PAX and Dragon*Con 2011: Surviving a Convention with Your Fitness Intact

by | Aug 19, 2011 10:31 AM ET

Remember me? If the answer's yes, did you miss me? (If the answer to that one's no, just pretend I didn't ask.) I've been away from the blog for a while to focus on some other HowStuffWorks-y things, but thanks to PAX and Dragon*Con being right around the corner, I'm back!

One of the nonwork things I've been up to lately is doing some serious work on my health and fitness. It's been about nine weeks of slow, steady progress, and now I'm looking at my first big obstacle ... for the first time, PAX and Dragon*Con aren't on the same weekend, so I'm going to both of them. All in, that's basically a week and a half away from my normal nutrition and fitness routine, and I want to make sure I don't get home to find that I've taken some giant steps backward.

The idea that geeks -- especially gamer geeks -- are unhealthy and out of shape is a huge, pervasive stereotype. But among the ones I know, the ones who are already fit or are actively working on their nutrition and fitness outnumber the ones who don't.  So since I'm probably not the only person trying to figure out how to get through a couple of weeks of convention time without backsliding, I've put together some tips I plan to follow:

  • Mind the walk. It's easy to walk miles in a day at Dragon*Con, and based on my experience at PAX East in March, I'm expecting the same from PAX. So even though I probably won't be able to get to a gym during either one, I'll still be getting some exercise. The trick is not to expect all that walking to magically undo a bunch of junk food.
  • Scout ahead. I usually run off the nutritional rails when I'm in a hurry and need to get something to eat, now, so it helps to know what my options are ahead of time. I've been to Dragon*Con before, so I have a sense of what the lay of the land is in terms of food. Even so, I'll be refreshing my memory and making note of some good choices before I go, especially at the Peachtree Center food court, which is where I usually wind up for a quick bite. I've never been to PAX Prime (or to Seattle at all), so I'm starting with Washington State Convention Center's list of restaurants. After that, I'll branch out to Google maps' handy "search nearby" feature.
  • Pack snacks. Take a cue from Wil Wheaton and carry "stacks of PAX snacks in your backpack" -- healthy, filling ones. If you don't have room in your luggage, take another look at Google maps. There are grocery stores within walking distance of PAX and convenience stores within walking distance of Dragon*Con.
  • Hydrate. I'll be trying to make room in my luggage for an empty water bottle to be filled before I head out every morning.
  • Moderate. PAX and Dragon*Con are both chances for me to see friends and colleagues I haven't seen in months (or sometimes years). So my plan isn't to stick rigidly to a nutritional plan cobbled together from food court salads and apples I've stowed in my Bag of Holding while everyone else gets together for dinner or drinks. It's more to make sure I don't use either event as justification to throw caution to the wind ... "Of course I can eat this entire pizza. I'm at PAX!"

Tickets to PAX (Seattle, Aug. 26-28) are sold out, but Dragon*Con memberships (Atlanta, Sept. 2-5) are still available.

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