Why I'm So Glad I Gave The November Project A Second Shot

Date: June 11, 2014 at 11:32 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 63

Back in November (October? What was the actual date of that party, people? Party people.), I was at the Runner’s World New York City Marathon party, and Brogan Graham gave a speech. Speech = he made everyone at the party hug a new friend, high five 10 friends, and yell the F-word a lot. Totally my style. You know I love that F-word. And hugs. And high fives. (No love for jazz hands…yet.)

They showed this video…

…and I got these ridiculous chills. “It’s a love-fest. Yeah, there’s gonna be babies.” I loved it right away and I wanted in.

It’s quite likely you’ve heard of November Project by now: Two guys wanted to motivate each other to work out through the winter, so they committed to meeting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, no matter the weather, to get their sweat on and get in shape. Soon, their group grew and now it’s a major grassroots group workout thing happening in 17 chapters across the country and in Canada.

This is Steve! He works at JackRabbit's Brooklyn store! And he won the Positivity Award that week (yup, it's a thing, and you win a...stick?). He runs eight miles just to GET to the workout each week!

This is Steve! He works at JackRabbit’s Brooklyn store! And he won the Positivity Award that week (yup, it’s a thing, and you win a…stick?). He runs eight miles just to GET to the workout each week!

When I found out that this existed in Boston and was hugely popular and successful — and that people I knew from college were already doing it — I was pisssssed. How could anything cool exist in this world and not exist in New York City, the greatest city on the planet?!

The instructions: "Find someone you don't know, put your finger on his or her nose and say 'I'm so happy you are here.' " Ali's interpretation: FIND ALL THE PEOPLE I DON'T KNOW AND TOUCH THEIR NOSES AND ASK FOR THEIR LIFE STORIES. That is why I'm doing more nose touching and everyone else is...not.

The instructions: “Find someone you don’t know, put your finger on his or her nose and say ‘I’m so happy you are here.’ ” Ali’s interpretation: FIND ALL THE PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW AND TOUCH THEIR NOSES AND ASK FOR THEIR LIFE STORIES. That is why I’m doing more nose touching and everyone else is…not.

I started Tweeting about my love for this new-to-me discovery, and found that lots of other New Yorkers were eager to get an NYC chapter started as well.

Then, naturally, I missed the boat on being a part of the founding tribe, because, well, I have Crohn’s.

The NYC group finally started up in February, right around the time of that polar vortex. So badass. And I was so sad not to be an initial part of it.

More nose touching! I was having the best time. Mostly trying to delay my workout, I guess.

More nose touching! I was having the best time. Mostly trying to delay my workout, I guess.

My friend Emily was an early joiner and had been encouraging me to come to a workout for a while. I was all “no no no I’m not ready not yet but maybe soon bathrooms.”

A few weeks ago, after having a few just-comfortable-enough runs in the bathroom-packed park, I felt ready to make my way to Gracie Mansion, where the group meets Wednesday mornings at 6:28 AM, for my very first November Project workout experience. Emily assured me there was an open bathroom there, so I was good to go.

I'm on the left. Emily is on the right. Isn't she precious?

I’m on the left. Emily is on the right. Isn’t she precious?

Without breaking down every single detail of every workout, here are a few main points I want you to know about working out with November Project. And these are all specific to my first few workouts with the NYC chapter. Beyond our posse, I don’t really know what to tell ya, so go find out for yourself and report back.

1. The workouts vary. The first time I went, we ran from Gracie Mansion to the 102nd Street footbridge (right next to my very first NYC apartment, awww!), and then did a workout involving the bridge. We would run over it and back, and then do bear crawls in a big circle. The bridge runs made my glutes burn and the bear crawls made my hands hurt. I was horrifically and awesomely sore the next day.

At the second workout I attended, we met at the same spot, but this time stayed put and the workout involved lots of circuits, stair runs, burpees, dips, walking lunges and the like. Strength and cardio, all piled into one sweaty mess.

Running up the stairs is hard and running down the stairs is the way I will eventually die, I'm almost certain.

Running up the stairs is hard and running down the stairs is the way I will eventually die, I’m almost certain.

Then, the third time I attended, it was the group’s first “Summer Friday” workout, which took place in Union Square (so I went from being right next to my apartment to right next to my office; this thing is ultra-convenient for me which is a big part of the draw).

F it. I'll just sit down. Bye.

F it. I’ll just sit down. Bye.

This was a classic Run-Deck-Run workout, which means you’re supposed to run to the workout spot from wherever you live, then do the short workout, and then run home. The workout was partner-based and you had to be with someone you didn’t know, which is always a bit scary. My new buddy, Taylor, was just lovely, and together we plowed through 100 push-ups and 100 (each) leg throw-downs. This was almost a week ago and it finally doesn’t hurt to sneeze, cough or laugh. Abs!

Here, Cute Emily and her partner are demonstrating the leg throws. I am in the background, in black, picking my butt.

Here, Cute Emily and her partner are demonstrating the leg throws. I am in the background, in black, picking my butt.

2. They take pictures during the workout. In theory, I thought this was cute and cool, because after the workout you can see all the pictures and because people are tagged, you can start to really learn their names. But the reality was that the photos posted from my first workout were so bad, so unflattering, that I was upset for the entire day. Probably a topic for another post, but it actually really turned me off. I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to have my mid-workout photo taken again. I didn’t understand how people loved this aspect of it. That photo traumatized and haunted me. I don’t want to be worried about how I look, or trying to put on a show. I just want to exercise and maybe have a little fun. I don’t want to fear the post-workout Facebook tagging.

But that feeling passed by the time the next week’s workout came around. I had actually debated not going back, even though I loved the people and the workout. I really didn’t like that picture of me.

I woke up, though, and I really genuinely wanted to go back and join those great new people I had met. So I did, and I focused on my workout and not wherever the little group photographer was hiding, and it was fine. It still makes me a little self-aware, and I still do fear those pictures (stop tagging me!), but it’s worth it. And it’s a little bit of motivation…

SORRY, TOO BUSY RUNNING STAIRS TO SUCK IT IN!

SORRY, TOO BUSY RUNNING STAIRS TO SUCK IT IN!

3. The people are really, genuinely nice. It’s not a schtick or a gimmick. Maybe it’s a gimmick, but it’s legitimate. After attending just one workout, I came home to a slew of Facebook friend requests and my heart felt, like…warm and fuzzy.

And that’s what really keeps me coming back. It is easy to make friends as an adult. I firmly believe that, especially in a city like NYC.

WE ARE FRIENDS AND WE ARE CLAPPING!!!

WE ARE FRIENDS AND WE ARE CLAPPING!!!

4. Everyone has a different fitness background and has different abilities. There are some serious badasses there (one girl ran 30 miles around the perimeter of Manhattan last week just because, and there are a bunch of ultramarathoners and people who actually win the races they enter), there are lots of middle-of-the-packers (you’re looking at one right here!), and plenty of newbies who are just getting started with the whole fitness thing. You really don’t have to worry about being “the slowest one in the group,” because there’s just no such thing.

To the untrained eye, it may look like I am air-slapping no one. But really, Partner Taylor is coming back at me with a high five. I swear.

To the untrained eye, it may look like I am air-slapping no one. But really, Partner Taylor is coming back at me with a high five. I swear.

5. There are no judgments. Really. The workouts always start in randomly assigned groups (based on the color you’re wearing, the first letter of your first name, etc.), but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for the groups to all dissolve into one big running-lunging-dipping-planking bunch. So it’s not like you have to keep up with your group. It’s very much an individual workout in a group setting. Go as fast, slow, hard or easy as you’d like.

In this photo, I had just finished doing my run interval, so while my partner took off on her journey, I picked my wedgie.

In this photo, I had just finished doing my run interval, so while my partner took off on her journey, I picked my wedgie.

6. You should try it for yourself. More than once. Like I said, I almost didn’t return after that first workout simply because of a dumb, unflattering photo. But now I get so excited to wake up on Wednesday (and now Friday!) mornings. I love seeing my new November Project friends in Central Park on non-NP days, and am pumped to have found a new group of “my people.”

Each workout ends with a group photo and there's usually some sort of theme or pose. In this one, we were supposed to make an "F" with your hands, standing for FRIDAY, but I am advanced and I can spell "BLOOD" with my fingers, so I did that. I'm not usually a rule breaker, so this was pretty ballsy.

Each workout ends with a group photo and there’s usually some sort of theme or pose. In this one, we were supposed to make an “F” with our hands, standing for FRIDAY, but I am advanced and I can spell “BLOOD” with my fingers, so I did that. I’m not usually a rule breaker, so this was pretty ballsy. Can you spot me?

7. The group leaders — John and Paul — are not bad to look at. Come see. Paul is kind of like the Sawyer and John is like the Jack. Hopefully you watched LOST, so you know.

I don't hate it.

I don’t hate it.

8. It’s free. In a city where everything costs an entire paycheck, this is a free group fitness option.

9. The motto is “just show up.” You don’t need to pre-register or schedule a time or make it complicated. You want to try it? Just show up.

10. Watch this:

I hope to see you out there soon!

Calm down, Feller.

Calm down, Feller.

It’s cool to feel like a part of something, so come be a part of this. If for some reason you hate it (you won’t), we’ll just go back to my apartment afterward to eat “healthy trail mix” (peanuts, raisins, dark chocolate and M&Ms) and listen to Girl Talk, because I learned about Girl Talk last week and now I can’t stop listening and bouncing and being happy.

I love you.

63 Responses to "Why I'm So Glad I Gave The November Project A Second Shot"

Girl, you’re arms are looking pretty awesome in that last (awesome!) picture!

I live JUST far enough from Boston to not be able to make NP work for me (forget about the fact that I’m totally NOT a morning exerciser), and I’m totally jealous of everyone who can make it work with their schedules…now including you. 😉 I LOVE that feeling of finding “my people”, and I’m pretty sure NP people are my people…maybe I should move?

Also, can I edit my previous comment to correct the you’re to your in the first sentence. Ugh….have another coffee, Sarah!

Michelle Roos says: June 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

I wanna join!!!!! This looks awesome!

@RunMeriGRun was telling me about this (over mimosas – sans orange juice, obviously) when I was in town last month. Sounds so awesome. There is a group (chapter?) here too.. but it meets in the most inconvenient location ever. So sad.

Whatever, you’re moving to NYC anyway.

…right?

We had this during summers in college – it wasn’t the November Project but it was the same concept. We met every morning at 6AM at our stadium and it was the best workout. I miss it so much!

I wouldn’t have access to a shower in between the workout and work soooo that’s a minor problem for me with attending. (Do I NEEEEEED to be clean at work though?! Debatable.)

CLEANLINESS NOT NECESSARY.

This looks so awesome!! Your photo captions are so funny that I actually LOLed at work and now everything thinks I’m crazy. Whatever it’s worth it. Totally looking for a November Project group near me! 🙂

Lauren W. says: June 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

So fun!! I’ve had this on my list of to-try’s for a while, so I’m immediately moving that one up the list. Hopefully see you there!!

That looks so awesome! I keep hearing more and more about the November Project and would love to go to a workout. Unfortunately, the closest one to me is 3 hours away. I regret not getting involved in Baltimore’s group when I lived there!

Come to NYC. We will have a sleepover and then go to NP together. PROBLEM SOLVED, YOU’RE WELCOME.

Awesome post. Now i can just share that with all my friends (since I’ve been blog lazy) who ask me, “wait…what is this new thing you won’t stop talking about?” Come back next week and we can meet in real life. 🙂

Um SOLD. Ill be there!!

I have so been wanting to go but am also a total chicken and fearful of being the slowest or last. Must overcome that.

It’s not even possible to be slowest or last. I PROMISE.

Come with me Friday morning! You’re in Hoboken, right? Let’s meet in real life and get there. It’s at Hudson River Park at West 10th so it’s super close and easy and no NYC sleepovers required.

Nina Beana says: June 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

This looks so cool! And the Chicago location (while a poor choice) is fine for me as I’ll be living about a half mile away starting in a few weeks.

But…not sure how well this would fit in with marathon training.

Will all of the Friday workouts be at Union Square or will they move around? I am so sad I moved from the UES just before this started!!!

The Friday workout locations change each week. This Friday is at the 10th Street Pier on the West Side Highway. They update the location on the blog each week: http://november-project.com/category/blog/

WHAT IS GIRL TALK?? Am I missing something AGAIN? (far from an early adopter, right here…)
Also, I LOVE the idea of the November Project. I’ll check around my place to see if there is something happening not too far… but I doubt it. I live in a pretty town but not really active 🙁

Nice! Thank you 🙂 Now, I will be in the hype for once 😉

What a great post on the November Project!
I met you at my first one last Wed (we are both friends with Katie B)…and yes, we must get here out at 6:28 AM one Wed…saw you from a distance today, but I was huffing and puffing around the park! 🙂

Yes, Lori! Hi! Will you be there Friday?

I want to come and see both of you! (and workout, too, I guess)

I would so love to help start a November Project in Geneva, Switzerland!!

Nice post about NP. I have been doing NP in Boston since last May and I absolutely love it. I will be coming down to NYC tomorrow night and will be at Friday’s workout. Looking forward to meeting the NYC tribe

Yay! Can’t wait to have you!

Glad you loved it! I’m in NP-Baltimore! I ran the marathon relay that you have a photo of Paul and John from in your post this past weekend and met them and Brogan and BG from Boston for the first time. There were lots of hugs and highfives and I loved it! I hope to make it to the NYC tribe sometime!

So fun! We’d love to have ya 😉

Yahhhhhhh to Girltalk! He grew up in my city (Pittsburgh!) and I’m so obsessed! Boo to pgh not having a November Project chapter yet! Looks insanely fun and glad you are finally feeling well enough to enjoy it!!!

1) I am soooo going to try this very soon on a Wed!
2) GirlTalk is the shit. One of the best “concerts” I have ever gone too. It’s Dance party central and so awesome to workout to as well.

I WANT TO GO TO DANCE PARTY CENTRAL. I’ll bring my jazz hands.

I would LOVE to get in on this!! I had read about it in Runner’s World and I thought it was just the best thing ever!!! Unfortunately I live in the opposite of a city but I do visit NYC and Boston fairly often. I’ll have to put this on the list!!

Come visit NYC! We’d love to have you!

Okay, I’m intrigued by Summer Fridays! Gracie Mansion is wayyy to far for me to get to at 6:28am but farther downtown I can do…are you going this Friday? Although I’m running the Mini 10K Saturday so maybe I should wait until next week so all the muscles I never use aren’t sore for race day. Hashtag weak.

Come next week! Please 🙂

Charlotte says: June 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I love this! I want to go. One more reason to do the whole exchange student thing!

YES, PLEASE.

Jasmine says: June 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm

SO AWESOME! I just looked and they don’t have one here 🙁 Makes me sad…Looks so great!

This looks so cool! And Gracie Mansion is “conveniently” located a half-hour run from both my apartment and my office.

But… 100 pushups?? I’m pretty sure I would not survive to 50. Is the reason everybody looks so fit and happy in the pictures that they have already killed and eaten the all weaklings?

That looks awesome! I wonder if they have a chapter in the west burbs of Chicago

I want a November Project in Detroit!!

I agree, I’ve been in San Diego for the summer and started going to their NP workouts and it’s been a blast. I’m leaving here in a few weeks and would love to see Detroit start this up

Definitely needs to be a Detroit group! Has anyone begun to organize one yet? When and where?

“How could anything cool exist in this world and not exist in New York City, the greatest city on the planet?!” this is how I felt about living in Chicago. Seriously, they have almost everything there. Let’s all move to Chicago and start a November Project!

I had never heard of this but totally found the November-Project in San Diego. AWESOME!

There needs to be this in Vancouver.. must investigate!

Must do in Seattle!! I’m on it!

tn

I want to join so bad! I just don’t live close enough to get there for that early of a start time.

This is awesome, I wanna join. But tell me how to? 😀

Larisa Dixon (@0to26point2) says: June 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

LOVE LOVE LOVE November Project. I was in Boston last week with Runners World Magazine and we did the dreaded hill repeat workouts, it was terrifying and epic all at the same time. Brogen is a beast. Love him! Will have to check out the NYC group next time I’m there;)

Love it! Have you ever done a run club?

Me personally? I’ve run with one or two before, but I’m mostly a solo runner.

This seems to be catching on in Chicago and now I’m convinced that I need to check them out!

I live in hope that one day after the baby I’ll get to go to these. They look absolutely awesome and so much fun. Maybe I should just try it pregnant and see … Glad you are having fun!!!

I’ve been debating coming out for a Wednesday am workout for a bit now and just read this post… thanks for the little push I needed!

Jennifer says: June 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

Sounds awesome! In NC I’m part of Fia (fianation.com) with the same free concept. Ours is peer lead and has grown from one day a week in one location to 7 days a week w/ multiple locations around the city. It just shows what a void there is that people are looking to fill in their lives. Way more fun to work out with a group outdoors than solo in a gym. Enjoy!!

As discussed, as a major workout introvert myself, I’m not sure about all this 🙂 BUT I try to try everything at least once, and I will try this! (mostly for the shirt)

PLS DONT EAT MY COMMENT THIS TIME WORDPRESS

Too cool too cool. Truth that workout photos aren’t usually the best (except that attractive marathon guy who is always smiling 😉 ) but this does sound awesome!