“Akwo Tacos” Guest Blog Matt M (VB)

This one is for all the quiet and shy people. The introverts. The socially awkward. The awko tacos. The loners. The people at social gatherings that go straight to the back and hide in the corners away from everyone else.

This one is for all the people that dread early mornings. The night owls. The people that set a bajillion alarms and press snooze a million times.

This one is for all the people that never played a sport growing up. The nerds. The klutzes. The people picked last in kickball. The people that were picked on and bullied by the jocks during gym class. The people that have been told (by someone else or themselves) that they’ll never be fit, healthy, or happy.

This one is for all the people that have ever questioned whether they’ll ever fit in, whether their life matters, or if it’s even noticed at all.

This one is for you.

You see, these are my people. Every last one of these things applies to me. And I’m living proof that you, too, can be accepted and loved just as you are. Yes, you.

I had always heard this, but I was never quite convinced. I thought this was only reserved for the elite, fit, loud, extroverted, energetic people. You know, other people. I never quite believed this or experienced this until I tried November Project.

If you would have asked me a year ago to name the three things I feared and hated the most, I would have said early mornings, exercising, and large social gatherings with strangers. I’m being dead serious, and my oldest friends reading this are probably laughing because they know how true that is.

Yearbook Photo 2019

It’s amazing what a little community and positivity can do. We all need the feeling of purpose, community, usefulness, and belonging. It’s a NEED, not a want. It’s how we’re biologically wired. We are innately tribal creatures (which is why it’s always intrigued me that NP locations are called “tribes”). As Aristotle said, man is by nature a social animal.

The key to fitness is consistency. People love to debate which programs and which movements are “the best”. That’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get bogged down in the weeds. Any program will yield results with enough time and repetition. The best program is the one that you stick to and look forward to.

We’re creatures of habit and we usually follow the path of least resistance. We gravitate towards things that make us feel good, and stay away from things that make us feel bad. The more decisions and barriers there are, the less likely we are to follow through.

That’s what’s so great about November Project. It combines all of these things. We don’t just work out. We help give you that feeling of community and purpose and belonging. We’re consistent. We’re simple. There are no barriers. No dues, no memberships, no planning or tracking required. #JustShowUp. It can’t get any simpler than that.

I’m a believer that you’re a product of your environment. The people you surround yourself with, you become.

When you #JustShowUp to NP, there is no choice BUT to become happier and fitter every time. Our positive energy is too powerful to overcome. Your fears and worries are no match for all the cheers and hugs and high fives. Progress is inevitable. Happiness is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.

Now that I’ve drank the NP Kool-Aid (really hard!), I jump right out of bed on Wednesday and Friday mornings (the other days are still a work in progress 😉). That’s NEVER happened to me before. It’s because I finally have something I truly look forward to in the mornings. Once the alarm rings, I’ve been conditioned to expect a reward – it’s just like Pavlov’s dogs, and I’m being dead serious. It really works.

When I work out at other gyms, especially the meathead gyms, I always make it a point to wear an NP tagged shirt. It’s my reminder that I have a loving community around me, even if they’re not there at the moment. It’s my reminder that I really do belong after all. It gives me that extra little confidence boost to power through that last tough rep.

(Maybe people are right when they call NP a cult! But I’m okay with that!)

Positivity Award Winner 9/30/2019

I’ve always gotten great grades. I’ve won every last academic award there is to win. I’ve gotten lots of great reviews and promotions at work. (I’m sorry, I really don’t like humble bragging, I swear – but I have to if I really want to do this justice.)

This oar overshadows all of those things by a longshot. This one means the most to me. This is one I’ll never forget. Because this represents something totally different. This one took a lot of hard work. Real work. Blood, sweat, and tears. But most importantly, it’s something I never thought I could ever do.

It’s fitting that our workouts are at a hill called Mount Trashmore. Because every Wednesday, I am climbing a literal mountain AND the metaphorical mountain. It’s fitting that this was PR day. Because I literally PR’ed the route this month, AND I metaphorically PR’ed.

This oar represents the moment I was freed from the mental prison of the past.

For everyone reading out there, whether you’ve come to NP 100 times, or you’ve never been before and you’re thinking about coming. You matter. You belong. You can do this. Even if you’re not perfect. Especially if you’re not perfect. Even if you don’t want to be the loud center of attention. Neither do I. You still matter. You can blend in with the crowd if you wish (and you can still stand out at the same time!). I’ll blend in with you. You can join me as a silent guardian, a watchful protector of NP.

You still matter. Even if you’re quiet, reserved, awkward AF, un-athletic, clumsy, nervous, timid, or afraid. So was I. So am I. I always will be to some small extent. But that’s okay. That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t stop us. All of that gets left at the door. It gets left behind at the top of the stairs with our keys and water bottles.

I really do mean that. I’ve been to lots of gyms and groups that have said this, but NP is the only place where I’ve actually felt it.

I am who I am, with my many strengths and my many flaws. And NP has shown me that’s okay. And even though I’ve heard it many times, now I finally believe it. You, too, can be loved and accepted just as you are. Yes, you. You, too, can be freed from the mental prison of your past. Yes, you. All you have to do is #JustShowUp.

Don’t let the past be a prison.

Thanks Matt for showing up!

Thanks to everyone that’s impacted me along the way. I see you, and I appreciate you.

Thanks to Jill, Bernard, and Cory, for coming up with so many fun and creative workouts. I don’t know how you keep coming up with so many great ideas every week!  Thanks to Heidi, for being the best handshake partner, and for being the first person I ever met at NP.  Thanks to Liz, for keeping me motivated (and alive!) during Hell’s Bells, and for making a great first impression during my first ever NP workout!   Thanks to Diane, for loaning me your November Project book, and for making sure I was included for my first breakfast club invite at Sugar Shack when I was still new and shy.  Thanks to Carla, for sharing shrimp tacos with me, and for being a much-needed ray of sunshine and warmth every morning.  Thanks to Jim, for always cracking me up with your witty one-liners.  Thanks to Justin, for your inspiring blog post, and for taking so many awesome pictures. So glad you’re here!  Thanks to Kevin, for teaching me how to do hoistees and leapfrogging up the hill with me! Thanks to Lauren, Jenn, Nicole, and all the people who bring dogs for us to pet. 😊  Thanks to Joe, for your Facebook stories of your badass training workouts. I still don’t know how the hell you can walk on your hands like that.  Thanks to Dolo, Steve, Stephanie, Pete, Robin, Jennette, and all the regulars that gave me such a warm welcome from the very start.  Thanks to everyone that has forced me out of my shell when I’ve hidden at the back. I’ve really needed it, and I appreciate it immensely.  Thanks to Gregg, my cubicle buddy (who has not yet been to NP) for letting me talk endlessly about my fitness cult every morning.  Thanks to all the friends at NP I have not met yet. Every smiling face, every high five, every hug, they all add up!  And finally, thanks to the future first-timer that’s out there reading this. I can’t wait to share that first sip of NP Kool-Aid with you!

-Matt M (NPVB Member)

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