F3 – Fitness, Fellowship and Faith
No man left behind. No man left the same. Started in Charlotte, North Carolina, F3 has rapidly spread across America to include several sites throughout Knoxville and our own Hardin Valley location at Pellissippi State Community College known hereafter as JUCO. Attended by HIMs (High Impact Males), F3 seeks to build a healthy brotherhood of men through our common pursuit of fitness, fellowship and faith.
I had not seriously worked out in 10 years when I saw Erector’s [Jason Champion] invitation on Facebook, “If you want to get fit, meet me at 5:30…” I couldn’t help myself when I commented back, “If you want to get fat, meet me at Waffle House at 9:30!” Erector got the last laugh though. I was tired of getting winded playing with my kids or even just jogging up a flight of stairs. If not now, when? If not this, how?
One month later, I chose a brisk Friday morning at the end of March to see what F3 was all about. Yes, Friday was a strategic choice because I knew I was going to at least need a weekend to recover. The previous night, I filled my water bottle up, laid out my clothes out and even put my keys and wallet in the pockets to create one less obstacle so I wouldn’t be deterred. Honestly, I was excited and even woke up minutes before my 5:00am alarm. Rocking a long sleeve Tshirt and a pair of shorts, I cruised over to Hardin Valley Rd before turning right at the intersection just past Maple Street Biscuit Company and Dickey’s BBQ. As I rounded the corner I found a group of men and a flag planted in the top half of a shovel in the front parking lot at JUCO. The men were making small talk and stretching out but quickly flashed smiles and introduced themselves – Booster, Chaco, Spotter…the rest of the nicknames I heard were more than I could hold onto in the moment. I even got a placeholder nickname for the morning – FNG or Friendly New Guy.
Fitness – The Work Out
Every workout begins with a welcome to Fitness, Fellowship and Faith followed by a disclaimer that the Q or workout leader for the day (all volunteers from within the group) was not an expert, the workout was free and that each individual should modify the workout to compensate for injuries and fitness level. I knew the last one was going to be a must. We started out with some warm up exercises and after that, it was go time. As I now know to be the norm, we mosied (jogged) to various stations around the campus where the Q told us the exercise with a prescribed number of reps. I can’t recall what all we did for the full 45 minute workout portion but there were burpees…lots and lots of burpees. I was exhausted but it was one of those times where it hurt so good.
Faith – Names, Devo and Prayer
Once back at the flag, we numbered off so we could have a count of that morning’s participants. The group then gave their hospital name, age and F3 nickname. Any man over the age of 50 gets a shout of ‘RESPECT’ from the other men to recognize that he is still out pushing himself when many others of his generation have chosen not to. As an FNG, I was brought to the middle of the circle to tell a little more about myself: where I am from, what I do for a living, family info and an embarrassing story. All of this is fodder for the group to pick your F3 nickname. I was branded Commission because I am a realtor and a former Naval Officer. Some other gems that have been bestowed on fellow F3ers include: Judge Judy, Kickflip, Mermaid, Cheatsheet and Gump. Nicknames are natural conversation starters, always clean and always in good fun. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find anything but an encouraging word from any of these men before, during or after a workout.
The Q then shared a short devotional thought with the group. Most pull in Bible scripture, others famous quotes but all thoughts are timely and applicable for daily life. After the devo, the floor was opened for prayer requests. Again led by the Q, we prayed as a group and then gathered around the flag for a picture.
Fellowship – Parking Lot Convo, Dunkin’ and More
All of those who I hadn’t met before the workout came over to give me a fist bump and to introduce themselves. By the time I hopped in my car, it was only 6:25am. As per tradition, on Fridays, many in the group gather for fellowship at Dunkin’ (10631 Hardin Valley Rd, Knoxville, TN 37932) for coffee, breakfast sandwiches and the occasional donut. I joined five other guys that morning; it was nice to recover from the workout and get to know everyone a little better. Since March, I have made numerous trips to Dunkin, even downloaded the app to beat the line! Still yet, I am usually hopping back in my car to head home for a shower between 7 and 7:15am. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have been known to stay and chat in the parking lot after the workout to see how my fellow HIM’s are doing but still make it out of the parking lot before 6:30am.
I’ve made a lot of strides since that first workout. The following week, I made it to a singular workout on Wednesday. The next two weeks I worked out twice each week. It took me a month before I made it to all three workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My 5:00am alarm still does come early but I know where I want to be at 5:30am. I am down 10 pounds and I’ve bought myself a few more years of athletic dominance over my offspring. I’ve made a lot of good friends in a short period of time; men whom I respect and feel like I can call on when I need help.
When you are ready for a change in your fitness, fellowship or faith, you can find us in the front parking lot at Pellissippi State at 5:30am on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays (snow, rain or shine). Check out the F3 website for additional details or alternate workout sites in Knoxville.
#SYITG – See You In The Gloom.
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