The Free Fitness Movement That Is Changing Lives: November Project
The first time I heard about November Project was in May of 2015. Tweets from runners in the NYC running scene started coming at me, inviting me to join the NYC group the Friday before the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon and I promised I would go. What I didn't understand was that I had dropped a verbal. A verbal is a promise you make that you will show up to workout with your friends and said friends will hold you accountable to your promise because workouts are infinitely more fun when more people show up.
So I started looking at photos and videos, trying to figure out just what November Project was, and I felt intimidated. I didn't really know anyone and I didn't think I was at the same fitness level so the next morning, I didn't go. A few tweets asking where I was rolled in and I used the excuse that I didn't want to hurt myself before the race that weekend. The truth was, I was too afraid and intimidated to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. But I promised that the next time they came to Brooklyn, I would go. Two months later, I got a tweet from Paul Leak, one of the leaders of the NP NYC tribe, saying that they were going to be in Brooklyn. So I convinced my friend Chloe to go with me and we showed up.
I did it. I grew a pair and showed up. Welcome to @novemberproject. They're in 21 cities and the coolest group of human beings you'll ever meet in your life. Go figure out if they are in a city near you, show up and be apart of something amazing. Shout out to all these people who had to listen to me bitch and complain all morning. I can't do a single push up to save my life and it's embarrassing. I love what they're doing. Go be apart of this. #NP_NYC #RunSelfieRepeat 📷 via @novemberprojectnyc
We had fun. We didn't really workout as hard as we should have because I didn't think I could do it. I was too afraid to introduce myself to anyone so it was easier to pretend that I was just going through the motions and remain invisible. I thought for sure they would be cliquey and out of my league. They weren't. They were goofy, silly, and ready to not only have a good time but get a great workout in. I felt stupid. I immediately regretted my decision not to just give it my all.
Because of their location and my excuses, I didn't show up to my next NP NYC workout until the end of August. (Ironically, I mustered the courage to show up to NP San Francisco in July. I didn't talk to anyone, but I showed up. A huge step forward.) And when I got back to NYC, I promised myself that I would stop getting in my way and overcome this fear I had of working out with people I didn't know. So I forced myself to show up Wednesdays and Fridays. I stood in the back and smiled and gave hugs when people talked to me. And slowly, I made friends and those friends became my support system. They pushed me, they listened to me, they laughed with me, and they made me feel like I belonged.
New York is a really tough place to live. Despite the fact that you're never alone, people don't look at you, they look through you. It's easily the loneliest place I have ever lived in my life. November Project isn't just free fitness, it's a community of people who will catch you if you fall. I've seen countless tribe members go through both rough times and happy times and regardless of which side of the spectrum you're at, the tribe is there to listen to you, support you, help you, celebrate you, and push you. It makes life so much easier knowing you have a huge group of people, both close friends and strangers, who would do anything to help you if you needed it.
This past weekend was the November Project 4.0 summit. The summit started 4 years ago when Brogan and Bojan (the two amazing men who started November Project) wanted a way for the NP leaders around the world to come together, bond, and find ways to make the community stronger. It has since turned into a summit for both the leaders and the tribe members to meet, mingle, race, dance, and have an incredible life changing experience.
I went into summit excited. I'd heard nothing but amazing things from everyone who had gone and summit surpassed my expectations. I didn't just meet people, I developed friendships with people around the world that will most likely last the rest of my life. I had some overwhelming things happen to me back in New York while I was at summit and my friends, both new and old, were there to support me. They helped me troubleshoot, come up with ideas, or just listen while I balled my eyes out on the dance floor.
(Everything is going to be OK, I've been through much, much worse than this. I'm just at a terrifying crossroads and I need to make some pretty important and intimidating decisions.)
November Project is so much more than a 30 minute workout 2 or 3 days a week. It's a group of people who just care. They care about one another, the world, their communities, their cities, and what people do with their time and lives. Our only goal is to push ourselves and one another to be the best, happiest, and strongest we can be, and I really am just grateful that I found them.
Thank you all for the hugs, the smiles, the "thank you for being here", the high fives, and the laughs this weekend. You didn't know it, but they kept me going.
If you're in a city that November Project is in, don't be intimidated, just show up. It's for everyone at any fitness level. And if you're in a city without a November Project tribe, find someone to start it. The pledging process is serious business but your community needs you. Show up. Hype it. And become a member. You won't regret it.