The ZERO Hero Moment

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    The ZERO Hero Moment

    Zero Hero is an RPG-fitness adventure that started off with two basic premises: "What If" and "Why". Pretty much every type of story we see has a peril we need to react to. That peril sets us into motion, motion requires we take action and action is based upon choices. Choices reflect decisions. All of this is pretty involved however. The ramifications of it all become apparent only later. The hero moment is always one of stark choices: inaction and certain death or action and possible survival.

    One moment leads into the next. The next moment presents a similarly compelling choice that leaves no room for respite. Every time, each day, the hero you play has to take action to survive a fresh threat. Each threat appears to be greater than the one before, the action required ever more intense. Throughout each day you will, of course, wonder "Why?" why is this happening? How come you found yourself there? Will it ever end? The answer to your questions of course will be revealed in due course rewarding your patience and perseverance.

    To make it work we used as many movie plot-devices and storyline motive stressors (you know, the threat that makes you do something) as we could. We drew from popular movies (where, we discovered, threat plot devices are repeated in film after film), popular literature, video games and favorite storylines to create an all-action sequence that stretches over a month.

    As you get to the end you will, however, notice something else too. How each day has been building up your physical skills. Your balance, strength and coordination. Your ability to be confident within your own skin. Your sense of what you are capable of. Zero Hero has another, deeper meaning that goes beyond the light-heartedness of RPG-fitness. It stands for the Zero Moment in fitness. The level we all start from, regardless. if you are new to fitness you start with a blank slate, few expectations and the sense that you need to move forward. If you are already reasonably fit, levelling up places you at the bottom of a new level of fitness you now need to work hard to conquer. In that sense we all struggle equally regardless. Fitness is a journey we are all on. The horizon forever unfolds and we all keep on moving forward.

    Let me know if you have any questions about the program. If you have done it let us know how you got on and what you enjoyed the most and, if you can, recommend it to your friends.

    I like your idea of making threads about the various programmes, what the thoughts behind them are and the way they're supposed to work. I'm eager to see read about other programmes, too.

    I have a question about the RPG programmes like Zero Hero and the workout-to-workout stories. I understand that the texts coming with the workouts should build a stage, set us into a specific mindset and give us a setting to place ourselves in to do the workout. Makes me wonder, though, how many people actually use those hooks provided, if getting into that mindset would be described as making the workout 'better', 'more effective' or just 'more fun'. Do the volunteers (and others who train with such a programme) make an attempt to place themselves into the story, act it out with the exercises and come out differently at the end compared to a plainly written workout? I know you've addressed this in another thread about motivation and discipline already, Damer, but I'm curious about other's experiences and if there's really an added (anecdotally) effect by 'acting out a story'.

    I completed Zero Hero a few months ago and I remember reading the story parts the first days, ignoring them for the workout and not reading them for the remainder of the programme (I read the last day, though, and while I thought it was kind of cheesy, I liked it as a conclusion). I've already written in that other thread that I'm curiously immune to the story aspect of the RPG programmes, and sometimes it even turns into the opposite and I come to dislike a programme because of that despite me being an avid role-player (I'm probably not fun at parties, who knows). To be honest, my opinion about Zero Hero is mostly indifferent, maybe I did it at a bad time or some such, it was another box I wanted to check off. I guess it's normal that everyone likes different kinds of workouts, and Zero Hero didn't do much for me. Still, I was very happy and grateful for a new programme to do and while I don't have the highest opinion about it, I still think you've done another terrific job at it.

    Thank you for all your work


      Nihopaloa thank you for this question. Anecdotally, in the workshops trialling it we found a lot of correlation with the scientific research: A. Those who bought into the storyline, so to speak, worked harder than they usually do and managed to overcome their built-in reticence to intensity in exercise by 'living' the role of the story in their minds. (This is supported independently by other research on the use of mental imagery in sports). B. Some went along and lost interest in the story but, like you, continued working out. C. A small percentage worked out regardless. To them it was the workout they needed to get into.

      We find that, just like a movie, suspension of disbelief is critical. If you're not willing to take the metaphorical jump into the story, the storyline itself is a distraction. What we did find is that the program's fitness results delivered the most for those who would not normally exercise very hard or very consistently but who now felt they were tied into the story and wanted to finish it. This was no surprise to us for ZERO Hero because we've seen this pattern before with other RPG programmes so we were prepared to expect it.

      In the early days we questioned whether the additional effort involved in creating the narratives was justified. The percentage of people who benefit from a narrative as opposed to those who don't convinced us.

      There is an additional benefit of RPG fitness programmes we noticed: they bring people together as they discuss the storyline, characters etc. The community feeling this generates makes it easier to keep on training when you don't really want to.

      All of our programmes are designed to work on several levels because of the feedback we got. You can ignore the storyline and simply use it as an exercise program and it will still work for you. I hope my answers help shed a little more light.


        I have never been interested in the concept of working out. For me it's been a theoretical "thing that would probably be good to do" but not something that I ever felt a personal need to do it. I'm not trying to lose weight and I feel like my lifestyle is reasonably active as I spend a lot of time jiggling a baby around while chasing after my toddlers. So my lack of formal exercise didn't seem like a problem and starting any kind of intentional exercise was very low on my list of priorities.

        I found Darebee a few days ago from a Hacker News comment and was browsing the site. I noticed a mention of RPG workout and was intrigued. I opened the Zero Hero program and read Day 1. When I got to "Run for your life" and saw the pictures of the workout guy doing his high knees and his march steps, I started laughing. It was just so wonderful! I was reading this on my phone in bed, about to go to sleep, but it was so appealing that I got out of bed and did my 60 high knees to run away from the aliens. And I went to sleep excited about what the next day might bring.

        On day two I kicked the zombies and crawled through rubble, to the delight of my 1-year-old son who giggled to see his Mommy doing something so strange. And later that day I could feel the soreness in my belly. It reminded me that I'm doing this workout-thing, that I'm getting stronger, that there's a lot of low-hanging fruit for me in terms of improving my fitness, since something so quick and simple can make me sore - and it got me looking forward to reading the next "episode." I don't fully "put myself in the story" while I'm doing the workout but I do enjoy the story elements — they make it fun instead of boring. And I can go brag to my husband about how I made it through the whole minefield and only stepped on one mine (my 5-year-old came up behind me while I was doing lunges and I accidentally stepped on her foot).

        I'm now on day 5 of Zero Hero and I intend to do the whole 30 days. I've really been enjoying it so far and I'm intrigued to see how it feels to finish a whole 30-day workout - how it will affect both my body and my mindset toward exercise. So far it's helping me to reshape my identity. I never considered myself "an exercise person" but maybe that will change. Maybe intentional workouts will no longer be something for other people to do.


          CelesteB ... hello and welcome to The Hive , the social side of DareBee.
          In case you have not yet noticed, the site is arranged to provide several different, varied, interests. Different reasons to stay engaged at whatever level you can maintain.
          At the basic end, there's the Daily Dares ... simple exercises that change daily and take just a few minutes per day and never worked the same muscles two days in a row.
          At the complex end, you have the 'Role Playing' or 'Story Telling' Programs. These are more like 30 (or more?) Workouts in a row, each having the equivalent of at least four 'Daily Dares' packed together. And they offer you the opportunity of following along with a story.
          Most are somewhere in between.
          Glad you - and your son - are enjoying your efforts. Keep up the good work.


            I love the explanation of the program, I hope you do more (especially the RPG stuff, I find it to be really fun)


              You know, after reading CelesteB (welcome to the Hive, btw), I just realized something: back in the day, working out was always something that felt unnatural to me, even when I was a kid with her yellow belt on a karate class. I just didn't understand a thing, but I remember being quite motivated thanks to Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. That was what got me interested (in a very kid way) into shotokan itself, although I quit after an injury. After that, I tried so many different things, and the only thing that I did was resorting back to swimming, to which I was never as good as in karate, but it kept me moving.

              However, fastforward to 2015, I decided to pick working out back again, I tried with jogging. Sometimes, in a way to motivate myself, I tried to picture myself to be running in an apocalypse or an action movie, or anything of the sorts. And the keyword here is "tried", because it was a complete failure to do so. Distractions set in, plateaus were hit, and I didn't know much, so I quit again... It really was a relationship that it was something that I hated, but I must do it. The reason I found Darebee was because I was just playing Tomb Raider II, was starting to get the ropes of working out inside the house, and I had to wonder if there was a way to have a body like Lara's. Low and behold, found the Croft workout, and others, and all the knowledge that I wish I had on PE at high school. Funny thing is that my girlfriend thinks that I'm half-way through looking like Tomb Raider Legend's incarnation of Lara Croft.

              I wasn't into any of the RPG stuff at the beginning, but I started to dig them when I did workouts such as 7 Ninjas and The Pits. Both are just simply shadowboxing to begin with, but the description alone was enough to immerse myself in into a fictional universe. The first time I did The Pits wasn't me playing Mortal Kombat, it was me inside Mortal Kombat. And 7 Ninjas was exactly that: me being attacked by 7 Ninjas, one by one.

              Zero Hero was my first for complete RPG fitness. The story was confusing, but that was more of a strength than a flaw, because it was the confusion itself that kept the stakes high so that Zero (us) kept going. And I will never forget Day 20 as the most unexpected and best moment of the program. Still, though, some days, the story was just cliché and corny, but in those days, the workout was the one that show the brilliance instead. Even though the ending was quite disappointing on the story part, the program on its own was pretty awesome.

              The point I'm getting is that the RPG aspect is just the thing that makes feel working out as something natural, or something fun. For people like me, whom always viewed working out as something that was more of an obligation, this is just a good way to get us going. I would have killed to be a triathlete if I had stuff like those zombie apocalypse apps and events you're seeing nowdays for runners and marathoners alike. Some people may not like the RPG aspect, and that's ok too. But what shouldn't be denied is how both seem to complement each other.

              One person may be for the adventure, the other one may be for the fitness, but in the end, we are all here doing the same thing: to improve ourselves; to be a better version of ourselves.

              I too like the idea of discussing each program. It's interesting to see a glimpse of what's going on behind the scenes and the hard job you're always doing


                CelesteB Welcome to The Hive and thank you so much for sharing that here. Surviving that mine must have been a challenge! Getting fitter with young humans around is way harder than most people realize.


                  Vicious'Saint thank you so much for this. The narrative structure of each RPG workout is a collective effort. We all put in ideas, shape them and then a member of the team is tasked with producing the final narrative version for us to test trial. Some changes are made to that in the process but, usually, we look to fine-tune the exercises at the trialling stage more than the narrative. I will try and bring in as much insider's perpective as I can with each post. Some of the RPG stuff was born out of pretty strange ideas we had.


                    I finished the Zero Hero program just today and I must say I liked it. I took it with a relaxed curiosity, I didn't want anything difficult or too schematic: surprise me! And it succeeded
                    I find RPG programs something unique, both when you want to give more meaning to training and when you want to get out of the usual well-established but boring routine and look for something new that makes you look at training with new eyes.
                    Zero Hero, in my opinion, should be taken with lightness and sympathy, I found it the perfect casual training, you want something new, different, without thinking too much, without playing to the limit but continuing to train and catch your breath.
                    Personally, sometimes I need to break out of the usual patterns, I'm too habitual, try something new and maybe go with my head elsewhere.
                    It does me good to remember that training can and must always change but it is essential that it has fun or becomes a burden, yet another "duty" instead of something you choose to do and choose a way that amuses me is what keeps me going and train every day