Space Invaders adorn the wall. Classes are themed after Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Weight plates look like Captain America’s shield and the welcome mat is shaped like a Dungeons & Dragons die. Welcome to the ultimate fit geek clubhouse: Nerdstrong Gym.
This is no CrossFit box filled with brawny bros sporting tribal tattoos and quads the size of small tree trunks. This is a haven for a different kind of client – one whose body type is honed by hours of gaming rather than grueling HIIT sessions.
“Maybe we grew up like you. Maybe we were bullied, too, in high school. This is a gym but on top of that is a high level of geekdom,” said Andrew Deutsch, founder of Nerdstrong Gym.
The Los Angeles-based sweatbox combines a love of video games, sci-fi movies, action stars, and comic book heroes with serious physical fitness and a strong sense of community. Deutsch and his co-owner David Nets wanted to create a gym for people who don’t typically feel welcome at gyms – a place that takes health seriously but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
When asked why nerds need their own place to work out, Deutsch said, “For me, it’s so I can stay up playing ‘Batman Arkham Night,’ but for others it produces a wonderful experience of going through something [with] the same logic you can apply to any online video game.”
Nerdstrong Gym is almost overwhelmingly on-message. The logo is a cape-sporting stick figure hoisting a barbell. The website challenges newcomers to “stop being a scruffy-looking nerf herder” and to “live long and prosper.” Trainers talk about “leveling up” and include their nerd credentials along with their fitness resumes in their bios.
To a non-nerd it might seem cheesy, but to clients who have never felt at home in a gym before, it’s exactly what the doctor (Doctor Who, that is) ordered.
Gym member Lili Wyckoff described Nerdstrong as “my version of Disneyland – you’re surrounded by people who are excited by the same things as you.”
She credits the gym with helping her find the fitness motivation she was previously lacking. “You end up doing more because it’s not, ‘I have to run five more meters,'” she told The New York Times. “It’s, ‘Oh, I have to save this villager.'”
Fit geeks who aren’t in Hollywood will soon be able to join the Nerdstrong squad thanks to an online training programme set to roll out by the end of the year. The programme will include a full library of exercise videos – including the gym’s famous themed workouts – available 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
Because what could be more geeky than a bunch of Bruce Banners using the internet to unleash their inner Hulks?