He Loves Boston: Q&A with November Project’s Brogan Graham

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A few weeks ago, I started working out with November Project, a grassroots fitness tribe that meets three mornings a week in various locations around the city to motivate one another, have fun, and get fit – for free! I’m still shocked I’m able to drag myself out of bed before dawn, but I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. Come out and give it a shot!

I caught up with Brogan Graham, one of November Project’s very cool co-founders (both of which are fellow Huskies – Go NU!) to find out more about November Project and why he loves Boston.

Lauren: So, tell me how November Project got started?
Brogan: A friend of mind who goes by the name of Bojan, even though years later I’m not sure if that’s his real name, and I decided to workout every day before work in the month of November last year (2011). It was a conversation and a plan we created in a bar one night. “If we can set the pattern in November, we can blast through the winter, and we’ll be super fit come spring!” Like a lot of conversations in bars, we both had to recap it the next day and ask one another, “So….? Are we really down to do this?”

LD: Every workout I’ve been to has had a pretty big crowd and seems to include a pretty diverse bunch. Who are November Project’s members?
BG: The ages, occupations, ethnicities, and athletic backgrounds of our members are all over the map. We tend to have a lot of young professionals and athletes who are training for something. But its important to keep in mind, some of our members bring their dogs, some only do a small percentage of the set workout of the day, and our oldest member is 71 years old. We are open to all while recognizing that waking up early and getting very fit for free isn’t for everyone.

LD: Roughly how many people are in the tribe?
BG:  We estimate that we’ve trained with 400 to 1000 butts total each week since July.

LD: How do you come up with all the different November Project workouts?
BG: Bojan and I used to train under the almighty John Pojednic while on the rowing team at Northeastern. John was an influence for both of us in a huge way. At November Project, our biggest days of the week are actually workouts that John, or should I say, Head Coach Pojednic, had us doing in the fall and winter months (Wednesday’s Stadium & Friday’s Summit Ave). Long before CrossFit was a household name, JP was mixing up workouts to create tougher, fitter athletes. He had us do a triathlon every winter consisting of a 7500m row on the erg in Cabot, into a 5mi river run upstream to the stadium, and a full tour all for time.

LD: What’s the craziest workout the tribe has done?
BG: The fact that we have roughly 100 people doing what we call the #FrogMan1 is pretty insane. “FrogMan1,” named after a badass Appalachian Trail hiker we met in New Hampshire this summer, is 50 sections at the Harvard Stadium instead of the full 37. Some of our wildest gents in the group have done up to 200 in a single session. The hills also have crazy days too. Its not so much about the crazy workout, its more about creating better athletes by putting challenging volume in front of them week in and week out and seeing how they go from survival, to adding more, to comfort, to improving times, to racing, to chasing PR’s, to really becoming racers.



LD: What’s your favorite workout?
BG: I love Monday. We have a new location each week that we post only a few days before the workout. Each member has to find the location, plan their run, leave on time, and when they arrive we do a 20-40 min workout (usually core), and send everyone home to their respective showers. I love finding new parks and features in Boston that could work. But that’s my favorite to host/run. I am really getting into the #FrogMan1 workout. Its just a good 28-38 minutes of hard running. It makes you stronger and puts the whole group in a small enough space that everyone ends up cheering one another on as we all work through it. 

LD: November Project just had its one-year anniversary last month. What do you have planned for the next year ahead?
BG: World takeover should be exciting. For 2013 we are hoping to get more and more people to think about fitness in this town. Far too many people are stuck in lame gyms on lame machines. There are also far too many people running around by themselves wishing they were motivated by a group of like minded people (Bojan and I did) who were in the same boat. We hope to keep the numbers up, show tons of improvements to our racers, but above all, building community and making people THINK about the outside the way we did when we were all kids. Go outside! Its fun out there. I’ll bet we have a few more odd events that will catch the eye of the media. We want to keep doing shit that people say, “Huh, I’ve never seen that before.” #TheRunningOfTheBowls event was just that. 

LD: Outside of being a fearless leader of November Project, how else do you keep busy?
BG: I work the marketing, corporate sales, social media, and customer service for Hubway. Bojan weaves rugs on the internet. We have jobs. We rule. 

LD: After all those early morning workouts you’ve gotta work up an appetite. What are your favorite restaurants in the city?
BG: My favorite restarant in the city is The Other Side Cafe R.I.P. – I guess I’d have to say Life Alive in Central Square. 

LD: And how about your favorite local watering holes?
BG: Tory Row, Good Life, and all of the rooftops that have access. We used to hang out at Connor Larkin’s back in the day. I went their recently and felt like I was one thousand years old. The Mission Bar in Brigham Circle is also a good one. 

LD: As you mentioned, you’re a fellow Husky. What kept you in Boston after graduating from Northeastern?
BG: I’ve actually moved away two times in the last 11 years. What has kept me coming back was the good network of friends and teammates I had in Boston. As lame as it may sound, I really enjoy the Charles River and love my connection to it from my years of racing and coaching boats for NU.

LD: What’s your craziest Boston moment ever
BG: I can’t tell you about things that would get Peter Roby (Northeastern’s Athletic Director) upset so I’ll keep it on topic. The craziest thing that happened to me is still happening. It happens three times a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I host and train a group called the November Project. It was created by my right hand man Bojan Mandaric and I as a way to get in workouts, hang out with one another, and track our progress. What it has become for so many people is a dream, and yes, pretty crazy. If you (readers) ever join us, you’ll realize there is nothing like this going on in Boston at all.




LD: So is it fair to say that you love Beantown?
BG: I do love Beantown. It is my home. I don’t call it Beantown though because I live here. People who call it Beantown usually eat at Cheers and walk the Freedom Trail – nothing wrong with that. (So I guess we know where Brogan stands on the Beantown debate, but that’s OK.)

Thanks, Brogan, for your time and answers!