November Project Chicago

For as large as Chicago is, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen how small it feels sometimes. A few weeks ago, I spotted a few guys leaving a local running store wearing November Project shirts. “Huh,” I thought. I hadn’t realized that Chicago had a tribe. I googled around, and figured out when and where they met, but I was still hesitant. For as easily as I put myself out there online, or in other settings, showing up to hang out with a bunch of strangers is not in my comfort zone.

After unsuccessfully ramping myself up to do it (think walking up to the edge of the high dive 37 times before the next kid in line makes fun of you and you slink down the ladder), a college friend of mine posted about NP on Facebook. Boom. No excuses, Hillary.

Tuesday was my first workout with the group, and everyone was incredibly welcoming. I will say that it was a SUPER humbling experience. After this weekend’s runs, I was feeling pretty good about my latent fitness. November Project made sure I kept things real. I mean. I almost died. Which is to say that I’m genuinely confused as to how I’ve been functioning as a human being with as little core strength as I apparently have. Towards the end of the workout, I couldn’t support myself with my abdominals. I felt like an infant trying to roll over. I promise this is an endorsement.

The workout was a full-body slam fest: squats, explosive movements, sprints, Russian twists, plank-like things, push-ups, and stretching. My Garmin died on me, but I would imagine we probably ran about a mile’s worth of sprints during the hour-long session?

While I’m still sore a few days later, and find myself struggling to stand up from a seated position, I’m also thankful to have an outlet like this that provides me free group fitness opportunities, and allows me to hand the strength reigns over to someone who will kick my ass, and then give me a hug. Because, if you can’t do more than 1/2 a burpee, you still get hugs, right? (Asking for a friend.)

I’m not an expert, but I found there was strangely little out there about what to expect. So… here are some things to know if you’re considering it:

1) Bring water. I did not think to do this. I was woefully unprepared.
2) People tend to throw their gloves, bikes, jackets, keys, in a general pile near the workout space, so don’t be afraid to bring stuff as needed.
3) Be on time. They start at 6:28a.m. on Wed/Fri, and 6:30p.m. Tues/Thurs.
4) Workouts will run about an hour.
5) They meet in different spots, depending on the day. Tues (Lincoln Park Abe Lincoln statue), Wed (Lakeview Totem Pole), Thurs (Pritzker Pavillion Millennium Park), and Fri (The Bean Millennium Park).
6) Check them out on Twitter or Instagram for updates and announcements
7) They’re into hugging, high-fives, group encouragement, and swearing.
8) They will photograph the workouts, and throw them up on social media, so you might get a better dating profile pic out of it.

If you’re in Chicago and looking for a solid workout for solid zero dollars, and are into meeting cool people in public spaces, I highly recommend you check it out.

All photos from November Project Chicago’s Facebook page

** I wasn’t asked to write this, and was definitely not compensated to do so. This is just a girl, sitting in front of a computer, massaging her trashed quads and wanting to share the love.


Add yours →

  1. I have been e-stalking Nov Project Chicago for months. Months. And I have yet to check them out. For one thing, I’m not a morning person and want to hurl during any AM workout, especially the kind of workout that has the goal of making you hurl regardless. And then there’s the whole “but I don’t know anyone” awkwardness. BUT, maybe I’ll check out these evening workouts to dip my toe in the water …


    • Do it!! All kinds of shapes and abilities, and if you need to take a break during a set, no ones gonna bark at you. They may suggest an alternative to keep you moving, but it’s a very positive reinforcement-based group. And the stranger thing gets immediately swept away, because almost every workout I did involved pairing up with someone & making introductions. Check it out at least once. The worst that can happen is that you feel awkward for an hour and go home sore. 🙂


  2. Awesome! Lynton (whom Maggie knows but I don’t know if you do, H…) raves about NP.


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