing it up for three hours in the sun.  Energy drinks and sodas are right out. However, I’ve heard some studies show that a small dose of caffeine prior to a workout helps you perform better.

You may notice I never mentioned running. I hate running, and only work out as I’ve described above and below in this article. Yet I can sprint or run nearly 300 yards at a stretch because of the (an)aerobic aspects of these exercises.  You’ll run 3-10 steps for every vault or jump you do, which translates to about 1-2 miles of running for a two hour session. And it’s the appropriate kind of running for parkour – brutally short sprints, take-offs, and landings.

Your exercise and jumps should be hard, but not crippling. Talk to, work out with, and learn from other people who work out. Remember that there’s a lot of bad advice out there. My own advice to you is only based on three years of being a self-taught traceur (and nine years of martial arts), for all that I know a lot and I know what works for me and the people I help train.

Here are some videos of basic movements that you can start to practice safely.  These videos are all courtesy of American Parkour:

Moving on Up In Difficulty

Here’s a great video showcasing solid parkour skills without being too flashy:

Parkour, Literally Video

Brilliant. This is what parkour should look like. No flips, no huge gap-clearing launches into empty space, just a lot of little things that add up to efficient zombie-fleeing movement…after all, you never know when that zombie apocalypse may strike :)

Keep using the format of 5×20 sets and reps for the exercise routine above as gateway goal before you move on to new and more difficult techniques or exercises.

Why? Because most of us are unevenly fit or unfit. Don’t tackle Mount Everest before you’ve hiked the Appalachians.

Hundreds of reps of full body exercises will help strengthen all your minor stabilizer and oblique muscles that you don’t think about.  All it takes is one weak muscle getting pulled to ruin your day.  For you to stay safe and minimize the damage and injury from stumbles and falls, you need to be as fit as you can afford to be (in terms of time and willingness).

You will be the best judge of doing only what is within your ability.

If you want to flip and vault off monkey bars, be prepared to spend many hours at a gymnastics gym. If you want to kong vault over a picnic table, be prepared for thousands of clapping push-ups. This trains not only the strength, but the reflexes to use those muscle motions in the 0.1 second when you trip on a wall or rail in mid-air and come tumbling down.

I have seen people get a couple bone breaks, sprains, and one concussion. Every time, it was because someone got a little overconfident and pushed beyond their current training and ability. Traceurs like me may not be flashy, but I have yet to break anything in years of training.  I’ll take that win every single day.

Before I bring up some advanced techniques, you should be able to regularly perform these exercises with ease:

  • Jump up at least 24” and grab an overhead rail or ledge for a casual pull-up
  • Jump and tuck your knees to land gently on a bench or a picnic table
  • Broad jump 4-6’ with good balance on landing
  • A set of plypometric push ups

You got that down no problem?  Awesome…now let’s do some fun stuff.

Advanced Training Techniques

Shoulder rolls are your absolute top face saver and pain-preventer. Choosing to do them well isn’t important. Falling and rolling when completely surprised and off-balance is what’s important. Tuck your head and hands in, relax your body, arc your arms and one shoulder forward in a hula hoop shape around your head, and roll your butt over your head.

How to learn How to Roll PROPERLY AND SAFELY. Here’s the rest of the APK parkour tutorial channel, with videos covering these foundation parkour movements (listed in approximate order of increasing difficulty and greatest to least utility):

New traceurs who can do three sets of 10 push-ups and pull-ups can work through Demon Drills’ Body category of videos. Try everything once slowly. Skip anything that’s too challenging, and come back to it in a week. Parkour is a highly personal form of self-expression and choice and it demands a fine sense of body awareness.  Your body can only be as strong as it’s weakest muscle when it comes to Parkour, so make sure you are well balanced.

Get Motivated, Get After It

Ready to get started?  Good, now watch a few more videos for motivation and inspiration:

After that, head outside, start practicing your movements, and look for other traceurs in your area.  A simple google search for “parkour” or “free running” plus your town name will generally turn up a group that practices in your area.

Okay, enough reading, go start practicing!

Viva la Rebellion!

-Dakao

Thanks Dakao!  I definitely tried practicing my Parkour rolls last night, and managed to roll right into my closet door.  Woops. 

Speaking of parkour and awesomeness, there’s an all new marathon of Ninja Warrior this Saturday at 6PM Eastern on G4TV! 

Ninja Warrior is my favorite show of all time, and I guarantee you’ll be mesmerized within just a few minutes of watching – some of the craziest feats of strength and athleticism I have ever seen.

Set your DVRs NOW!

###

photo 1, photo 2

How to Work Out Properly In a Commercial Gym

At one point or another, you’re probably going to end up working out at a commercial gym on your quest to level up your life.

I know many NF readers are hardcore Crossfit fanatics (with good reason), but for a lot of us the monthly cost of that membership is incredibly prohibitive.   Home gyms often lack the necessary equipment (squat racks, barbells, heavy dumbbells, etc.) to get a full workout, so we resort to the LA Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness, or Gold’s Gym right down the street.

Let’s be honest, it’s tough to train like a rebel when you’re trapped within the confines of the Empire. You’re surrounded by crappy music, useless machines, and people who generally have no idea what they’re doing (this includes both clients and trainers).  Fortunately, I’ve devised a solid training mentality that allows me to work out without being bothered by imperial soldiers.

I’ve been exercising in various commercial gyms since I was sixteen, and they’re all pretty much the same:

  • Walls full of treadmills and elliptical machines
  • Dozens and dozens of “weight-lifting” machines
  • A room for low-impact cardio aerobic classes
  • A section in the back or upstairs for the free weights

Although it’s certainly possible to exercise like a rebel in a commercial gym, it’s practically impossible to do so undetected: I always get weird looks (thanks to my Vibram Five Fingers), I usually piss off the meatheads for using the squat rack for squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and power cleans while they impatiently wait to do their fifteen sets of bicep curls.  I usually get at least two “are you crazy?” looks when I load up a belt with weights to do my pull ups and chin ups.  I totally feel like an outsider in there, as I’m doing things differently than anybody around me.

You know what?

I LOVE IT.

I look at each day in the gym as a battle that I need to win.  I’ve already covered how to not suck at working out in a previous article, so today’s post is more of a “how to have the right mentality while working out.”

Pick a Good Target

If you’re going to get a gym membership, there are certain things that absolutely need to be there if you’re going to get a good, rebellious workout:

  • Free weights – if your gym doesn’t have any dumbbells (or only has dumbbells up to 20 pounds) because “we think machines are safer,” don’t even bother – move onto the next one.
  • Squat rack (either full or half) – I think any workout (for men or women) should have some good barbell squats in it.  This rack will also make overhead presses really simple, and can double as a place for you to do bench presses, deadlifts, and power cleans.
  • Bench press bench and adjustable benches – for doing bench presses (duh), 1-arm dumbbell rows, incline dumbbell presses, and so on.
  • A pull up bar – for pull ups, chin ups, and hanging knee tucks.
  • The rest of it – a place to stretch, cardio equipment (for interval training), exercise balls (for full range of motion crunches and knee tucks), maybe a rowing machine, and a cable machine (for triceps pull downs and such).

Other than that, make sure you actually test out the gym before giving them your money.  Read this article I wrote on how to pick the right gym for you.  Once you’re ready to start working out, it’s time to get fired up.

Bring your own music

The music played in a commercial gym is always terrible, so make sure to bring your own. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but I feel like I can lift at least 10 pounds more on any exercise when listening to my favorite songs instead of a techno remix of Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus.

Other than getting pumped up, there’s one other big advantage to bringing your own tunes: it allows you to zone out those around you. Remember, you’re training and doing exercises that 99% of the people there wouldn’t even consider, so you’ll probably get funny looks.  Rather than worrying what these people think (which I explain next), keep your headphones in, your head down, and just focus on YOU.  Block out your troubles from the work day, the stress from your home life, or the worry of tomorrow’s big presentation.

For those 45 minutes, just focus on pushing around those weights!

Here’s my definitive workout playlist, if you’re curious.

Ignore 95% of the equipment

Although I have no problem with the cardio equipment in the gym (treadmills, rowing machines, ellipticals, stair climbers, and so on), I don’t think a workout can really be complete if the whole thing is spent in that section of the gym (explained further in the comments).  As you hopefully already know, weight lifting can burn way more calories than doing just cardio (plus it will build up your muscles, WIN!).  Lift weights first, then go do some intervals to finish out your workout.

Stay away from almost all of the weight-lifting machines. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: machines rob your muscles of valuable stabilizer movements which can set you up for disaster in the real world.  You might think it’s safe to use the Smith Machine for controlled squats, but it’s actually pretty terrible for your back.  The ONLY thing I use the Smith Machine for is for inverted body weight rows.

Here’s my full stance on weights vs. machines. Now, if you’re not using machines, you’ll be using…

Dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells, oh my! The back of the gym is going to be your best friend.  I spend almost all of my time back in the dumbbell and barbell section of the gym.  If you’re a lady, don’t be afraid of this place – the guys that are juiced up and intimidating are too busy gawking at their own biceps in the mirror to notice you.

Don’t know what to do?  Here’s how you can build your own workout.

Ignore 99% of the people exercising

Ignore and block out pretty much every single person in the gym, including the trainers. I’d guess nine out of ten people in a gym have no idea what they’re doing, which means that as an informed individual you will tend to get funny looks when you train properly.  Every single day I shake my head while watching people around me doing useless exercises, using too much weight, and performing every movement improperly.  In my ten years in commercial gyms, I’ve probably seen only a dozen people do a proper squat.

Yikes.

Unfortunately, correcting these people never works – just hope that they will one day become enlightened like you and start reading Nerd Fitness :)

Additionally, be careful taking advice from anybody else, because they probably have no clue what they’re talking about.  Listen to their advice, nod politely and smile, decide if there’s any truth to their assessment, and then go back to your workout.

I hate making generalizations, but in my experiences these two are 100% true. In commercial gyms, guys are only worried about two things: bench presses and bicep curls.  Meanwhile, women tend to spend their time doing hours of cardio, thirty minutes of ab work, and 5-pound dumbbell exercises for sets of 50 without breaking a sweat.  Don’t be like these men and women: you’re reading Nerd Fitness, and you’re better than that.

As I’ve stated in my Billy Madison article, don’t worry about these people or what they think about you while you’re exercising.  They’re probably more self-conscious about themselves than you are.  Remember: headphones in, head down, zone out.  Do your thing and get out of there.

Tips and Tricks

Pick out your workout time carefully. Try to exercise during the day while everybody else is at work if your hours are flexible, or late at night before it closes.  I’m a big fan of circuit training, which is difficult to do when when every single piece of equipment is being used.  Avoid the after-work rush whenever possible, as that tends to be more frustrating than productive.

Bring a towel, your keys, backpack, and/or water bottle. While you’re taking a break to get some water between sets, somebody will always try to steal the equipment you’re using, without fail.  Either bring a water bottle so you don’t have to go to the fountain, or bring a towel, keys, whatever that you can lay on the equipment to “stake your claim.”  Don’t be a jerk about it though – don’t spend time socializing between sets, and take care of business.

Get the hell out of there! Your workout shouldn’t last longer than 45 minutes.  If you’re not dead tired by then, you weren’t pushing yourself hard enough.  I actually despise gyms, but I love lifting weights, so I do what I can to get in and out of there quickly.

Put on Your Helmet, Go To Battle

When I go to the gym, I picture myself going to war with the Empire. My music is already playing when walking from my car to the gym, my head is down, and I’m focused on my battle plans: what exercises I’m going to do, how many sets and reps for each, and how long the workout should take.

As rebels in commercial gyms, “we are the outsiders.”

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-Steve

###

photo

Previous Next View Archive