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“I just don’t have the time.” I must have said that thirty times in response to a friend’s attempts to get me to an F3 workout. It’s true, we get so busy with life – work, family, home, and a host of other responsibilities – that we can lose sight of the importance of health and fitness. That happened to me. I was fifty-two years old, and working fifty to sixty hours a week (most of it sitting in a classroom, in meetings, or in front of a computer). Before I knew it I was 100 pounds overweight, always tired and out of breath, and – I honestly believe – on my way to an early grave.

That’s when my dangerously high blood pressure sent me to the emergency room, and then to a personal physician who happened to be part of the F3 group in Ashland, Ohio. We talked about the group and I decided then and there I would try it out. I showed up to my first workout, in the dark, knowing only a few people there. Only when the sun started to rise did I notice that I had been flipping tires with my doctor! Of course, I started working even harder once I saw him!

I have to admit, though, that the first few months were extremely challenging. I often modified exercises greatly, sometimes even just walking while the others followed the Q’s workout. I think I heaved – or came close to it – every workout for the first two months. But there was something about this group of men that made me want to be around them. That’s why I initially came back. They encouraged each other. They didn’t judge me because I was in such bad shape. They challenged me to push myself. And they had fun spending 45 minutes around each other a few times a week. Every loving insult they hurled at me made me appreciate them that much more. And then I realized that what I missed even more than the exercise was being around men such as these. They are, each and every one, an example of what it means to be a good man – a good friend, a good father, a good neighbor.

That’s why I kept coming back, and slowly, over the course of several months, my fitness improved. I finally did my first sit-up, managed to run an entire flight of stairs at the stadium, and stopped walking during workouts. I’ve lost about sixty pounds, not in a fast, dangerous way, but little by little, one workout a time. I am almost positive that I’m still alive because of this group. But the point is that, for me, the fitness followed because of the fellowship. Every workout now is a chance for me to reflect on how lucky I am to have found this group on men. These guys can help you to challenge yourself, too – one workout at a time.

– Chris Burkett, “Misfire,” 53

I very recently came up on my "postiversary" - it was about one year ago when I first decided to crawl out of bed at youmustbekidding o'clock to go work out with the guys of F3 for the first time. Even though I dropped in unexpectedly, the decision certainly didn't come out of the blue. I'd been carrying some extra weight, and was feeling tired and run-down pretty much all of the time. I'm usually the one responsible for handling the laundry in the house, carrying the full baskets up two flights of stairs was starting to wind me. So I picked a pleasant late-April morning and rolled up to Arrowhead at 5:16 am.

Just in time to see a bunch of dudes running away. The 5:15 workouts start promptly at 5:15.

So I ran them down as best I could and, huffing and puffing the whole time, did something that approximated the workout that the rest of the PAX was doing. Some time later, Sprinkles confessed to me that they didn't think I was going to make it. I'm not sure if they thought I was going to die, or just not come back! But in 2021, I came back about 90 times, in heat, rain, snow, and bitter cold. And I learned something along the way:

Getting in shape, fitness, dropping a few pounds, "The First F" in F3 lingo - whatever it is you call it - got me to those first few workouts. But after a while, I realized that just getting in better shape wasn't going to keep me coming back. I've had gym memberships before, and I've never stuck with them for more than a few weeks. But here I am, one year later and still a "regular." While it was the First F that got me out of bed for that first workout, the community of guys that comprise F3 is what keeps me coming back.

In the book Social, Matthew Leiberman breaks down research that was done back in 1985 and again in 2004. In 1985, 59% of respondents said that they had 3 or more friends, and 90% claimed at least one close confidant. By 2004, less than 40% claimed at least 3 close friends, and 25% said that they had no one in whom they could confide.

Think about that: 1 out of 4 people walking around have no one to share life with.

It's no wonder Sad Clown Syndrome is everywhere you look.

We all need a circle of guys around us. We are social creatures, and 2020 taught us that we all suffer when we can't be together. We need each other for a million reasons - we need other men to lean on, to push us, and to make us be better men. Sometimes it's a deep conversation and prayer after coffeeteria, or sometimes you just need an extra set of hands to move that bookcase.

Whatever it is you need, you'll find good men here. And if you roll up for one of our workouts at ridiculously-early o'clock, we'll be here. And you'll be welcomed into the community. I know I sure was.


I have always been one that is comfortable to be on my own in pretty much every facet of my life. I have felt like I have a decent amount of discipline to be able to accomplish whatever I wanted to and I could work out whenever I wanted and could fit it in.

Then, I got older, got married, and had a child, all while teaching and coaching 3 different sports. The time I had to focus on my physical and mental health dwindled. Now there was my family to take care of along with the other "families" I helped in my other roles. I wouldn't take any of that away because it is rewarding in many ways but when you don't focus on yourself at all you can tend to find yourself run down and in a rut doing the same thing each day. I worked out whenever I could but sometimes the motivation to get up and workout on my own in the morning waned with everything going on and I just wanted to sleep. Needless to say I felt that I had plateaued and was not making significant progress toward anything really. In college I experienced an exponential amount of growth in almost every area of my life, physically, academically, mentallly, religiously, and even a little bit socially (I always preferred to do things on my own). But now that that season of life was over and I was onto a much longer stretch of life, I felt myself falling into the monotony of day to day life and tasks.

In came F3, a group that met in The Gloom (early in the morning) when there's not much else going on to get in the way of working out! I had first been invited by our own Buck but thought to myself, it’s just another workout and I can do all of this myself at home like I always have. But I was a little in denial because I wouldn’t always get myself up and just take that extra 5 minutes of rest in the morning. There truly wasn’t any accountability for myself when I was alone. Then I was approached again by Charo, and this time I thought why not, it was worth a shot. I was in my short break between seasons and it’s at a time that I know not much else can get in the way of working out. After going a few times I felt like these guys get it, and are just like me in all this busyness yet there was a sense of accountability to be at the workouts and to push myself to my full potential. If I wasn’t there in the gloom, I felt like I missed something and just felt like I needed to be around these other men for one reason or another.

We see all ability levels at our workouts and every workout you can modify as needed. So even men with injuries are there working out and pushing themselves to do whatever they can. There was NO EXCUSE to not workout or do something if you were able. Yes, sometimes we might need that extra sleep but I'm glad that there are guys that can hold me accountable for putting the work in. THIS is what I needed to help push myself to be better than the day before, to help move past the stagnation that had begun to creep in just because life was busy. F3 helped me to learn to pick up our six and put in that little bit of extra to improve myself and those other men around me. No longer was I working out to just "get done" with a workout but I was doing it to make myself better and help others around me do the same. One of our sayings is “leave no man behind, but leave no man where you found them.” We all have room for improvement, and every single man that wakes up when it’s dark and goes out bundled up in freezing rain to do work might be a little crazy but is working on making themselves and the others around them better.

People, in general, are meant to be with other people. As much as I was able to be the lone wolf when I was younger I was finding out when life starts to bog you down with well "life" and everything in it you need people. People just to be next to, whether it's working out, to talk to, or for support in many of life's ups and downs. We really weren’t meant to go through life completely alone, because then you could ask yourself, “What is my purpose?” If you are constantly by yourself there is little to no purpose driving you to do more, to be better, to reach what you are fully capable to do.

F3 has not only been a great workout group that pushes me to be better and realize my potential even as I get older, but I have seen these men pick one another up and help when times are tough. Getting older for many men can be an excuse in and of itself that our bodies are breaking down, and everything just isn't what it used to be. This is true to an extent, but we can still help our bodies along and be stronger than we were yesterday and many men find that they are stronger today in many areas than they were 20 years ago. I know I wasn't able to do 10 pullups or 50 push-ups in a row 15 years ago.

I have yet to be more a part of our 2nd F (fellowship) away from the workout as much, but I hope as I continue in this group to be with people and to help support my brothers in F3.

Our 3rd F (Faith) continues to grow as we end with our Circle of Trust every workout and as what happened a couple weeks ago, we supported a brother who was celebrating Ramadan by getting a workout in while he was able. It's wonderful seeing this small group of men gather round one another just as MEN motivating other MEN to be leaders for our families, our faiths, and our communities no matter the circumstance or what each man believes. We are here to make one another better and help one another learn how to lead in life.

So if you are working out on your own and just need a little extra boost, it helps to have people around you to support your growth, F3 is for you. If it's been a while since you've focused on you and your well being, you can always modify, F3 is for you! This small group of men that meets outside in the dark, rain or shine, hot or cold, throws around cinder blocks, and finds fun/creative ways to push you to your potential IS F3 and IT IS FOR YOU!



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