The Workout Happening In PVD You Probably Haven't Heard Of...Yet

The first rule of November Project do not talk about November Project, just show up.

There is no gym, no bikes, no membership fee. There is no waiting for equipment or free weights. No experience needed, no posturing, no excuses, no rain (or snow)-outs. Led by intrepid coach Steven Blais, the November Project is like no other fitness program happening in the 401.  

Every Wednesday and Sunday morning (and I do mean every - I don’t even think direct lightning strikes would warrant a cancellation), a tribe of friends, acquaintances and total strangers shows up at the State House. From the first “GOOD MORNING! I CAN’T HEAR YOU---GOOOD MOOORNING” - you are in for a blast of positivity, encouragement, knowledgeable coaching, and yeah, one hell of a workout.

Each workout involves running (...walking...marching…) up and down the State House steps, sometimes as a warmup and sometimes as the day’s only activity. Once a month is PR Day, when the group just does the steps for 40 minutes straight - this is my favorite day, as it’s simple and it’s a measurable way of tracking progress. During the shenanigans, music blasts from a speaker on the steps, and Steven (and others) pops out of nowhere to holler encouragement, throw a high five, ask how you’re doing.

The November Project was hatched in Boston, by two Northeastern University rowers, who wanted a way to track their fitness. People kept joining them, and it grew into a worldwide movement with 49 communities (to date - it is always growing).

RI native Steven Blais had a vision of a similar workout thriving in the Ocean State. He started last December with a handful of friends, and within a few short months, his vision became a reality. There are now over 150 people, of every age and fitness level, rising to the challenge of free fitness, accountability, and community, every week. Steven loves what he does, and brings that perfect mix of expertise and relentless encouragement to the group.

Steven loves the Ocean State (he, like many of us, moved away for a bit, but you can never really leave RI, can you?) and says the state is like one, big, small town - something every Rhode Islander can identify with. He cannot name just one favorite place for a healthy meal, but when pushed, he’ll say that does love a good taco, and he always hits up Haruki East for his favorite pre-race sushi.

If you’re going to check out The November Project (and you should), here are a few tips:

  • Again, what’s the first rule of November Project?  #justshowup

  • And the second rule? DO talk about November Project - tell your friends, bring your squad, don’t keep this awesomeness to yourself!

  • Workouts are every Wednesday morning, rain or shine, at 5:27 and 6:27 am, and Sunday mornings at 10:00.

  • There is plenty of very nearby street parking at that time of day, so don’t start kvetching about where you’re going to park.

  • Bring an extra workout shirt and leave if off to the left - it will be tagged with spray paint while you work out - even the swag is free.

  • Bring a water bottle, and leave it on the edge of the steps, along with phones, keys, etc.

  • Follow The November Project on Instagram for updates, photos, encouragement, community - @novemberprojectpvd and now also in Newport @novemberprojectnpt.

More About Melissa

Melissa B was born and raised in the 401, but only discovered the East Bay (much like Columbus “discovered” America) as an adult. She is known for a legendary unwillingness to relocate, and a complete willingness to travel far and wide for the perfect lobster roll (hint: it’s right in our backyard). She will throw down if you disrespect the Ocean State. She loves the hot, new places, but she knows that it’s often the not-hot, not-new places that make RI special.

She can be found at:

Photo Credits: All photos were taken by Darran Hazebrouck.