Project Awesome

One week ago today one of our tribe, Esther Hartsilver, was killed in a road accident. As the tribe pulls together to support each other and Esther’s family in the most remarkable way I found myself wondering what makes this group so special. Why a community will drop tools for the good of someone else. Why after one session people write to me telling me that their life has changed forever by the people they met.

Project Awesome is a Free Fitness movement, inspired by November Project in the US, set up 9 months ago to encourage me to get my butt out of the house and to start appreciating London as a play ground for fitness. We train at 6:30am Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Each session starts with hugs with people you don’t know – a passing of energy and love. Some find it weird the first time but by the second session are diving in head first for the heart warming hugs. A handshake historically says, “Trust me I don’t have a dagger.” A hug says, “Trust me, my arms and heart are open wide.”

I guess that hugging pushes some people’s boundaries and this is reinforced with shouting, rubbing noises, looking into each others eyes, and anything else that I can think of to make people feel awkward. With each barrier you push through the remaining barriers weaken and you find yourself pushing yourself in life outside of Project Awesome, whether it is socially or at work, and achieving things you never thought possible.

And with each new step you take there is a friendship group of likeminded people right behind you. People you have suffered with on the steps of the Scoop or on Primrose Hill, who you have encouraged and who have encouraged you. I’m often heard telling people that I can suggest any mad venture to the Project Awesome crew and there will be at least a few people who are crazy enough to give it a go!

Everything we do in the sessions is reinforced in the last instance with a sweaty group hug that affirms everything that has past in the last hour. A moment to reflect on what you’ve put your body through and to feel the support network literally supporting you.

Maybe the fact that you need to be up and out of bed at 5:30am to get to the session by 6:30am is a self selecting process. Maybe it’s the early birds that hold the key to an amazingly supportive network?

Whatever the reason I have been so proud to see how people have come together over the past week during the sadness, the anger and sorrow.

For now I want to end thinking about Esther again. Tonight we are celebrating her life at 7:30pm with her favourite jogging route. You are in our thoughts Esther. Your smile. Your shining energy. The way you walk into a room and the mood lifts. The light you bring to every conversation. The world will never be the same without you, but you live on in each and every one of us.

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