For those who are thinking about going to an F3 workout, it is helpful to know what to expect your first time.
When you first show up, look for the F3 shovel flag and a gathered group. There will be usually a few F3 guys warming up. Introduce yourself as a new guy, or if you don’t, someone will introduce themselves to you and find out and welcome you. It may seem quite odd to be joining a bunch of strangers in a strange place, in an odd time of the day. But not to worry; they were new once too.
As a newbie, you will be what is called a Friendly New Guy, or F.N.G. As the group introduces themselves to you and to others, they will often call themselves by odd nicknames. The other guys will say hello to each other with these odd nicknames, what we call their F3 Name. Don’t worry, you will get an F3 Name after the workout, in a segment of the workout called Name-a-rama.
Dress is up to you. The workouts happen in good weather or bad. Often, we get wet. So just plan on it. The only time we have canceled a workout here was during Hurricane Irma. We do watch out for lightning during summer workouts, though. The workouts are a mixture of running and exercises, so wear shoes that are comfortable to you.
Each workout is different, but there are some elements that are common to each. The Q will start the workout by giving a welcome to the pax, which is the nickname for the guys at the workout. The Q will say the principles of all F3 workouts, and also remind everyone that F3 is an all volunteer organization, with no assets. He will stress that the exercises called out by the Q are merely suggestions; you do not have to follow them. He will also remind that all F3 workouts are free, open to all men, and faiths, and end with what we call a Circle of Trust, which is a prayer at the end.
The workouts will usually begin with a short warmup run, called a Mozy, for about 5 minutes. This will get you started. The group then will often circle up for exercises. These are often common exercises, but most have different names. Don’t worry, the leader will demonstrate them, or just follow along. For instance, the quite common pushup is called a merkin, and the jumping jack is called the side-straddle hop. A whole list of exercises is here at the F3 Lexicon.
After the group exercises, there will often be a main set of exercises, which are done individually or in twos. These can involve relays, crab walks, fireman’s carries or plain old laps. In between there will be some exercises that need to be accomplished in vast numbers such as 200 merkins, or pushups, after each relay.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I haven’t worked out in years. How tough is the F3 workout?
A: The workout can be as difficult or as easy as you like. Some Q’s are easier than others, but everyone gets something out of the workout. The rule for each participant is that the leader of the group, who we call the “Q”, is making recommendations on what exercises to do, and where to run. When new F3’ers start, they are sometimes not as in shape as they wish. They get in shape quickly. Each person can vary the intensity of the workout on their own; often guys that have a certain aching something will slightly adapt the exercise to the momentary issue.
Q: How many are in a workout group?
A: They vary, from about 4 to 30. The ideal size is about 20, which allows everyone to be close enough to follow the Q, but far enough apart not to get in the way. Groups begin to split up when they get large; the idea is that groups need to split off and start new groups.
Q: I don’t exercise, or exercise infrequently. Can I keep up?
A: Again, the exercises are suggestions, and every participant goes at their own pace. Often, other guys will help you pickup unfinished exercises. For instance, if you have a relay where you are assigned 200 of a rep, and another participant finishes first, they are liable to jump in and finish the last 50 to help. The F3 workout is about everyone getting through it, no matter the fitness level.
Q: What’s the deal with the nicknames and the goofy names for exercises?
A: The reason for the nicknames and the F3 language is simple; it makes it more fun to do workouts with guys when you give everything a funny name. And when every guy has an F3 name, there is an immediate membership in a group. Plus, it’s easier to remember names when there is a nickname, and part of the reason for F3 is the elimination of the “sad clown syndrome” which no guy wants to be.
Q: Why are the workouts so early?
A: Often early mornings are the only time everyone has free. Family is central to the F3 guy and often by 7 a.m. they have other duties. The early mornings and discomfort of waking up early are sort of a badge of honor for F3; they even have a nickname for the early morning. It is called The Gloom.
Q: Who are the leaders of the exercises?
A: The leaders of the group, the Q’s, are all volunteers, not workout professionals, though some have quite distinguished athletic careers or are coaches or trainers in other situations. They are men from all different parts of the community, from stockbrokers to electricians to retailers to teachers. Each learned to lead the group by watching and doing. Once you attend for awhile, you will probably be asked to Q a workout. This is not just to get you to learn how to do exercises; F3 is all about teaching and encouraging leadership.
Q: What are the best tips for new attendees?
A: If you haven’t worked out for a long workout recently, no worry. Bring water, and drink lots of it. And keep an even pace. Its better to slow down, and finish, than kick out early. And if you get to the point where you need to take a break, take a break.
Q: What if I lose it?
A: We have an expression for that, it’s called “spilling merlot.” F3 groups around the country have a lot of funny expressions for this sort of thing, and consider the mere idea of it both hilarious, and a badge of honor. Often, guys will have “mumble chatter” during a workout about the horror of the workout, and it being a “beastie upchuck monster” which is a descriptor created by a Q in Raleigh, N.C. So, if you lose it, no one cares, and it will give everyone a great laugh.
Q: I’ve got a few extra lbs. Can I keep up with the exercises?
A: You bet. There are guys here of every size, weight and frame. Some guys will do better with some exercises, but not others. Some like the running, others prefer the relays. The key is to keep at it, and come back the next week after no matter how bad the first week was. Many of the guys who have been in the group just a few weeks are able to begin keeping up with the group.
Q: Am I too old for F3?
A: No. While you do need to be able to get about the field, we have many guys in the group in their 50s. These 50 plus guys are what we call “Respect” when we do our Name-a-Rama at the end of each workout. Youths are welcome. Many dads bring their teen or pre-teen sons to workouts; they participate as they are able.
Q: What’s the religion here?
A: We are purposefully non-denominational. Most of the guys come from Christian backgrounds. At the end of the workout, the pax come together for the Circle of Trust. This is a time when pax share blessings of the week, or situations that need to be prayed for. The pax then circle up in what is called a Ball-of-Man, basically a group prayer. The Q usually then ends the session with a prayer for these situations.
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