“This isn’t just fitness. This is our tribe. This is our life.”
6.30am on a Friday morning in London. It’s dark, it’s cold and there isn’t much going on. Except of course, for Project Awesome.
Currently based at the running track at Regents Park (if you read the Telegraph this is because they are ‘at war’ with the residents of Primrose Hill where the sessions used to take place) PA works on a #justturnup policy. It is free, it is fun, and it is uniting the people of London, Edinburgh and Bristol one brightly coloured burpee at a time.
Project Awesome is the pixie-dust covered brain child of Danny Bent. I’ve been trying for a while to think of a sentence to describe this man. I’ve met him, I’ve socialised with him, and yet, he is indescribable. The first time I met Danny was at Dirty Weekend. I’d heard about him, he is a friend of Steve’s and I’d watched Ultimate Hell Week so I knew what he looked like physically, and I just assumed he would be your average bloke who likes to do mad stuff. Wrong. He’s life changing. It’s the only way I can think of to encompass him into words. Not long after I met him I watched him crowd surf across a gig full of people on an inflatable unicorn, which is as fitting as it is typical. Which probably explains why he has been voted as one of the 50 most influential people in London, as well as one of the 100 happiest people in the UK. And what he has done with Project Awesome, well that’s life changing as well.
What started as a free fitness movement to try and bring chinks of rainbow to dark, subdued London has spread to Bristol and Edinburgh, with Scott Seefeldt and Steven Curnyn heading up those tribes. These guys are incredible, they have this energy that is so rare, they love what they do, and they make you love it to.
And it’s not just for the hardcore obstacle racers, or the Ultra runners out there, this class (although I am loathe to call it that, it is so much more) is open to everyone. Regardless of whether you’ve never run before or can’t plank to save your life, if you can turn up with a smile on your face, really bright workout gear on, and deliver at least one high five during your session, then you’re more than fit enough to be there. This week in Edinburgh, with Captain Steve off enjoying those first precious days of fatherhood two PA regulars took the reigns, Anna and Abby are what exactly what makes Project Awesome so special, it’s not one guy taking a gym class, it’s everyone being amazing together.
I took my kids today in London, and they joined in too, everyone is welcome (even dogs). We started with the customary PA Haka and because we were the ‘newbies’ we were positioned opposite the regulars. They Haka’d at us and then we Haka’d back at them, in the pitch dark, having never met each other before, and it wasn’t weird at all. Genuinely. We paired off after that, with one of us running (jogging/walking/sprinting) round the track clock-wise while the other went anti-clockwise. The session was simple, when you met your partner you stopped and did a ‘paired exercise’. Today these were kick-backs, back to back squats, and shoulder touches. #2 was my partner so my back to back squats turned into her on my back while I squatted but it worked just the same. and the time whizzed past, before we knew it we were done. We finished with the squatting circle where we all linked hands and shouted out our names while we squatted.
And that was it. It was 7:15am and we had worked out, had fun, met new people and discarded some of the London grey. And then we wandered through Primrose Hill (past all the offended runners) and grabbed coffees and smoothies before we had to catch our tube and everyone dispersed.
There are things that happen, and people that you meet that will help you to discover who you are. For me, I was fortunate enough to meet them at Deerstalker this year, and the ball that started rolling that night has been incredible, it has picked up more awesomeness and more pixie-dust along the way and I am incredibly blessed to have such an amazing tribe of people in my life.
You can too. Project Awesome (and Hell Fit of course) is not only bringing chinks of the rainbow to London, it is bringing people together, it is changing lives and building a community that is not only badass fit, they are unstoppable.
Edinburgh PA – 6:30am, Carlton Hill, Wednesdays
London PA – 6:30am, Mondays (#Flashfitness), Wednesday (The Scoop, City Hall), Fridays (Regent Park Running Track)
Bristol PA – 6:30am, Wednesday (Lloyds Amphitheatre), Friday (Brandon Hill)