It’s just before dawn on a Wednesday when T.O. and Catfish pull into the Roswell Park. They slowly get out of the car, let their eyes adjust to the low light of the morning, they call “the gloom,” and stretch in the cool morning air. After the standard routine equipment check to make sure they’re good to go, they start scouting for, “The Q.” He’s the designated member of the group to lead this morning’s mission. They spot him up ahead, standing with some other team members; Moonshine, Nacho Libre, and Norm. They also see a couple of FNGs (friendly new guys).
The group anxiously monitors the time and gets a few last stretches in. They know when the clock strikes 5:30 AM, the Q will begin the day’s mission. Each man knows they may be pushed to their limit before they’re finished, but each is confident that the team has their back and no man is left behind. They know they’ll be fine, will get through it, and be stronger at the end. Because they rely on the F Words.
No, this is not the start of a spy novel. These men all belong to one of the fastest growing fitness workouts in the country called F3. Designed for men of all fitness levels, the F3 stands for their core three principles; Fitness, Fellowship and Faith. What started in 2006 in Charlotte by a small group of men has now grown into thousands of workouts in dozens of states. Their mission is to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.
All workouts are free of charge, open to all men, held outdoors – rain or shine -- led by a floating rotation of men in the group, and end with a Circle of Trust or CoT. The CoT includes a brief “shout out” where men can speak out from either a faith or secular perspective. Through the shout outs, the men can express gratitude for the opportunity to work together, as a group, to improve the physical, spiritual and mental health of each individual.
The workouts are 45 minutes long and designed and run as a group but with each man pushing himself to his own limit. Think of the handicap system in golf where a scratch golfer and a 20 handicapper can play in the same group and both try and play at their personal best. Members are there for the friendship and fellowship of their F3 group. They know that if they show up, the fitness will take care of itself.
Today’s group rounds the final lap and comes back to the start. The FNGs are huffing a little more than the others but finish right with them – smiling. At the CoT, the FNGs are asked to share something about themselves with the group. Based on that, the group slaps on their F3 nickname. The FNG who said he loves drinking craft beer is now and forever “Zima.” The other, with three children, is “Hat Trick.” The group breaks up and leaves to start their busy days; a little fitter, a little clearer, and a little deeper than they were when they started.
There are currently F3s meeting at Wills Park and Webb Bridge Park. There is also a new group forming in Roswell Area Park. Locations and meeting times are all listed on their website, f3nation.com.
F3 also has several non-fitness meetings a month focused on Fellowship. If F3 sounds like something you would be interested in, check out the next meeting. There’s a Q, and a nickname and a fellowship of like-minded men waiting for you.