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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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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