Roll a Perfect D20 at the Gym by Fighting These Big Boss Monsters

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A small group of adventurers crowd around their Game Master to hear the tale of the mysterious Zombie King and his campaign of terror. The scene is set: they are mercenaries recently returned from war and gathering at a local inn. Participants roll dice to determine their actions, and the battles begin. This is a familiar scene for many of us, but the setting may not be.

The Night of the Zombie King campaign took place at Nerdstrong Gym in North Hollywood, CA in February this year and lasted for 5 weeks. Each Saturday, the adventurers banded together, battled monsters, and eventually met up with (and defeated) the Zombie King himself. This campaign was not set around a table however, it was fought by performing very real exercises by gym members. Air squats repelled zombies, wights were defeated by swinging steel clubs, and each week’s big boss was defeated by group burpees or push-ups. You can check out the workouts for the campaign in the gallery below.

This campaign was the first of Nerdstrong’s “Campaign Mode” which is an extension of their popular “Big Boss” series. According to Nerdstrong Coach David Nett, the Big Boss format is “a huge workout, 3 weeks of training, and then the same huge workout again”. Nerdstrong Head Coach, Andrew Deutsch, adds that “[Nerdstrong] wanted to create a short term challenge that people could relate to in terms of knowing where they were and how far they can come in a short amount of time.” Workouts take place every Saturday morning at the gym and have included Big Boss monsters like Cthulhu and The Blacksmith.

The Big Boss format appeals to gamers who may want to incorporate more fun and storytelling into their fitness, and who want to set, measure, and meet specific fitness goals.

Incorporating Storytelling = Fun

Having fun is key for many of us when it comes to fitness. Nett knows that “adding the story component provides extra motivation for those members who are gaming (especially RPG) oriented. Finding new ways to motivate people to push their limits is always a win.” If you hate doing burpees, imagine that you are fighting an evil demon over the fate of the world and you just might be more willing to do that extra set of 10.

Big Boss Battles Help You Track Progress and Push Limits

“Health-wise, the Boss Monster construct has been a great success. Every five weeks you get to see visible evidence of your progress” says Nett. The first week and fifth weeks of the Big Boss fights are always identical and if you’ve been working hard on your form and endurance, you should hopefully see a measurable difference between these identical workouts.

Deutsch adds that, “people seem to really like the big challenge and often times underestimate themselves on how well they can do. Often times, fitness is nebulous and if you’re not the type of person who keeps a rigorous log of your workouts, having these big workouts helps them understand what happens when they put in hard work day after day.”

You Can Create Your Own Campaign at Home

You don’t need to be a Nerdstrong member to incorporate the Big Boss format into your own workouts. Deutch advises fitness-minded geeks to “create something they are pretty sure they can’t complete in terms of reps or time or weight used. Though initially discouraging, attacking their personal boss monster 4 weeks later might reveal to them their potential, plus, showing them how their bodies adapt to stress and changes appropriately. It doesn’t matter if it’s one more rep or one more pound or a second faster… it’s change and incremental change can be hugely rewarding”.

If you’re interested in learning more, don’t forget to check out Max Hit Points as part of Geek & Sundry’s Open Beta. Nerdstrong Coaches Blair Herter and Andrew Deutsch will help show you some ways to incorporate fun and storytelling into your home fitness routines.

Featured Image Credit: Kenny Mittleider

Image credits: Robert Angell IV, Dina Kampmeyer

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