MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities group has found an excuse to stay active outdoors, twice a week, no matter what.

The November Project started in Boston as a way to be accountable through the winter but has since grown to 52 cities around the world.

The Twin Cities chapter meets in various landmark-type spots in either Minneapolis or St Paul, most commonly at Gold Medal Park. The why… depends on who you ask.

“At first I was going for the workout,” said Ella Counihan. “And then eventually it kind of became going for the people.”

Since 2014, the Twin Cities November Project has had one rule: Just show up. People did show up through the snow and the dark. They then started telling their friends and family, and it quickly grew.

“She just kept talking about it and saying oh this so fun,” said Raquel Counihan, Ella’s mom. “And I said, ‘Oh that sounds great, but it’s for young people and it’s not something I would do – I’m old and I’m slow.’

Raquel Counihan held that mentality until just before her 60th birthday, when she decided to give it a shot.

The group meets twice a week, every week. It’s free to attend, thanks to a Brooks sponsorship and leaders Emily Minge and Eric Pleiss, who help organize the group and the workouts.

The workouts themselves vary. When WCCO filmed, participants ran or walked over and back on the pedestrian bridge near US Bank Stadium. Some people did bodyweight movements until five minutes were up, and then they went again.

“It’s circuits, so no one’s in the front, no one’s in the back,” said Minge. “Everyone’s just going at their own pace and people can take it as they need.”

That’s one point Minge and Pleiss emphasize—fitness ability at the November Project ranges from former collegiate athlete, to casual weekday warrior.

“There are no rules about who can come here, when you can come here. We’re in a public space so if you make time to show up then we’re excited that you’re here,” said Pleiss.

By being in Minnesota, the November Project has created an opportunity to embrace winter, helping people find a community along the way.

“People remembered my name in those first couple workouts,” said Jen Antila, who started working out with the group in June 2019. “We were shouting out encouragement. And that positivity was what made me keep coming back.”

The Twin Cities chapter of the November Project just celebrated six years running. In that time, they’ve missed zero workouts outdoors.

Christiane Cordero