Do first. Doubt later.

running

An early morning training session with November Project-Seattle

JUST SHOW UP

Find Motivation as part of a group

Training in a group has many benefits when it comes to finding motivation- from mutual support to socialising while keeping fit. But what if you're one those people who is apprehensive about joining organised training sessions? We spoke to a grassroots fitness movement about how working together can help you realise your goals.

The November Project is a free grassroots fitness community movement that was born in Boston (by two former college rowers – having a conversation in a bar) as a way of staying in shape during the cold New England winter months. Now present in a number of cities across four time zones in North America, the movement, which usually meets at dawn one or two days during the working week, uses simple accountability to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving.

Brogan C. Graham is a co-founder of the project and kindly gave us some of his time to discuss the benefits of jumping into group training.

Many newcomers are afraid of their first organized training session due to being judged and labelled as 'The Newcomer'. How does November Project combat those fears and help someone summon the courage to 'just show up'?

In theory, everyone has to come to their first workout at one point or another. The power of word-of-mouth communication helps to settle those "first timer" fears. The workouts are loud, hard, fun and of course free. Above all else, the workouts are inclusive. If you'll just show up, you'll see that right away. 

The social aspect of group training is important to many people. How do you ensure that no cliques develop which put off newcomers?

Simple. At the beginning of each workout, before any sweat has been lost, each November Project Co-Leader gives straight-forward instruction, "Please turn to 3 people, 1 you have never met before, give them a big hips-in hug, and tell them, 'I'm glad you're here today.'" You laugh, but this stuff works! 

Once a newcomer has enjoyed their first training experience and has decided they'd like to return, what sort of events can they look forward to with November Project? 

How much time do you have? November Project is designed for athletes of all fitness levels.  Whether you're an Olympic record-holder, training for your first marathon, or getting off the couch for the first time since Christmas, November Project is intended to be challenging for everyone.  The same goes for Tribe involvement. There are countless happy hours, group runs, races and even dating that goes on outside of Wednesday mornings. You know that old saying, 'don't go dipping your pen in company ink?' Neither do we! 

How do you ensure that all participants’ needs and abilities are covered? Do they find others of similar ability and work with them?

November Project workouts are designed around scalability. Rather than having a set number of reps, where Randy "Macho Man" Savage gets no challenge whatsoever and Tinker Bell can't lift her arms for two weeks, there's an allotted time period which provides the professional wrestler and the beautiful blonde fairy an equally challenging test.  Additionally, there are specific exercises that are designed to be done with a partner/team of similar ability.

What typically motivates the people who train with you? Are there any trends or are people diverse in their goals and aspirations?

When people first attend a November Project workout, it's usually just to see what all the fuss is about. Some newcomers are lifelong runners, others did yoga one time and kinda liked it. The most common trends we find are Tribemembers raising their own bar, breaking barriers and doing things they never thought possible. There are countless examples throughout November Project Tribes where members have gone from non-runners to marathon finishers, and marathon finishers to Boston qualifiers. Because November Project attracts such a wide range of athletes, everyone's goals are different. However, everyone has a goal and they're all being achieved.

How important is the sense of belonging to your participants? Do they gain motivation from being part of something bigger than themselves?

So much of November Project's growth and success comes from the accountability its members feel. Remember, it's free; there's no late cancellation fee. It starts before the sun rises; there's no one waking you up in the morning. It's weatherproof; rain, shine, snow, thunder, or lighting, it is never cancelled. Yet, the Tribes strengthen in numbers, community and vibe.  We're not sprinkling magic dust on anything, but we are holding people accountable.  Rather, people are holding themselves accountable. 

Should participants push themselves in order to stay motivated? And if so, how far should they reach so that they have a chance of achieving success?

Our workouts push you. Of course we want participants to push themselves, but there is no one at the workouts with a megaphone yelling for someone to work harder or run faster.
That's on the individual. Everyone will define success differently, but it's our goal to create an environment which will cultivate success.

How can participants enjoy the process of challenging themselves, how can they stay motivated when the going gets tough? 

When the going gets tough, the tough goes bowling. I don't think that's exactly the saying, but it's something like that. A lot like the accountability to show up, there's an equal level of accountability to push yourself and continue to improve. Maybe it's your friend you've known for years that's finally catching up to you, or the new guy that's trying to take your throne as fastest in the tribe. Whether it's someone else at the workout or the half cheesecake you had the night before, once you've arrived on-site, bust your butt and get something out of the workout. 

Tell us a little more about the notion of 'The Tribe' within November Project.

The Tribe is comprised of its members.  There is no hierarchy.  No one more valuable than the other. However, there is an unspoken membership level that cannot be claimed, only assumed.  We call these "core" members.  Whether it's a workout, a social gathering, or a race; regardless of weather, location or personal health, core members will be there.  These individuals wear no badge or crown, but you'll know one when you see them. 

Finally, have you seen any real 'turnaround' stories from participants? Those who were unsure when they started their journey only to go beyond what they thought was possible? 
If so, could you share an example? 

I would venture to say every person who attends their first November Project workout is a little unsure of what they're getting themselves into. Waking up before the sun rises, regardless of weather, to hug a bunch of strangers is nothing short of crazy. However, nearly everyone returns. The workouts are hard, the sense of community runs deep, and the vibe is really strong. It's a recipe that just about everyone can get on board with. If you haven't done so yet, just show up and create your own turnaround story.

Find out more about the November Project here

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