A blog by Mark Noviski.

Today I had the pleasure of guest leading my first November Project workout ever. I knew people would be disappointed if I didn’t do something absolutely ridiculous, so I came up with a workout called Menagerie. The objective of the workout was to get in teams of 4 and go hunting for exotic creatures all throughout Fort Mason. Everyone runs to a station, draws a card, and does the designated workout for the number of reps on the card. Then they bring it back to their home base to build up their team’s menagerie. The goal is to get as many full sets (one card of each suit) as possible. A full set has a Komodo Dragon, a Siberian Tiger, a Pink Flamingo, and a Mystical Mermaid. Simple enough, right?


Well, that’s where the honey badger comes in. If you do fifteen burpees, you can steal a card from another team and try to break up their sets. The only way to protect your menagerie is to turn in three full sets to get a “threebie” that can’t be stolen. There’s no time for half-assed sprints when you need to get one more komodo dragon before the honey badgers eat your flamingo.


I got several blank stares after I explained this, but I couldn’t tell if people were confused, sleepy, or thought Kenny Wong had infused psychedelics into my buff while I was in Japan. That’s when I hopped up onto the concrete wall, started bouncing awkwardly up and down (#notacult), and said, “OK, let’s do a bounce!” It was called “Countdown.” Basically, I shouted out a statement and people responded with a number. It went like this:

Five plus five is TEN

German for no is NINE

Past tense of eat is EIGHT

What rhymes with heaven? SEVEN

Three times two is SIX

Hands in the air high FIVE

What are we bouncing FOUR

Paddy can’t say THREE

His cousin Aoife TWO

We ran a race and ONE


Some tribe members interpreted that last line as “let’s stay here and look at each other helplessly,” but others hit the ground running and tried to find Siberian Tigers by Aquatic Park (hint: they’re not down there). One team went down the steps to capture mermaids together and then realized it’s not the most efficient strategy. Someone even started off doing burpees and then sadly discovered that there were no cards to steal yet. It was utter chaos, but I knew the tribe would figure it out soon enough.

Then came the burpee wars. People would do burpees as fast as humanly possible to break up their neighbor’s set and complete their own “threebie.” One team returned to discover that honey badgers had stolen every one of their cards. Josh Zipin figured that turning in four sets at a time and getting threebies “that actually count for four” would make other teams think they’re a weak team and keep the honey badgers away.


Then there was Shing and Weston’s team, which apparently had such a good strategy that they “obviously cheated.” How’d they cobble together 12 sets when the second place team only had 9? We might never know…

Or maybe they got advice from my dad, the ultimate board game cheater. We’ll never forgive him for hiding his Life tiles under the game board so we wouldn’t steal them. Speaking of my dad, did you know that my mom, dad, and brother were all at the workout? My parents visit every few months and try to schedule their flights so they can attend as many NP workouts as possible. It’s super early in the morning, but they always say it’s the highlight of their trip. My mom even asked me for an NP buff for Christmas. She definitely needs it for her chilly hikes in Cleveland now that she’s trying to be #weatherproof.

We often talk about how NP has improved our own fitness and social circles, but my family has reaped the benefits of what I call “secondhand NP.” Since I joined NPSF, my parents have made a point of incorporating more physical activity into their lifestyles, and they’ve lost more than 100 pounds combined. They tell me a big part of their motivation comes from hearing my NP stories and learning how fun and rewarding an active lifestyle can be. I love that I can take my family on progressively more strenuous hikes every time they visit, and I’m sure they love being able to explore beautiful places like Coastal Trail and Pirate’s Cove.


A Menagerie for the Whole Family (SF)
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