“A class at the gym is to November Project what riding in the back of a taxi is to space travel. There is nothing in the world of fitness, motivation and sheer energy that compares to showing up at 6:27 AM with hundreds of screaming people ready to train in the cold, rain, snow, ice, sun, heat, and beauty of a city that is still sleep.” So pronounces Casey Neistat a 34 year old New York City filmmaker and member of the Boston “tribe”. Her sentiments beam among the infinite others that pepper the pages of November Project: The Book (Rodale, 2016), the long awaited title from the Project’s creators Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric. The book’s plucky cover has the feel of a call to action and that energy pulses throughout its 225 pages. It moves at a healthy clip with hundreds of unscripted images (most of which have been taken by Mandaric) and side-bars woven throughout the book’s unpacking of November Project’s (NP) history as well as those of the authors’. “We don’t like to put ourselves in a bucket,” Mr. Mandaric says in the book’s introduction when pointing out that NP is not a running club or a boot camp. That progressive approach to fitness clearly spilled on to their writing project, a joint effort with Caleb Daniloff, the Boston area freelance writer.
As legend has it, Mr. Mandaric and Mr. Graham hatched November Project in 2011 just after their college years at Northeastern. Both oarsmen and well versed in the rigors and routines of discipline and teamwork, one late October evening at the famed Pour House on Boylston Street they reconnected over some draughts. In that outing they made a pledge to rise and shine the next morning, “November Project is a free, grassroots fitness movement, started by me and my college rowing buddy Brogan… This all started as a way for me and him to stay fit in the Boston winter,” shared Mandaric, “then, after 6 months, we got bored racing each other at the (Harvard) stadium and sent out a tweet to see if anyone would join us. And the next day one person showed up.” NP’s soar into an international fitness phenomenon as well as the dirt on their signature “stadium” and “full frontal hill” workouts is shared with vigor in page after page of the book all making for a high spirited ride. Totally captivating and with sweeping appeal for anyone seeking a (compassionate) shot in the arm!
In eight rocking chapters the authors reflect back on the early days of simply “googling for green spaces” in which to meet up for workouts and also their original inspiration of simply “getting to know another person through that early morning rush and rawness and return to outdoor voices.” Outdoor voices, and a ethic for showing up as a team. Absent any fees for admission to the daily 6:30 AM workouts, NPers are gifted a shared ownership, thus narrowing the space in between tribe members. Driving that home, each workout in every city, every day begins with “bouncing”, a term the authors’ coined which loosely translates to dialing in, or looking in to one another eye’s. Think huddle, with heart. Beyond the incredibly organic evolution of this movement, what struck me most in sitting with the November Project: The Book is the all-in revolution the authors have sparked and the book’s capture of that genuine web. Pages brimming with unedited tweets and blog posts (from the field) filed from far and wide juice the tale of NP’s culture. Delivers you right there to the place and space in which the moments unfolded. And, not to be missed among at the book’s finish… the key to November Project’s signature language! Code cracked. “Double Burgers” and “Tours” and “Hugs” and “Sebastians” and “Verbal Harvests” and of course “Bouncing”. All here, and all broken down as only Brogan and Bojan could.
As the authors encourage, before shelling out any $$ for their book, rise and shine and come experience November Project for yourself. In a city nearby, NP workouts remain “scalable”, and for sure all are invited!