Do train alone, or do you feed off the energy of a group or a team? Do you balk at paying for a monthly gym membership? Do you enjoy meeting other people who share your enthusiasm? Do you like having someone to hold you accountable?
A grassroots fitness movement has begun to spring up in cities around the country. It’s a movement with a decidedly democratic, anti-commercial bent; no membership fees, self-stenciled t-shirts, outdoor, public locations, open to anyone.
It started back in 2011 with Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric, former members of the Northeastern University rowing team.
Graham and Mandaric got to talking about how their fitness tended to slack in the winter months. It hadn’t always been that way. At the University, the weather, or the season was rarely a factor. You trained. The accountability you had to your team, and the support of your teammates was all the motivation you needed.
So they embraced the challenge of creating a fitness community which could replicate the accountability, support of a team. They called it the “November Project.”
The November Project is not a business, but a true community where members meet, and workout as a group three days a week, 6:30am sharp, rain, snow, cold, shine, whatever. The locations are all public, outdoors and there’s no real equipment – one workout last January incorporated snow shoveling. There are no paid, professional trainers, although serious amateur and even professional athletes fill out the ranks alongside beginners.
It’s easy enough to join, all you have to do is show up. But once you’re in, you’d better be all-in, because the group relies on team dynamics to call-out and even heckle members who fail to show up via the project blog.
Don’t be fooled by the informality of it all; the workouts are intense. One Boston workout – actually the original workout – is Harvard Stadium runs. Up and down all 37 section in the stadium to begin. That’s 1147 steps all in the company of 200 of your closest friends. It’s called the “Full Tour.” The “Century” is 100 sections of the stadium in as short a time as possible.
The project has spread to several cities around the country. Don’t have a November Project “tribe” where you live? Although they’ve paused their expansion for the time being, there’s nothing to stop you from starting your own project in your own town. It’s a pretty simple formula really. In fact, similar groups such as The Rise, NYC have formed recently. The Rise, NYC charges $0 for membership and is based on three core values:
- 1. Anybody can do it.
- 2. Everybody is welcome.
- 3. We will have fun.
Monday is high intensity interval training, Wednesday is core body and Friday is hills. The Rise, NYC is equal parts fitness and flash mob, communicating workout locations around New York City to its members via Twitter.