Free in WNY / The November Project— just show up
Photos by kc kratt
Before dawn on a frigid winter Wednesday morning, at least fifty people are assembled behind the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, ready to work out. In rain or shine, snow or sleet, this tribe always shows up, because, for them, Wednesdays are the best day of the week. Wednesdays are the day they start their morning with the November Project.
The November Project is a free fitness movement that began in Boston in 2011 and now has a presence in forty-five cities across North America, Asia, and Europe. Locally, fitness buffs Jason Jerome and Steven Procknal organized their first group workout last May and were officially welcomed as a November Project tribe a month later, celebrating the occasion with a special group workout out at Coca-Cola Field.
Steven Procknal and Jason Jerome, leaders of Buffalo’s November Project tribe
“The first week we were shocked when about forty people showed up,” says Procknal. “From there, we were at 100 within three weeks and averaging 150 to 200 within six weeks. Buffalo was committed and dedicated, and word spread fast.”
Free November Project workouts are held every Wednesday morning, from 6:10-6:40 a.m., behind the Albright-Knox, with no signup required—just show up. (Visit facebook.com/NovemberProjectBuffalo for weekly event reminders.) The group uses outdoor spaces as their playground and welcomes people of all ages and fitness levels to join in.
“NP workouts have a main focus revolving around stairs,” Jerome says. “The movement started off in Boston at the monstrosity known as the ‘Harvard Steps,’ and has evolved into multiple cities around the world utilizing city landmarks to create gnarly versions of the iconic stadium.”
Here, that means running up the stairs by the Albright and Hoyt Lake, looping around the gallery, performing step-ups on ledges, doing partner planks and dips—“anything we can do to keep the energy high and the body moving for a full thirty minutes,” Jerome says.
For Procknal, the best part of the November Project is how it fosters camaraderie, positivity, and inclusivity every week, fifty-two weeks a year.
“Workouts always involve an element of fun and teamwork. They’re scalable for any level of fitness, and they begin with a ‘bounce,’ which mimics how team sports build hype before a game,” he says. “We saw in other cities the communities being built, new friendships being made, all while having a good time, and we wanted that experience for Buffalo too.”
Jerome agrees: “We encourage kindness. We encourage being a tough son-of-a-gun and believing in yourself enough to do things that you doubted before. My question to Buffalo is: ‘Do you have it in you to just show up?’”