It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of #freefitness, it was the age of laziness, it was the epoch of community, it was the epoch of being-alone-in-your-bed, it was the season of Hugs, it was the season of No Hugs, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

It’s Wednesday, January 25, 2017, and you wake up… (for “excited and well-rested!”, proceed to #weatherproof; for “groggy and grumpy”, proceed to #poordecisionnumberone)

#weatherproof: … excited and well rested! Your day is off to a great start as you put on a clean pair of running tights, your *new* and oh-so-cool NP buff, and pack an extra pair of gloves because you are aware of the temperature and just that smart. You drink a glass of water and have your morning coffee. You remember to brush your teeth and wash your face. It’s going to be a great PR day. (Proceed to #justshowup).

#poordecisionnumberone: … groggy and grumpy. Not another early morning, ugh. You remember all eight of the people to whom you insisted you’d be at PR day today – and then you remember how warm your bed was when you left to do your morning business. Despite the fact that you are already out of bed, which may be one of the most difficult decisions of the morning, the devil on your left shoulder whispers in your ear: “[insert your name here], come on. It’s not even six in the morning. Are you really telling me you’re going to get up, get dressed, drive in the dark to a cold, windy city block in the dead of winter, run for a half hour, up and down stairs, get a bunch of unsolicited hugs from random strangers, just to go back to your place, shower, and go to work?! Why the heck would you do that! You could run on your own later (slower, no doubt, but still), and you can show up to work just as grumpy as you are now. Go back to bed, [insert your name here]!” The devil on your left shoulder seems to make a lot of sense and you’re starting to listen to him, just a bit. (Proceed to #poordecisionnumbertwo).

#justshowup: You make your way to The Calling, where not forty, but ONE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT (Editor’s note: make it happen this week guys, we got this) of your closest friends are waiting just for you with hugs and encouragement. You’re so glad you got out of bed today. Not only is it a warm 38 degrees, but also the jams are pumping, and you’re feeling confident in your legs, your stamina, and your persevering spirit. Though you are a bit nervou-cited for the pain you’ll be experiencing in a few short minutes, you have all of your friends to be with you the whole way. And they are rooting for you – a feeling that is mutually expressed because even if you don’t know someone, you belong to the same group, and are by default friends. (Proceed to #grassrootsgear)

#poordecisionnumbertwo: You look out your front window. It’s dark. Someone is walking their dog with a giant scarf, which can only mean one thing. It’s cold. And while you accept the fact that you chose to live in Wisconsin, that it’s January, and that the previous two statements mean: it could potentially be cold, you ignore your common sense and begin crafting a text to your friends. Should I say I got food poisoning from the Bel Air tacos last night? I know Jake tried my taco, so it doesn’t really logically make sense that I’d be sick and he wouldn’t, but it’s worth a shot. Or maybe my dog has food poisoning? That probably would work. They know that Fido is my best friend, and that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to snuggle. You know it’s total BS, but the appeal of running with ONE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT of your closest friends and getting sweaty hugs is being squashed by that wee little voice in your head telling you that you’re “too tired” to show up. Instead of silencing that voice, you start typing out your message. (Proceed to #poordecisionnumberthree)

#grassrootsgear: Roger has just announced that we’re tagging stuff today, and that you should leave whatever clothing items you want to have a oooo so crisp spray paint tag on the ledge. DG begins to lead everyone who’s early to a slow warmup lap, and you can’t help but notice that somehow it seems like there’s more light from the sun this morning than a few weeks ago. What a beautiful day! You’re so glad you made it, especially with an impending butt kicking and a spectacular sunrise on the horizon. You say, with a jubilant yell, “I LOVE NP!”, and instead of being questioned by random people on the street as to the level of your sanity, it’s met with resounding ME TOO’s and AWWW YEAH’s. There’s nothing like endorphins in the morning. The workout begins, your legs feel fresh and fast, and you find the *perfect* pace group, who you joke with and stick with for the rest of the thirty minutes. You know you’re working harder because you’re with people who challenge you at the moments during which you need a kick in the pants. They are even weird enough to literally kick you in the pants should you ask. (Proceed to #rogerisyourdad)

#poordecisionnumberthree: You get a reply from a couple of your friends who are already at The Calling. Apparently they think it’s going to be a spectacular sunrise and it’s not really that cold. But you can’t go back on your excuse, or else your trustworthiness will be questioned. You choose to go lay in your bed. By this time, it’s not as warm as you thought it was, and you’re alone in the darkness of your room. You wish you could be dancing to sick beats and hot jams with everyone in Milwaukee and bombing up the Stumble Stairs. You wish you could be a #nondwindler, that you could #earnyourpuke, that you had brought your face. You could’ve even made some new friends, and you begin to realize you’re not going to find any new friends in your bed. But it’s too late; the workout’s already halfway over, and you feel more tired than when you woke up. (Proceed to #wemissedyou)

#rogerisyourdad: PR Day is over, you got more sweaty hugs than you could count, and you feel charged and rejuvenated, ready to tackle your day. You can’t wait to get home, call your mom, tell her about your PR, and explain to her for the fourteenteenth time how amazing this free workout group is with whom you’ve been spending your Wednesday and Friday mornings. You have earned the title of #nondwindler, and you totally deserve it. (Proceed to #worldtakeover)

#wemissedyou: You get hazed on social media. Someone posted a picture from when you were fourteen (when you still had braces) and you have to explain to your coworkers why this embarrassing message is circulating Facebook. They are disappointed in your lack of motivation, and you become the talk of the breakroom. Your boss hears about it and sees this lack of motivation as a sign that you probably will disappoint him as well. He fires you. You are now out of a job, your dog actually got food poisoning while you were gone, and covered your carpet with #3. You have to clean up Fido’s mess, find a job, and rebuild your NP friends’ trust. What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

#worldtakeover: You get to work, productive as can be, impress your boss with your determination, and earn a raise and a promotion for yourself. In addition, you improved your cardiovascular health, which resulted in a break in the cost of your health insurance, a wad of cash that can be used instead for that flight to Summit 5.0 that you thought you couldn’t afford. Your NP journey has just begun – and you embrace the future with open arms, giving the next days, weeks, months, years, and decades with NP a big ol’ sweaty hug. What a time to be alive.

A Tale of Two Options – A Choose Your Own Adventure
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