There are many similarities between D&D and fitness I never considered until recently. When I exercise, I am “leveling up” my body, whether it’s through strength training, aerobics, or holding a yoga pose for an extended period of time. D&D allows me to level up my character and survive the upcoming campaign. I already wrote about the Minnesota-based D&D playbook D20 Athletics, but there’s another option, too: the 250-page Dungeons & Workouts: From Weak and Meek to Buff and Tough, a jam-packed D&D role-playing guidebook complete with recipe ideas, workouts, and a full-fledged story to play through.
Dungeons & Workouts was created by five German authors, exercise enthusiasts, and publishers to help create a fun geek experience. Specifically, author Gino Singh is a freelance fitness instructor with a masters in sports science, and as I page through the book it’s pretty clear that someone with extensive knowledge of exercise wrote this. The exercises are explained thoroughly, and each exercise featured a picture right next to it. Pictures are necessary because form is crucial to prevent injuries—plus I’m not even sure what a “one-legged thrust” is, so having the picture gives me much-needed clarity.
The book contains a character sheet, which allowed me to get creative as to who I would be. I created Rowena, an 18-year-old magical witch who carries a dagger with a sapphire on the handle. Rowena is a great endurance athlete, but she’s incredibly weak. Are any of these details about my character necessary for completing the book? Not really, but I find it gives me a fun visual as I exercise.
Despite its strengths, I feel this book could use a couple of minor improvements to make it more inclusive. First, there are no exercises catering to individuals with who have physical limitations or use a wheelchair, so one of those individuals buying this book would automatically be disqualified from being able to use most or all of it since the exercises aren’t possible to complete. Exercise can be inclusive, and this book could have made that possible with a couple of added exercises.
The other minor adjustment I would add to this book is to include exercise modifications for less advanced readers. When I first started my fitness journey, I couldn’t do a push-up without putting my knees on the ground, and I don’t understand why the first workout in the book would include a push-up. Push-ups are extremely challenging, and I personally wouldn’t have someone who’s brand new to exercise try to complete a push-up because their muscles haven’t been trained to work together. While there are ways for beginners to modify their push-ups, this book failed to include those modifications.
Ultimately, this is a fun guidebook, but the geek community includes a diverse range of abilities, and I would have liked to see the book reflect that. That said, I do think Dungeons & Workouts is worth the cover price for individuals who can do the exercises laid out here. You can find it for about $22 on Amazon; you can find Gino Singh on his German-language YouTube channel or on his website (which can be translated thanks to Google!).