I will forever look back upon 2010 as the year my life changed.
Twelve months ago, Nerd Fitness was just a hobby – a fun site that I worked on every night after my day job. Despite having almost 200 articles published, up to that point I had less than 500 subscribers, no message boards, no true community, no plans for monetization, no plans to travel, and a vague idea that “Nerd Fitness could eventually become a business.”
My, what a difference a year can make, huh?
Here’s a look back at the year, stories, and events that helped changed my life and guide the direction of Nerd Fitness.
28-day challenges are born
Back in February, I came up with this idea for a 28-day challenge – I was getting ready to go on a Caribbean vacation exactly 28 days later, so I wanted to hold myself accountable by starting a competition on my newly installed message boards. I knew how fickle online communities can be (flaming, trolls, anonymous bashing, useless arguments, etc.), so I was slightly hesitant to add them to the site. However, I knew Nerd Fitness had the possibility of becoming more than just a guy writing a blog, and I wanted to give readers a chance to connect with each other, so I gave it shot.
Looking back, that might have been decision I’ve ever made.
We’ve just updated our software, we’ve run seven or eight successful 28-day challenges, and now have over 600 kick-ass members (90+ of which have joined since Monday). There are four AMAZING moderators that help me keep things under control (Dantes, 67Alecto, Alethea, and Spezzy), and I have not had a SINGLE issue with any fights, flaming, trolls, or spam (knock on wood). Whenever I’m feeling down in the dumps, I go read the Woot Room and it instantly puts a giant smile on my face.
As for that vacation that inspired the 28-day challenge? It never happened. A big part of my life fell apart just two weeks after that announcement, inspiring my article “How to deal with life when sh** happens” which was written the morning after one of my worst days ever. Sure I wrote it for the community, but I REALLY wrote it as a note to myself. I still look back on that day as something that had to happen, because everything happens for a reason. The way I see it, there’s NO way my year or my plans for 2011 would have turned out like they did had that day not happened. It’s crazy how life works sometimes.
So, are you on the message boards yet? We’d love to have you.
The beginning of a rebellion…
After launching the message boards, I knew we needed a name for our group other than just “community.” I put a post out on the site in March asking whether or not readers wanted to join an Empire or Rebellion – and the votes overwhelmingly came in for the Rebellion. I had already designed the Nerd Fitness logo years ago, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across this artwork that inspired me to adjust the color scheme and rename the community the Rebel Army.
In one of my favorite posts of the year, I wrote about the 11 rules of the Rebel Army – we posted on the message boards as a community, we a had kick-ass name, and we now had a cause to stand behind as well. Nerd Fitness had truly transformed from a blog into something far greater.
Little did I know that this was only just the beginning…
The Nerd Dash!
Back in May, I ran in a 5k dressed up like a caveman along with a dozen of my friends. Why cavemen? Because that’s how much money we raised for the Nerd Dash! To explain the event, I created this ridiculous video that showcased my…amazing…acting skills. If you’re looking for a laugh, check it out:
The Nerd Dash helped send half a dozen kids with cancer to summer camp, and taught me some valuable lessons in fund raising. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to make a montage video. Everybody loves montages!
The beginning of the rest of my life
In June, I made the decision to quit my day job and focus 100% of my efforts on Nerd Fitness, despite not having made a single dime through the site yet. I knew I had something special here, and I knew there was an opportunity for me to provide a quality product to those who were looking for specific direction on how to get in shape. After two months of planning, four months of writing, and one final month of prep work, I launched the Rebel Fitness Guide in late July, a monster of a guide for busy folks who are looking to get in shape but don’t have a gym membership.
Since then, I’ve sold over 300 copies of the book to rebels in training. What’s been a pleasant surprise is that it continues sell steadily as more and more people hear about the site and are looking for specific instruction on how to get in shape. It’s the sales of this guide (along with t-shirts and the occasional affiliate sale) that allow me to continue making almost everything I put on the site completely free.
If you’re looking to get in shape and don’t know where to begin, consider supporting Nerd Fitness and picking up a copy of the Rebel Fitness Guide. I offer up a 100% money back guarantee in case you’re on the fence!
Steve’s Epic Quest of Awesome
Once I had my time and location freed up, I knew I wanted to start traveling. I had amassed 350,000 airline miles and wanted desperately to see the world, so I came up my Epic Quest of Awesome – my bucket list of things that I want to accomplish before I die.
I announced it on the site and asked for suggestions on things I should do and places I should go. With 130 comments on the article, looks like quite a few people wanted to help me put together something pretty awesome.
Just one month after announcing my Epic Quest of Awesome, I was off to Peru for a completely spur-the-moment trip with Cash (yes that’s his real name), my best friend since first grade. 32,500 points and less than $1000 later, I had exercised my way all over Peru for seventeen days, culminating with an epic hike through the ruins of Machu Picchu. Not bad for a trip that wasn’t even on my radar two weeks earlier.
I wrote about the adventure here, and put together a “Where the Hell is Matt?” inspired montage of my trip here:
Because I used “Eye of the Tiger” in the video, it’s not viewable in some countries. If you live in one of those countries, you can watch it here. It was this trip to Peru, my first trip ever outside of North America, that gave me the confidence to book an 11-month, 35,000 mile trip all over the world beginning in 2011. That trip lead me to…
Three weeks ago, I wrote an article called “How to Travel the World for $418” in which I detailed how I had booked a 35,000 mile trip for only $418.
Within an hour of publishing it, I was contacted by a senior editor at Gizmodo who asked if they could syndicate the article on their site. After freaking out for about five minutes and dancing around my apartment like a psycho, I replied with a resounding yes. A few hours later, the article had been republished on Gizmodo with custom artwork and everything.
I will look back on this day as “the day that my life changed.”
The article has since been viewed by over 285,000 people, liked on facebook 10,000+ times and retweeted over 1000 times. Gizmodo sent over 50,000 new viewers to my site, added 800 new subscribers to the Rebel Army, and overflowed my email inbox with 500+ emails from folks all over the world who wanted to meet up or give me a place to stay while I’m in their country. I’ve done radio interviews with stations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Seattle, Washington. Later on today, I’ll be doing another interview with a radio station in TOKYO, JAPAN.
My article was recently named #2 on the “Top 10 How-To articles of 2010” on Gizmodo. I am honored and humbled.
Homeless and carless, but very thankful
Two weeks ago, I officially moved out of my apartment in Atlanta, GA.
Last week, I sold my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I have eliminated almost all of my financial obligations tied up here in the US; all I have left are some student loans and health insurance. In a few weeks, I’ll begin my Epic Quest around the world. I was going to cover my goals for 2011 and plans for Nerd Fitness and the Rebel Army in this post, but it’s already so damn long that I’ll save that for Monday. Get ready: 2010 was a year of transition…2011 will be a year of growth. We just passed 3,500 subscribers at Nerd Fitness yesterday and momentum for the Rebellion is growing stronger by the day.
Last but not least, thank you. Thank you for reading Nerd Fitness, thank you for joining the community, thank you for taking action, thank you for leveling up your life alongside me. You inspire me to become a better writer, get in better shape, and be a better person.
Eat, drink, be merry. Celebrate the end of 2010 if it was good for you, or put it behind you if it sucked. Tomorrow is another day.
How was your 2010?
What are you proud of?
What struggles did you have?
Today’s Rebel Hero is Jon S. from Massachusetts, who posts as Knightwatch on the message boards. Who goes out and does kettlebell swings in a Nerd Fitness t-shirt in the middle of a nor’easter? This guy, which is why he’s awesome.
Do you have your Nerd Fitness t-shirt yet? Pick one up today (just $20 with free shipping to anywhere in the world), take a picture doing something awesome, email it to me, and you could end up in the next Nerd Fitness article!