So here’s the idea: I share my story, as it relates to November Project, Ashleigh shares hers, Eugene shares his, you learn a little something about us, and how things came to be. But why I’m actually excited to share my story lies in the message. Some of you know already, so just take this as a reminder, but for those of you who are new, skeptical, or even a little confused, take the next few paragraphs as a look inside what NP could be for you. We try to say it as often as possible, November Project is more than just a weekly workout, for you, for your peers, and for this community. I’d gladly wax on for hours about November Project (before even mentioning running, burpees, or fitness altogether!) So, to keep me from rambling, let’s just stick to the story of my path from firm hand shaker to warm hugger, introvert to social butterfly, from a tribe of few to a movement of many. From the top…
Primary form of physical activity from ages 11-23: skateboarding
Primary source of nutrition: Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger
Miles run: Does the mile test in gym class count?
College in Cincinnati came to a close, and making some big change became the mission at hand. So I hopped in my car and headed to LA, Mecca for a kid with a skateboard. Flash forward a few years, turns out the actual wilderness was a lot more appealing than the concrete jungle. So started the suffer-filled 2 mile runs, hikes through Griffith Park, and the spark of interest in this whole “health & fitness” thing.
One Saturday morning down at Santa Monica Beach, climbing ropes and swinging on rings with a few friends, I met an outgoing British fellow named Orrin, and received an invitation to workout with him and some friends at the Hollywood Bowl, Wednesday, 6:30AM. Sure, why not? Just a few guys running some stairs, right? I arrived at the Bowl that Wednesday at 6:45AM to find 30 or so people charging up and down the amphitheater. And that same British fellow was leading the charge. Not what I expected, but I was stoked. This was the 2nd pledge workout of the soon to be inducted, November Project LAX.
Orrin and I quickly hit it off, and 3 weeks later we were building NPLAX together. Strangers turned great friends overnight, in true NP fashion. Funny thing about agreeing to co-lead the tribe in LA, I had no idea what November Project was. And it took me a while to figure it out. It took us all a while. All I knew was that the formula made sense. This was something far beyond grinding out some stairs in silence with a few friends – the accountability, the inclusion, and community drew me in. It was an infectious social experience of which I had never taken part.
Orrin, I, and the tribe of Los Angeles had a blast for about a year and half, learning more than I could have ever expected about community, friendship, integrity, leadership, grassroots marketing, interpersonal relationship development, public speaking, self-confidence, acceptance… and a few dozen other life skills to build my character and personal/professional resume. BIG CHANGES.
9 months before I left the LA tribe I took a trip down to San Diego to visit an old buddy from Cincinnati that had recently made the move. I took this trip as an opportunity and meet the co-leaders of NPSD (minus Ashleigh). We were all flying by the seat of our pants with this whole November Project thing, making it up as we went, so bouncing ideas off these ladies was an exciting prospect.
That’s when I met Lauren Padula. Cute, smart, fit, sarcastic, gave me a ton of shit the whole weekend – it was true love in the making. LP and I hit it off almost immediately, and just weeks later, two co-leaders in two SoCal cities were spending their weekends commuting back and forth along the coast. 9 months passed, and we’d had it with the distance. So, off to San Diego for a new adventure, leaving Orrin to hold down the fort in LA, and my time as a co-leader behind (no brainer decision, but still an incredibly difficult one to make).
And so began my overly enthusiastic tribe member-dom in sunny SD. Feeling like I had something to prove, or a responsibility to represent NPLAX, and a respect for an SD community that took me in without question, I raced my ass off, every week, every workout. I smiled brighter, “fuck yeah’d” louder, and hugged tighter than ever before. Four months later, I started helping LP and Ash shape the weekly Monday/Wednesdays, stoked, honored, and a little bit nervous.
It’s been one hell of a good time, NPSD. As our tribe continues to grow and shift and change, so will I, and so will you, and that’s pretty damn exciting.
So, let’s recap, and make a few additions:
I gained a larger (by a significant margin) community of friends and good people that I had never before had. I gained my voice, and grew the crap out of my self-confidence. 21 year old Angelo in front of a crowd was a sweaty (some things never change), nervous, shaky, word fumbling mess, riddled with anxiety from too much eye contact and attention. Hugs were the worst, and I truly cared about my handshake. Strangers were usually just that, strange. Self-development wasn’t a massive concern, and fitness wasn’t an attractive concept. I did things mostly for myself, and my close circle of friends. I wasn’t concerned with hopping outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t try new, out of the box things, and didn’t often go out into new social settings without a few friends alongside. I wasn’t a goal setter, I didn’t dream big, and I didn’t create. When it came to making decisions or taking charge, you’d find me hanging back, waiting for someone else to take the reigns. I could provide a dozen more examples of the person I used to be, and they’d probably all warrant the same response from the people that know the Angelo of today – disbelief. Take everything from this paragraph, literally everything, and flip it on its head. That’s me now. That’s what November Project did for me – flipped me on my head. I’m not being dramatic, or sappy, I’m not embellishing or shaping the story to serve the message of this blog. This is what happened, that’s who I was, and this is who I am today. I have this community to thank for that. So thank you.
Here’s the thing, I hate using the word lucky. Some things happen by luck, sure, but the things I am most fortunate to have gained, I got because I made decisions to move myself in their direction. November Project was the catalyst for all of this. It provided for me an environment to comfortably push past those things that had been holding me back. If not for the hundreds of incredible people making NP the force that it has become, my shell may not have been broken, at least not as quickly and with such intensity. You have all provided the space to achieve potential. And the true beauty of this space we have created, is that it only works if you reflect back what you receive, on the tribe, and on the people around you. At NP, there is an equal balance of receiving positivity and encouragement, and pushing it back out to the world around you. I am so grateful for what I’ve gotten out of this community, and I want everyone that joins our tribe to have the opportunity to do the same. I’ve said it a thousand times, if you want to just show up to the workouts, throw down, and have a good time, then go about your day, great. Keep coming back. But if you’re looking for it, there is a whole lot more this community can provide. Maybe a couple new friends, a bigger smile to start your day, and a nice workout, or maybe, if you really dive in, a new career, an unbelievable partner (Love you LP!), a life changing group of friends, and new found self. Thanks for showing up to the workouts, whatever role you play. Thank you for contributing to something that will continue to impact people in a positive way, and slowly, with every sweaty hug and “I’m glad you’re here,” change the world for the better.
As cheesy as these word may be, I can think of no better message to leave you all with than, be happy, be strong, be bright.
In constant amazement,
Next Monday: Hill St. 6:29AM – Don’t bring your shit, and get ready for some hills!
RECRUIT: We all get to experience and enjoy November Project on a weekly basis. Don’t be selfish, let’s grow the tribe and let some more amazing people join in the good times. EVERYONE is welcomed at November Project, so let’s invite em all! The 3 top recruiters come the end of February will receive some cool stuff from a certain brand that think we’re onto something special! #justshowup #recruiteveryone