Am I totally late to the party? Maybe. But I finally made it to my first November Project workout this morning, so here is my recap and review!
A friend of mine — with whom I used to do a lot of triathlons and triathlon training — recently started going to November Project workouts, around the same time that Runner’s World covered the November Project on their podcast. Our schedules didn’t mesh for about a month, until last night, I was emailing her about something else and she mentioned she was going to November Project this morning. I was planning on getting in a swim this morning, but the meshing of schedules seemed too good to pass up.
A little background: the November Project was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Basically, a couple of friends agreed to meet in the frigid morning for a workout together. Now, groups, led by a few leaders in each city, have popped up all over the U.S. and abroad. The workout is totally free and the motto is “Just Show Up.” The workouts vary and can involve running (and sometimes only running), burpees, push-ups, bear crawls, hill intervals, stairs, lunges — basically all the body-weight moves.
In DC, this is the current schedule, although locations may change because NP is currently having a little tussle with the National Parks Service re: permits:
- Mondays at Meridian Hill Park (6:30am, NE corner), last Monday of the month at Capitol Hill (Peace Circle).
- Wednesdays at 5:30 and 6:30 AM at the Lincoln Memorial steps.
- New locations every Friday at 6:30 AM announced on Wednesdays on the latest blog post or social media channels Facebook and Twitter.
For today’s workout, the location, Kalorama Recreation Center, was clearly announced on Instagram. Easy enough.
I left the house around 6 am and ran to the park. When I got there, there was a pretty big group of people (maybe 40-50? that is a total guess) bouncing in a tight group. Oh, and hugging. (It was really non-creepy, but if you aren’t into hugging, this might not be for you.) I saw water bottles, packs, and bikes lined up on the sidewalk, so I dropped my bag down and joined the group. (Note that there are restrictions on bringing packs to certain sites, such as the Lincoln Memorial.)
Apparently this group/cluster/bouncing/hugging scenario (“the bounce”) is the standard beginning to any November Project workout. I went ahead and hugged the guy next to me and explained “This is my first time here.” He was super friendly and told me to just follow along.
Next, the leader explained the workout, which involved circuits around the park. He divided the group so that we were spread around different stations on the circuit. Here were the stops on the circuit (we ran in between stops):
- 10 dips and 10 tricep pushups on benches
- 5 burpees in the grass
- some shuffling/sprinting on a basketball course, with a partner (I’m not sure of the actual prescribed movement at this stop but we shuffled and sprinted a bit, so I think that ended up fine)
- 10 sit-up/crunch/toe-touching things in the grass
Repeat, repeat, repeat, but at your own pace. I ran with my friend, and I’m guessing we went through it maybe 5 or 6 times? At around 7:05, the NP leader called “time,” and we all met for a photo. The leader asked the first timers to raise our hands, and the group gave a really strong, genuine round of applause welcoming us.
This was fun and very different than my usual solo workouts. I immediately got the welcoming vibe and great sense of community these folks share. The group was non-intimidating, with folks going different paces and working at their own comfort level (but don’t get me wrong — there were definitely some super fit people there). I could see the accountability developing as folks get to know you and would notice if you’re sleeping in instead of getting your sweat on. I also (I can’t believe I’m typing this…) liked how early it was. Something about hauling out of bed early for a workout and finishing up ready to tackle the day makes me feel extra strong. I got to work way earlier than normal this morning. Plus, at the risk of sounding really cheesy, I’ve always found the city to be, well, magical, in the early hours. Of course, being a FREE workout didn’t hurt.
So, was it hard? I wouldn’t say this was the most challenging workout I’ve ever done, but I also didn’t push myself too much. Obviously, if I had been running faster between stops, it would have been a more intense workout and I would have done a higher number of loops. I do wonder whether the friendly atmosphere would make it difficult for me to really test my bounds. In Orangetheory, for instance, I have the accountability of the heart rate monitor, and I’m usually motivated in somewhat competitive scenarios (crossfit, etc.). At the November Project, everyone is so supportive, and there are folks of varying fitness levels, and I wonder whether I will be able to get the “fire” going. That remains to be seen — today, I was really just checking out the scene and catching up with my friend.
Would I go back? Yeah. I’d like to go again next week and try pushing myself more physically as discussed above, as well as seeing the different types of workouts (hills, stairs, etc.). I also love the idea of using the November Project for accountability and motivation to get out of bed in the fall/winter months.
Have you tried the November Project or thought about doing it? What do you think?