Level Up Your Health with Minnesota’s D20 Athletics

One challenge with any exercise routine is not becoming bored. Boredom is one way to quickly sink motivation for exercising weekly, and I recently learned about one locally created option for fighting it.

Minnesota personal trainer Rob Finlayson has created the D&D-inspired D20 Athletics, an online personal training system (with options for in-person sessions) that’s affordable, flexible, and geeky. Combining D&D with exercise is such a great idea, and I was automatically interested in trying it out.

[image featuring a man, smiling, holding his fits up.]

Rob Finlayson, creator of D20 Athletics. Courtesy Rob Finlayson

Finlayson is a self-proclaimed geek who became involved with Dungeons & Dragons relatively recently, when 5th edition was released, but it quickly became a passion of his. He describes himself as having been an out-of-shape kid in school who got picked on frequently; in college, he started experimenting with fitness to try to better his health and help with his depression. He has been a personal trainer for six years and developed D20 Athletics and his Level Up e-book to help other geeks get into exercise without the intimidation of entering the gym. Finlayson’s favorite forms of exercise include martial arts, kettlebell training, and weight lifting.

I downloaded the D20 Athletics guide ($11) and was impressed by the variety of material it covered. This 12-page booklet doesn’t just have workouts but also encourages geeks to log meals and create good time management. The exciting part about D20 Athletics is being able to “level up” by completing certain health tasks. For example, to reach Level 1, some of the tasks include liking or subscribing to D20 Athletics along with taking starting measurements. As one progresses through the tasks, they become more rigorous—for example, Level 3 includes making a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment for physical health. Level 5 is the highest rank in the D20 athletics guide, but there is also the D20 Discord channel, which offers extra support and guidance with what exercises to perform next.

[image shows a kettlebell with the number 20 in the middle]

D20 Athletics/Rob Finlayson

Besides leveling up in health, this guide helps to provide time management, which is crucial for fitting in time to exercise, sleep, go to work, and everything else you need to do. There’s a pie chart on page 4 that can help assist in planning everything out in a day. Goal setting is also included, which is essential to any fitness routine. Creating goals increases motivation and success in following any health program.

D20 Athletics is fairly easy to use and understand. I could hand this guide to my brother, who has less knowledge of exercise, health, and wellness than I do, and he would be able to follow along. One improvement I could suggest would be to include pictures of how to do exercises—I know how to squat, and I know what a mountain climber is, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does. When creating a health and fitness packet like this, I think it’s important to make it as detailed as possible, which would include pictures for certain exercises or video links to how exercises are performed.

In addition to the D20 Athletics e-book, Finlayson offers in-person training sessions and personalized fitness plans, though these workouts don’t have the same D&D flavor due to wanting his clients to understand the exercises with their given names. With personal training, each exercise session is accommodating to an individual’s needs and goals. Pricing depends on the number and duration of sessions.

[man holding a 95 lb. dumbbell in one hand. Kneeling on the ground. Other arm down by his side.]

Rob demonstrating the Turkish get-up exercise with a 95-pound dumbbell. Courtesy Rob Finlayson

I really enjoyed completing the D20 Athletics guide and would highly recommend it for any current or aspiring fit geek who wants a change to their routine. Before beginning any exercise program, it’s important to contact a physician to ensure it’s safe to start physical activity. When you’re ready to learn more, you can check out the D20 Athletics website or YouTube channel.

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