Imagine a Monday in January, 6:30 a.m. Boston time. Not so warm. And that's precisely why, last winter, a nomadic tribe of warrior-athletes armed with snow shovels made the news after being spotted attacking snow piles that were blocking the driveways of a neighborhood. In between rounds, tribe members were also seen dropping to the ground for sit-ups.
The tribe? November Project. With 20 tribes across the U.S. and Canada - no membership or trainer fees required - this fitness flash mob is taking over the free world, one free workout at a time.
We caught up with San Diego tribe co-founder Lauren Padula in the middle of a game of rock-paper-scissors at the top of a dirt staircase in Balboa Park. The time, 6:29 a.m. PDT.
Padula explained, "The workouts change every single time. One day they might sprint between snow shoveling, or do bicep curls with their shovels. What's consistent - never will a November Project tribe give up their workout. We're weatherproof."
As she shared November Project's history with DiscoverSD, tribal pairs behind her continued playing rock-paper-scissors. The winner running the trail and the loser doing push-ups then sprinting, they'd meet back full circle and start the process all over with a new challenger.
"November Project originated in Boston when two friends who rowed together in college got out into the real world and discovered how hard it was to stay fit without the team spirit - and without having to pay way too much for a fitness membership or personal trainer," Padula said.
"So in November 2011, they drew up a Google doc and made a pact to each other called the November Project, vowing to meet outdoors and train for free. The idea was if they could make it through a November in Boston, they could make it through anything."
How can you join?
"Just show up!" Padula said. "Our tribe meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:29 a.m. Mondays are rotating and go with a monthly theme, with the first Monday of the month at Kate Sessions Park in PB. On Wednesdays, we meet at the Bea Evenson Fountain in Balboa Park, then nomadically migrate to wherever the workout is happening."
So don't put away the red, white and blue after the holiday weekend - you'll need it all month.
"For July, the theme is the month of America," Padula said. "So after the first Monday at Kate Sessions, we'll meet at the USS Midway in front of the sailor-kissing-the-nurse statue for the second Monday, Liberty Station for the third, and Mount Soledad for the fourth. The locations, like our workouts, are inspired by ideas like freedom and independence - so wear red, white and blue!"
The free workouts are different each time. San Diego tribe members range from a 9-month-old who gets pushed around the circuit in a stroller with workout-partner dad to an 85-year-old warrior-athlete. And don't be surprised if it's the last thing you expect - the last "race" the San Diego tribe had was teams of four pushing a Prius across the Kate Sessions parking lot.
What's guaranteed is that you'll be laughing and running around and doing things you haven't done since grade school recess - and before you know it you'll be sweating your way through a solid workout.
"We like to say we're not a boot camp or running club - workouts are designed so anybody can show up," Padula said. "We'll challenge you and support you all at the same time. You're going to get a high-five whether you're walking or running, skipping the push-ups or doing them with your 5-year-old kid on your shoulders."
WHEN: 6:29 a.m., Mondays and Wednesdays
FIRST MONDAY OF THE MONTH: Kate Sessions Park, Pacific Beach
SECOND MONDAY IN JULY: USS Midway at the Soldier Kissing the Nurse statue
THIRD MONDAY IN JULY: Liberty Station
FOURTH MONDAY IN JULY: Mount Soledad
ALL WEDNESDAYS: Bea Evenson Fountain in Balboa Park
OTHER MONDAYS: Check online for monthly theme and locations
MORE INFO: november-project.com/san-diego-ca or facebook.com/NovemberProjectSA
Anna Mueco has been a student of hatha and kriya yoga since 2003. Mueco became a yoga instructor in 2006 and currently teaches in Pacific Beach. Send your thoughts about the yoga world to her at anna@HyperNinjaYoga.com.