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T help leading November Project YEG. His sister suggested Nadim he scene: A cold, dark weekday morning at 6 a.m. A leader calls out to the crowd: “Let’s move in real tight. OK, Chin, a human-resources consultant at Servus Credit Union and loyal tribe member. (Each city’s group is called a “tribe.”) let’s bounce.” “There are these dynamic people leading the tribes who are funny With that, about 50 Edmontonians — myself included — and not afraid to be crazy. They’re extroverts. That’s like Nadim,” of all ages and fitness levels bounce until we’re told to stop. Ference says. “And I somehow convinced Jen that it wouldn’t be as “Good morning!” one of the leaders yells. “Good morning!” we much work as it was.” yell back. “Are you good?” a leader yells, Canadianized from “Y’all “It’s a non-paying job,” Jennifer says as she, Chin and I warm good?” “F--k yeah!” we answer — except for the underage members, up in her car after running hills at Gallagher Park and toboggan- who remain silent. Then, the 30-minute workout begins. ing with the rest of the group. The two of How did I get here? I was feeling them share leadership responsibilities, adventurous. Well, adventurous and fat. I like determining workouts and locations, needed to shake things up. and write blog posts after workouts. A boot-camp instructor once told me Her brother joins in when his hockey it takes three weeks of purposeful change schedule allows. to break a bad habit or create a good one. “In a weird way, the fitness thing is kind of I combined that with a helpful tip from secondary,” Chin says. “We’re not trainers.” a colleague about a free, early-morning “No, we’re community builders,” workout. My excuses about a lack of Jennifer adds. time and money quickly sounded weak. Graham stresses that tribe leaders My shakeup came when I committed must show up on time, every time, no to this early-morning workout called matter the temperature or lack of sunlight. the November Project for three weeks. Mondays are a mishmash of activities, “Why not? You can do anything for like burpees, hoisties and partner work. three weeks, right?” Stairs are on Wednesdays, and hills are for The November Project is the brain- breakfast on Fridays. child of Brogan Graham and Bojan If you’ve wandered around downtown Mandaric, former college rowing at 6 a.m., you may have heard the happy, teammates from Northeastern University — Andrew Ference obscene chants. But, for most, mornings who decided that, throughout November don’t start so cheerily — not even for es- 2011, they would exercise together each tablished athletes like Jennifer and Chin, weekday morning using free outdoor or professional ones like Ference. Nobody spaces throughout Boston. likes getting up that early, but it’s worth it Yet, when November ended, the duo at the end of the day when you’ve already got your workout in. didn’t stop and, starting in spring 2012, their friends wanted in. “We As for my three-week experiment, all of my boundaries were just know that parties are more fun when more people are there,” tested. I hugged strangers; I am not a hugger. I navigated the city for Graham says. Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference heard of the November Monday locations; I am directionally challenged. I pushed myself in workouts; I am exploring how close to throwing up I want to get for Project through a friend when he was playing for the Boston Bruins. a personal best. “I liked the energy. It was cool and different,” he says. “I was chasing Over the weeks, I increased from five to 6.4 flights of Royal for once, trying to keep up to some really good athletes. It drove my Glenora stairs. I earned a –30˚C badge for braving extreme level of fitness higher.” When Ference was traded to Edmonton in elements. And I learned how to properly do a hoisty — I think. July 2013, he brought the November Project north. Edmonton was I skipped Monday of Week Four because, really, I completed the the only Canadian city out of 16 November Project sites until groups experiment. But something felt missing: The accomplishment and started up in Calgary and Winnipeg in early March. rush of working out and yelling “F--k yeah!” so early in the morning A day after flying into Edmonton, Ference invited people to join with other like-minded individuals. him for a workout in Kinsmen Park via Twitter. (Social media and Will the November Project have a Tae Bo, Thigh Master-esque word-of-mouth are the November Project’s main marketing tools, ending? Who knows? But Graham says they intentionally expanded helping keep it fun and “free forever.”) His sister, Jennifer, a teacher this idea via tribe leaders who embrace being inclusive, reliable, and consultant, joined him, along with about 25 others. He hoped to follow Boston’s example and build enough momentum during the punctual and “badass.” “We had a nice recipe going — a beautiful blend of community summer months before winter made regulars question their sanity. and fun and fierce athletes,” Graham says. Winter also brought hockey season, meaning Ference needed “I liked the energy. It was cool and different, I was chasing for once, trying to keep up to some really good athletes. It drove my level of fitness higher.” 89