November Project Amsterdam

Zaterdag ochtend 17 december. Een wekker die om 06.30 gaat.. Nog donker buiten, maar hup; uit de veren..! Ik was uitgenodigd voor een speciale editie van November Project. Een work-out tijdens zonsopkomst op het dak van Nemo, gevolgd door een outdoor yoga sessie. Tja, dat wil je als buiten yoga liefhebber natuurlijk niet missen..!

Het gaf een heel bijzonder gevoel om met deze missie in het donker de stad te doorkruisen tussen het naar huis kerende uitgaanspubliek door. Terwijl ik de eerste trappen van Nemo beklom zag ik (enigszins verbaasd..) dat ik zeker niet de enige was die bereid was om op zaterdag ochtend op dit tijdstip acte de présence te geven. Ik bevond me in een heuse community, die mij als nieuwkomer vriendelijk en warm in haar midden opnam.

November Project Amsterdam Nemo

Ik vergeet te vertellen dat ik me de laatste keer dat ik heb hardgelopen bijna niet meer kan herinneren...! Afijn, kleinigheidje hou je toch..! Na een korte introductie, hugs met onbekenden en het toegewezen krijgen van een maatje en een team voor de rest van de work-out gingen we van start. Een uur lang de trappen op en af met bootcamp oefeningen tussendoor. Zo.. ik was wakker..! En niet alleen wakker, maar in contact.. in contact met zo'n 60 andere outdoor liefhebbers, waarvan ik er binnen een uur al een aantal bij naam wist te noemen..! En zelfs van het deel waaraan ik me nog niet had geïntroduceerd kon ik rekenen op de nodige aanmoedigingen!

Wat een bijzonder geheel realiseerde ik me tijdens de afsluitende yogales. Hier moeten we onze Buiten-Yoga fans aan introduceren! Wat het geheel zo bijzonder maakt is het enthousiasme en de bevlogenheid van de twee initiatiefneemsters in Amsterdam; Annelise Mecca en Saskia Seysener. Ik nodigde ze uit om het verhaal van November Project verder toe te lichten in een Buiten-Yoga blog.

November Project Amsterdam

"Are you all good?"
"F@$k YEAH!!"

November Project started about five years ago with just two former college athletes/teammates/ friends, but most importantly, two goofballs. Can that word be translated into a Dutch adjective? Either way, they were larger than life, and what they started has grown into something that is larger than life. On 1 November, 2011, they made a commitment to each other to work out for the month of November every day before work, as a way to jumpstart their fitness and gain momentum that would get them through the cold New England months. They used their city as their gym, alternating between different types of workouts involving running, stairs, burpees, box jumps on a park bench, whatever they could find, always outside, always for free. They held each other accountable and just showed up, no matter the weather or how tough it was to get up with the alarm. By the end of the month, they were in great shape, they knew their city better, their friendship had grown stronger, and they did it all for free. So they continued. By springtime, their two man team became three, then a dozen, then 50, then hundreds over the next few months and Harvard Stadium became iconic as the home of this tribe of neon-clad crazies pushing hard and encouraging each other every Wednesday morning. The culture of openness, competitiveness without judgement, hard work and hugs was contagious, and November Project [Boston] was born. After that, it spread through family, friends, and the movement of tribe members to new cities and eventually new countries and continents. And then it came to Amsterdam.

A little over two years ago, I just showed up to November Project on a Wednesday morning at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. There was this buzz, this positive energy with a badass edge flowing through all these stranger-friends, even in the dark, even in the silent lulls and heavy breathing and unsure footsteps on the small marble stairs. I didn’t know what that feeling I felt that first morning was, but I knew it was good. Over time, the tribe became family and the city became home. When wanderlust and graduate school brought me to Amsterdam, I knew I needed to bring November Project with me. I knew that no matter the social norms, fitness culture, or language, November Project could be translated into any city- humans are humans, and the need for community and a sense of belonging is universal. Free fitness- killer workouts as the sun comes up and the rest of the city sleeps - is just the tool we use, the avenue we take in creating the bigger picture, the community of hardworking, hug-worthy, badass stranger-friends.

Now, on any given morning in Amsterdam, there is that buzz, that energy, that kick-ass feeling flowing through the tribe as we race bridges or power up and down stairs. Some have been with us from day one (co-leader Saskia showed up when we were just a handful of weirdos running in the dark), and some joined on as we picked up speed and started to form a small community, an always-penetrable, perpetually growing bubble of good humans living all kinds of lives, but coming together weekly to connect with one another, support each other, and run. This whole NP world and what it means may be unfamiliar to some; maybe our Wednesday morning workouts are simply that – a workout – and they are just here to get their sweat on, to get faster and stronger, and soak up the good vibes before heading to work. But NP AMS is a family, a community, a not-so-random group of likeminded individuals that will cheer you on, love you during your highest highs and during you lowest lows, push you past the limits you thought you had, and embrace you with open arms and uncomfortably sweaty hugs. This family may be weird and quirky, socially and culturally bizarre and sometimes hard to follow, but we are a family.

Feel like trying out a November Project work-out? Every Wednesday morning at 6:28 AM at the bridges behind the Nemo building. #JustShowUp

*Photos by Jaimie Peeters

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