This morning, hundreds of friendly, active, motivated, awesome humans woke up at the crack of ass and gathered on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial at 5:30 a.m. I, unfortunately, was not one of those humans. Yes, unfortunately. Call me crazy, but this summer I discovered something that made me look forward to Wednesday mornings because I got to get up before the sun and sweat with a bunch of people I don’t know but make me stronger. This movement is called the November Project and I want to tell you about it!
In a nutshell, the November Project began in Boston back in November (no surprise there) of 2011 by two former Northeastern University rowers Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric. New England is not the warmest place to be during the winter months, but the duo wanted some extra motivation to get out of their cozy beds and start their days with a killer workout. What better motivation than your best friend? So after a little while the guys started inviting other friends and when those friends spread the word, they were soon greeting and working out with total strangers. In no time, the November Project spread to other cities and is now present in 30 cities across the country and around the world.
So what’s the big deal? Why is the November Project so great? Well my friends, it’s the energy. Yeah, you have to get up early and run up and down stairs for an hour, but the energy, the people, the atmosphere is what keeps me wanting more.
Okay, this is how a Wednesday goes down: When the clock hits 5:30 (or 6:30, which is the second session), everyone huddles around one or both of the leaders, Kaelan Dickenson and Steve Christensen, for what’s called “The Bounce.” The first time I attended, Steve told the group to take four steps backwards followed by 27 steps back towards him. When everyone is nice and close, everyone starts to hop (or bounce) and this gets everyone pumped for the workout. During the bounce there is always a pause for an icebreaker. The November Project community is anti-handshakes and pro-hugs so part of the icebreaker is giving random people a big bear hug. Post-hugs, the chanting begins.
Kaelan/Steve: “Are you good?!”
Tribe: “Fuck yeah!”
Every workout has a theme and more funny theme-related chants follow. After everyone is loose, smiling and pumped, the leaders explain the workout. With the exception of Personal Record Day, the workout never consists of only running the stairs. Running up and down the stairs one time is called a “log” and, yeah, we do a lot of those. However, there are other strength moves known as the “spice” of the workout that are done in between the logs to keep things interesting and break it up a bit. These include push-ups, burpees, squats, planks and ab moves and are mostly done with a partner or a group.
Besides the Wednesday Lincoln workout, I have also attended the Capitol Hill Monday workout. The tribe only meets on Capitol Hill on the last Monday of each month and this workout is hilly. Who woulda thunk it, right? Incidentally, the Monday I attended was my last November Project attendance of the summer because I tweaked my Achilles so I have to take time off which I am not happy about. But I will definitely be back in the winter, because I am addicted.
The men and women behind the November Project are looking to change the fitness world. They want to make it fun, free, challenging and collaborative. These workouts are open to anyone. If you’re someone who is a frequent gym-goer, new to the city, new to working out, an Ironman triathlete, it doesn’t matter. Don’t press snooze this Wednesday and just show up!!
All photos are property of November Project and taken by Steve Christensen and Kaelan Dickenson.