I finally got to participate at the spiritual home of the community movement: The November Project in Boston. With the calendar wrapping around to another November I thought it would be a good time to reflect on that experience, as well as a good pondering on what our next project should be.
As I have gone through my own small health renaissance, I have come to see the value of the November Project movement, and how much we need to embrace the principles.
Brogan and Boyan started small, by pushing themselves to get outside and use the city as a (free) gym, and to use each other to make it happen. November is a cold, meh, month in Boston. How do you not get reclusive and instead get out there?
Fast forward to today, and you will find hundreds of people joining B and B, three times a week, to move their bodies, work hard, and hug.
They talk of the tribe and you feel it. They care about each other more than just themselves. The experience is fun. You do silly things. You sweat. You come away with a smile on your face to go with some soreness. What a great way to kick start the day even if you think that you aren’t a morning person.
Aside: I definitely consider myself a night owl and some of my best work and coding has been done between 10pm and 4am. I have fond memories of getting in the flow and looking up to see that the Sun is up.
It is the antithesis of both the treadmill, and even Crossfit.
Running is running. Moving your body is good. Treadmills have the advantage of being able to work well even if the weather sucks outside, and you can watch TV…. So maybe you setup the “I can watch TV, but only if I am working out at the same time!”
But all running isn’t equal at all. Treadmills may work for folks and who am I to disagree, but for me…. I want to use that time to be outside! Breath in the air. Connect with the ground, have your body move to the contours and use your entire body. This leads me to have enjoyed trail running and getting more wild. Less treadmills, and even less roads. Change the up and down, and enjoy it out there. I took the ear buds out and enjoyed being.
The November Project work outs surprise you, inspire you, and have the benefit of community. As we have evolved and become globally connected and have abstractions such as money exchanges, I wonder if we have less reasons to connect locally. Communication used to be so very vital to us all to survival. You need to know if your neighbor has wheat and if you can exchange your products. What was happening in the next town over? Information is still vital, but can more of us both ignore some of it, and also participate in a way that isn’t in person…. And what do we lose there? It feels more and more important to connect in person.
CrossFit has community at its core, and it is one of its real strengths. I think that it has done a lot of good, and lifting weights is such a truly awesome thing to do for your body that it is hard to fault the box too much.
However, it seems like there can be a tendency to push people too hard, and in a way that harms. The epitome of this was when I saw CF fans applauding Carl Yngvar Christensen for his world record squatting. I know that the effort to build that strength and technique is immense, but watch the video and see how he struggles to walk out. Is this what you are striving for? I don’t know about you, but I am looking for resilience, where strength is helpful but not the only marker.
Of course all CF isn’t like this. It is the extremes that really push too far, and have injury go against health. There are great coaches such as Kelly Starrett in San Francisco who really focuses on functional movement. With guides like him and Diane Fu to help you, chances are you will be just fine.
Want to be on the safe side? Body weight exercises can be a great way to get you where you need to be (building your functional base) while minimizing the risk of injury and high level of technical accuracy. There is a long path from a few regular push ups to head stand push ups. Plenty of room to build true strength. You can even look to the unlucky guide of prisons to give you a plan.
Winter means a new year approaches
This is why I resonate with a tribe such as NP. An outdoor community that isn’t a sweaty indoor box.
As November comes around again, and the winter brings in the end of the year, it is good to think about the project of You, and of Us.
What are you going to be?