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Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Gym for Nerds

Located in a small strip mall in North Hollywood is a small garage like structure that has minimal parking. Coming out of the structure you would hear and see the signs of the many cross fit locations that have been popping up around all town. Various sighs and grunts, the sound of heavy weights hitting the floor, and people running laps in the parking lot. Getting closer you’ll notice something different, however. Space Invaders painted on the wall, paintings of super heroes, 8bit heavy metal music playing, these are all of the things that make Nerdstrong Gym seemingly …nerdy. Nerdstrong Gym, though, is much more than a re-skinned cross fit location.
This gym proved to me that a nerd community is not just brought together by common interest, but by common goals.

“There’s always been a need for this”

I signed up for an intro session but arrived a bit early. The instructors were finishing up a session with roughly about 12 people. One of the first things I noticed about the crowd was how different it was from the last cross fit session I went to. The attendees looked real. By this I mean, no one had matching workout clothes, the women weren’t wearing make up and the men were wearing sleeves. It looked as if the people in this session weren’t training for an Instagram account, they would leave this workout and go back to their normal lives. The crowd varied from those who looked like they had been working out most of their lives, to those who may have just started. As the participants were raising the weights over their heads and then dropping them to the floor I then began to notice the trainer. 

 He looked like a trainer, sweaty shirt and gym shorts, he was walking through the gym saying… something. When I actually began to listen I noticed he wasn’t only saying the normal “You Got This!” or “One More!” that I normally hear. Instead, he was telling a story… something about dragons I couldn’t quite catch up. Needless to say I was confused, that is until the end of the workout. He went into this diatribe about scaling a mountain and defeating a dragon.

It was then that I realized that this man's business card probably said “trainer/dungeon master”. He was actually DMing the workout!( A dungeon master is usually the leader of any table top RPG, he/she sets the setting, goals, villains, and unravels the story as it progresses from the players actions) Some, not all, of the more intense workouts are set to a theme. Some being D&D, BattleStar, Star Wars, etc.

Their workout ended and my intro session was about to begin. My instructor, Kimi, had myself and the other two participants sit down and sign our waivers ( for injuries). She went into the history of the gym ( which started out of a garage and an attempt to get a fellow table-top player to work-out)  and then spoke to us about our goals. We went over our dietary/exercise habits, which ranged between none to “training for a competition."  She asked us about the pop culture we were into and why we felt we were nerds ( she reassured us there were no wrong answers). I stated that I almost missed the class because I was up late blasting through chapters one and two of TellTale games The Walking Dead.  Thanks to Groupon, I’ve done a few intro cross fit classes and I have to say that this is the only one that had the instructors actually talk to us about our current state of health and goals. It felt as if they actually cared.
After our brief discussion we went over proper form for the various exercises the classes would have us doing. These exercises were push-ups, squats, sit-ups, rows, and a form of reverse row that involved Olympic rings. It was surprising that they had us do all body-weight exercises, no free weights. Shortly after, our instructor Kimi had us do a entrance work-out. This work out was not a race, rather a test. It was a timed exercise that we would then do a few months later to judge our progress. This work out consisted of a 200m row, a superset of push-ups, squats, reverse rows, and a 400m run. For those reading this that worry they are not “in-shape” enough to do this I have to say, fear not. Not because it is easy, it’s definitely a good workout. I say this because the focus isn’t on speed or even completion. Kimi made sure that no one was overworking himself or herself and that everyone was safe.

After the workout I spoke with Kimi and she stated that the gym had been seeing a lot of newcomers in the last year. This has, in part, to do with their paneling at conventions. There is a focus on community. They have tabletop RPG nights, movie nights, and even workouts that are themed after various pop-culture hits. There is even an honor system lending library that had some pretty awesome offers.

This gym is the perfect place to get fit and feel amongst your own. I strongly recommend it for cosplayers getting ready for a con, Los Angeles new comers that are looking for a community, and even fitness gurus.

Check out more info on the Gym here

-Greg B