Review: Level Up Your Life By Steve Kamb

I first picked up Level Up Your Life from my Barnes and Noble section one autumn day. About two weeks later I was taking a trip to the Canadian Rockies hiking down the canyons of Alberta.

It’ll be easy to say that this book is the sole inspiration my adventurous attitude and start traveling more, but truth be told, it was not. Instead this book offered me a new perspective on life by thinking of everything more like a video game. If I wanted to take on the Quests of a Lifetime I need to first get out of my comfort zone and explore the land around me.

No longer was I associating my Impossible List as challenging items that build upon one another. Instead I think of them as Epic Quests that take me on an adventure through life’s many obstacles. It has made life’s adventure much more enjoyable and has helped change how I focus on goals.

That is why I am choosing Level Up Your Life to be the first of my monthly productivity book review series. In it I’ll be going over what this book is about, just what you’ll get from it, and who this book is best geared towards.

So What’s the Book About?

Level Up Your Life is written by fitness instructor, Steve Kamb. Steve takes ideas from nerd culture and combines them with productivity-building habits to create a more gamified perspective on life. Steve goes on to explore how you can transform your life to make you the hero of your own story. In this book you’ll find various life-building skills and ways to treat life’s various challenges like game-related Quests.

Who’s The Author?

Steve started out as another person living The American Dream, by earning his keep at a soul-crushing job day-in and day-out. Tired of living the life of sales, Steve quite his job and took up a career setting up for musical festivals for half the pay. During his time working his exciting new Job, Steve started to focus on blogging.

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Steve has set a name for himself in the online community. In addition to being the author of Level Up Your Life Steve is also the founder of Nerd Fitness, a self-improvement blog filled with various Health and Fitness guides.

Steve’s website started the community known as The Rebellion, which currently has over 100,000 Rebels inspired to take the challenge to change their lives for the better.

The Juicy Content

Before we dive too deep into this book let’s take a quick look at what Gamification is:

“Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.”  ~Gamification Wiki

There are quite a few popular business models that build themselves on gamification(e.g Habitica and Zombies Run!) and Level Up Your Life is certainly one of them.

Steve tends to use a lot of nerd culture references to illustrate just how easy it is to think of life as just one big video game. We are not just loners trying to battle out the difficulties life throws at us. Instead we are all characters striving to improve our Strength and Education skills that will help us on our Quests through life.

An awesome part about Level Up Your Life is that it doesn’t throw you into the water. Steve teaches you how to get into gamification from ground zero. As you familiarize yourself with these concepts you can move yourself up towards bettering your abilities and starting on quests. As the book puts it:

You don’t go from Level 1 to Level 50 right? You go from Level 1 to Level 2, to Level 3, and so on. There’s a very clear progression from Zero to Hero, from newbie to badass.

This is why the book goes into thorough detail on beginner level exercises for those new to fitness. As well as an in-depth guide to help you build your Epic Quest Of Awesome.

Level Up Your Life is formatted a bit differently than what you’d normally expect from a book. Steve himself is a blogger, and that becomes prevalent in his book’s formatting. Through use of spacing, formatting, and color coding, you will find that this book is going to be quite a quick read.

Who Should Read This?

This book is riddled with Sci-Fi, gaming, and other geek references that may be lost if you’re totally unfamiliar the culture. Due to this, it’s catered more towards the people who are striving to better themselves and enjoy geek culture.

If you love the idea of Gamification I would highly recommend this book. Steve presents his ideas in a way that screams passion. It’s really hard not to pick up this book and get a few laughs from it then putting it down feeling motivated to start questing.

Final Thoughts?

It’s no secret that I’m a lover of Gamification, so this book was a very enjoyable experience every page-turn. Even after reading this book I ended up transforming my Impossible List into my own Quest of Awesome. It’s hard to pick a part this book as it excels in its purpose. Level Up Your Life offers a breath of fresh air on self-improvement and offers detailed instructions on how to join what 100,000 other rebels have done.

If there’s anything I had to nitpick about this book it is the oddly placed formatting of the Meet The Rebel sections in each chapter. Very few of these sections fit nicely in the chapter and do not pop at you in the middle of a sentence. However, this is just a minor complaint.

After reading Level Up Your Life, it’s easy to see why so many people joined The Rebellion. I too felt inspired by Steve Kamb’s book and use his teachings towards my own life. So I guess you can also consider me part of The Rebellion.

For more information on Steve Kamb and Level Up Your Life you can check out his website at Nerd Fitness or buy the book here.
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Run From Zombies With Zombies Run!

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I’ll be the first to admit that my motivation for many of my runs was not simply to stay in shape but to assure I’m in top physical condition for the Zombie Apocalypse. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that there is an App out there that places you in the midst of a Zombie Outbreak where you complete missions by running.

Zombies Run! is a Six To Start application that has garnered a lot of popularity among the running community. The app relies on gamification, using game playing elements to other areas of activity, for players to experience a simulated zombie environment to collect items, complete missions, and build towns to protect themselves against the zombie horde. I touched a bit upon my experience with Zombies Run! in my marathon training and mentioned just how enjoyable it was to be immersed in a fictitious story while jogging
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So what’s the story? You start off as a runner who just survived a helicopter crash. You are given the name, “Runner 5”, and must jog around to gather supplies and do rescue missions for the town of Abel. Listening to the mission’s dialog is pretty entertaining. Typically there are two narrators who guide you on your journey to both motivate and entertain you throughout the mission. The Radio Mode gives you two other wise-cracking narrators who play the DJ roles while making light about the apocalypse. You must venture to restore what’s left of humanity, defend yourself against enemies, and try to survive the endless swarm of zombies that surround you.

One of QuickMemo+_2016-01-22-15-42-23the great parts about this application is its ability to divide up your music’s playlist with the application’s audio. When you are not listening to any dialog throughout your run you are able to listen to music on a software music application, such as Pandora, or load songs directly from your playlist. Throughout your missions the story will pause the music to provide a narrative

When you aren’t running there’s a second half of the game to keep you busy. Whatever supplies you gather from your missions can be used to fortify the town of Abel to better withstand the horde. The more supplies you collect the more you can level up your town.

My favorite part of the application though is the Application’s GPS trackingQuickMemo+_2016-01-26-14-28-15 system. Unlike many running apps out there, this application will provide you markers for each mile ran. This became a great way for me to track my pace as it provided me total time ran each mile I hit. However, don’t rely on this application too heavily. On a cloudy day the GPS tracking can get pretty fuzzy and may tell you you hit your first mile in the impossible time of two minutes. For the most part, the GPS tracking provides a really accurate report of your run. Zombies Run! also logs all your runs from the beginning so you can look back at your progress.

If you really want to push yourself you can enable Chase mode where you’ll need to pick up the pace to avoid being taken away by zombies. In the chase mode a runner will need to sprint at least 20% their average pace for a solid minute to evade being zombie chow. A great option for those who wish to work interval training. For the individuals who are new to running, the Six to Start also has a Couch to 5k version that trains you up from novice to 5k runner.

Speaking of 5k Runs, if you are interested in competing in a race, Six to Start is hosting a Virtual 5k Race in late March. Thousands of runners will get exclusive running gear, such as a sweet Runner 5 Tee, and a Finisher’s medal. Come join many other runners on a quest to battle against Zombies.