BattleMat: When Fitness and Gamer Nerd Clichés Epically Collide

When you have a friend who’s a personal trainer, it’s sorely tempting to want to abuse them. They suggest hanging out and you silently wonder if “grabbing drinks” actually means “giving you a free work out!” Every time you see them, you stop yourself from begging, “You hold the secrets to my dream bod! TELL ME! TELLLL MEEE!!!”

My friend Michael Eisenstein is a personal trainer and one of the raddest people I know. He’s known to casting directors throughout NYC as “The Nerdy Assassin” (seriously:, a moniker he coined himself, that not only describes his look but his interests as well.

michael eisenstein nerdy assassin motorcycle

This is a guy who looks as comfortable in suspenders as he does in a muscle shirt. Who you’re equally likely to find on a Thursday night riding his motorcycle or playing Magic cards. Mike’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and also learned how to freaking FIRE EAT while working at a Renaissance fair. RAD AF, right?

michael eisenstein nerdy assassin in action

We’ve been friends for years and I’ve somehow managed to refrain from being a dipshit about his personal training  career! UNTIL NOW. Haha, just kidding!

I did get him to share some secrets though, along with some insight on what it’s like being a personal trainer AND gamer nerd in NYC, and an awesome project he’s working on that combines his MUSCLE and NERD sides.

Naturally, I was all about the clichés. Mike’s been training New Yorkers for 11 YEARS, I knew he’d heard every excuse to get out of exercise you can imagine. So I had to ask him to share:

Top 10 Biggest Exercise Excuse Clichés

10) If I eat well then I don’t need to workout.
9) I don’t want to get too bulky.
8) I don’t like people watching me while I workout.
7) I don’t have the money.
6) I’m always traveling for work so I can’t get in a routine.
5) I just don’t know what to do and feel embarrassed asking.
4) I‘m afraid of getting injured.
3) I worked out for a while, but I stopped seeing results so I stopped.
2) Working out is boring.

1) I don’t have the time.

“Only #4 is a valid reason.” 


On the completely flip side, a side you never imagine leaving their mother’s basement let alone exercising, is the Gamer Nerd cliché. Michael is easily the most self aware person I know, more comfortable in his own skin than Tim Parsons. So I knew I could ask him to dish the inside scoop:

Top 10 Biggest Gamer Nerd Clichés

10) We spend all of our money on games.
9) We’re introverted and don’t like social contact.
8) All male nerds have long hair and/or beards and all female nerds have some sort of dyed hair and/or glasses.
7) We don’t know how to talk about anything that doesn’t pertain to our favorite games.
6) We have all forgotten to eat at one point because we were gaming.
5) We don’t have jobs.
4) We have bad hygiene.
3) We’re all over weight.
2) We don’t know how to talk to someone we find attractive.
1) We live in our mother’s basements.
“Only #6 is valid.”

I hear you wondering, “What the HELL do Exercise and Gamer Nerds have in common, besides this dope dude Michael Eisenstein, who I now have a massive bro-crush on!?”

michael eisenstein the nerdy assassin

The Nerdy Assassin has taken two of his favorite things- collector card games and fitness- and mashed them up like he was Girl Talk and they were hits from the ’90s. Michael and his fellow creator Brendan Bradley put their big nerd heads together while flexing their perfectly toned muscles and came up with the game-changer BattleMat

BattleMat is a collector card game that uses fantasy artwork and mechanics to set and track a persons fitness goals.

It’s got beautiful art work, intriguing characters, and a point system that turns tedious exercising into a competitive game that’s never exactly the same.

This BattleMat card game is something both Sheldon Cooper and Michelle Obama would be big supporters of, if only they knew it existed.

battle mat fitness

That day may come! The most practical nerd game in the world (that’s what I’m calling BattleMat!) is in its final stretch of Kickstarter campaigning!

There is nothing more inspiring than watching a friend harness his passions, do the work, and create something awesome. I’m so proud and impressed by my friend Michael and I think you should be too. I asked him some questions about this exciting new project and ended up slightly less clueless about what exactly “collector card games” are. 

 An Interview with Michael Eisenstein, Co-Creator of BattleMat

What about your experience as a personal trainer inspired you to make BattleMat?

The three most common reasons I hear for why people don’t workout is that they lack the motivation to simply do it or they don’t have a way to stay accountable or they are afraid of getting injured because they don’t know the proper technique and what to do. Motivation, Accountability, and Technique.  MAT.  BattleMat.

Brendan and I created this game as a way to help people battle these issues.  I also wanted to create a game that kept the variability high.  Too many workout programs simply stop working because once you’ve done them and your body has adapted to be able to complete the routine, it will no longer progress.  The body needs constant change and that is what players will get when they workout with BattleMat.  My clients are always looking for new routines that can be done in their small New York apartments on their off days or in hotel rooms when they travel for work. I saw a need for a safe, effective, adaptive and affordable routine that didn’t require machines or much equipment and created a game that will help New York City residents train effectively, consistently, safely and have fun while they do it.

So you know the Gamer Nerd Cliché- guys who work remotely from their parents basements and play a preponderance of video games. Did you create this game for them?
Yes, but more for the card player nerds and less for the video game nerds although I think they would love it too.  I’m a competitive MTG (Magic the Gathering) player and have been to several tournaments and a lot of local events.  I’m always struck by the amount of unhealthy bodies I see when I go to play. There’s definitely a stereotype that has developed.  I got to thinking, “What if there was a way these gamers could improve their real life fitness while still doing what they love to do (play fantasy games)? ” Hence, BattleMat.

o-cast michael eisenstein nerdy assasin

What would you say to someone like me who’s always avoided this kind of card game? Is this exclusively for nerds? Why should I give it a chance? 

Haha, you and my wife both.  I’ve tried for years to get her to play MTG  with me.  Never gonna happen.  That said, she loves BattleMat (and not just because she’s my wife).  She would say that she doesn’t even think of it as a “card game,” but just as a different way to generate a new workout each time she plays/exercises.  The pictures on the cards make her laugh and keep her mind off of the fact that she’s working out.

If the fantasy card game aspect isn’t for you, that’s totally fine.  BattleMat is absolutely a legitimate workout generator.  Brendan and I worked really hard to make sure that BattleMat speaks to gamers and fitness enthusiasts alike.  That said, if you’re neither of those, but are looking for an easy way in to working out for the first time, BattleMat is a safe and effective way to begin your training.

michael eisenstein tae kwon do nerdy assassin

Nerd culture seems to stay under the radar in NYC until October when Comic Con comes and you suddenly learn EVERYONE is a closet nerd! Have you been to Comic Con? And thoughts on the Nerd Cliché not really being an NYC Cliché? 

Yeah, it’s kind of crazy when all of a sudden you’re riding the subway and it looks like you’re in a comic book.  Sadly, I’ve never been to Comic Con.  I’ve had friends who have and have had a blast.  Brendan and I have talked about taking BattleMat to Comic Con as a way to introduce it to a greater audience and show off the BattleMode (when two people workout at the same time using BattleMat and are able to affect the other player’s workout) possibilities.

I would say there is a LOT of Nerd Cliché that doesn’t fall in to Comic Con.  There are some really wonderful small independent card/game shops in the city like Geekery HQ and Twenty Sided Store.  These stores provide a haven for nerds to gather, play and socialize.  Their events are often packed and their communities are incredibly loyal and integrated into NYC. Hopefully, they will be willing to host a few BattleMat events in the future.

michael eisenstein nerd assassin ninja turtles

Carrie Bradshaw infamously said “Shopping is my cardio”. Would the guys on Big Bang Theory say “BattleMat is my cardio?” Do you hate Big Bang Theory?
Yeah, well, unless you’re keeping your heart rate elevated above a certain level for a significant duration of time, it’s technically not cardio. And, yes, I’m not a fan of The Big Bang Theory personally.  They just don’t seem like real people to me.  It makes it hard for me to connect to them and care about the show.  That said, I would love it if they would play/mention/tweet BattleMat during an episode.  The characters would totally dig it and the exposure would be great.  Can you set that up?

Oh sure, I’ll tweet this article at them, I’m sure that’ll do the trick.
I bring up Big Bang Theory because it might as well have been called NERD CLICHE, right? 

Totally, but I was always more of a fan of How I Met Your Mother which I also feel could have been called NYC Nerd Cliché.

michael eisenstein actor nerdy assassin


You’ve identified and branded yourself as the Nerdy Assassin- which is deliciously intriguing and I need you to tell me about that bold AF choice.

Haha, well, thank you.  Yes, the Nerdy Assassin.  As an actor, I was trying to find a way to brand myself to make it easier for casting directors to say, “yes, Michael, he’s the Nerdy Assassin, he’d be perfect for this.” I am definitely a nerd, but I’m also a Fifth Degree Black Belt and a fight choreographer.  Nerds don’t have to be just nerds.  I wanted to show that I may be a nerd, but I’m a badass nerd so watch out!

Awesome! Thanks Michael so much for answering all my questions!
If you want to learn more, there’s so much more information on the BattleMat Kickstarter page. You can learn about the characters on the cards, see how you actually play, watch creators Brendan and Michael tell you all about BattleMat themselves.  
The project has already raised half of its goal and still has 12 more days to make this a true reality! éVisit the Kickstarter HERE.

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

7 thoughts on “BattleMat: When Fitness and Gamer Nerd Clichés Epically Collide

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing this! I will definitely be backing it. My son is a total card game nut and has roped my daughters in as well. I thing this would be just the thing for him.

  2. Hey, thanks for sharing this! I will definitely be backing it. My son is a total card game nut and has roped my daughters in as well. I think this would be just the thing for him.

  3. I absolutely loved reading this interview! I bet there are lots of people out there who are put off by the idea of working out because they just can’t relate to the meathead stereotype, so I imagine Michael is a breath of fresh air in the trainer world! Battlemat sounds so neat, too — portable, varied, and more like a game than endless boring reps!


Comments are closed.