A Class Where Outcasts Can [Get] Fit

Members of the Nerd Fitness community work out at Camp Nerd Fitness last year.

Some people hate group fitness classes because they feel they’re being judged or won’t be able to keep up; others dread working out alone because they get bored. But what happens if you dislike both?

A 32-year-old from New York recognized this gap in the fitness industry, and wanted to provide an option for those who feel like a “workout outcast.” Steve Kamb created a community called Nerd Fitness, and targeted those who don’t fit into a typical fitness program, with themes like “Harry Potter” and “The Legend of Zelda” in mind.

“I was a scrawny, weak kid myself. I desperately wanted to be stronger and feel better about myself,” Kamb told the Chicago Tribune.”We all start at Level 1. It’s getting wrapped around the idea that you’re not going to get into shape overnight but this also is not going to be miserable,”

The program is a self-paced online fitness regimen, and works like a video game, with the goal of “gamifying” his fitness life. The website, which has nearly 300,000 subscribers, offers articles on nutrition and health, along with fitness plans that are set up like a game, where users will “move up a level” once they complete specific workouts.

Users, who are called “Rebels,” are encouraged to find their niche, using six different workout styles via role playing that is based on athletic abilities. The program offers options for runners and endurance athletes along with those interested in yoga and martial arts.

“Suddenly, it’s not, ‘Oh, I need to go to the gym, and it’s so tedious.’ It’s that, ‘I’m training to be a superhero, and my team needs me or the Justice League is going to be defeated!'” Rebel Ogranovitch Scott told the Tribune.

The online courses have video instructors, including Kamb, who is the “Rebel leader.” Later this year, nearly 400 people will gather in Georgia for a Nerd Fitness camp.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.