By Christina Bivona, News Staff
Northeastern men’s rowing alumni, Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric have started a new workout group called November Project, that builds not only muscle but also character.
The concept was born when Graham and Mandaric were looking for inspiration to exercise after graduating college and moving on from the crew team. The plan went into action last November with a small group that met weekly to work out and encourage each other to improve. From there, the number of participants continued to grow.
“The idea is that when the alarm clock goes off in the morning you pop out of bed,” Graham explained. “The concept of whether to go or not isn’t there – if your friend is waiting for you on the corner, it’s non–negotiable; you’re going.”
Now, with a few hundred people showing up to weekly workouts, this new family or “tribe,” as they refer to themselves, is only getting stronger. Whether the sun is shining or it’s pouring rain, sessions are always held at 6:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, early enough to get a great workout in before work or classes.
Exercises rotate each meeting, whether athletes are doing intense core work, climbing sections of Harvard University’s football stadium or running four miles up and down the hill on Summit Avenue in Brookline, each morning is designed to be challenging and enjoyable. If participants live within a six-mile radius of the location, they are also encouraged to run to the meeting place for an even more satisfying session.
“It’s easier for me to work out and get up earlier more often because so many people are there. All these people like to work out and push each other,” said Clare Samuelson, a senior psychology major and former member of the Northeastern women’s rowing team.
Like many participants, Samuelson started exercising with November Project this past summer and now tries to attend most workouts throughout the week. Being a part of the “tribe” is a huge support for local Bostonians trying to stay in great shape.
“I wouldn’t come [to Harvard stadium] if it wasn’t for the November Project,” Samuelson said. “It gets my butt out here.”
Workouts are open to people of all fitness levels and members are allowed to go at their own pace. Athletes that participate are from a wide range of different athletic specialties that include runners, yogis and even members of Northeastern sports teams.
For newcomers, some of the workouts are shortened to help participants adjust to their new fitness load. But being a “newbie” is nothing to be ashamed of. Previous “newbies” have included Boston Bruins player Andrew Ference and former Northeastern men’s rower and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Daniel Walsh.
Besides all the great opportunities and challenges November Project provides, one of the most appealing factors of the group is that it’s completely free to join. Co-founder Mandaric attributes their zero-dollar policy to the free facility they use – the city of Boston.
“Basically it’s a middle finger to all the studios and pay-for-fitness programs because this is more fun. The driving force is accountability,” Mandaric said.
And that’s what makes November Project thrive – its support system, which is the “backbone” of the operation.
Graham and Mandaric also use the group’s website, (www.november-project.com), to help encourage athletes to stay committed to themselves and keep coming back. While sections of the site, such as the “Wall of Excellence,” are dedicated to personal and program records, members must also be careful not to end up under the section, “We Missed You This Morning,” where the co-founders aren’t afraid to publicize a member’s excuse for missing that morning’s workout.
“The idea is no excuses, you can always go outside and play recess,” Graham said.
With an intense yet playful atmosphere, November Project’s popularity is growing among local athletes, and there is a push for more students to get involved and join workouts around the city.
“Northeastern students, just like Emerson, BU, Harvard and MIT students, rarely leave campus and leave the greater Boston area. Just show up, don’t talk about it,” Graham said.