Rising Heroes is a Health/Fitness/Lifestyle Alternate-Reality-meets-Role-Play game. It takes gaming concepts and then reaches into your life to help you become a better you. This is a brand new product by the Nerd Fitness Team and it’s meant to motivate, inspire, and otherwise get your moving toward your goals.
But is it worth the cost?
At $29 per month, my first concern was about value. And I’m not the only one who shares this concern. When the price was announced, dozens of people went to Facebook to add their voices to others, prompting Steve (Owner of Nerd Fitness) to send a follow-up email in an attempt to justify the cost and point out ways to cut expenses elsewhere in order to afford a Rising Heroes Subscription.
At first I decided that I was not going to participate. The price tag was a huge turn-off even though I could afford it. And there wasn’t a lot of information about exactly what the product was. The descriptions on the website were vague and confusing. I attribute this to the product being so brand-spanking-new. Plus, it’s a thing that hasn’t been done before to this extent! There’s not much out there to compare it to! Facebook was buzzing with many others who had the same questions that I did. What is Rising Heroes? What is it about? What is it supposed to do for me? How does it work?
True to my nature, I decided that even if the cost was a turn-off to me, I could at least do it for a month and help my fellows in the Nerd Fitness Academy with their questions. We had to know what this thing was! I debated, argued and discussed it with myself then said YOLO and signed up on the last day that recruitment was open.
I won’t give you a day-to-day detailed report here (I did so for 30 days here on my blog and via a vlog on my Facebook page. Those links are listed at the bottom of this post) but I will attempt to give you an overview of the product and hopefully help you determine if the value to you justifies a monthly subscription of $29.
The reason I emphasize ‘to you’ is because like any health, fitness, or other potentially life-changing product, it is only what you make of it. If you’re not willing to do the work and put in the time and effort then no tool out there can help you. Rising Heroes is a fun tool but, ultimately, it is just a tool.
Rising Heroes is a game that you play in real life to help motivate you to workout, eat better and get control of your life. Just like a game, there is a story, a plot, and quests or ‘missions’ to complete. These missions change from week to week and month to month as the story line progresses in real time. All missions have a time limit and some are repeatable. Completing missions will earn points toward a monthly Campaign goal that everyone contributes to. You are sorted into a faction based on a personality test and factions compete to earn the most points towards the Campaign goal. The story can be affected by community involvement through completing the campaign goal, voting, solving puzzles, or other factors that have not yet revealed but have been hinted at.
The story for Rising Heroes is meant to tie in to real life the same way an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) does. Everything that is written as a ‘dispatch’ to the members is supposed to seem real. So please note that what follows is part of the story for the game.
What we know so far is there is a ‘Shadow Organization’ that exists in the world and responsible for all the bad, evil, plot-like things going on. They have their hands in everything and manipulate everything for their own gain, for power, and for control. Everything is tainted; from governments to the food industry and even to our beloved video games. There exists four ‘factions’ that have been working in secret for centuries against the Shadow Organization. Steve was tasked with uniting the four factions in order to gain the upper hand on the enemy. Enter Rising Heroes.
Every month adds more to the story. Every month when each campaign finishes we learn a little more about the factions and the Shadow Organization.
January Campaign Overview
We begin with our recruitment into a faction and ‘onboarding missions’. These missions are your standard getting started style missions to do things like enter your starting measurements. You are introduced to the ‘Rebellion’ and upon completion of the first missions you are ‘promoted’ from Recruit to Rebel. The first Week One dispatch has the months story introduction about a hacker who has been trying to get into the Rebellions computer systems.All the months missions generally revolved around tracking down and apprehending the hacker.
By Week Two we were told more information had been discovered while looking for the hacker. It was possible processed foods had been contaminated by the Shadow Organization. More missions were added and revolved around eating healthier.
Every Monday was the beginning of a new official ‘Week’ and a dispatch from our leader was emailed out and updated on the Dispatch Archive page. Dispatches include more story information, a new ARG-style puzzle for the week and new missions. When the Campaign status bar filled up with points, the hacker was caught and the members voted on if we were to keep him and see if he talks or if we were to tag him and let him go to track him back to his HQ. The choice set us up for the next months campaign.
Here are just a few of the type of missions that January had:
- Specialization: We don’t know what skills might be needed to fight the shadow organization so all rebels have to choose a specialization that is not diet/fitness related. (Drawing, writing, learning an instrument, taking classes to learn something etc) Some missions required us to practice our specialization. Others asked us to post pictures or video on the Facebook group of us doing our specialization.
- Walking: We were told we needed triangulation data on the hacker so everyone needed to get outside and walk at least a mile every day. This was the main, daily/recurring mission for the month.
- Training: We were all assigned to report to Head Trainer Jim for exercise at least 3x weekly. This mission included links to Head Trainer Jim’s videos about how to do bodyweight workouts, warmups and cooldowns.
- Flash Missions: These were not given with the weekly dispatches but would pop up occasionally when you logged into the website. There were only two flash missions and did not really seem related to the overall theme of the month (which is perfectly okay IMO because we all need variety in our lives).
- Food: We were tasked with various food-related missions such as making our own meals without processed ingredients, batch cooking at least three meals, and going seven days without fast food.
- Random missions: Other missions that were not directly related to the January plot included missions such as: Debugging your HQ (decluttering your home/office), Making your Bed, and going without social media for 48 hours.
By deciding to keep the hacker, the Shadow Organization retaliates by dog-napping a Rebel leader’s pooch.(The February Campaign is simultaneously about being ready to go to the rescue when the dogs location is found and about getting our finances in order because the hacker has started to give us info about his money ties.)
30 Days in Rising Heroes
I started the month with no expectations. I wanted to see what this thing was about and report my findings via video and blog. I wanted to make the most of it so I tried very hard not to skip anything if I could help it. If I wasn’t doing daily reports there were a couple days this month that I might have allowed myself a little more slack!
I started at a very beginner level. In fact, if there was a pre-beginner level I would probably have been there. A one mile walk was a serious effort with lots of gasping for breath. Squats? Hah! I could barely do five on January 2nd. I couldn’t do lunges at all without serious modifications and my dumbbells had a scant five pounds on them. I had absolutely no muscle. I could flex my arm and poke it and it wouldn’t feel like I was flexing at all. On top of that it took me three weeks and a lot of googling to make sure I was doing exercises right and calling them by the right names.
Here’s the fun part though. At the end of my 30 days I am able to do a couple miles at a good pace before getting really winded. I can do all three rounds of the beginner bodyweight workout without stopping. My dumbbells are up to 17.5 lbs. I can do all the push-ups though still on my knees. I can do all 20 of the squats and am working to make them deeper now. I went from being able to hold a 10 second plank to holding a 30 second plank. And I have poke-resistant muscles now! Holy moly!
TBA: Weight & Measurements. I will update this blog post to share this info on the official Day 31 of Rising Heroes. This post is being released early in order to get the review out before Recruitment closes again for February.
The weird, but not really unexpected thing was that I gained 2.6 pounds. I have no way to measure if this was a muscle gain, or water weight or if I truly gained more fat during this time. I don’t have the tools for that kind of measuring. I have a very difficult time loosing weight due to…well, issues that I won’t go into here… so it’s not really a surprise to me. However, I did lose a few inches which was nice! I lost .5″ from my neck, 1.5″ from my chest, .5″ from each calf, and 1″ from my right bicep (but not the left lol). Everything else remained the same.
Regardless of my measurements though, I feel better, I’m stronger, I have more endurance, I look better, and I feel happier. Those are things you cannot put a number to because they have immeasurable value.
Beyond health and fitness, I have done better about making meals at home and not going out as much (a habit I was falling back into because of laziness and stress). I have also decluttered (much to my husbands delight) many places around the house and office. I have learned how to play the ocarina. I make my bed most days, which leads me to tidying other things more regularly too. I would call my 30 Days of Rising Heroes a success!
The Up Things
As I said above, Rising Heroes is a tool but it’s been a surprisingly motivating tool. It hits just the right buttons in my head. The time limit on the missions, changing things up so I don’t get bored, role playing just a tiny bit in my videos and on my reports… all these things combined to create motivation. That elusive, fickle, thing.
The Community of Rising Heroes is just amazing. When I felt a bit down and tired, I just opened up the Facebook group and read about what everyone else was working through, struggling with, and celebrating. It’s hard not to feel inspired in such a supportive and brave group. Leadership interaction with the community is also pretty high. I see Head Trainer Jim answering questions regularly along with Staci and Steve.
On that note, I was delighted to find that everything seems to be scaleable to your level. If you’re a sub-beginner like me, Trainer Jim added in modifications to his videos to show you how to make it easier. He also showed how to make it a little harder if you’re a bit more advanced. Other missions too, were within mine and most others ability to handle. That’s not to say there weren’t challenges. Some things were really hard. But they were not impossible.
Story Progression is also a big plus, especially since the community can influence the direction of the story. But it keeps things interesting and gives more purpose to the missions. Changing things up regularly with new missions and pushing the story forward goes a long way to keeping me engaged and not bored.
Lastly, it’s fun to blame all the bad things on an unseen enemy. When you can blame the paper jam, the car breakdown, the free sugary snacks and beverages on a ‘Shadow Organization’ it makes it easier to just keep moving along. When you choose to view those potentially-health-derailing things as the work of an actual enemy it makes you want to fight back and stay on track. Stick it to the man! Prove that you’re not going to be manipulated into putting your health last any more! No road bumps are going to stop you!
The Down Things
There is no swag. I put this at the top of the list because I need stuff. I like shirts and hats and stickers and things! There is a serious lack of stuff. For a brief time they put up a temporary store and I snagged a Havik t-shirt right away. But the store is gone now and with no word on when a new store will be forthcoming. The Nerd Fitness official store has been down for a very long time now too which makes me wonder if the Rising Heroes store may never be a thing.
With that out of the way, on to factions! Other than to add a small competitive factor and a
community within the community, there is not much to do with your faction in Rising Heroes. There are no faction-specific missions or anything like that which was a little disappointing. I get the impression they have intentions to improve that aspect but no solid information yet.
Scaleability is on both the up side and the down side. If you’re already exercising and already eating well, there’s not much else that Rising Heroes has to offer you. The entertainment value isn’t high enough and the non-food/fitness missions are too few and far between. You can easily get bored with no incentives to do more than asked of you in the mission. Many rebels turned to the community for help in getting creative with missions that were too easy or that they were already doing anyway but many times it was a stretch to make missions feel meaningful. I experienced this with the food missions of January and am feeling the same way about the finance missions in February. These two things are not really a problem for me personally and so the missions become only about getting more points which detracts from the value.
There is a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to keep up with the missions. If you don’t do your missions there is no make-up for it. You miss out on points, feel like you’re letting your team down and feel like you’re ‘behind’ now. That can be incredibly demotivating if you’re not super careful about your mindset. I put added pressure on myself because I didn’t want to miss anything during my 30 Day Review but I also saw this issue pop up among others in the Rising Heroes Facebook group.
I know Nerd Fitness is hiring a storytelling world-builder for Rising Heroes and I think that will come just in the nick of time. The story, as it is now, does not invoke any commitment. Right now, it is only what you, the reader, decide to make of it. There are no enemies to hate and no heroes to love. There’s no compelling deeper plot either. It’s a very vague. The stories constantly hint at more information without actually giving any to you later. So it comes across as just filling up word space instead of telling a good yarn to get people emotionally invested. This is one downside though, that I expect will change with time as the story takes better shape.
Price is also a huge factor. $29/mo is on par with some gym memberships and is double the cost of any subscription game out there. If you got sick or were prevented from participating for any number of reasons you feel like you didn’t get your moneys worth. That’s another huge demotivating pressure that can (and has) lead many people to giving up and bowing out of the program.
There really is no other product like it on the market so it is hard to compare Rising Heroes against other things. In the end though, there are only two closest comparisons and I already mentioned them above.
First, let’s take a look at the fact that it is a game with real life elements. I decided to think of it in terms of the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. What if there was a series of quests in that game that required you to do healthy things IRL with an interesting/entertaining story that progressed monthly based on community actions and rewarded you with in-game goods? Would you pay double the current monthly subscription(from $15/mo to $30/mo) for access to the quests?
Now, temper that thought with the fact that WoW is owned by a large company with resources and huge amounts of cash to throw at the project. Nerd Fitness is much smaller and only relies on a few products right now to keep things going. Other than Rising Heroes, none of those products is a steady recurring revenue stream for them. The first rule of business is that they must make a profit or they are not in business anymore.
Add in the fact that any interactive, community-influenced project is not an easy thing to pull off. There is a story to be created, written and distributed on a weekly basis along with missions to support it and sometimes those missions have videos too! All these things take time and money to produce.
Now let’s take a look at the second comparison: a gym membership. A typical gym membership will provide you with a couple of complimentary personal training sessions when you sign up, give you access to all equipment, and hold classes (sometimes included, sometimes at additional cost depending on the gym). Some gyms even have tanning beds, and massages! Obviously Rising Heroes cannot compete with the physical aspects and offerings of a gym so lets leave those out.
The only thing that might be considered class-like for Rising Heroes is the videos that Trainer Jim does. But there’s no teacher-student interaction unless you hunt him down on Facebook. And if you can’t get a hold of Jim then, you can get advice and help from fellow members of the community – which could sort-of be like having an on-demand personal trainer to help you with questions. But it’s less personal.
You can get a gym membership for as little as $25/mo including the tanning bed and massage perks! I expect Rising Heroes to cost more than other games monthly subscriptions. But I don’t think it should be double. I also don’t think that it should be in the same range as a good gym membership.
That discussion returns me to my original question for this review. Is Rising Heroes worth the cost?
It depends! How much is it worth to you? That is the real question here because you have to decide what is going to work for you.Hang in there with me.
Have you made the decision to be healthier? Are you committed to making it happen no matter what? Rising Heroes could be the critical tool you need to help you get going and stay going. The cost, in this case, could be flipped around on its head and instead of being a deterrent it could be a motivator to ensure you’re putting in your best effort for the price you’re paying.
Personally, I have decided to continue with Rising Heroes for at least two more months. It makes me cringe to do it because the cost is quite a bit outside my comfort zone. I want to be completely transparent with you about that. But because it is a new product I also want to give it a good honest chance to prove itself before I close the book on it.
On the Rill Ratings Scale I give this product a 6 out of 10. It has a lot of good things going for it! But it is my opinion that the price is still too high and should be landing somewhere between gym membership and MMO subscription.
That being said, though, sometimes you just have to try things out before you know if it’s going to work for you. Sometimes people need that gym membership to get them going. Sometimes people just need an accountabilibuddy. And sometimes people need Rising Heroes.
If you would like to give Rising Heroes a shot you can find more information about the product here: RisingHeroes.com
Remember! Recruitment is open only during the first week of the month and then closes within a few days so mark your calendars!
Rising Heroes Daily Vlogs and Reports List
Rising Heroes Start – https://rillscorner.com/2017/01/06/rising-heroes-a-nerd-fitness/
Full Rising Heroes Review