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'Nerd fitness' taking off

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For sci-fi and Comic-Con fanatic Christy Black, every workout is a new adventure. She has traveled overseas as a viking warrior, escaped ancient temples with Indiana Jones and traveled aboard the Starship Enterprise, all while getting in shape.  She's a "nerd fitness" buff.

"My body has changed dramatically. I had lost 17 pounds of fat, but I gained almost five pounds of muscle," Black said.

This isn't just fantasy, it's the latest fitness craze. So-called geek-friendly gyms and online communities are popping up across the country, on a mission to help self-proclaimed nerds and gamers spring off the couch and into action.

They mash motivational workouts and advice with popular nerd culture, like Captain America, Batman, Superman, Star Wars, even Ninja Turtles. Some even incorporate costume play. 

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Fitness expert Jim White with the American College of Sports Medicine says it's a trend that has the power to get more people moving. And it couldn't come at a better time, when growing research shows that sitting too long is a health hazard

"Sitting and being sedentary is considered the new smoking," White added.

Leaders of the trend, like Andrew Deutsch, say followers come from all different fitness levels, looking for a place where they can truly be themselves.

"The gym has been the realm of the jock for decades, for as long as they've been growing up and, so, they, they feel ostracized by that environment, that they can't really connect with it," White explained.

By connecting with the geek fitness movement, participants are now trying everything from basic weight training and bootcamp-style workouts, to yoga and mixed martial arts - all to reach the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.

"The overall health benefits are endless," said White. "Increased energy, increased strength, increased confidence, better sleep, better mood."

While popular culture draws people in, Steve Kamb with nerdfitness.com says the personal connections are what keep people coming back.   more than one and a half million people log on to his site each month, and message boards have more than 30,000 members.   

"It's just so much fun to go in there and watch people interact with each other and offer supportive comments and learn from each other and share their success stories and their struggles," said Kamb.

Black says this has not just transformed her

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body, it's transformed her life.

"I am a much happier, healthier person. I have a sense of community that I didn't have before. I have friends that I see on a weekly basis," she added.

In addition to traditional classes, many gyms and online communities try to increase the sense of community with things like road races, movie night, trivia night, and summer retreats.