So Anya has been nothing but amazing ever since she joined us early last year. She joined our Crazy group in Chicago during one of our coldest winters on record. She’s a fighter, a supporter, a networker and many more positives. She lives & breathes everything we are about. We are lucky to have her share some of her experiences with us!
We love you & thank you Anya,
Your NP_CHI Leaders
This past Valentine’s weekend, while everyone was loading up on chocolates, flowers, fancy dinners,
updating their Tinder profile (we won’t judge), the November Project Chicago tribe was running around
Wrigley in their skivvies for a charity. Granted they’ve had a few brews to help them brace single-digits
temperatures, our tribe showed up in numbers, recruited, raced, and raised money to help fight
children’s cancer. As I had to travel for work and had major FOMO on the undie run, I also thought back
to last year, when I became a part of this wonderful tribe that I now call my family…
“Hey girl, this may be a dumb question, but what’s ‘tagging’?” – this is the text message I nervously sent
to NATO (holla NPSF) on a Tuesday night before I set my 5am alarm (I wanted to make a good first
impression and get there early, OK?) for my first ever November Project Chicago workout.
NATO and I both moved to completely new cities from Dayton, OH about a year ago…I to Chicago, and
she to San Francisco. I always saw her insta posts featuring these crazy fun workouts with this
“November Project” group, I was totes jelly, “because like, omg, I want in on the fun!” Little did I know,
there was a tribe right here, in Chicago! I was so excited and nervous to meet a bunch of strangers
whom I would hope to call friends.
This time last year I have been living in the city for a year. I haven’t had much luck making it feel like
home and there were lots of nights where I laid in bed thinking about packing up and moving back to my
home state of Ohio (my mom would’ve loved that, no really, she still keeps my room in the same state I
had left it when I moved). The only thing that kept me sane was running and biking along the beautiful
Lake Shore trail. At this point in time I have gotten to know every turn, every crack, and every tree along
that route. Being out there, running, biking, sometimes even swimming, was like church to me, it’s
where I felt safe, where I felt like things will be OK, that I will someday figure this whole “life” thing out.
To keep myself motivated and not bored, I signed up for a triathlon. Ok, I signed up for a half
ironman…backstory: I have never done a tri, let alone even thought through all the things I would have
to learn to do one. I needed motivation, I needed to find my home away from home, mostly, I just
needed someone to f*cking hug me and tell me to do some burpees.
So there I was, on a cold (I mean really f*cking cold, like -13F cold) Wednesday morning, holding the
nicest running shirt I owned, I nervously made my way to the totem pole where our tribe meets. Having
moved a lot throughout my childhood I know what it’s like to be the new kid on the first day of
class…the feeling walking up to NP was all too familiar, but soon I had a bunch of strangers hugging me
and saying how glad they were to see me, the anxiety faded away, the sun came up (no, literally, this is
not a metaphor), and we did a Valentine’s Day themed workout. I remember being so excited that I have
finally found a group of free fitness enthusiasts whose crazy matched my crazy!
Fast forward a year: I simply love my life. By just showing up that one morning, my life has changed for
the better. November Project Chicago was there for me when I couldn’t change my bike pedals, when I
didn’t know how to change a bike tire, when I needed a high-five, when I needed friends to run with.
Not only did I finish my Half Ironman, but I actually raced TWO of them that season. I have made friends
who will be there for me through anything, I have had invaluable experiences, I have become a part of a
community that doesn’t just provide free fitness throughout the world (I can say that now because
we’re hella international), but helps the community to feel better overall. While Chicago tribe will
always be my home tribe, having to travel for work, I love knowing that if I go to a city with a November
Project, I will never feel alone, that on a Wednesday or a Friday, I will have a group of friends to hug me
good morning and push me through a tough workout. We smile, we hug, we cheer each other on.
November Project has been there for me through my victories and my injuries, they have seen me come
up from a low point in my life to where I am today. I have never met a more positive and encouraging
group of people. I know this sounds like a church infomercial, but trust me, we are not a cult, nor do we
drink cool-aid (either nuun or Gatorade please), we’re just happy that you’re here, that you decided to
show up, to get up early, and to be weatherproof.