In New Orleans, most of us love to eat. We don’t eat as a means of survival; we eat for entertainment, socializing and a topic of conversation. We eat lunch while discussing what we’re going to have for dinner. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner is a way of life.
We eat our way from Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas. Inevitably, that results in me pulling out last year’s pair of jeans so that I can fit into them without feeling like I’m stuffing myself into a sausage casing. Come New Year’s, I try to get back into the swing of things, but then there’s Mardi Gras. Woe is me!
This year I wanted to get a jump start on my usual New Year’s resolution of eating healthy and dropping a couple of pounds. I heard about this free workout group called the November Project, so I decided to give it a try. The November Project is a nationwide movement launched to encourage people to work out during the cold winter months. They refer to each city as a “tribe” and the New Orleans tribe meets at 6 a.m. every Wednesday at Champions Square and every Friday at the Lakefront. Their motto is “just show up.”
On the Wednesday before Christmas, I showed up and dragged my friend Heather with me. When we arrived, there were about 60 people there plus the three tribe leaders. The session started with a little motivation – jump up and down, shout some motivational phrases and hug a stranger. What?!? I just rolled out of bed, and now you want me to hug somebody? I don’t have anything against hugging strangers, but I chose to hug Heather instead. I get it though. It’s all meant to create camaraderie and make new friends. After a quick hug, the workout began.
The first exercise out of the gate was to run up and down the stairs for 10 minutes. Yikes! I quickly realized that there are a lot of runners in this group by the way they were lapping me, but no one frowns upon you even if you walk the stairs. Everyone is there for the same reason — to motivate one another and get some exercise in whatever fashion you choose.
After about the first five minutes, I found myself starting to walk up the stairs and run down. Works for me! Once the 10 minutes of running were up, the tribe leaders chose a theme – “the 12 days of Christmas.” Ooooh…this sounds fun!
The 12 Days of Christmas were broken down like this:
Day 1 – run the stairs once
Day 2 – 2 burpees
Day 3 – 3 push ups
Day 4 – 4 box jumps
Day 5 – 5 crunches
Day 6 – 6 air squats
Day 7 – 7 mountain climbers
Day 8 – 8 supermans
Day 9 – 9 penguin toe touches
Day 10 – 10 flutter kicks
Day 11 – 11 walking lunges
Day 12 – 12 burpees
Basically, you perform the exercises just like the song: The first day, then the second day followed by the first day, then the third day followed by the second day followed by the first day and so on.
Now while this sounds torturous, the leaders made it quite fun by playing entertaining Christmas music, high fiving you and shouting funny things as you pass them. Plus, you do it at your own pace, so if you don’t finish by the time class is up it’s okay.
Heather and I got to day eight before they called time. Whew! Success! I made it 45 minutes without quitting. The end of class entails taking a group picture, hearing some announcements and handing out an award for a person who consistently shows up, which apparently there are a lot of them. You can tell this is a good group of people by the way they interact and support one another.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get that award because I plan on “showing up” pretty regularly in the New Year.
The November Project is a free fitness movement that meets on Wednesdays and Fridays. Visit their website for more information about how to participate.
Rachel Sigur is Director of Production at Fox 8 WVUE and a frequent traveler. She is also now a fan of the November Project.