It’s no secret that November Project is pretty important to me. Ever since I started going in January 2014, it has been a constant. There were months I didn’t go as often due to injuries or living at home temporarily, but it was still very much a part of my life. I’ve had a few questions about how November Project is different in Boston versus Baltimore so I thought I’d talk about it.
I met most of my Baltimore friends (and now Boston) through NP. I remember showing up that snowy morning in January unsure of what to expect. I’d heard about it through Jon on twitter (the ultimate recruiter) and really just went so he would stop telling me go, if I’m being perfectly honest. I assumed I’d hate it. I thought it was like crossfit, which I had no desire to try at the time. You know what they say about ASSuming…
I couldn’t have been more wrong. After that very first morning, I was hooked. People were so friendly, we ran stairs, did strength workouts, and a photographer took badass pictures. I missed two workouts in my first 5 months before I moved home. When I moved back to Baltimore a few months later, I was most excited about getting back to my NP family.
While I regret not integrating myself as much as I could have into the Baltimore tribe, I still made some great friends. Lauren and I knew each other through blogging, but we became good friends once we both started going to NP. I also became friends with Kristine, Lizzie, and others. It’s where I met my ex-boyfriend, who later admitted he only started going to meet a girl. People joke about #NP_DatingService but it’s real. I’ve seen so many relationships form through NP. It’s a place to meet like-minded people that you have something in common with. Those relationships, romantic or not, are crucial to its success. If you don’t enjoy the company, you wouldn’t get up so early to run stairs in the dead of winter. The community is what keeps people coming back.
So now let’s talk more about the differences between tribes. I’ve only been to DC once and haven’t made it to any of the other 27 cities yet, but the key to November Project is that it’s based around what your city has to offer. The workouts will never be the same from city to city because not every city has a Harvard stadium or a Summit Ave. So the leaders do what they can to make each workout fun and challenging.
*The people seem to be a bit closer in age and younger in Baltimore.
When I first started, I was the youngest person there (out of maybe 15 people). Most members were in their mid-twenties. As it grew, the age demographics obviously grew to include everyone from kids to adults in their 40s+, but the majority in Baltimore is still mid-20s. I’ve heard from a lot of people that Baltimore is a younger tribe than most, and my guess is that it’s because Baltimore tends to be a younger city in general.
*The workouts are as hard as you make them.
That is not to say the workouts aren’t challenging. The workouts that take place at Rash Field allow for a wider range of abilities than Harvard Stadium or Summit Ave. It’s a lot easier to scale the workouts to make them as intense or as relaxed as you’d like. If there was a day I didn’t feel like pushing myself, I was able to get a low-intensity workout in.
*There is more variety in the workouts.
Stairs aren’t the premise for the workout in Baltimore. Some weeks there is more running, some weeks there’s a ton of burpees (ALWAYS more than Boston). Baltimore does everything from lunges to squats to pushups to burpees to running to stairs to star jumps to planks. Their Wednesday workouts are more like a Monday in Boston.
*It feels more social.
People are a lot goofier in Baltimore. They joke around, love nose boops, and people get weird. That’s a big thing at NP- getting uncomfortable. I don’t mind hugs but occasionally it went beyond my comfort levels. Others love it. I did almost every workout chatting the whole time. I could push myself if I wanted to, but it seemed like most people used it as a social hour plus a decent workout rather than focusing on just the workout.
*The intensity is high.
Not everyone is capable of running Harvard stadium. I’m only able to run the first half of the steps of each section and walk the rest of the way. The steps are so tall. My mom probably couldn’t do it. People do come and modify the workouts, but you can’t take away the intensity that is Harvard stadium or the 17 percent grade of Summit Ave. My heart rate almost hit 200 last week which is HIGH for me.
*People are more serious.
Going along with the intensity, there is less socializing. People socialize when they first arrive and after the workout is over, but once the workout begins, it’s time for business. After talking to some regulars in Boston, they were surprised at my observation and felt like it has gotten more social. I’m a serious person by nature so I really love the vibe. It’s still fun and friendly, but the workouts are so difficult that there is less room for chatter.
*You know what to expect.
You know which workouts you’ll be doing Wednesdays and Fridays. There are slight variations, such as running more sections of the stadium or running on the grassy part of the hill, but you know the entire 40 minutes will be spent either running stairs or running up a hill. Mondays are different because they’re in a new location every week and part of the workout is to run there, but you know you’re going to be doing some kind of strength workout. For someone who hates surprises, this takes some of the anxiety away.
Each tribe has its own culture. Not every city is the same, not every leader is the same, and not every tribe member is the same. So naturally each location will have a different vibe. Baltimore made a city I really didn’t like originally feel like a second home. I made some great friends, I entered my first serious relationship, and it’s where I found this community that I adore. But Boston is new and exciting, and it’s the mothership. And I love the intensity.
November Project changed my life for the better. It took away the pressure of collegiate sports without taking away competition. It made moving to a new city easier. It brings together communities and makes cities a better place. It’s a home away from home.
November Project is taking over the world. And that’s not a bad thing.