Nina’s Journey — a Lord of the Rings Workout

Knoxville is changed.

You can feel it in the water; in the earth; in the air.

While the Elves, Dwarf-Lords and Men of Middle Earth were each gifted a certain number of rings forged with the strength and will to govern each race … another ring exists deep in the land of TITLE Boxing Club in the form of a themed workout — a master ring forged by the local Thunder God and personal trainer JTF into which he’s poured his motivation and his desire to see others succeed in all aspects of life.

One [workout] to rule them all, if you will.

Anyone that’s followed my journey or knows of my approach to fitness knows my affinity for Nerd Fitness. We’re currently living in a time when nerd culture is huge. And while I think that dilutes the richness of what it means to be a “nerd,” I think it’s pretty cool to see an underserved community getting their time in the limelight.

And that includes fitness.

Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness often encourages his readers to find inspiration and motivation through the fictional characters they idolize. It may seem silly to some but a lot of us didn’t grow up idolizing pro athletes and CEOs. After reading Steve’s book Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story, I took it to heart and began my quest with inspiration from Marvel’s Thor, Vikings’ Ragnar Lothbrok (Lodbrok), Lord of the Rings’ Aragorn and Nathan Drake from the Uncharted video game series.

I love drawing parallels with fitness and these fictional characters to help people realize their goals in a way that’s meaningful to them. While I admit that my fandom is somewhat dated now, I get hyped any time I can help people make sense of their wellness with geeky pop culture references.

Introducing my longtime client Nina.

Nina recently started college and came to me a while back hoping to gain the strength required to become an EMT. As a client, she falls into the demographic I specialize in: people who have no experience with strength training, have no idea where to start and are willing to learn. Where she’s a little different, though, is unlike my other clients, her interests include video games, role-playing games, reading fantasy books and casually talking about physics.

In case you’re having a hard time seeing where this is going — Nina and I share a love for the Lord of the Rings.

Her last paid session with me was on Sunday so I wanted to make it special. With a little inspiration from Nerd Fitness and this article about Nerdstrong Gym, I created …

Nina’s Journey Through Middle Earth

How Does it Work?

There are three books in the Lord of the Rings series — The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. I’ve broken the workout into three circuits, one for each book, each consisting of 3-4 exercises that are all on theme.

Are There Caveats?

Yep. Much like how the One Ring became heavier as Frodo traveled closer to Mount Doom, Nina was forced to carry a burdon that increased in weight as the workout progressed. This burdon was to be carried from station to station and held during rest periods.

Anything Else Before We Begin?

Yes, of course. It’d be too easy to just stroll through Middle Earth carrying the Ring without the watchful Eye of Sauron gazing down upon you! I set a timer to go off every 3-5 minutes and when the timer went off — even if Nina was in the middle of an exercise or even her rest period — the Eye of Sauron was upon her and she was forced to hide by holding a plank.

If the Geekiness Hasn’t Scared You Off Yet …

Let’s begin!

Warmup in Hobbiton

The warmup is simple. Not intended to be strenuous. It was a quarter mile walk on the treadmill (can be done outside, of course) carrying a single 2-1/2-pound hand weight. The Journey has begun!

Circuit One: The Fellowship of the Ring

Burden: 10-Pound Dumbbell
Sets: 4
Rest: 60s

  • “One Does Not Simply…” Walks
    They say one does not simply walk into Mordor so Nina didn’t simply walk — she started with walking lunges — 12 of them to be exact. And at the down portion of each lunge, she was instructed to weave a kettlebell under the leg, switching hands each time.
  • Bridges (of Khazad Dum)
    This is a classic glute thruster using a weight bench and the floor. 12 reps total.
  • “You Shall Not Pass!” Slams
    The Balrog was on her heels so Nina carried her burden to the other side of the room where she hoisted a heavy, slammable medicine ball above her head and sent it crashing to the ground five times.
    After the fifth slam, Nina took Gandalf’s advice and ran away. Her route was one lap around our boxing rack — ultimately it was a 30-second sprint.

Circuit Two: The Two Towers

Burden: 20-Pound Medicine Ball
Sets: 4
Rest: 60s

  • Legolas’ Bow Pulls
    It’s the battle of Hornburg and there are Orcs … EVERYWHERE! We start the battle — and the game between Legolas and Gimli — with a classic Renegade Row done with a resistance band anchored to something close to the ground. Kill count per set? 10.
  • Gimli’s Ax Swings
    Not to be outdone by Legolas and his crazy accurate archery skills, Gimli is busting out his ax and comes out swinging! If you have access to one, driving a sledgehammer into a tire is the best way to go, but since we have neither a sledgehammer nor a tire, we anchored a barbell landmine-style and did classic overhead twists — killing Orcs on both sides! Gotta match Legolas and get in 10 reps per set.
  • Helm’s Deep Squats
    Using the TRX bands here just for support. This was done with Nina in mind specifically but this can be done with any variation of the squat. Using the TRX bands allows people with even a limited range of motion to squat deeper than usual. The challenge here is to hold the squat in the down position for a count of two before coming up. Rep count for this exercise is 10.

Circuit Three: The Return of the King

Burden: 35-Pound Kettlebell
Sets: 4
Rest: 60s

  • “I Am No Man” Makers
    Nina begins the final book with 8 Man Makers, single-arm style. Meaning she uses one dumbbell for a renegade row on each side from push-up position, bicep curls on each side from standing and a shoulder press on each side from standing.
  • Sam Carries
    The burden couldn’t be carried by Sam but he could certainly carry Frodo. In this case, Frodo was a 25-pound MMA ground bag carried through each row of our rack. Additionally, each row had an obstacle for her to navigate. This can also be a farmer’s carry or you can use a sandbag. Anything that’s heavy and can be carried!
  • Mount Doom Toss
    One again, Nina is faced with slammable medicine balls. Only this time there’s a bar set up about five feet off the ground. The heavy medicine balls were the burden, the bar represents the threshold from the cliff into the fire. Nina thrusts the medicine ball up over the bar a total of 8 times.

And with that, Nina returned to the Shire. Whether or not she’ll agree to head to Valinor is up to her. Personally, I hope she re-ups with me.

Does this sound like something you could get into? I’d love to be your personal trainer! Send me a message!

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For more geekiness you can check out the following:


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