"I was stuck, I was complacent in life," he said. He suffered from depression, did not meet new people, and did not have a road map to shake him up.

The self-proclaimed introvert described how he procrastinated every day when he came home from work saying that he would work. "I sat down first on the couch and ate a bag of potato tortilla chips, then I sat down a bit, and then the next thing I know, is that it's all right. it is 8 pm and I have not worked yet. "

That's when his sister told him about a new training group called November Project. Its members meet each week outside in the wee hours of the morning, and embark on a combination of high intensity interval workouts and bodyweight exercises. They also play unusual games, such as a form of beacon in which you have to do push-ups at the bar when you are caught.

Esser said he was cynical at first and that his depression gave him a fear of the rejection that weighed him down all the time. But he tried his luck.

"It changed my life," he said. "I wanted to go to every workout after that."

Fast-growing trend

Millions of Americans have made the New Year 's resolution to exercise, but continue this perpetual mirage of real workout routines. Esser, with new friends who hold him accountable, has an advantage. This is a growing trend.

Each year, the American Academy of Sports Medicine publishes its Global Survey of Fitness Trends. Group President Walt Thompson said "group exercises" were not even among the top 20 fitness trends three years ago, but since then have reached second place in 2019 .

Thompson suggests that the millennial generation, often isolated and looking at smartphone screens, is leading the trend with an unsatisfied desire for human connection.

Thompson said that the attrition rate for new exercise programs, especially those tracked following New Year's resolutions, was about 50% during the first 30 days and of nearly 80% within 60 days. But when you introduce responsibility for group exercise, especially with modern tools, wishful thinking will probably turn into a practical habit.

"The compliance rate is increasing and increasing dramatically because we simply have that group dynamic and the social support that is part of the group membership.

"If you are exercising on your own, the only person you have to argue with is yourself."

It's all about responsibility

At least 49 American cities have November draft groups. They are free for participants, emphasize the responsibility of peers and use social media to keep people coming back longer.

At the end of each training session, the leader of the group asks each participant to turn to the person next to him, hug him and say, "I see you next time." In the language of the group, this spoken promise is a "verbal" or verbal commitment that you come next week. So, if you do not show up, you allow group members to call you on social media.

Each group in the November project publishes weekly photos showing those who braved the dawn hours to make burpees and slits and all kinds of movements in public. It is not uncommon for participants to post their social media training sessions with apps like Map My Run, Strava and Fitocracy. Seeing your friends marked on the picture leads to "FOMO" – the fear of missing out.

A unique link

The November Project is one of many formal and informal fitness groups using social media to make physical activity fun and addictive. Esser has met a group of friends who are now training for a marathon.

"When someone does not try to train, you realize that your other members of the tribe will probably contact you and say" hey, what's going on? " " " he said.

"And at the same time, if someone publishes photos at the bar late at night and that he misses a workout, we will also scare you for that. Another way of you hold responsible is to show you all at 6 o'clock in the morning, and you'd better be there.If you say you're going to be there … you pledge to push each other. "