The teacher skipped class today. (Worcester)

Back in early March, which feels like yesterday and three years ago all at the same time, you could find most people making jokes about the threat of Covid. Jim and I were entertaining the idea of a “Corona inspired playlist and workout”. I can’t take full credit, one of our regulars suggested it, but we were totally on board. It wasn’t real, and it certainly wasn’t going to impact our lives. It would blow over like everything else. Right?

Wrong. In what seems like an instant, all of our routines got completely turned upside down. No matter what side of the Covid beliefs you stood on, it didn’t matter, because your normal as you knew it was no longer. Our safety and our comfort got pulled right out from underneath us.

Our first Zoom workout was in mid March. It seemed decent because it was a break from the cold dark and wet outdoors. I think many of us, at least me, assumed this would only go on for a few weeks, so we didn’t hate it. Hell, we got to see peoples homes, pets, sleep in a little bit, not worry about finding parking, and step out of the video frame if we needed a rest and didn’t want everyone to know. There were definitely positives!

I think the most positive aspect of Zoom is one that has been very easy to not think about or appreciate during the pandemic, and that is the fact that even amidst a worldwide crisis, WE CAN STILL CONNECT TOGETHER. How lucky are we? But, as life got flooded with what felt like virtual everything in an attempt to keep things close to “normal”, and as a few weeks turned in to a few months, we all started to get tired. Really fucking tired.

I have heard a lot of folks talk about their struggles with the pandemic, and I have really been trying to be an ear for everyone and feel grateful that I am not struggling in that same way. I have my job, my health, my wife and pets, our home which is tucked away on a beautiful lake in the country, HOW COULD I POSSIBLY have anything to struggle over? You can have “it all” but still be struggling, because these times are HARD for anyone. On top of the pandemic, we have the election exhaustion, working on systemic racism and having really difficult conversations (much overdue), and if you’ve had your eyes on social media at all, you’ll see people are just not kind, period. This is a combo that would make anyone want to just take a breather.

A few days ago, Laura Green from NPHQ wrote a post on instagram, and I shared it on to NP Worcester Social, because it really resonated with me. This is what her post said:

“This pandemic has stolen so much from us, including that feeling of belonging that surges from sweating and dry heaving next to your neighbor on Wednesday mornings. Many of us have fallen off the November Project scene as Zoom workouts don’t fill you up in the same way, and I can absolutely relate. But the leaders haven’t stopped. They never stopped.

In a world growing more divided every day, the leaders work tirelessly to draw you back together. They have the most impossible task of trying to keep November Project members engaged and challenged virtually, with no positive external feedback looping back to spring them forward to the next week. They are reading, reflecting, and discussing with one another on how to re-invent the NP world to be a more inclusive and equitable space. They are listening to my annoying, preachy self as I not-so-discreetly attempt to burn November Project to the ground so version 2.0 is actually what we say we are, a safe place for all, especially for our Black members.

This is a really long caption to outwardly express the deepest gratitude for the current co-leaders and to encourage you to do the same. If you have ever been to a workout or were ever a co-leader in the pre-pandemic world, reach out to the leaders and thank them. Energize them. Remind them of why they love this. 4 months in and who knows how long to go, we need these leaders now more than ever and they could probably use all of you as well.

I want to clarify why I shared this. I fully believe as a co-leader, and have since day one, in being FULLY transparent with this group. Co-leaders are human, too. I felt discouraged and just at a loss with how to get this group to engage more. What was I doing wrong, why weren’t people more motivated? How do I break this lull? Then, Laura posted that and it just clicked. I care SO much about this community and about each and every single one of you. The share was not to guilt anyone. NO ONE SHOULD FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT ATTENDING ZOOM WORKOUTS. Please read that sentence again. I shared the post because I miss this community. I miss it HARD. Worcester is notorious for it’s welcoming and close knit vibe. Was it my fault that it was lacking?

If someone posts “how was your weekend” on the social page, share something fun and inspiring. Get in small groups and Zoom together on Wednesdays instead of alone. Reach out to someone you don’t know well and don’t talk to much and say hello. This sounds lame but I have done it with leadership and it has resulted in some great friendships that may have not ever happened otherwise. Check in on each other. There are so many things we can do to keep this community thriving during a pandemic that will not only help others, but in return help our own well being, too. No one is judging you for not Zooming because Zoom fatigue is REAL, but there are so many other ways to help us keep NP WOO amazing. We are SO LUCKY to have November Project in our lives, and not just for the fitness. If there was ever a time that saying just show up was more valid than ever, that time is now.

I am glad you are all here. Thank you to my co-leader Jim for holding it down for me today, so I could take a step back.

With love,

Peanut

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