I'm coming up on one year of participation in the Nerd Fitness Academy.
The Nerd Fitness Academy is a nerd-friendly fitness business (a.k.a. blog with online products). I read the blog and newsletter for a long time, but suddenly last July it became Time to Sign Up. I don't agree with everything they say and they are way too into the Marvel universe for my tastes, but we get along. I like stories and adventure; they like stories and adventure. I like being strong; they like being strong. I like Batman and Lord of the Rings; they like Batman and Lord of the Rings.
I made a character: Traaki the Humble Nereid, after much soul-searching (though lately I realized I am more a shape-shifter). They use D&D-style races and classes to structure the workouts you pursue (which was kind of confusing but with my entree into the world of actual D&D, it's been very satisfying). I created a Pinterest board with outfit inspiration, character inspiration, the whole thing! For real. It's that dorky. Because let's be real: I'm not motivated by how I "should" look, I'm a little bit motivated by how I want to feel, and I'm definitely motivated by fictional stories about elves. And Nerd Fitness is all about that last one.
I chose to be an assassin--in retrospect I chose it because it's the most changeable class (except maybe a ranger, which might be next). It combines agility, strength, flexibility, and balance. I have very little desire to run for 20 miles, but if I did, I'd be barefoot and quiet as a mouse, and I'd probably stab someone at the end of it. It combines the things I love about dancing and martial arts (e.g. complex physical skills, grace, speed) without all the going to class and being yelled at.
So, I have been doing bodyweight workouts twice a week for about 11 months now. Pushups, squats, planks, the whole thing. Today I learned what a one-leg Romanian deadlift is! I just reached level 3. It's incredible how much more you can do than you think you can; on level 2 I struggled to hold a full side plank for 20 seconds. Finally got bored of level 2 and just decided it was level up time; I beat the level 2 boss and now I am hitting 20 seconds on a full plank every time. Because.
I don't look much different than I did a year ago. But the fact that my outside is pretty much the same reflects where I started: Not interested in looking "better" (that's a load of bs); interested in thinking and moving differently. (So much to say about what it's like to be a fat dancer, but that will wait.) I can do squats now, and I recently did the down half of the full pushups in my workout. I'm super proud.
Some part of me does think: Geez, it's been a year and that's where we are. But the other thing I've been practicing: go slow. Don't throw yourself into an intense exercise program, only to burn out. The Nerd Fitness program focuses so much on individualizing your training, with an emphasis on education, science and community, that it allowed me to trust my own intuition about working out. Turns out I hate (hate) having to get to class on time. It gives me 3000 opportunities to make an excuse. But at home, doing basic bodyweight training, it's actually difficult to find an excuse. I eliminated the biggest excuse: "I don't have time". If I really don't have thirty minutes twice a week, I need to quit something else (e.g. facebook). This is healthcare and no one else can take care of me.
I wish I were progressing faster. Some times I tell myself: "Let's do three workouts this week" but I always do two. We seem to do what we are ready to do, and while we can push beyond that (see above story re: planks), fighting an internal battle generally gets me nowhere but sad. I am committed to taking care of my body. I will be here working on it now and in six months. When it's time to do three times a week, I will.
I haven't talked much about the community, but I love that part, too. The "make your own character" service lets you track your own custom goals (mine are only partially entered; planning goals & assigning XP is tougher than it looks). The forum (called the Rebellion) has tons of people chatting, swapping advice, and being silly. It feels good to be part of a group that wants to lift each other up without much else on the line. The women's facebook group has given me extra reason to love triceratops.
What I really mean to say is that it feels good to make progress, I dig this product and community, and I'm on the way to becoming an even more badass merlizard shapeshifter. Your mileage may vary.