Both organizations are part of the larger November Project movement, which promotes free fitness for everyone.
The Ottawa group started in January this year and is working towards being officially recognized as a November Project meetup. Now about 30 people meet every Wednesday morning at 6:29 a.m. on Parliament Hill for a half-hour workout.
Its big sister in Montreal also meets at the same time on Wednesday mornings. Talk about dedication.
Milana Schipper, one of the founders in Montreal along with Derek Pangia, says the two groups would have lighthearted social media competitions—like the highest human plank tower.
She assures they kicked Ottawa’s butt with their plank being four people high. “We have photographic proof!” she laughs. Finally the two organizations decided to have an in-person competition.
Hence the Fit Off was born.
Stephen Bierbrier, part of Work it YOW, has volunteered at Beau’s events like Oktoberfest and got the brewery on board.
While organized by the two groups, anyone in and around Vankleek Hill is open to join the event at the community centre. Have no fear, it isn’t starting a 6:30 a.m.
“We decided to keep the tradition alive, though,” says Bierbrier, “and are going start the workout at 2:29 p.m.”
Rain or shine, freezing or sizzling—it’s happening.
The first part will be half-workout, half-mixer, where people will workout in pairs or teams. The second part will be a bit of competition between the groups.
“There’s a baseball diamond really close so we’re going to incorporate the idea of using the diamond into our workout,” says Elizabeth Mackenzie, one of Work It Yow’s founders. “We also really want to bring the aspect of community into it.”
She and Lauren Carter were inspired to start up the Ottawa chapter after seeing the one in Edmonton attract about 300 people to their workouts in the summer.
“There’s no age limit, there’s no fitness limit, there’s not anything limit,” says Bierbrier. “This is about wellness and about getting as many people active as possible, especially people who have never had the opportunity.”
The only condition? Bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the Vankleek Hill food bank.
Schipper says these meetups are more about community than anything else.
“Strangers really can become friends in a matter of seconds.”