Fitness Isn’t a Lifestyle Anymore. Sometimes It’s a Cult
Wired - 06/30/2016
They are November Project’s cofounders—and they totally fit their gladiatorial-sounding names: 6-foot-tall, bald, tattooed former collegiate rowers. Back in 2011, when the friends were trying to stay motivated during a Boston winter, they agreed to work out every weekday morning at 6:30, keeping track of their progress on a spreadsheet named for that first month, November.
Then, for reasons neither can quite remember, they sent out a tweet to see if anyone would join in. Two people became three, and a movement was born. When the Boston tribe reached 300 people, Graham and Mandaric got matching tattoos.
In the past few years, fitness has developed into something of a social identity — at least among plugged-in, upper-middle-class, roughly millennial-age urbanites.
It was a powerful turning point for Graham. During his sophomore year at Northeastern University, he was charged with assaulting a rival college rower. Though the charge was dropped in exchange for community service, he lost his scholarship and was kicked out of school. The experience shaped Graham’s views on community and inclusion. “Got a bad rap? I don’t care,” he wrote in the movement’s official history. “Are you at November Project to be kind, work your ass off, and start your day right? Then that’s all that matters.”