An Interview With Ming Chen

Loyal readers of the site know that, whenever possible, I sharing other people’s philosophies on fitness (and if you aren’t a loyal reader, come on… get with the program!)

I do this for three distinct reasons:

  1. My views on fitness are just that, my views. I want to share as much positive stuff as I can
  2. Sometimes an occasional break from my awesome sarcastic ramblings is good for you all
  3. Because I am selfish, and sometimes I want to hear what someone else has to say…

I say this because this last month I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ming Chen, from AMC’s Comic Book Men and the I Sell Comics podcast.

We met in Washington, D.C. at Awesome-Con 2016, and he graciously agreed to sit down with me for a chat about his passion for running, what it was like growing up a geek, and his love of comic books.

So sit back and enjoy!

(Also, if you just want to listen, the podcast version is embedded all the way at the end of the article…)

The Jerd – So I am here at Awesome-Con with podcaster, one-quarter of AMC’s Comic Book Men, and fit geek himself, Ming Chen! Thanks for sitting down with me man, I appreciate it.

Ming Chen – Hello everybody! And, that’s more accurately one-fifth. We count Kevin Smith as a Comic Book Men…

The Jerd – Fair enough…

Ming Chen – He’s probably the Comic Book Man as a matter of fact, so gotta give him some credit.

The Jerd – (laughs) So, the reason we’re sitting down… loyal listeners and readers of the website know that fit geeks are what we are all about, and unlike maybe some of the other Comic Book Men, you sir, are a fit geek.

Ming Chen – Yeah. Yeah, I’ve always made it a point. I started running in 2005 after I had my first kid… um, I had been going to gyms and things like that but around then is when I got serious about it. Never really been a runner… I hate running. I still hate running, I’m going to be honest.

But I started running on treadmills, then I took it outside to see if I could do my first 5k. I was running those for a while and I found out that my biggest mistake in running was that I was running as hard as I could for those 3 miles, and I absolutely hated it. I felt so bad at the end, I felt sore for a week…

The Jerd – Sure…

Ming Chen – Yeah, until I heard about this guy… Stu Mittleman, who is a marathon runner, and his philosophy in running, and marathons or whatever, is run and enjoy it. Just enjoy it! You’re not going to win the race, unless… if you’re going to win, fine, go all out… but just enjoy running. And once I did that I started discovering that I could longer distances.

So I went 5k, to a 15k, to a half-marathon, to a full marathon.

The Jerd – Oh, wow!

Ming Chen – My first full marathon was actually right here in D.C. I did the Marine Corps Marathon.

The Jerd – Oh nice, okay.

Ming Chen – It was in 2012, and my goal was just to complete it. Never in my… I mean, I was a kid who grew up eating Taco Bell, like almost every day. I mean, it was cheap food back then, especially.

The Jerd – Sure, sure!

Ming Chen – So I went from that to running the Marine Corps Marathon and completing it. And now I have done five marathons total.

The Jerd – That’s awesome!

Ming Chen – But yeah, fitness wise, you really just have to find something that’s fun to you.

The Jerd – So why was having your first kid the catalyst to get you fit? What about that made you want to do that?

Ming Chen – I think… you always hear when you have your… especially as a guy, you hear these things like “It’s a lot of work having a kid” and “You’re always pitching in and changing diapers and whatnot…” but I think what you’re  really afraid of is losing both yourself and… there’s even a term for it, “dad-bod”

The Jerd – Right. I hate that word… (laughs)

Ming Chen – You get a little softer, you don’t have as much time to workout anymore, and I kind of wanted to challenge myself to see if I could stay in shape. Not only do that, but take on a challenge I had never taken on before! And it kind of worked out, so…

The Jerd – That’s awesome! So growing up? Not physically oriented at all?

Ming Chen – No… I mean, I played baseball but… baseball is a sport where a 300 pound guy, like Bartolo Colon, can be a millionaire. You don’t need… you’re not that active playing baseball. Then there was… I mean soccer was always like “that’s too much running, I don’t want to do that.”

The Jerd – (laughs)

Ming Chen – So I played some baseball. I also played pickup games…

The Jerd – Sure.

Ming Chen – But anything beyond that, nothing really serious.

The Jerd – Gotcha. And growing up were you the quote-on-quote nerd-type?

Ming Chen – Oh yeah, absolutely! Growing up I loved G.I. Joe, I loved X-Men, I loved the Avengers, I loved video games, I loved Zelda, I loved the Lost Boys, Aliens, you name it! Anything geek… had they have had these huge conventions back then I totally would have been at them.

The Jerd – (laughs)

Ming Chen – But they weren’t at this scale at the time.

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The Jerd – I know, right? God, we’re old. It’s the worst (laughs)… because you, started working with Kevin doing his website, right?

Ming Chen – Yeah, about 20 years ago. I started out as a fan, saw the movie Clerks, I was learning how to build websites at the time and I created a fan-site for Clerks and he saw it and gave me a call. He said “I’m starting a production company… I’m about to do my third movie, Chasing Amy, and I would love a website for all of my work. Can you help me out?”

And I did, and all of that led to this; now being on a TV show on AMC after The Walking Dead. It’s weird.

The Jerd – How crazy is that?!?

Ming Chen – It’s pretty insane. But that’s more a testament to Kevin, and just how weird things happen when you work with him.

The Jerd – I’ve always… readers of the site know that I credit both he, and Felicia Day, as some of my main inspirations because they’re both proponents of just trying stuff.

Ming Chen – Yeah!

The Jerd – Just do it.

Ming Chen – Just do it.

The Jerd – And great things happen if you put your mind to it.

Ming Chen – Sadly Nike stole that slogan, but truly… just go out and do it.

The Jerd – That’s awesome. So, when you were growing up was coding something that you always did or was that just a hobby on the side?

Ming Chen – I fell into it.

The Jerd – Okay.

Ming Chen – I was in college and someone showed me how to do it. I had done a little programming before bu it wasn’t really a big love or anything. I was more into playing the games than creating them.

The Jerd – Gotcha.

Ming Chen – But something about creating websites. How you could put up a whole site, or page, and just immediately… if you misspelled something you could correct it immediately, it was something that was very dynamic. It always fascinated me… and it was a cool way to show off.

The first website I ever did was all about myself, so…

The Jerd – (laughs) Of course! That’s what you do on the Internet!

Ming Chen – It was a big vanity project…

The Jerd – Of course it was.

Ming Chen – It worked out pretty well though.

The Jerd – So, nowadays… you’re involved with the show, you’re running, you’re doing conventions… what do you do to stay geeky now? What are your passions right now?

Ming Chen – Luckily, I work at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the ultimate comic book store in the universe so I’m able to keep up with all the weekly comics.

The Jerd – Okay!

Ming Chen – And the great thing… people always ask me “What do you collect now? You must have a huge comic book collection!” But really, I am able to read the books and put them back now.  Which is even better…

The Jerd – I am sure that somewhere Walt is like “What?!?”

Ming Chen – Oh yeah… “This ain’t a library!” So yeah, there is a lot of that but I justify it because Mike and I do a podcast called “I Sell Comics”, where we go through all the weekly books, so I go “No, this is for the podcast… this is for Kevin’s network.”

The Jerd – Research!

Ming Chen – Yeah, “It’s research. You can’t yell at me now!” So yeah, there’s that. With the glut of both comic book related movies and TV shows, uh, keeping up with that is a no-brainer. You just have to sit there and watch all the shows.

And then coming to conventions! That’s the ultimate way to keep up with geek stuff… not only do you meet fellow geeks and talk to them about things that you love, you meet the people that make those things. Whether they be the creators, the writers, the artists, or the people on the TV. It’s pretty awesome. We live in a great time right now…

The Jerd – We do. We live in the golden of geekdom.

Ming Chen – It really is.

The Jerd – I just hope the bubble doesn’t burst.

Ming Chen – Yeah! And then we do what we’re doing now, which is podcasting…

The Jerd – Yeah!

Ming Chen – Which, if you want to sound educated, you have to keep on all of this. Not only that, but that is your content for a lot of the shows… what is going on in geek that week.

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The Jerd – Definitely.

Ming Chen – Ultimately, it’s just fun. I only do things for fun. Life is short, why spend any of it being miserable?

The Jerd – It’s hard to argue with that. So you’re not one of these guys that ‘hate-reads’ comics that you don’t like?

Ming Chen – Oh God, no…

The Jerd – Just read stuff you love?

Ming Chen – Just read stuff I love.

The Jerd – There you go!

Ming Chen – If it stinks, it stinks, you know? There not all going to be winners. But the things that do hit, they hit hard and they hit good!

The Jerd – It’s a good time to be a comics fan.

Ming Chen – It really is.

The Jerd – So are you doing anything to try and get some of the other Comic Book Men in shape, or do you just keep it to yourself?

Ming Chen – As you know, it’s tough trying to get people do things that they don’t want to do. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie… it’s tough getting motivated to just get out of bed and do something; or maybe you want to work out at night, or the afternoon, or wherever you can find time…

The Jerd – Sure.

Ming Chen – It’s tough and, you know, I find it tougher as you get older. It’s just harder. Your metabolism slows down…

The Jerd – Your energy levels drop.

Ming Chen – Yeah, your energy levels drop down.

The Jerd – I am right there with you…

Ming Chen – It’s things like that. I’m trying to reverse it. It doesn’t really work like that though.

The Jerd – I’ve been trying for years…

Ming Chen – All I am trying to do is slow it down. So far so good! There’s running, I do a lot of yoga…

The Jerd – Oh, okay!

Ming Chen – I’ll do anything that is workout related. Stand-up paddle-boarding, surfing, I’ll jump into a Crossfit class every so often for circuit training.

The Jerd – Nice!

Ming Chen – Yeah, I have a lot of friends that are active so if my friend is like “Hey, I am going to a rowing class today…” like an indoor class, I am usually like “I want to try that out!” Just give it a shot, you know? It could be fun. Usually a lot of these places the first class is free, so go give it a shot. If that’s not enough motivation I workout with a lot of females (laughs), it doesn’t hurt.

The Jerd – Yeah.

Ming Chen – They are pretty cool. I mean, they are very beautiful… that doesn’t hurt. It’s a motivating factor, but I want to keep up with them. That’s a motivator.

The Jerd – Sure!

Ming Chen – Working out with a friend, or the opposite sex, doesn’t hurt. Now, if that gets you out of the door, then by all means, go do it.

The Jerd – That’s fantastic advice! Well, I want to be respectful of your time…

Ming Chen – No, this is great!

The Jerd – I want to close this out with some rapid-fire nerd questions if you are ready?

Ming Chen – Fire away!

The Jerd – Star Trek or Star Wars.

Ming Chen – Star Wars, by far! Star Trek is like “When is someone going to shoot something?” Shoot a phaser, shoot a gun, blow something up.

The Jerd – (laughs) I knew I liked you for a reason, yes!

Ming Chen – Too much talking…

The Jerd – Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?

Ming Chen – Harry Potter. I think I relate better to the kids and Emma Watson is hot… later! Not as a kid! Lord of the Rings is… I think Kevin put is best in Clerks 2… it’s walk, walk, walk, walk some more, fight, walk some more, fight, drop a ring into hot lava, done.

The Jerd – Alright, Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy as Professor X?

Ming Chen – Ooooohh… that’s… I gotta go with Patrick Stewart. He’s the original, the O.G. He just looks like he stepped off the page, and he’s got the swagger. I mean, McAvoy has some too but Stewart… he can do anything. I could see a picture of him eating a bowl of ice cream, in a tutu, with a kitten sitting on top of his head and he’s still a bad-ass.

The Jerd – (kaughs) Xbox or Playstation?

Ming Chen – Going to go with Playstation. Playstation 4. I’ve been playing Star Wars: Battlefront on it and it’s great. Plus, I’m a baseball fan and they have the exclusive license to MLB, so…

The Jerd – Final question, favorite comic book movie?

Ming Chen – I’m going to go with the original Iron Man with Robert Downey, Jr.

The Jerd – Nice pull!

Ming Chen – It hit all the notes perfectly, for sure; I think the casting is… I mean, Robery Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark.

The Jerd – Without a doubt.

Ming Chen – The suit looked great, the plot was great, the whole movie was just fantastic. And it set up the whole Marvel movie universe.

The Jerd – Oh, I agree. None of it would be here without that movie.

Ming Chen – Exactly.

The Jerd – Good answers! I’ll give you a pass on the Playstation… I’m gonna give you a pass!

Ming Chen – Okay, I hear you. I hear you. Those things are expensive, man! I would have both if I could…

The Jerd – I know, it’s ridiculous. So if you were to leave readers with one piece of advice… maybe they’re thinking “I want to start running, but it sounds so hard!” What would your advice be for someone who has never run in their life?

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Ming Chen – This is how I started doing marathons… It sounds so daunting running 26 miles, I didn’t want to drive that far!

The Jerd – (laughs)

Ming Chen – And… I am not a runner! I eat cheese fries, and I love bacon as much as the next guy. But for me, I was like “Could I ever accomplish a marathon?” It was so far out of my realm. The way I did it was… a lot of people say “Oooh, I want to try running” and then they run a mile straight as hard as they can. And they’ll hate it! Because it sucks, it’s not going to feel good.

The Jerd – Right.

Ming Chen – I went with a method… I believe it’s a guy named Jeff Galloway, he does this thing called the “Run Walk Method.” You run for a minute, then walk for a minute…

The Jerd – Okay, yeah, I’ve heard of that.

Ming Chen – By doing that not only does it hurt less, and suck less, you will look forward to those walk breaks. But you’re still running at the same time. Just go slow, you don’t need to go all out. Your first day, go .2 miles… go half a mile… you don’t have to go that far. You will eventually build up where you can run 26.2 miles. Anything you can do to make it suck less, that’s what you’re aiming for.

My other advice, if you’re going to run, is I always listen to music. Get a good playlist together, it’s a great motivator.

The Jerd – Right, playlists are important. I’m not a fan of the running either. It kills me. But that’s good advice, I love it! So, if people want to find you on the Internet, or on social media and all that… you want to plug all your stuff?

Ming Chen – (laughs) I’m not all that hard to find. On Twitter and Instagram I am @MingChen37, on Facebook you can search Ming Chen Comic Book Men. Yeah, I’m all over Snapchat, Periscope, all that crazy stuff… you’ll find me.

The Jerd – And your podcasts?

Ming Chen – I have two. One called “I Sell Comics” on the SMODcast Network, that Kevin Smith runs, and I just started a new one called the “Ming and Mike Show” where me and Mike Zapcic, from Comic Book Men, just talk about whatever we want.

The Jerd – That’s awesome! Well thanks again for taking the time with me…

Ming Chen – Sure, absolutely!

The Jerd – I hope you enjoy D.C. and the convention here, it’s a good one so…

Ming Chen – Absolutely is. So, stay fit my friends!

Did you like what Ming had to say? Do you have questions for either of us?

Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. – Make sure to get your free e-book, “The 7 Fitness Obstacles Newbies Face” by subscribing to our newsletter… no spam, I promise!
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