This is another exercise related post instead of a school related post.
This past week, one of my friends stumbled upon this website called Nerd Fitness, and naturally, being the nerds/geeks that we are, we started looking at it and trying to decide if it would be worth trying out. I had been trying to get back into working out regularly, though I make lots of excuses of why not to based on weather, lack of energy and lack of time.
I had moved my dumbbells upstairs to the living room since it’s too cold to workout in the basement but I’d only managed to convince myself to do a work out from Fitness Blender twice in the past month. Nerd Fitness seemed to be more about motivation, which is something I felt I needed, and a few other friends decided to try it out as well so I signed up.
Another friend was visiting while I was debating this whole thing and so I went through some of the pros and cons with her but now that I’ve been using Nerd Fitness for a week, (and keep in mind this is only week 1) I want to share some of what I’ve noticed about both sites for anyone who might be considering using them or sometime similar.
Fitness Blender – Free to use the videos as much as you want, and then preset modules are never more than $9.99 for six weeks worth of workouts. I found the modules well worth the price because they would lay out for you exactly which workout you should do in which order so that you aren’t focusing too much on one thing and not enough on another, and, like with NF, once you’ve bought one module you can continue to use it over and over as much as you like.
Nerd Fitness – $99 plus tax American but then you can use everything on the site for free forever and they have a money back guarantee. Honestly, this was one of the biggest drawbacks to Nerd Fitness for me. Yes, it’s much less expensive than a gym membership even for just one year and I can, in theory, use it for many years. Plus, paying that much gives me added incentive to actually use it and it makes me feel more entitled to let them know if something isn’t working correctly.
Fitness Blender – When I first tried FB in the summer, I felt very motivated to keep at it and used it a lot. Once I started working though, I had trouble staying motivated. The workouts can be quite challenging, which is great, but it meant that I could justify not working out because I would need to: change my clothes, get my equipment, figure out which workout to do, warm-up, cool-down, shower and change again. That kind of time commitment is difficult to keep after working all day and there’s NO WAY to motivate myself to work out in the morning before work.
Nerd Fitness – This site is all about motivation through gamification of fitness and a lot of self assessment. Before you even get started, you are asked to look at your habits in terms of fitness and nutrition and what kind of person you are when it comes to trying out new fitness plans. The other big motivator is the community aspect. There are facebook groups for both sites but with NF I have other friends trying it out as well and that’s a HUGE motivator. It’s nice to be able to talk about how things are going with other people who are going through the same things. We’ve even decided to schedule a once a week outing and meal together.
The gamification aspect is also something that speaks to me. I like being able to “level up” my character through completing quests. Quests are things like Complete 10 push-ups or Go hiking with a friend. You can also set your own quests and create your own reward system. For example, I want to drink more water so I’ve set a quest to drink at least 6 cups a day for 5 days in a row and then I can go and buy myself some new tea. You get to decide which “class” you are as well and pick quests based on your class. I decided to go with Ranger because it’s a mixture of strength and endurance but I’m also going to do some quests from the Scout class for running and biking. (There’s no real option to chose to be a dual class Ranger/Scout but you can do quests from any class)
Fitness Blender – There are so many of them with so much variety! This is where FB really shines in comparison to NF. One aspect that I love about them is that it’s a husband and wife team and sometimes they do the videos together and they show modified versions of either easier or harder versions of the exercises they do and sometimes he does the easier versions and sometimes she does the easier versions. I like that they’re ACTUALLY doing the workout that you’re watching. You see them sweat, you hear them getting out of breath and not being able to speak when it gets tough. You see them lose count and have to change weights to something lighter when they need to. They talk you through the whole thing so you don’t need a timer or to count for yourself and they give you tips and pointers the whole way through.
The disadvantages to FB workouts are: one, there are a LOT of them which can be overwhelming when you’re trying to decide what kind of workout you want to do. Two, there are way more higher difficulty workouts than lower which, again, can be challenging when you’re starting out. I wasn’t completely out of shape when I started and had been running for a while so at least my legs were pretty strong but I think for someone who is very out of shape the workouts would be more challenging. That being said, you can modify the movements and use less or no weight when you’re starting out and probably be fine.
The modules can help with this as well but one disadvantage of the modules is that they aren’t set up very well on your personal calendar. When you say you want to start one, it sets up your calendar to tell you which order to do which workouts in which week but not necessarily on which days. The one that I did had four workouts a week with three rest days, one of which was meant to be an “adventure day” of your choosing. That’s great but it set it up so that the workouts were four days in a row followed by three rest days so you would have to go back and fourth from one day to another to do your rest days between the workout days. There may be another way to fix this issue but I couldn’t figure it out.
Nerd Fitness – NF takes a different approach to workouts. It gives you a set of exercises to do in three circuits and a form to keep track of your progress. There are videos and explanations of how to do the exercises and how to modify them as needed, but there aren’t workout videos to follow along. Also, you do the workouts in an ABAB or ABCABC pattern for a few weeks before moving on to the next “level” of your workouts. I like that you can take your own time to do the workouts without feeling pushed to complete a certain exercise within a certain amount of time like you do with a video. And I also enjoy that you do the same workouts for a few weeks so that you build up your strength in specific ways before moving on. There also seems to be a good balance between cardio and strength within the workouts themselves.
Warm-ups and Cool-downs:
Fitness Blender – There are two different kinds of workout videos on here, those with warm-ups and cool-downs built in, in which case the warm-ups and cool-downs target the specific muscles you’re using in the workout, and there are stand alone workouts and stand alone warm-ups and stand alone cool-downs so you can mix and match on your own. I preferred the videos that combine all three into one because I don’t like having to go hunting for good videos.
Nerd Fitness – This is another big disadvantage so far with NF. There are two warm-up suggestions of series of exercises and two for a cool-down but the accompanying videos mostly just show you how to do the movements. The main cool-down video is better in that you can follow it rather than writing down the exercises or trying to remember them, but there’s no sound so when you’re doing something like downward dog or touching your toes, you don’t know how long she’s holding a stretch before moving on. I ended up coming out of the stretches early to look at the screen to see what comes next or missing the change to the next one. I find this the WORST part of NF so far and I think I’ll just use an FB warm-up and cool-down for my workouts from now on.
I also don’t like that they aren’t tailored to the workouts. They’re pretty general and get to most of the muscles you’ll be using but they aren’t as focused or specific as the FB ones so I found I’m doing my own stretches and warm-ups as well. And again, that’s fine, but where I’m paying so much for this site, I want more from it.
Fitness Blender – FB is focused more on fitness than nutrition. When you sign up for a module you get a great explanation of some basic nutrition ideas. They are both vegetarian but not militantly so. They recommend what kinds of foods to eat before and after a workout, drink lots of water, try for less processed food, less sugar, more home cooking, all of those good ideas. They have some recipes and ideas on the site as well. And honestly, I don’t feel that the kinds of food I eat are an issue with me so this was fine for me.
Nerd Fitness – Nutrition is a much larger focus with NF. Unfortunately, the founder’s main nutrition philosophy is Paleo which gives it a huge red X in my brain. And honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the name. I think if someone said they wanted to cut down on carbs and dairy and processed food and try to eat more vegetables and protein I’d think “sure, if that works for you, go for it”. I don’t want to go into a huge rant about the subject just now other than to say that I believe that different dietary choices work for different people and that if it works for you, great, but I’ll continue to eat my agrarian diet.
With NF you’re asked to keep a log of what you eat and drink to help you self-analyse the nutritional choices you’re making. You’re not asked to count calories or anything (thankfully) but just be more mindful. This part I can totally get behind. Also, I can see that I already make good choices all the time and can celebrate that. I don’t eat out very often, maybe once or twice a week, and I’m making an effort to make more of my food at home rather than buying pre-made food. I don’t drink any sugary drinks and very rarely drink alcohol and never coffee, only tea and water, so that part’s easy. Just finding ways to encourage myself to drink more water and not going through the school day without going to the bathroom can be challenging.
So there you have it. Two different approaches to fitness, both useful, both excelling in different ways and both aimed at slightly different audiences I think. NF is much more about motivation and overall well-being and nerdiness whereas FB is more focused on fitness through a balance of strength, flexibility and cardio. I’m going to continue to use both for the time-being with a more of a focus on NF while I improve my motivation with FB for some different workout options from time to time.
Have you ever used either of these sites or a different one for fitness? Let me know what you think in the comments.