I’m thrilled to be able to introduce today’s blog guest. There are so many stories of how November Project has changed people’s lives. But for 5 years, we’ve been fortunate to see this person evolve into a completely different person. One thing I appreciate the most today’s guest is how he set out goals every year to keep things fresh. One year, a goal of his was to meet someone new every workout. All the while, he had his own goals of having a healthier lifestyle. I have probably already said it in these 2 sentences, but Mike has completely reinvented himself. From the guy who showed up in one of the greatest Halloween costumes we’ve ever seen, to a proud/embarrassing father of two daughters, please meet Mike Angeles.
Where do I start?
How about 255 pounds on blood pressure pills and pre-diabetic! My doctor said that I was a ticking time bomb with my heart! That scared the crap out of me and I decided that I needed a lifestyle change. With a young family, I needed to be healthier so that I could see my kids grow, and see them have kids.
My friend Melissa Lesieur recommended this group called November Project and that an Oiler (Andrew Ference) was running the group. She had me at Oilers!! Melissa also mentioned it was free but there was one catch; it was at 6:00AM in the morning! That’s stupid early. However, I thought that would work perfect into my schedule and I could go straight to work right after. I asked my wife if she wanted to come. She smiled and said, “In your dreams! 6 pm not 6 am!!”
I had so many questions about this group. Are they all super fit? Super fast? Welcoming? Would they accept a big, slow guy like me? I was very hesitant, but my friend Melissa said it was, “a great and super positive group that will welcome anyone.” I said, “Screw it. Let’s try this out!!!”
On a Friday in July 2014, I found out that the workout would be held at Emily Murphy Park to do hills. I showed up extra early (5:15 am) to find parking and made sure I was at the right place. Slowly, people started to come out of nowhere. (Kind of like The Walking Dead but with a smile!) I got out of my car and nervously approached a group of people. I was greeted by Jen Ference who introduced herself and welcomed me to November Project! I spotted Andrew and thought, “Wow there is an Oiler in the house!!!!” There was a bounce, a hill repeat workout, lots of high fives and hugs, and pictures all in my very first NP workout! I got lapped by a professional athlete which I also thought was pretty cool.
My second workout at Commonwealth Stadium was what really hooked me to the tribe. During the stairs workout, Jen remembered my name and said, “Good job Mike!” In my opinion, remembering names goes a long way.
Here’s how I’ve evolved over the last 4 years.
Year 1 had earphones in both ears. I was pretty uncomfortable with hugs, high fives, and photos. I didn’t really get to know anyone. I just did my workout and went to work.
In Year 2, I opened up a little and had one earphone in and one out. I would get to know a few people but I couldn’t remember anyone’s name. I was getting used to the hugs and high fives but the staring into people’s eyes or touching peoples’ noses was a bit odd! I was starting to love the photos (from Steve and Katie) for it was a documentation of my journey!
In Year 3, the earphones came out and I really wanted to meet and know people by their name because they were all positive! I’m not going to lie, I had to go to Facebook or Instagram to help me remember people’s names! Hugs and high fives now came naturally, and I looked forward to it when going to November Project.
By Year 4, I have been fortunate to know many people who have become great friends and so many more people who motivate and inspire me. I still get a buzz meeting new people and learning their name, giving hugs, high fives, and staring into a random person’s eyes.
Through November Project, my 2 daughters got to see goats, reindeers, and dragon boats. As they get older, it’s harder for me to get them up at 6 am as they have school and afterschool activities. I’m just glad they got to see Daddy change his lifestyle and that I could show them that positive groups like November Project can make a huge impact in someone’s life! In fact, receiving the Positivity Award (thinking I would never get it) was pretty cool, and it does really reinforce that a little positivity can be a huge movement!! I took that oar handle everywhere for 2 weeks and showed it off!
Here are my Top 6 November Project Tips!
1. When you bounce, you need to come off the ground. (Jen always catches me cheating)
2. Try to meet one new person and learn their name during an NP Workout.
3. Try to beat the fast guys and girls in a Strava segment!
4. Encourage at least 5 times during a workout.
5. Work hard and get your sweat on!
6. Just show up!!
Thanks Jen, Nadim, Andrew, (and now Rob) for bringing our community together! Thanks to all of you who have inspired me on my ongoing journey. A big thanks to my wife for always supporting me through my fitness journey. One day you shall join us on a regular basis! Yeah?! Yeah?! I can hear her now, “In your dreams! 6 pm not 6 am!!”
November Project saved my life!