For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Milana, also known as Millie, Banana, Mulan, or my latest (and favourite NP-only) nickname, Shabooya. First off, we don’t know each other? What gives? Let’s be friends!
Secondly, November Project is a big deal in my life. …to the point that my good friend Jenny once asked me if I was going to NP that week then immediately cut herself off with a brilliant quote that I will cherish forever (included at the end of this post). Allow me to explain.
Last October, back when it was still called Winnipeg Gone Rogue, some fellow lemons heckled a bunch of the staff to try this weird, crazy, absurdly early workout that we now know to be the November Project Winnipeg. I was hesitant for a short while, then I went to one. Would you guess it? I fell in love. Very soon I became an avid bouncer and a regular frozen face in the ever-growing crowd, known for my weird water bottles (sippy cups, empty nutella jars, among others) and my rhymes.
This was the beginning of my fitness journey.
I have always been active. I played every sport imaginable as a kid from baseball to fencing and basketball to baton twirling, but one thing always held me back – my knees. This is why I couldn’t truly run. Not only could my knees not take the grinding and pain, but I had never run more than 30 minutes (which I did once, on a treadmill, running 13 minute miles). Then, I started our Wednesday morning ritual. The first weeks sucked but were amazing. The tradeoff of finding exactly where I belong in exchange for inability to walk Thursdays and Fridays? Worth it.
Almost 2 months went by and I set myself a really scary goal, a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), if you will. I decided that I would sweat every day for one year. 365 days of fitness for someone who had never even sweat 7 days in a row before. Did I tell anyone on Day 1 – Monday November 24th 2014? Nope! How about in December? Naaaah, New years? Hell no! It took me 67 days to tell a single soul. And when I did? I was met with the most unshakeable confidence in the entire world, which made me feel so silly for keeping it to myself for so long.
This morning I stood (squatted) proud with a huge bouncing pack of an enormous group of people that are so special to me (including these 2 wonderful humans). Day 360. I’ve done a lot of amazing things this year and have learned to fall in love with a whole slew of new ways to sweat, but more powerful than any of that is the fact that this year and this tribe have taught me how to choose happiness. Whether it’s discovering our inner cake bosses over wine, dancing like fools together, or weekly post-NP coffees and giggles, this community has introduced me to some of the most important people my life. For that opportunity I am forever grateful.
Don’t get me wrong, running is still a huge mental block for me and I often struggle even through my short runs. But I’m doing it. And I’ve grown. And I am still growing. And one day I’m going to run a marathon. It may not be lightning speed and I may need a full week of recovery after it, but I’ll do it and my knees will never hold me back again. I, the strongest I have ever been in my life both physically and mentally, can honestly say that I don’t know where I would be without these boys and this tribe.
When people ask me to describe NP I always do it the same way. I start by explaining that it’s a free fitness movement that started in Boston to get people moving. I continue with the fact that it’s not your average boot camp because we use the space. We’ll run to the Scotiabank stage and do box jumps there then we’ll run to the Provencher bridge and lunge across it. We use the Forks as our playground and it’s amazing. We also use each other as our playground. We sing, we bounce, we do push-ups while rolling over one another. Yenno, standard stuff. But it’s so much more than that. Pardon the cliché, but it’s family. It’s hugging, sweating, swearing family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“3 things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and Milana will be at NP on Wednesday” -Jenny Parisian