Captain America shirtless

Nerd Fitness: Want to get Captain America or Wonder Woman's body IRL? Here's how [Fandom Files Ep #48]

Aug 27, 2018

Captain America had the experimental super-soldier serum. Peter Parker was bitten by a spider. Wonder Woman was born a demi-goddess.

Unfortunately, the rest of us actually have to actually put in work if we want to get in good shape.

Traditionally, geeks have been depicted as either skinny dweebs (see: George McFly or Peter Parker before that fateful trip to the lab) or slovenly, obese jerks (The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy comes to mind). While those are obviously broad, bummer stereotypes, it doesn't mean that at least some nerds don't feel like they totally fit in at weight-lifting gyms and exercise classes.

A little over a decade ago, Steve Kamb, a recent college grad who spent most of his time reading Harry Potter books in his car during an unfortunate stint as a flailing construction equipment salesman, was facing that workout dilemma. And while he wound up taking a few personal training sessions and finding his exercise groove, he wanted to make it easier for people going through the same thing.

"I thought there are probably people like me who spend a lot of time playing video games and getting lost in books and movies and comics and are intimidated to walk into a gym or go to a bodybuilding website or a CrossFit — they see these places and say that's just not me," Kamb says in a new episode of The Fandom Files. "So I Googled 'nerd + fitness' and nothing popped up. So I was like, I guess I'll just go ahead and put the ten bucks down and buy and then I'll figure out what to do with later."

Unlike most domain names I've purchased (including, which I just re-upped today, no joke), it turned out to be a very good investment. After years of learning and writing, Kamb has turned into a massive hub for geeks who want to get in shape and not hate their lives while doing so.

The site has become a sprawling business, with 20 full-time employees and plenty of volunteers. Its offerings include newsletters, exercise tips, instructional videos, diet advice, member forums, and most impressively, an adventure-style MMORPG that turns getting into shape into a computer game. He's done it all without any investor money, pouring his earnings back into the business, which now has users across the world.

"Nerds looking to get in shape almost get double-ostracized: ostracized from the public for being nerdy, but then from the nerdy friends for wanting to better themselves," he said. "So we try to carve that little area in the Venn diagram where those two things overlap and say like, 'Hey, here's the place where you can nerd out about video games and how to eat, how to eat better, and move better."

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