This column will be a little rambly but just stick with it. There’s a point to it that will go back to Pokemon Go.

A few days before this column was published, I turned 37 (I’m actually writing this on my birthday. Geek Hard is making me work on my birthday? What’s with that?). The night before my birthday, I spent it wandering around downtown Barrie with a few friends trying to collect imaginary beasts on my cell phone.

And this is a good thing and Pokemon Go is actually a great thing.

In 2015, I had noticed how much weight I had gained over the past few years. I wouldn’t say I was huge but I had gotten big. While this in itself may not be a huge deal, I had noticed that it had started to effect my health and general life. My knees had begun to hurt on a more regular basis. My back would get sore for no apparent reason. Sleep apnea due to my weight had started to take a pretty firm hold.

A few years before this point, my father had had a fairly major heart operation. I won’t get into the details but for me, it was pretty scary. Now years later, it scared me for completely selfish reasons. My Dad was in much better shape then me before his surgery with the exception of being a smoker. So my Dad, in his sixties had to have heart surgery despite being in better shape than I was.

What did that say for my future?

Now did his smoking have something to do with it? Probably. But what if genetics had a role to play? Or his diet? I share his genetics and my diet’s a hell of a lot worse. On top of that, my job requires me to sit on my butt all day.

I believe that’s what they refer to as a wake up call.

I deiced in January to join a gym.

For many of us nerds (not all, mind you, but a good number of us), the gym is a pretty frightening place for numerous reasons. It’s filled with people who are much better shape than you, a lot of good looking folks that are jacked and for me, reminded me a lot of the folks (at least physically) that spent their high school career making fun of me and all of the nerdy things I loved. Add on to that all of the equipment that you have little to no idea how to use, it doesn’t surprise me at all why so many people sign up for a membership, go once and then never return. And I’m a guy. I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard it could be for many women who hit the gym given the unfair pressures that society has dolled out to them over the centuries.

Getting started can be painful, it doesn’t feel like you’re losing any weight and that you can’t actually do much. Then you look over and there’s a guy who is built like Arnie, easily hefting twice your body weight. It can be really discouraging.

And gym and trainer fees can be ridiculously expensive.

Now I am lucky. I have a friend who is a trainer and has kindly helped me figure things out and set up programs for me. Sure, she’s mean, cruel and several other words I won’t list here (love you Jackie… please don’t hurt me), but she’s taken that cost out of the equation and taught me the proper ways to lift without murdering my joints and back. I’m also lucky that the gym I go to is great and quiet frankly, dirt cheap. I’m also lucky in the fact that since I started going, I’ve started loving the gym. I put on my headphones, turn on a podcast or a Spotify playlist and zone out and just go to work for an hour.

I haven’t lost a huge amount (currently working on my diet to get this a bit better) but I honestly have lost enough where I am feeling better both about my appearance and just in general. I don’t have to think twice about where and how I tie my shoes up, my snoring has gotten better (I’m still doing it but my wife says it’s gotten much better) and I can now do a whole three day convention without having to take off Monday to recover physically.

Which brings me to Pokemon Go.

This is one of those games that I feel has so many benefits especially for those who are leery of exercise. If you want to be a better trainer, you have to go outside and walk. Sure, you can catch some from your couch but if you want to grab the good stuff, you have to walk. You have to go to parks and fountains and landmarks. You have to trek around to catch’em all.

For those that wanted to get a little more movement in, it’s a perfect motivation. For others, maybe this is the first step to some positive exercise and health as opposed to something like the gym or a sport for those who can’t bring themselves into those environments. And then there are those that maybe this is the gateway drug. “Ok, I did all of this walking, maybe I can walk a bit further tomorrow.”

The other aspect I love about Pokemon Go is how social it’s become. The game doesn’t require you to play with other people but just due to it’s popularity (at the current moment there are more Pokemon Go users then Twitter users), you can’t help but run into other people on the way who are also playing. On Monday night, the McLaren Arts Center in Barrie had dozens of people in front of it as it was a close proximity to a number of Pokestops, lures and was a general breeding ground for some cool Pokemon.

One of the best things I saw last night was a father playing with his young son.

One of my few issues with the current state of gaming is that in-house, multiplayer is slowly going by the way side. Gone are the days of getting together with four buddies and playing Perfect Dark until dawn. Now, you just talk to anonymous people on a headset. While that has it’s good points too, Pokemon Go is bringing people together and adds the benefit of getting them outside. I would have loved to have had this last year when I started going to the gym. It would have helped me get a little more up to speed.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems. Some people are stupid so this game will cause those stupid people do stupid things. I’ve heard about some people with disabilities having some issues with playing the game due to mobility and accessibility, which I can completely understand and hope some changes are being made so it can be even more inclusive than it already is. There will always be the issue of kids who want to play but don’t have a device to play it on due to family economics. But I’ve also read about people leaving lures at Pokestops near hospitals so the kids in there can play a little too. In the meantime, I’ll be completely honest, I’m having a lot of fun with this.

Is it a fad? Probably, but it’s a fad I can get behind.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Pokémon GO helps us nerds get up and GO!

Pokémon GO helps us nerds get up and GO!