You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

EmSauce rights you today’s blog from beyond the grave! Ok, she’s actually totally alive and well, she just wasn’t there this morning, and still dropped some knowledge bombs on a Wednesday ’cause she’s EmSauce and she’s the best. She also needs no introduction, so I’ll let her begin…

The title of this blog got inspired by the fact that I’m writing it on Monday, even though you’re reading it on Wednesday.  You probably went to the workout at Harvard stadium this morning, and maybe you ran stairs like normal (probably not), or more likely you ran stairs up and down the back tower, like last week.  It’s even possible you did weird things in the snow on the infield of the track, or on a sidewalk, or wherever else the Chrises decided to make fun fitness.  But the guarantee was that you didn’t necessarily know what you were going to get before you showed up.

And today (for me), as a Monday, is the epitome of not knowing what you’re going to get.  If you go to Mondays, you figure out where you’re running/biking/getting to for the workout, but you’re never sure if you’ll end up rolling around in mud, with your hands on the snowy ground for 20 minutes, doing 7 minutes of burpees, or piggy-back riding with a partner across a field.  You just never know.  This week, you could probably expect some amount of snow-involved fitness, because it’s impossible to be outside anywhere without snow right now.  But other than that, you’re pretty much just going along for the ride and hoping you dressed with enough (and the right) layers!

Even on those really regular Wednesdays and Fridays at locations we are familiar with, it’s never the same exact thing as last week or the week before.  You kinda know what you’re gonna get, but you don’t really know what you’re gonna get.

This is one of the core elements of NP.  It’s not just a predictable old routine of the same exact shit, even though there is some reliable structure.  We will always have workouts on Mon Wed Fri mornings in Boston, forever.  But during the workouts you’re signing up for some hard work, some weird shit, and some community interaction.  We also hope like hell that you’re buying into the hard work because it makes you a better & fitter athlete and human being.  We hope you’re buying into the weird shit because this is exactly what makes life fun, interesting, and more exciting to live.  Just like Chris Payne said to me while we watched people jump off a snowy hill into a huge ditch of snow, “we’re all just little kids inside.”  And we hope you buy into the community interaction because it’s a giant part of what makes NP so very different than your local gyms or other fitness opportunities where everyone is doing “cubicle fitness.”  That’s where everyone goes to the same place to workout but do it in isolation, as if they have cubicle walls dividing them.  More like robots working out next to, but never interacting with, each other.  And so if you show up and buy in, you’ll get to work really hard, have a lot of fun, and build some incredible community along the way.

But I had an interesting conversation with someone recently that made me think about what it means to different folks when you never know what you’re gonna get.  For a lot of us who run the rat race–who work and commute and communicate and live in a world that is filled with a non-stop churning of the machine–for anyone who is just go, go, go all the time and feel a lot like we’re hamsters running in a wheel or like that movie groundhog day, living the same day over and over (sheesh, why so many rodent references?), the variety and spontaneity of never knowing is freaking amazing.  It actually creates spice in what might feel like a bland and tasteless existence.  But what about when all that spice is too much? For those humans whose lives require more structure and predictability (like you just can’t be late for work because you were jumping in the river during the workout and have to shower 3 times to get the bacteria off you), or you need more certainty over how far you’re running today and how many burpees you’ll be doing (usually due to deciding to train for big things like marathons and such…good for you!), or life simply feels like ghost-pepper chili already, like maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by how unpredictable everything is, so one more “super fun twist” at NP just makes you cringe rather than laugh and say “fuck yeah!”  On those days, and in those moments of life, I get it.  It makes sense that not knowing what you’ll get on any particular day at NP might feel like too much some days. Which definitely leads a lot of folks to back off from NP for a time.

And after thinking about all that, I’ve come to this conclusion.  Forrest Gump was 100% correct.  Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.  But we can look at that a couple of different ways.  It can mean that since you can’t predict all the things, that you need to skip the spontaneity, variety, and spice for a time.  But it can also mean that because there is the opportunity for spontaneity, variety, and spice, that we get to keep exploring, adventuring, and working to once again enjoy getting outside our comfort zones with the most supportive group of human beings around.

I also believe that when you take your chances with a chocolate from the box and what you bite into just isn’t something you like–you don’t have to eat the whole thing.  Life is difficult, but we don’t have to suffer.  But we should still eat some chocolates!!  Put that metaphor into real life, and I’m gonna encourage all of us to embrace the spice by showing up more, even when we just don’t know what will happen.  Snowy Wednesday morning makes you think you shouldn’t go to NP because you’re certain we won’t be on the stairs?  Maybe we won’t be on the stairs, but you also just don’t know what cool things you’re gonna get.  And whatever we do might be way worse than getting your ass kicked on the stairs like in June, buuuuut, it might just be better than you expected!  It might be nothing you expected.  But when you embrace it and expect that you’re just not going to know until you get there but it’ll always be a safe & fun place to try it out, I believe you’re really tapping into the fun of NP.  Practice being open and welcoming to whatever…and if that chocolate is one you just can’t stand once you bite in, then make some adjustments that work for you and keep moving.

You can always figure out what works for you and keep moving because despite never knowing what workout we’re going to do, you always know you’re gonna get a big smile, an “I’m glad you’re here,” those big bear hugs and high fives, and the best community in which you can #justshowup and move your body.  No matter what.

The Tribe is Strong. Let’s keep changing the world!

love from EmSauce


  • #ShovelCrew TOMORROW. That’s right, Thursday from 5:30 – 8PM just show up to the stadium to help clear stairs & sections for us to run next week. Bring a shovel, bring a friend! Come for all of it or any amount of time you can help but it’s great fitness, and a lot of fun. Stay tuned to update in the NP Boston Social Facebook group, and other NP_BOS social media.
  • PRhills on Friday…come ready to race!!  Check your PR times in your profile in the tracker so you know what time to beat!
  • #ML6K on Monday Jan 15th.  5:30am and 6:30am around the Castle Island loop.
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