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Friday, 8 July 2016

Darebee Hero's Journey Review

Price: £9/ $9/ Free
Length: 10-30 minute workouts; level-dependent
Workouts: Lower, Upper, Core & Cardio
Suitable for: Everyone
Rating:   ★★★★★
 Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆   Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆   Results:  ★★★★☆
Based on 60 days of use.


Overview
   Hero's Journey is a 60-day fitness quest by Darebee.com. It's a body weight workout, one a day for 2 months, but unlike other fitness programs, Hero's Journey has a roleplaying twist. It's extremely unique, and while to some that might sound lame as all hell, to others, like me, it breathes a whole new life into a workout, and it has ended up being the most interesting workout I've ever done, as well as managing to stay fresh for a hell of a lot longer because of it. I loved it so much I even wrote a short story about it.
   It requires no kit, essentially (see 'Weapons Training' below), and it can be modified for beginners, so there's really no excuse. If you love fantasy, be they books or video games, this workout, I promise, has been made just for you. I truly cannot recommend it enough. You can download the program for free from Darebee.com, or you can support their work and buy it as a paperback book as I did from Amazon. They deserve the support for what they do for us fit nerds, and frankly, I've always preferred physical products over digital ones. I prefer my games, music and movies on a disc and my books in paper. And I always will.


The Moves
   The moves themselves are simple, so anyone can do this workout, from beginners to advanced. There are explanations and exercise modifications at the front of the book, so there's really no excuse, and you need no kit for the majority. The only time you may need kit is on the 'Weapons Training', which I've talked about below, and it's entirely choice-focused.
   Hero's Journey provides a different workout every day - some days may be similar to eachother, but they will never be on consecutive days. You may find yourself doing kickboxing one day, yoga the next, resistance another, and burpees next week. It's brimming with variety, but every move is doable and easy to modify. For burpees, for example, you can make easier by removing the jump at the end. Or you can make it harder by moving faster, or adding a push up, or using ankle weights. They're all body weight moves, and the intensity and difficulty is entirely within your hands.
   

Workout System
   The movements themselves didn't offer anything revolutionary, but rather it was the format that made this workout something amazing. Every day progressed a story where your workout was relevant to the challenges. Some days these challenges weren't so much narrational but the workout itself, like days of recovery and training, where the purpose was for your character to get stronger. These days, however, I didn't find dull. Instead I relished in the idea that the situation was calm, and I did my crunches, bridges, back extensions with a smile, and felt them the next day.
   But the days when the challenge came from the story and was reflected in the workout, those were the best. At one point I had to fight off seven assassins, and while that really just meant I had to do a kickboxing circuit seven times, it didn't feel that way.
   Of course these workouts were made better when I was given a choice - option A, which might involve scrambling over a crumbling bridge, resulting in high knees, jumping jacks and lunges, or option B, which involved clearing the bridge in a single jump, resulting in 200 jump squats - because not only did that mean I could deviate, choose an 'easier' or 'harder' option, or keep it different to however I may have run through the workout last time (though this was my first), it also introduced a karma system.


Karma System
   This karma system was based on two things: your choices, and your ability.
   When you were able to make a choice, such as what I outlined above, you may end up impacting a future workout. For example, if you choose the 'easier' option (or sometimes not the easier option at all, but one weaker of character to keep it interesting), you may have to do an extra set three days later, making a 5-set level 1 workout last for 6 sets. Alternatively, choose the more heroic option and you might be allowed to take a longer break between sets on a given day instead, making that future day easier.
   However, if your ability limits you, it's also affected, and that's a great motivation to push yourself. If you have to chase down and catch 3 spies, you may find that level 1 only lets you catch one while two escape, while level 2 lets you catch two, and level 3 allows you to catch all. Obviously, if any get away, that would have negative repurcussions for the story later on, which will result in a punishment of sorts where you have a harder time of your workout later on. How do you avoid it? By pushing yourself to catch all three. I always aimed for at least level 2, but sometimes I admit that I actually limited myself to level 2 in order to invoke a negative karma later on, for the sake of the story, that day's abilities, and to push myself harder later on.
   But the karma system doesn't only affect future workouts. Alternative punishments come in the form of no bread for the next 4 hours, which I thought was a roleplay thing until I found 'no internet or technology for the following 1-2 hours' further down the line.
   Yes, you can always ignore the karma, but if you do that, what's the point paying any attention to the story? Why not just do the workouts and ignore Hero's Journey's real angle?


Weapons Training
   On some days you'll encounter 'weapons training' - this does not actually mean working with a weapon. Instead, you choose your 'weapon' emblem, then turn to the back of the book to find out what you'll be doing, and each weapon has a set format. For example, if you choose the hammer, you will be using free weights on every weapons training section. If you choose the lasso, you'll be doing jump rope, and if you choose the ribbon, you'll be doing martial arts. This is the only part of the workout that may require kit, depending on your choice. I chose the ribbon because I wanted to get more cardio in as I'd been focusing a lot on resistance before I started, and I'm comfortable with that choice. However, next time I may well choose the lasso.
   There are 6 weapons to choose from.


Verdict
Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆  -  When it comes down to it, the moves in this 60-day workout are nothing new - but that's not why you bought it. The role play element is incredible and seriously makes a difference to the enjoyment of the workout, so much so that you can overlook the familiarity of so many routines. The variety of different workouts involved, though - combat, yoga, body weight resistance, cardio - also really help to shake it up and keep the whole program feeling fresh.
Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆  -  The moves are nothing new, and so they're easily executed and modified, but the combinations aren't to be sniffed at. Most of the workouts are a challenge, especially if you aim for the side quests (bonus moves).
Results:  ★★★★☆  -  60 days is a really, really solid time frame, and if completed, you will see results. Guaranteed. And the variety of movements means every part of your body gets a look-in.

   This workout has been made for fit nerds, or nerds who want to be fit. It has incorporated resistance and cardio into a system to appeal to the more imaginative among us, and that acts as a surprisingly strong encouragement to keep going once you get started. Grow from minion to master, lose weight, build strength, get lean and toned - this is all you need. This workout and a decent soundtrack - try Two Steps From Hell, or even your favourite video game soundtrack. Some days it was The Witcher, other days it was Skyrim. Whatever floats your boat. But because this workout lasts long enough to see considerable results, is doable by all fitness levels, requires no kit, takes between 10 and 30 minutes a day, can be done in your living room and is available to download for free from their website, I really don't see that you have any excuse at all.
   What's that? Fantasy isn't your thing? That's fine. There's a post-apocalyptic workout program, too. See? No excuse.



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