From the first icy mornings of November Project, our fitness movement has pushed the limits on what “fitness” should look like. Since the first days when Brogan and Bojan were up in Boston, freezing their tails off through the bitter New England winter, this “fitness movement” has been surely but slowly toeing the line on the way “fitness” looks in this country. NP is not simply about having fun with your community, it is representative of a much larger conversation that needs to happen about the way people are permitted to be fit. It is that conversation that makes this movement so damn important.
You see, November Project is indicative of a much larger issue in the U.S (and throughout the world). NP came about because of the commoditization of fitness, a trend in our country to make individuals believe that fitness is only attainable through structured training programs, access to special equipment and guidance from the most highly trained professionals. Of course this trend is profit driven and has, without a doubt, created a culture of “haves” and “have nots.”
By convincing generations of citizens that being fit is something that requires money, the fitness industry has done quite well for itself. The thought that health and well being can be achieved cheaply through community based activities has been very deliberately left in the gutter. At the behest of industry professionals, we have been conditioned to believe that only certain body types are fit, that to achieve that fitness you need an expert, and that should you want access to that “expert” you need to shell out big bucks.
So what does that mean for our communities?
Passion and commitment often follows the money, so as a result, well meaning trainers and fitness professionals have followed each other to the communities that pay. While that has been happening there hasn’t really been a serious conversation about alternatives to the standard “fitness model.” There has been an increase in interest in getting the fit even fitter coupled with a decrease in helping the less privileged stay healthy ( throw in food deserts, lack of health education, poor nutrition….you get the idea).
When you look at the image of fitness across this country, very rarely is the reality presented. What we see is people far skinnier than us, faster than us and stronger than us, intentionally placed to make us believe that our current form is woefully inadequate. That inadequacy leads us to perpetuate the traditional model of paid fitness. Those of us that can afford to participate in that model choose to renew our memberships each month (regardless of whether or not we use them) because NOT doing so would reinforce our notion of inadequacy. The most privileged among us are permitted to be fit and are assisted in our quest towards a “healthy lifestyle,” while the less privileged are left to figure it out on their own, leading to a serious disparity in health and overall wellness between our disparate populations. Many other factors affect this, but gym dollars do far more than keep the dreadmills running; they perpetuate the notion that being healthy goes to those who can afford it.
If you have read this far, you’re probably thinking, “Damn Nick, that’s some heavy shit for a group that yells “Fuck Yeah” and hugs all the time.” Yeah, it’s kind of heavy but I believe it deserves to be mentioned. The reason I love this moment and have stayed involved in November Project is because I believe that by waking up every Wednesday and Friday I’m contributing to a conversation. I believe that our ever growing tribe is not just showing up because it’s a convenient workout, we’re showing up because what we were getting from the fitness community wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t good enough for us and it wasn’t good enough for our communities.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are experiences out there worth paying for. I think there are professionals that have spent their life working to keep you safe and healthy and their time is definitely worth your money. In a way, I have become one of them. However, it is worth taking a step back and asking yourself if the fact that we have to say “free fitness” indicative of something far more damaging in our society. If the ability to access “fitness” is not intrinsically free, what is it?
To summarize this, your involvement in your tribe is not a gimmick. It is not a simple morning routine, a thrice weekly frivolity, a cheap excuse to eat breakfast with others. November Project has become the leader in a conversation worth having. That conversation focuses on the idea that perhaps our health is not a solitary matter, but in fact a community concern. Dare to look at this differently and come to us with your ideas. I have been repeating over and over again, “this is a conversation worth having,” so let’s literally have it.
Of course there is incredible improvement to make, but I believe that NP is a profound first step. I’m beyond proud to be able to associate myself with all of you every week because, whether you know it or not, you’re pushing the agenda on what it means to be healthy and fit in 2016.
As always, Take Big Bites Out of Life,
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