November Project – Every Wednesday
This morning marked my return to working out with a group. But not just any group. You are truly not a badass until you have sweated with this collection of studs right here. I can’t believe the shame of my own weight-gain and binge-eating disorder kept me from showing my face for almost 3 damn years (you can check out the fuller story here). Had I had the courage to open up about what I was putting myself through, no doubt my recovery would have taken on a far more expedient (and less potentially disastrous) course. It’s almost impossible for me to fathom now, but I would literally change my running routes, avoiding that dark but inviting spot between the Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum, just so no one would see me. Just so no one would know how much I had changed. All the while I knew damn well in my head that not a single one of these tremendous humans would hold an ounce of judgement toward me. Not one of them would have been anything but supportive, kind, and uplifting. All while kicking each others’ ass (in a good way!) through a dope workout. Man, oh man, I just couldn’t brave through my negative emotions. I even had the example of a strong and courageous friend (read his post, his story IS inspiring) to use as a template. Jack shares his own experience battling, and recovering from, an eating disorder. I could have used his bravery right there and then to buttress my self-confidence and open the fuck up to someone, but, I did not, and suffered as a result. Perhaps it just wasn’t my time. I’ll be damned if it ain’t my time now.
So who are these people? What do they do? This is called November Project. It’s the greatest group of people in the world that get together on Wednesday mornings well before the sun comes up to hug, sweat, and workout. There is no cover. There is no necessary equipment (you might wanna bring a jacket if you live where I do). No membership fee. No personal trainers. It’s you and your favorite people on Earth. For a half hour you motivate each other to grab the morning by the horns and ride it into oblivion. You look forward to freezing cold mornings with an icy smile on your face cause you know you just changed the goddamn world. Think I’m exaggerating? Since it’s inception with a couple of rower bros from the NE United States in 2011, the movement has attracted people from all over the world, with tribes spanning 3 continents and 8 countries. And it’s growing. And it’s FREE. There is no sign-in, no dues, no tax, and no bullshit. And it’s for everyone. Sub 3 hour marathoners to couch potatoes to heavy lifting gals and guys to total couch potatoes. It doesn’t matter – and it never will. I couldn’t have envisioned a better environment to really recover in.
I literally, literally, LITERALLY, cannot wait to spend every available Wednesday morning here. I was first introduced to it by my good friend pictured above. It sounded as strange to me as I’m sure it does to you right now. He said something about hugs, and sweating, and a…project? What the hell was this cult? I was mildly curious, and majorly skeptical. But, as my actions are (almost) exclusively dictated by my do-whatever attitude, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m up anyway, right? It’s really not that early for me! Let’s check it out……and then subsequently come as often as possible. I was one workout in, and I was hooked. The boombox, the hugs, the fuck-yeahs, the deck of cards, it was a thug-style workout that I couldn’t have envisioned until I showed up myself. It had been years since I had had the ability to really train with people. To throw high-fives and motivational ‘You got this!’ out to people, most of whom I’d never met in my life. I went from stranger to comrade within the time it takes to give a hug. And there were many, many more hugs than one. From every fitness level, everyone was just having just fun. There was encouragement. Excitement. Competitiveness. I was sold. And clearly these peeps were too.
Nothing defined my isolation more than missing these incredible workouts with these even more incredible champions. This morning was epic. I hugged. And yes, Ryan Duff cried. A lot. Med school will surely de-rail my attendance here and there (I even anticipate a few #wemissedyou in the future). But not a hump-day went by during my ‘hiatus’ that I didn’t think about coming back. To getting back to propelling myself and others to absolutely beat the crap out of the morning and do work. There is always an aura of mind-numbingly intense positivity in this space that it’s actually euphoric. I missed that terribly – but now I don’t feel like I have to. I can #justshowup, be myself, and let it all out. I don’t carry the shame or despair with my every step anymore, and it frees up all of that mental energy to actually exude some high vibrations to the tribe. Especially for those that may struggle to hit the 6:27am start-time. I can’t make up for that lost time, but I can try. How? By spreading the word. Come. Find a tribe near you, or if you live in the MSP area, get your behind to the river between Mill City museum and Guthrie Theater on Wednesday morning, 6:27am. I’ll be there. The tribe will be there. You’ll get addicted and won’t even want to quit. And why would you want to? No doubt my recovery will be spent sharing the love with these people who have the capacity to receive it, and who give way more back. If subzero, pre-dawn workouts are crazy, a disorder if you will, well, it’s one I can’t get behind. But don’t take it from me. #justshowup and find out.