The November Project: A Grassroots, Free Workout Open to All

This workout community costs $0 dollars, but you have to show up first.

running stadiumsStadium running photo via Shutterstock

The November Project, Boston’s no-fee morning workout tribe, turns one-year-old on Nov. 1. This is a group that is seriously committed to working out. The two founders, Bojan Mandaric and Brogan Graham, vowed that if 300 people showed up to workout with them one morning, they would get tattoos. Based on this recent YouTube video, we guess it worked out.

The name “November Project” was conceived in a bar in Boston, when Mandaric and Graham were lamenting the fact that once the cold weather of November set in, their workout routines became lax and their motivation altogether disappeared.

In search of a brave new alternative to typical winter weather excuses, the two realized that when they were in college at Northeastern, they always showed up at their rowing practice in the morning, not because they were excited to be up at the crack of dawn in a boat, but because of the community of the team. “No matter how tired, cold, sad, or hungry we were, somehow we always showed up for practice,” the two write on their website. “The reason? We didn’t want to let down the other seven guys in the boat.”

So they started the November Project to inspire people to commit to fitness and workout together. They encourage members to follow them on Twitter and their three weekly workouts (always 6:30 a.m., and always rain or shine) are listed on their website as well. But don’t let the term “community fitness” fool you. The no fee, high octane workouts are no joke.

Monday is called “Destination Deck.” The group uses a deck of cards to determine reps: black cards are push-ups and red cards are sit-ups. Wednesday is the Harvard Stadium stair workout. Friday is a run on Summit Ave. in Brighton, going up Corey Hill. An example is five flights up and down the hill, totaling four miles of high incline (7 to 17 percent incline gradient) running. The group stays together by running up and down a .4 mile stretch on the hill, and sometimes mixes in additional group-oriented workouts to bump up the intensity of the workout.

The November Project embraces fitness newcomers that are just trying to get in shape for the first time, as well as serious athletes like Best of Boston 2012 yoga instructor Goldie Kaufenberg, and even Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.

The November project blog regularly posts call-outs to members who fail to show up for their workout, relying on the heckling team dynamic that made their college sports commitments so unbreakable. They call it a family, a team, a tribe. And maybe that commitment, that sense of ownership and connection, is something that the adults in Boston, past their high school and college years, crave. It is something to belong to, something to be proud of, and something to love enough to tattoo to your head.

Catch them on Thursday, Nov. 1 for their “Running of The Bowls” celebratory run at 6:30 p.m. at the George Washington statue in the Public Garden. Just don’t forget your red bowl, an open mind, and a commitment to fitness.