#14. UPDATE: November Project

“Are you good?” – November Project Leader

“FUCK YEAH!” – November Project Tribe

4:15am wake up. Workout clothes, head lamp, water bottle, bandana*, gym gear, work clothes and work back all laid out made the AM a grab and go kind of experience. The November Project is crowdsourcing fitness and accountability group with a crazy loyal following and a global presence. Their story can be read in their own words here, and the specific workout I did was the Stadium – climbing the stairs of the iconic Harvard Stadium. Over, and over, and over again.

In order to accomplish this feat of fitness and knowing my need for accountability (especially if I’m waking up at 4:15am), I enlisted a colleague who I knew had done it before. Peter became a willing accomplice from the start, and we quickly set a time and day to meet. Given I was already getting up, I sent out a note to a few more colleagues to see if anyone would bite – and Sherri did. Funny thing about human nature, when you tell someone “I don’t want to do this alone.”, it is likely that they have had that feeling too, and likely that they want to join in. With a major storm pushing out our original intended meeting date (note: the hard core November Project Tribe still showed up storm and all), we landed (Coincidentally? Universe sending a sign?) at the stadium on Wednesday, November 1 – November Project’s 6th Anniversary, and the day they were celebrating Halloween. “We’re celebrating BOTH Halloween + Yearbook Photos (Talk to me about an adventure)!!!  This year’s theme is Multiples.  Be creative. Get weird.  Partner up.  Use your noggin. Then we’ll photograph your noggin.  BUT most importantly #justdressup.”

*Peter, incredibly dialed into social media, has been searching the world for the best coffee. With his famous Instagram hashtag #nbcoffeebandit, he features beautiful latte art and NB’s fantastic footwear in each of his shots. What better (read: easy to execute the day before) costume then, that NB Coffee Bandits.

And so it began. The Tribe lines up along the base of the stadium stairs in Section 36. The Tribe leaders get us fired up – “Are you good?” and a resounding “FUCK YEAH!” from the Tribe. And the workout is called > today’s challenge was the Seven Boroughs of New York. We each had to think at which level of speed we’d be climbing today – Borough 1 = Fastest, Borough 7 – Slowest. Personal choice on what speed you’d be working at, and the then Tribe split up. Each borough was dedicated 5 sections of stadium to climb and descend (the descent is important here – almost as painful as the climb towards the end). Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, across (back to beginning section), down…and so on.

It was dark. I had left the above mentioned headlamp in the car. Who wants to be the over-prepared kid on their first day? I don’t think I needed it until I fell off the bottom step because I didn’t see it. Umpgh. And the darkness made the experience surreal. Stars above, tapping of feet, muffled chatter of Tribe members talking and grunting up and down. Shout out to Matthew who was incredibly friendly and introduced himself. We chatted for a few sections – he loves going to November Project because it works with his schedule, some of his friends usually go, and it is a great (free) workout. Cheers from the other boroughs, which I couldn’t see, reminded me how many people were actually there. Doing this. In the darkness and cold. It was so cool. I mean fitness geeky cool.

We paused briefly when our borough was called for “Yearbook Photos”. Given it was November Project’s 6th Anniversary, Yearbook Photos are taken of individual Tribe members for posterity. And we are now officially in the book. Now we must show up again.

I didn’t count how many sections or steps I did. I completely underestimated how big the steps were. 15 inches tall and 30 inches wide. That is a freaking long stride. My focus attempt was on the seat #s. Follow lucky # 11 up. I snagged this cool shot (while still moving!) as a fellow climber was going up with their headlamp.

Verdict:

How was it? Awesome. Meeting up with colleagues and making memories outside the office. Being held accountable. Going at my own pace. Taking photos and meeting strangers doing the same hard thing. I loved it all.

Will I do it again? Ugh (first thought). FUCK YEAH! (second thought). Committed to showing up at a minimum of each first Wednesday in November. Climbing the stairs is convenient for work, but not my home life, so weekly participation is unlikely. BUT, I will go back.

What was the coolest part? Just as we were walking in, I saw two kids going up the steps. KIDS about the same age as mine. All I could think was, “Well that is fucking bad ass.” Get your kid out of bed, show them this super cool fitness culture, and maybe they get some exercise. Or maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe the point is that if you committed to doing something, you show up. Kids and all.

QUADS

#14: Try 10 Different Fitness Classes

“Always trying new things is always more fun, and it can be scary, but its always more fun in the end.” – Jim Krasinski

Instagram is an incredible tool. Beautiful photos and hysterical memes have a platform for reaching millions of people. Current events and entertainment news has your tiny screen instead of your television screen. It is a powerful medium that has served many purposes since its inception. One of those purposes is to make me entirely freaked out / scared / petrified / (insert appropriate synonym here) of trying, what appear to be, crazy difficult fitness classes.

I am fit. I can run, I can play tennis, I can swim – but can I lift my whole body weight from a seated position to an inverted position on just my forearms? Can I tap into my naturally competitive personality to push my legs faster than ever before to win a bike race? What about sitting, moving slowing, but sweating profusely without passing out? That sounds just as hard.

Because of the above I have probably missed out on some of the most fun ways to train or get fit(ter). Right now there are awesome things happening with small and big studio fitness, with passionate business owners and instructors who have made a business out of a lifestyle – or maybe it is the other way around. I decided to add “Try 10 Different Fitness Classes” to my list to ensure I didn’t miss out on another year of fun, challenging opportunities. My list of targeted classes/studios is below and living just north of Boston means that these are all readily available to me. Since I created the list and posting to Facebook I also have some willing accomplices to join me. If I can, I’ll also get their feedback on the class and would they recommend it. THIS ISN’T MEANT TO BE ADVERTISING! It is meant to give perspectives on classes that can be intimidating for some (blushing).

Here goes:

  1. Orangetheory Fitness
  2. SweatFixx
  3. Flywheel
  4. Soul Cycle
    • Complete! 9/13/17, Soul Cycle Back Bay with Portia B.
    • Recap: Soul Cycle has their sh*t together. I met my colleague at the downtown Boston, Back Bay, studio for a 7am* class, and the bright white and yellow studio greeted me almost as well as their incredibly friendly staff. I paid $20 for the “first class offer” and was given cycling shoes and a tour straight off the bat. Free lockers to store my stuff, and into the studio. It was jammed. In a good way. Lots of Soul Cyclers were ready to move. Another friendly staffer fit me for my bike and off we went. The instructor, Mandy, was incredibly/ high energy. Music was on point, and Soul Cycle lived up to its “party on a bike” mantra. Lights on, lights off – mostly rode out of the saddle, and while I couldn’t hear instructions 100% of the time, I did not hear “turn up the resistance” an awful lot which many spin classes espouse. Fast, fun and soulful with an end of class introspection. Would I recommend? YES. Would I go again? YES. I would consider this a fun way to experience a city I’m traveling to. The price per class is going to keep me out of being a regular, but love that it was a convenient way to connect with an out of town colleague, get a workout in before work, and feel like I’m fairly cool with my workout choices.

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*Street parking in Boston is free between 8pm – 8am at meters. No parking lot fee for me!

  1. Bikram Yoga

THIS is why I’m a little scared: “Bikram Yoga can be practiced under the guidance of a certified Bikram Yoga Teacher at one of the affiliated Bikram Yoga Studios. These studios are built in such a way that you always get the proper heating which help you pracice your postures optimally. Bikram calls these studios “Torture Chambers”.”

  1. Core Power Yoga
  2. Barre
  3. TRX
  4. November Project
    • Complete! 11/1/2017 – see post here.
  5. SkyFit SkyZone

I will continue to update this blog post with the recaps and photos once complete. I love scheduling time to do these with people who I may not see every day. It is a great excuse to get together, have some fun and makes the entire experience less intimidating too.

CHALLENGE