By Guest Blogger Britton Lewis
A few years ago, I was living several states away but visited Wilmington on vacation. I stopped by Fleet Feet to get a new pair of running shoes. While there, I struck up a conversation with the guy behind the counter. He asked me if I’d ever heard of F3. I hadn’t, so I asked him to go on. He explained that F3 stood for Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith and was a completely free, peer-led workout group. I was intrigued. I looked up F3 online and saw that it had workouts across the southeast, just none near where I was living at the time.
A few months later, my family relocated to Greensboro. I remembered my Fleet Feet discussion about F3, so I looked up when and where workouts were in Greensboro. 5:30am. seemed early, but for someone that’s normally in the gym by 6:45am, I figured I’d give it a try.
I drove to my first workout with no clue what to expect. I wondered if there would be anyone there, how I’d find them, and how tough the workout would be. I pulled up and saw more guys than I expected, and it seemed like they all knew each other. A bunch of people gave me fist bumps and introduced themselves by weird names like Quicken, Birds Nest, Hermie, and Cheddah. I was confused.
Someone emerged from the group and gave a quick introduction. Within 30 seconds, they called out the first exercise: “Side Straddle Hop, in cadence!” Now, I was really confused. I watched and imitated. After a minute or two, I figured out the drill. The guy in charge was called the ‘Q’ and everyone spoke his weird exercise language.
After forty minutes, we’d run about two miles and done a wide array of exercises. We were back where we started and we circled up for 5 minutes of excruciating core work, and a quick “Name-O-Rama” where everyone provided their hospital name, age, and F3 name. I was told to introduce myself as FNG for friendly new guy and that I’d be nicknamed. Then I was invited into the middle to introduce myself. I was nicknamed Jingles. I carried my keys with me throughout the workout which resulted in an obnoxiously loud clinking, so I earned that nickname. Finally, we concluded with a quick prayer and announcements about service opportunities and post-workout coffee.
By 6:15am that day, I’d worked out, met some new folks, learned a new language, and received a new name. F3 is certainly strange. Despite the oddity of it all, F3 works. I was confused that first day, but I came back. First, I went to a workout or two a week. Then I started to attend workouts four or five mornings a week and meeting up with F3 guys at coffee shops all over town afterwards. The workouts were a hook for something more—a sense of community that’s absent from even the most well-rounded and accomplished of men.
F3 seeks to accomplish one key purpose: to plant, grow, and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership. It accomplishes this mission by following five core principles: all workouts are (1) free of charge, (2) open to all men, (3) held outdoors regardless of weather or other condition, (4) are peer-led, and (5) end with a Circle of Trust—often a prayer, but generally, an opportunity to express vulnerability with the group.
Upon first glance, the ordinary conclusion is that F3 is a group of guys that get together to workout. However, its designed to be, and is, more than that. Fitness is the hook, but the second and third Fs—fellowship and faith—are the heart of it all. After virtually every of the 50-plus weekly workouts in Greensboro and Winston-Salem there is an opportunity to get together for coffee and discussion. Sometimes these discussions are structured book discussions on how to be a better husband or parent, sometimes they are theologically or Biblically centered, while other times they are informal opportunities to talk about life. Whatever the structure, the purpose is the same: to build community, embrace vulnerability, truly get to know people, and push each other to get better.
Upon getting involved in F3, it gets easier to get out of bed at 5:00am for a workout. You find yourself committed, not for commitment’s sake or out of a sense of obligation, but because you want to grow yourself and F3. You’ll likely find that you, alongside other men of F3, are participating in blood drives, organizing donations of sporting equipment, bringing your kids along for a weekend backpacking adventure, or pushing yourself to the limits running relays over hundreds of miles.
F3 is well-designed by its lack of design. It is an organization free of constraint. The workouts are accessible regardless of physical ability: you’ll see 70-year-olds working out alongside 25–year-olds completing the same workout, working themselves to exhaustion, but not beyond. Faith is in the name, and that the majority of members are Christian, but the faith which F3 focuses on is a faith that there is something bigger than our selves. F3 is always open to all men.
So, Triad Moms (and Dads), this is an invitation for the men around you. If you are interested in engaging a community of men that will become your friends and confidants all the while striving to get better physically, give F3 a try. When you think it’s strange, embrace it, and don’t be surprised when you find yourself coming back for a whole lot more.
Check it out here!
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