For some folks, getting fit is its own reward. For others, fitness is just something fun. For folks like Steve Kamb, fitness is about changing the world…one nerd at a time. A self-proclaimed “nerd who likes to be active,” Steve has spend the better part of the last few years helping average everyday folks change their lives through fitness. He’s well on his way to building a Rebel Army of folks dedicated to making fitness a part of their daily lives, and more importantly — in sharing that fitness with others.
As part of my pre-release for my forthcoming book Train to Live, Live to Train: The Insider’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle, I am profiling people who have built a remarkable lifestyle of fitness. In Steve’s case, his tireless work to bring peak fitness to the everyman through content and community have laid the foundation for something pretty amazing. Read the interview below or skip over to Nerd Fitness and check it out for yourself.
What was your fitness background as a child / young adult?
I’ve always been an active person, even as a little kid. I tried to play every sport imaginable (baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, street hockey, football), and then whenever I wasn’t playing organized sports, I was running around my neighborhood with my friends playing capture the flag or manhunt, skim boarding on the shores of Cape Cod (where I grew up), or having Nerf wars in my basement when it rained out. In high school I ran cross country for a year, played basketball for two, tennis for two, and golf for four.
What is your primary sport of choice right now?
I don’t play nearly as many organized sports now as I’d like to. I’ve played in a co-ed kickball league over the past few years, which has been a great competitive outlet for me lately. It’s funny: I always plan on just having fun at kickball games, but by the second inning I’m laying out for foul balls and sliding headfirst into home plate. I guess I really do miss competitive sports.
Other than that, the majority of my physical activity comes from my three weekly weight training sessions in the gym, long walks around Atlanta, and as much golf as I can afford to play. I’m getting ready to start taking Capoeira (breakdance fighting) lessons, and I like to hike or rock climb as well.
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started this new lifestyle/fitness journey?
Looking back, I wish I could tell the “younger me” how important my diet would be for success. I spent four years in college working out like crazy, drinking protein shakes, reading muscle and fitness, doing whatever possible to pack on some pounds and be less skinny. I just didn’t know any better, which is why I failed to gain more then 2 pounds in the four years.
Now, I know that diet is at least 80% of the battle. I make sure first and foremost that I’m eating properly or else I know that my time spent exercising is like treading water. Now I can pack on weight or muscle (or slim down) just by making a few key diet adjustments.
What led you to pick your focus on “nerd fitness?”
After graduating college, I decided to start a fitness website dedicated to folks like me: nerds who like exercising or want to start exercising. I’m a nerd, I love writing, and I love helping people: starting a blog just made sense to me.
I know fitness can be intimidating and overwhelming, so I set out to create a site that made things as simple and enjoyable as possible for guys and girls to get started down the path to a healthier life.
I get a lot of questions on how I’m a nerd exactly. Well, I’ve built computers, I love Harry Potter, I quote Lord of the Rings frequently, I read probably two books a week, and I play lots of Halo and online games. I also love to exercise and stay active. I figured there were others out there like me, so I tried to create a new niche in the fitness world.
So far, so good!
What larger change do you hope to effect with this focus?
I realize this sounds corny, but I really want to change the world. Initially Nerd Fitness started as a blog for nerds to gather and talk about video games and get tips on how to be more healthy. Nerds could come read about Star Wars, learn how to do a push up, and then tell their friends.
For the first year, that’s all Nerd Fitness was.
However, since I started focusing on building it into a more of a community (called the Rebel Army), I’ve realized that Nerd Fitness has become something much bigger than just me writing a few articles. The message boards are filled with people who offer up tips, motivation, and support. I’m constantly inspired by the stories of success from readers, and I’m really excited to see how things go over the next few years.
Watch out world, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is growing stronger…
What has been the hardest part of your transition to this new focus?
The hardest part to me is realizing that I’m no longer writing for just a few dozen people. I started writing for myself, my friends, and a few nerds who stumbled across the site. It’s now evolved into something far bigger: it’s incredibly exciting, humbling, and also terrifying.
I’ve had to learn that everybody’s a critic – and usually a poor one – on the internet. Although the cases are few and far between (and usually without merit), I’ve had to learn to ignore the people who don’t support the cause and concentrate on those that do.
Life’s too short to deal with people who suck.
How have you structured your day to make fitness both possible and a priority?
Since quitting my day job June to focus on Nerd Fitness full time, I’ve actually found it tougher to make fitness a priority – I have a tendency to work all day and night, skip meals, and wait until the last possible moment to exercise because I’m excited about an article I’m writing or an interview I’m doing (like this one!).
However, I constantly remind myself that daily exercise is not only crucial for me to feel balanced and in control, but now it’s part of my job! After all, we can’t have an overweight, out of shape guy running a fitness website, right? I tell myself that I have a whole community of people who count on me for inspiration, just as they know their exercise and hard work inspires me. I don’t want to let my team down.
How do you balance your passion for fitness with other elements of your life?
I’ve come to realize that balance is so incredibly important: work, exercise, and life are the three areas I try to make time for each day. I’m struggling with scaling back the work, but I take time each day to exercise, go for a long walk around my neighborhood, and hang out with my friends (usually by playing Xbox or grabbing a drink with them).
Fitness is important to me, but I try to keep everything in perspective – I still drink beers and eat pizza on the weekends, I still stay up way too late some nights, and some days I miss workouts. That’s okay – as long as I do my best, have some fun, and help others along the way, I’m a happy man.
What are your top three tips for other folks who might be considering following in your footsteps?
Be unique. I spent nine months publishing five articles a week on Nerd Fitness before finally realizing that I was writing stuff that could be found on any other generic fitness blog out there. After coming to this realization, I really embraced the “nerd” part of the site, started producing two solid articles a week instead of five mediocre ones, and things really took off after that.
Write about things that you are truly passionate about. If you’re starting a blog with hopes of turning it into a business, I’m guessing you also have a full time job. If that passion isn’t there, those long months where your readership isn’t growing and you’re not bringing in any money can become painful.
Because I was so passionate about helping people getting in shape, I had no problem working a full day at the office, going to the gym, and then coming home and working on my site until two in the morning. I did this for a year and half before making a single cent through Nerd Fitness.
Lastly, do what you can to include everybody, whether it’s a community to join or a cause to rally behind. Nerd Fitness started as a blog for me to write fitness tips, but it’s become a community of people who are all fighting against the same thing: obesity, nerd stereotypes, and a life without passion. I try to write about “us” instead of “me.” People will support a cause that they’re a part of – those folks will be your biggest fans and your most vocal supporters.
The way I see, I’m just one of thousands who are trying to level up their lives – I just happen to be the guy that brought everybody together.
What’s the “next big thing” you are up to?
Now that I can work from anywhere, and I’ve never been out of North America, I’ve decided it’s time for a quarter-life crisis. I’m getting ready to embark on an Epic Adventure all over the globe. I head to Peru to visit Machu Picchu at the end of October, and I plan on moving to Australia or New Zealand at the beginning of 2011 for a few months. After that? I have no freaking clue.
I’m also hard at work on my next fitness e-book, a strength and muscle building book for busy guys looking to bulk up and get stronger the right way while still doing all of the other stuff they love.
How can others follow you / find you online to support your efforts?
For starters, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and say hi! Let me know if there’s anything I can help ya with.
Secondly, you can sign up for free blog updates by joining the Nerd Fitness Rebellion (http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-rebel-army-newsletter/).
Lastly, if you’re looking for a fitness guide on how to lose weight and get healthy without needing a gym membership – check out my Rebel Fitness Guide (http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/rebel-fitness-guide/), my first e-book for sale through the site.