C onquer the Edge recently had the chance to sit down with Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness to hear about how he overcomes physical and mental challenges over and over again. Steve travels the world inspiring people to get in shape while completing his life to-do list in his Epic Quest.
What’s the biggest fear you’ve overcome and how did you do it?
Honestly, my biggest fear throughout my life has probably been my fear of failure, something everybody have to struggle with in some way. Fear of failure caused me to stand on the sidelines for many things throughout my life (socially, from a business standpoint, and with ideas for improving my life). After all, its a lot easier to say “meh, I could do that if I wanted, I just chose not to,” rather than opening yourself up to the potential of failure, right?
In order to conquer my fear of failure, I’ve taken steps to do two things: in certain situations, I simply didn’t give myself the option to fail! When I quit my day job to focus on Nerd Fitness, I didn’t have a backup plan, which mean I had NO option other than find a way for it to succeed. It took months and months of long nights and early mornings, odd jobs to make ends meet, and tons of stressful moments…but because I didn’t have a backup plan, I could only continue to work relentlessly until I found success.
Secondly, when it comes to other types of failure, I’ve had to learn that failures are okay! In fact, I’ve come to realize that if I’m not failing at anything, then I’m not challenging myself enough with new ideas, projects, or activities. So, I go out of my way to put myself in situations where when I fail, I quickly learn that the world doesn’t end…that life goes on…and that failure is just one step closer to eventual success.
How did your love for fitness start?
I’ve honestly always loved fitness – not necessarily in the “work out in a gym sense”, but in the “be active and have fun!” sense. From playing sports throughout my childhood, to acting out my favorite scenes from movies and video games in real life, and even hiking and camping as a cub scout, and so on…I’ve always done things that kept me active and happy.
Once I got older, I found a passion for strength training, as I fell in love with the concept of getting stronger and bigger, not unlike a video game character or movie character that transforms from zero to hero. Once applying that thought process to my fitness routines, it was an easy activity to fall in love with.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? How did you decide to take it?
Although quitting my day job to run my own company was an incredibly large risk, it was something I had planned to do for years and finally found the courage to make it happen.
For that reason, I think the biggest risk I’ve ever taken was selling all of my stuff (including my car), moving out of my apartment, and booking a solo 10-month long around the world trip. Up until that point, I had only been outside of North America once (I went to Peru with a friend a few months before that), I was a picky eater, socially shy, and not well traveled; however, I decided that a massive worldwide trip was a great way for me to come out of my shell, experience the world, and learn a lot about myself in the process.
I figured that if I didn’t take the trip, I would regret it and maybe never get the opportunity again. I told myself that even if I didn’t LOVE it, it would still be a trip that would provide me with an incredible number of amazing experiences, and more importantly allow me to never look back with regret while saying “I wonder what that trip would have been like…”
Not surprisingly, I made a ton of friends, had the time of my life, and ended up traveling for a full two years before deciding to recently set up a more permanent home base here in the US. I don’t regret my decision to take the trip for one second.
How do you find the mental strength to power through life’s challenges?
I know that I only have one life to live. To borrow a quote from the Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living, or get busy dying.” I know that I’m 100% responsible for how I will look back on my life 50 years from now. Will I say “there are so many things that I regret not doing,” or will I say “Yup, I did that.”
I feel very fortunate to have created a company and built a life that allows me to wake up every day and say “What do I want to do today?” I’ve made every decision over the past five years to make this a reality, and although it required a tremendous amount of work, sacrifice, and investment, I honestly don’t think I could be any happier.
What’s the #1 thing on your epic quest that you want to conquer, but haven’t yet? What has been the best experience so far?
Hmmmmm, the #1 that I want to conquer but haven’t yet? That’s a tough one! The ultimate Epic Quest goal is “buy an island”, but I have a hunch I’m a few years away from that one Still, if Richard Branson and Nicholas Cage can buy islands, why can’t I?
Something SLIGHTLY more attainable in the near future: Attempt the Ninja Warrior course in Japan – Ninja Warrior (Or Sasuke as it’s called in Japan) is an epic obstacle course competition that takes place twice a year for only 100 competitors. The obstacle course requires a tremendous amount of strength, dexterity, and endurance, after 23 or 24 competitions, only three people total have completed the course! Hopefully I can leverage Nerd Fitness’s popularity to head to Japan and try out the course (though they now have an American Ninja Warrior competition, I’d like to compete in Japan.
As far as my favorite experience – it would either be finding Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef (as I got scuba certified), or being James Bond for a weekend in Monaco. There was just something incredibly surreal about wearing a tuxedo, staying in a hotel overlooking the mediterranean, and gambling at the famous monte carlo that made me look back and think “none of this would have EVER been possible without taking risks and taking action despite being terrified.”
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago what would it be?
“It’s worth it” and “be yourself.” Five years ago, I was beginning to concept the idea of Nerd Fitness – I had no idea how I would make it work, and how I would eventually turn the idea into a revenue-generating company. It lead to lots of long nights, frustrating moments of “why isn’t this growing faster?”, and terrifying moments of “okay what the HELL do I do now!?”
During these past five years, It took me a LONG time before finding a style of writing that made ME happy to write and made my readers happy to read. I wish I had the courage starting out to really embrace my personality and be different from the millions of other fitness companies out there. I tried to be just like them because I saw they were successful; it wasn’t until I purposely went against the grain by making Nerd Fitness vastly different from other fitness sites that things started to grow.
It was a lot of struggle, a lot of confusion, and I still have tons of moments that have me questioning what I’m supposed to do next…but it’s absolutely worth it.
Are you really a nerd? Be honest—how many action figures do you own?
Of course I’m a nerd! Though, I think everybody is a different type of nerd. I don’t actually own any action figures, as they’re not great to travel the world with when space is limited.
Let’s see…I’ve built my own computer, I own multiple versions of Lord of the Rings books and DVDs, I’m a total bookworm (I’ve read the entire “Song of Fire and Ice” series, I’ve read the entire Dark Tower series, I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series multiple times), I live for video games (currently playing Uncharted 3 while waiting for Assassin’s Creed III), and I spent my high school and college years addicted to Everquest and Everquest 2. I could keep going, if you’d like