F3 traces its roots to a free, participant-led boot camp workout held on Saturday mornings at a Charlotte, N.C., park since 2006. F3 stands for three “F”s that are core to our organization. They are: Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith. Our mission is to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership. The leaders of F3 launched their first Saturday workout on 1/1/11, on the campus of A.G. Middle School in Charlotte.
The history of F3 Durham and Chapel Hill dates back to 2012 and 2013, respectively when Riggs founded Durham and Adolphus founded Chapel Hill. We have operated as “Churham” since the spring of 2014, and the growth since then has been tremendous.
Today, our five core principles state that all workouts are free of charge, and workouts are open to all men. They also are held outdoors — rain or shine, heat or cold. Men who participate also lead the workout in a rotating fashion, with no training or certification necessary. Finally, workouts end with a Circle of Trust.
It’s easy to get someone out for a free workout — we call it putting the “Emotional Headlock” on a guy. But for more than 90% of F3 guys, the reason they keep coming back, setting their alarm for 4:45 or 5 a.m. three, four or five days a week is the friendships that are built in what we call “the Gloom.”
There’s something special about pushing through a brutal smokefest with another guy. We encourage those bonds by closing every workout with what we call the “CoT” (Circle of Trust). Every guy gives his birth name, his F3 nickname and his age. Even if you’re brand-new (what we call an FNG, or Friendly New Guy), we’ll slap you with an F3 nickname — the stupider and more insulting, the better — so we can remember who you are the next time you post.
We reinforce the Second F through organized F3 participation in physical challenges like obstacle races, mud runs, distance relay races, GORUCK events and other adventures (we’ve found that, in general, the more Completely Stupid And Utterly Pointless — or “CSAUP” — an event is, the more enthusiastic F3 guys are about it). Many regions have regularly scheduled weekly happy hours, as well as other Second F events for couples and families.
Our workouts are open to men of all fitness levels and are organized to keep the entire group together while ensuring a thorough beatdown for all participants. Our model, in which leadership of the workout varies from day to day and week to week, means that workout leaders — “Qs,” in F3 lingo — are constantly introducing new exercises and ways of doing them. Because participants are challenged and pushed in new ways every day, they achieve an all-around fitness that makes F3 guys supremely fit for endurance challenges, including mud runs, obstacle races, triathlons, marathons, long-distance relays and all manner of other adventure challenges.
While the classic F3 workout requires no equipment other than workout clothes, gravity and the great outdoors, our growth has allowed regional leaders to introduce specialized workouts, including bike rides, gear-focused workouts that include kettlebells and other heavy metal, track workouts for runners and trail runs.
F3 workouts take place at publicly accessible venues, including parks, school campuses, churches — even in parking lots!
And while the vast majority of F3 workouts launch before the sun is up — largely because that’s the time of day when F3 guys can be most certain of being able to control their schedules — some regions are experimenting with evening workouts.
We close each CoT with a brief “shout-out” led by one of the participants. Men are free to pray to their god or to speak from a secular perspective — F3 is open to men of all faiths and no faith, and the closing shout-out is generally the only faith-specific component of a workout. We do it because we are thankful for the opportunity to come together and build ourselves into better men and because the vocal and corporate expression of that gratitude builds a stronger F3 community.
Outside of the workouts, we have found that many F3 participants, after getting in the best physical shape of their adult lives and meeting their social needs for the first time as adults, start taking a more serious approach to questions of meaning and purpose. Many F3 workouts have spawned Bible studies, attendance at speaker series and other Third F initiatives. We encourage those efforts as supplements to the workouts and an important way for F3 participants to exercise leadership in their families and communities.