Fitness can seem like a daunting challenge for many of us. We struggle with the uncertainty of where to begin, the sheer number of options available to us, and the feeling that we may never change the way we currently are. I challenge these notions. With the guidance in this book and the programs presented herein, anyone can find success in fitness whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned fitness veteran. The program features a self-assessment protocol to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses, a system of workouts that give you the options to pursue your chosen domain of fitness, and progressions that keep you engaged and interested in that pursuit.
I have a story that may seem very familiar to many of you reading this book. I personally struggled with my weight and inability to perform athletically in my daily life. Climbing a set of stairs winded me and the thought of running any kind of distance made me want to throw up. I spent most of my time reading, practicing musical instruments, and of course playing games. It took the encouragement of my significant other to get me into the gym and starting focusing on caring for my body. Walking into a local gym, I was as intimidated as anyone could be. I had no idea where to begin or even how to use any piece of equipment besides a treadmill. Following my partner’s lead, I managed to perform a circuit workout similar to some of the Fighter class programming I feature in this book. I gradually fell out of the habit of working out again due to boredom; while my circuit was effective, there was little progression and I lost interest. Flash forward a few years, I discovered home workout programs like P90X and started to bicycle after randomly accepting an invitation to participate in a bike race (spoiler alert: I lost terribly). This led to a several year love affair with cycling and the beginning of my interest in exercise physiology and the science behind working out. I decided to go back to college full-time and earn my bachelor’s degree in exercise science. In the process, I learned many different approaches to fitness and how these varied paths could combine to produce a balanced athletic profile.
While I gained a lot of knowledge about exercise and programming, I never forgot that I once struggled to break into the fitness world and lifestyle. One day whilst criticizing my own athletic performance (specifically my running and sprinting ability) I thought to myself, “Wow, if these were my video game stats, my sprints would be great and my longer runs would be awful. High Agility and garbage Endurance.” It hit me like a ton of bricks - what if I could quantify athletic ability in a way that would be easily understood by gamers and nerds such as myself? I went to work compiling data and tests that could realize this goal.
I initially thought that the statistics would be enough, and that progressing in those stats would motivate people to work out and grow as “characters” in the so-called “Fitness Quest”. I showed the system to my closest friends, very pleased with myself. They constructively criticized that while knowing the stats was interesting, it wasn’t enough to motivate them to want to increase them and grow. I then developed the Random Encounter system, to have an interesting and fun way to generate workouts for conditioning. While this was a welcome addition to the system, it was still lacking in progression. I added classes based on the fitness tests to exemplify certain fitness archetypes, which helped players understand what they wanted to work toward and identify as. I then added the Quest and Achievement mechanics to engross the player in a short story that inspires the required workout, and to set goals that players could strive to achieve. The Achievements range from fairly easy to nearly impossible; the classes and their levels reflect mastery of particular fitness domains. A level 1 Barbarian is very much a novice weightlifter, whereas a level 10 Barbarian is a world-class power lifter. These added mechanics took Critical Fit from a fun distraction to a legit training program that would take RPG fans from beginner to expert and everything in between.
I am incredibly proud of how far Critical Fit has come and I am excited for everyone to try it out. You will make progress with these programs, and I know you will achieve your goals. I can’t wait to show you all what is to come!
Daniel Diaz Brauch
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
Certified Chiropractic Physician Assistant
B.S.H. Health Science, concentration in Exercise Science
University of North Florida