F3 Greer defines male community leadership
This term may not mean much to you, but for thousands of men across the nation, it’s where they start their day.
“The gloom is that time of the morning where there’s no sunlight yet,” according to Greer’s Kevin Duncan. “It’s still dark and it’s so early that you have that option of not getting out of bed.”
For nearly five years now, a workout group in Greer has been ignoring the urge to stay in bed, getting up at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to exercise in and around City Park.
The workout is called F3—a shorter name for Fitness, Fellowship and Faith. Founded by David Redding (Dredd) and Tim Whitmire (OBT), F3 launched its first-ever workout on Jan. 1, 2011, at A.G. Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since then, hundreds of other communities across the nation have adopted the group’s mission to: “plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.”
F3 SwampRabbit was started in 2013, according to one of the groups original members, Ross Hughes.
“It started in Greenville and continued to grow. We branched out to Spartanburg, Anderson, Greer, Mauldin, Simpsonville, Travelers Rest,” he said.
“F3 is about building male community leadership, and that’s exactly what I’ve seen it do. Whether it’s at home, at work, at church or wherever—guys are doing things they never thought they’d do,” Hughes said. “You see growth and improvement mentally, physically and spiritually.”
F3’s tagline of being “more than just a workout” has proven to be true as its members regularly perform community service.
Groups of men from F3 SwampRabbit have been involved with everything from flood relief to helping local residents with yard work.
“Locally, we have a site called Gideon’s House, which is tied to Homes of Hope Recovery,” Hughes said. “We do that to help those guys and get them involved right there where they live.”
Hughes said the program is geared toward all men, but especially those approaching middle age.
“Late 30s and early 40s is a target demographic of sorts for F3,” Hughes said. “It’s that time of life where guys start thinking about their legacy and why they’re here. F3 helps you frame that and helps you figure out your purpose through the relationships you build.
“It’s similar to the concept of a religious small group where you’re talking through things and working stuff,” he said. “It helps you think through some of the bigger questions and teaches you how to lead.”
Attend any workout and you’ll notice two things. The exercises are difficult and they all have a name you’ve likely never heard before. For example, the traditional Jumping Jack is known as the “Side Straddle Hop.”
“Dredd is ex-military. That’s where the boot camp style comes from,” Hughes said.
“The Lexicon is a living document, especially now that we’ve gone from being a southeastern based group to an international group. I’ve seen a group in Uganda, a group in Ireland—there are so many people feeding into this lexicon of terms you might hear at a workout. New guys can go to the website and look through it and get a ton of information,” he said.
The workout has to be tough. Otherwise, getting up before dawn might not be worth it.
“If you’re going to get up at five in the morning, it needs to be worth it,” Hughes said. “You need to feel like your time was well spent. That’s why the workout is so tough. Battling through those tough times, though, builds bonds that you’re not going to find at the gym.”
Duncan, who has been working out at the Greer location since its launch, said everyone will struggle in the beginning, but they will be able to keep up.
“The Credo is ‘leave no man behind,’” Duncan said. “Lots of guys have struggled when they first start going to F3, but the workouts never get easier, you just get stronger. We do have some guys that are in amazing shape, but the group does stay together and we try to work hard to bring other guys up.”
Drew Plumblee has been with the group for three years and said F3 has helped him build new bonds and relationships he might not have otherwise.
“It’s a group of guys from all walks of life,” Plumblee said. “I’m a teacher, but we have lawyers, construction workers, doctors, bankers—you name it. Guys that I may not come into contact with anywhere else, necessarily. But we all come together on a level playing field, grading it out in the dark before we go to our day jobs.”
F3 is especially for guys who haven’t found a place to belong.
“F3 talks about the Sad Clown Syndrome—guys who put on a happy face to go to work or church but they’re not making real connections or talking to them about things they’re having a hard time with,” Plumblee said. “When guys start coming to F3, they might come because they want to lose a couple pounds, but they keep coming back because they’ve found that group of guys they can confide in and be encouraged by.”
“There’s something for everybody,” Hughes added. “It may not be obvious when you first show up what it is or what you need, but it gives you the opportunity to improve mentally, physically and spiritually and it plugs you into a nationwide network of men who are of similar belief,” he said.
While fitness, fellowship and faith are the main focuses of F3, friendship isn’t far behind.
“It’s given me a lot of friendships with guys right around my own age, but also with some guys that are ahead of me in life. It’s good to hear different perspectives,” Plumblee said.
“F3 works because of the camaraderie and accountability,” Duncan said. “Guys need other guys to push them and hold them accountable. When you’re there working out with somebody that early in the morning, there’s a respect that you build for one another. It’s like a family.”
For more information, visit f3nation.com or subscribe to the F3 Nation Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.
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