Who Are the People? (BOS)

We do this “borough” workout, in Boston, which uses the stadium by breaking it up into little neighborhoods of 5 sections. And depending on which borough you’re in, you repeat a certain 5 sections over and over throughout the workout, to get as many repeats as you can…AND to have some quality time with the other peeps in your neighborhood.

You see, NP is a social thing. AND it’s a fitness thing. The beauty of this workout–today called “5 Boroughs” is that you get to experience a killer workout that is designed to make it easier to see the same people again and again–not just once, if at all, during the workout. You might be chasing them up the sections, just trying to catch them before they slip down underneath to return to the start of your 5 section area. You might be holding on and seeing how long you can stay ahead of them as they chase you down. Or you might be neck and neck the whole darn time…but it’s in these moments that you actually can, between gasps of air you grab on the way up, ask their name, find out a little about them, or simply share a small word of encouragement.

I’ve been doing these workouts with NP_BOS for years now, and to be honest, the stadium workouts are the most challenging to make friends, or even acquaintances, during. I can barely breathe most of the time, and everyone else seems to be working so hard, I feel bad asking them questions that force them to try to talk, while also climbing stairs. But I love this workout so much because when I spend some sustained time next to people, the many “ways of knowing” someone seem to expand. I might know–or hopefully learn their name–just because we’re both there, and I like saying “good job NICK” way better than just a generic “good job.” And I also start to know how Nick, and Katie, and Eric, and Justin, and Colin (all nearby me this morning), approach the bottom of the stairs–do they stop and turn and blast up, do they run to the bottom and run across and run up, or something else? I start to see where it gets hard for them. How talkative they are toward other people. I start to know how they approach or attack the run underneath the stadium to start the borough again. I know a little better how they handle fatigue, how they respond when someone shouts out across the stadium–whether they hoot, or whistle, or groan.

We begin to have a shared experience. Not just a “in the stadium at the same time, generally holding each other accountable the way NP was first intended” kind of way. But actually in a “doing this together” kind of way. In a “you’re influencing me, and I’m influencing you” kind of way. In a “I couldn’t do this without you” kind of way. It would be an entirely different experience without them there.

Now, I can’t say that I know everything about all those fine humans with whom I shared a borough this morning. But I do know that I value them. I like them. I appreciate how hard they worked. I respect that each and every one of them had moments of struggle, of backing off, and of digging in. I saw the strength, and equally saw the vulnerability they each displayed, all while feeling them bringing out of me something that I wouldn’t have been able to muster on some solitary journey around Harvard Stadium stairs this morning. I could absolutely learn more about their lives, their interests, passions, backgrounds, and hopes for the future. But after this morning I WANT to learn that stuff more.

I believe that this is precisely what we are talking about when we say we’re “making the city a little smaller” or “building community in Boston.” We’re making little change that form cracks in (and sometimes tear down) the invisible walls that keep us from feeling close to the ocean of humans around us. And it might start with fitness–and it absolutely can and, for us, should also include fitness along the journey–but it doesn’t have to be only fitness. The power of this fitness is in the community and the sense of connection that comes along with the fitness. NP has dramatically changed the fitness and social landscape in Boston. And it continues to positively impact those same landscapes around the world–in 52 cities–this movement is strong and it’s powerfully changing communities and individuals. And it’s as simple as one workout. One choice to just show up. One borough at a time.

And if you want to let the world how good you think this community is, you can vote for November Project as the “Best Community” in THIS POLL hosted by Runner’s World. Right now we’re in second place…so get out the vote!

upcoming stuff:

Next Monday workout: 9/9 at 6:30am will be at Black Falcon Terminal. MAP HERE. Don’t miss this workout. Sunrise in an epic location. Make it happen.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY WITH NP BOSTON: we’re holding an info session about volunteer opportunities for NP Boston members to be assistant recess coaches with Playworks. Want to learn more??? Just show up to the info session: OCTOBER 16, 6pm at Landry’s on Comm Ave. We will talk, play, and then have some good old social time afterwards. Info session done no later than 7:30pm, social following. Ask questions if you have them!

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