Last fall I moved to Toronto from Kenora, Ontario, a northern city of 15,000 in the middle of nowhere. I was excited to start my nursing program at University of Toronto, but less excited about living in a city that is known more for its skyscrapers and corporate culture than for trails, lakes, and snow. In Kenora I lived 5 minutes away from both the local ski hill where I cross country skied and volunteered as a Snowboard Patroller, and the rowing club where I was a coach and a Master’s rower. After moving to Toronto, I remained open-minded to finding new social circles and activities to join, and continued running and road biking, but I was missing the comradery of the clubs I left behind in Kenora.
On a brisk Tuesday evening in November (appropriately), I was talking to a friend on the phone who knew of November Project Toronto and encouraged me to check it out. I wasn’t intimidated by the early morning start time as I was used to early morning practices in rowing (shout out to the former rowers in Boston who started this amazing movement!). The next day, on a cold and dark Wednesday morning, I ran to the Rogers Centre and spotted the brightly coloured group. I was greeted with many hugs – and not the hesitant acquaintance-like hug, but the old friend tight-squeeze-type hug. Next I partook in my first NP bounce, and everyone sang my name since I was new. I partook in PR Day for my first NP workout, and experienced the wonderful words of motivation and encouragement that the NP Toronto members always share with each other as we run our laps and do our burpees.
It didn’t take long to get hooked on NP (#notnotacult). A few weeks in, I couldn’t imagine sleeping in on a Wednesday and missing NP – it was the best way to start the day. Whether it’s -30 degrees Celsius or pouring rain, I show up to NP. After tearing a ligament in my foot during a 30km race, I still showed up to NP in an aircast. I was down in the dumps after finding out I would be off running for several weeks, but going to NP was the best way to cheer me up (and get creative finding some modified exercises to do). I show up to NP because it motivates me to stay fit and have some fun – a lot of fun – while working out. I show up to NP because I get to spend time with some hilarious, quirky, and kind people. As someone who prefers wearing workout clothes (I believe the fashion term is “ath-leisure”?) over heels and blazers, I didn’t initially have high hopes to find other people in downtown Toronto who enjoy playing outside in any type of weather as much as I do. November Project reminded me that no matter where I’m living, if I look hard enough I can always find like-minded people to spend time with and provide a sense of belonging.
I would like to say that I am not usually this corny in-person, but that would be a lie.
-Jennifer CanoShare via socials: