Fitness-minded Alabama men have more options than ever to help them pursue a healthy lifestyle, including F3, which encourages men to gain strength in faith and fellowship while they practice physical fitness.
F3 Nation began in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is now an international network of peer-led workouts for men, promoting the three Fs: fitness, fellowship and faith.
Men of all ages can join a workout group and participate free of charge.
“In any one given workout you can experience all three [Fs],” said F3 Birmingham region leader, Stephen Perlis. “The majority of people initially come to the first workout for the fitness piece.”
Perlis said men join to work out with a friend and many remain for the fellowship and faith aspects.
A number of men have grown significantly in their faith as a result of F3, he added.
According to F3 Nation director of communications Frank Schwartz, men who participate in the groups discover they experience more effective growth through accountability.
“You’re kind of here for the workout but you’re mostly here for the friendship,” Schwartz said. “These guys become your brothers and you really connect with them on a deeper level than just guys who work out.”
The network’s mission is to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.
The F3 credo, “Leave no man behind, but leave no man where you find him,” exemplifies the network’s philosophy of inspiring men to grow in all three facets of the F3 program.
Circle of Trust
All workouts are performed outdoors, rain or shine, heat or cold. No training or certification is necessary to lead a workout and all sessions are led in a rotating fashion by men who participate.
Each workout ends with a Circle of Trust, which for some groups, includes a prayer.
While the F3 network does not embrace a particular religion or faith system, groups encourage the faith of their members and many share a common belief in Christ.
“We don’t say we are a religious or specifically Christian group,” said F3 Mobile region leader, Bill Carroll. “F3 defines faith as believing in something higher than oneself. To most of us in F3 that is God. Our first core principle is we are open to all men. That means we don’t reject nonbelievers.
“Many men have come to us as a nonbeliever and have reached Christ through F3.”
F3 groups have their own lingo. The region leader is called the Nantan. The workout leader is the “Q.” First-time visitors are labeled as Friendly New Guy (FNG).
Participants are encouraged to grow as leaders and there is a “Q” for every aspect of the program.
The faith “Q” coordinates faith-based activities. In some regions this includes small groups who meet for Bible or book studies.
Perlis said his group is currently studying the book of Galatians and reading “Disciplines of a Godly Man” by R. Kent Hughes.
“Every region takes on its own personality,” he said. “They are self-led. They each have some component of all three F’s.”
Many groups also incorporate a service element. F3 Birmingham members participate in projects like volunteering at The First Light Shelter, a Birmingham homeless shelter for women and children.
Opportunities to grow
“People are just moved to do it,” Perlis said. “Guys want to grow in all three Fs and there are opportunities to do it all the time.”
Some regions volunteer for disaster relief and many have helped through recent hurricane relief efforts.
Alabama has two active regions, Birmingham and Mobile, and more than 1,600 individual groups exist nationwide.
International groups can be found in Uganda, Nepal, Ireland and Peru.
Groups form based on the need usually when a former F3 member moves to an area without an active group.
F3 leadership supports new groups by teaching F3 principles, attending the first workouts and offering guidance and training.
The TRUEbadors are a team of F3 members who travel to encourage and support new and growing groups.
Schwartz said participation in F3 helps men perfect skills and qualities needed to become more effective and virtuous leaders — in the home, in the church and in their communities.
“We help train in leading the F3 way,” he said, “not just in workouts but also how to be a better dad and husband and to do these things that are going to make you a more effective person and a better member of your community.”
Men in the Birmingham or Mobile areas can connect with a local group on their websites at f3birmingham.com or f3mobileal.com, on Facebook or through Twitter. Guys who are looking to begin a new group can learn more at f3nation.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE (Aug. 23, 2019) — A new exercise program for women inspired by the F3 movement, Females in Action (FiA – pronounced Feeeah), will launch two Birmingham workout locations on Sept. 14. The national fitness organization for women provides free peer-led workout sessions to all women and focuses on fitness, fellowship and faith.
The Birmingham locations are the first in Alabama and held their first meetings on August 10 and Veteran’s Park and Liberty Park Middle School.
Birmingham co-leaders Amberly Burrows and Beth Phillips formed the region after witnessing the benefits their husbands received through F3.
“Seeing our husbands and how they love F3 made us want the same thing,” said Burrows. “The community and fellowship they have made of want to be a part of it.”
FiA Nation leaders from nearby states will attend the launch on September 14, providing examples of how to do a normal workout session. On the third Saturday following the launch, national representatives will host a “Q school” to teach group members everything they need to have a successful group.
Burrows said the first few meetings were well attended, with 48 ladies joining in the first week. All women involved will eventually lead a workout.
“This encourages women to be leaders and to develop the leader inside us,” Burrows said.
Faith is a big part FiA model. At the end of each workout, women gather in a “Circle of Trust” to offer encouragement, ask for prayer requests and to pray together.
FiA Birmingham plans to add Bible studies and service projects as the groups grow.
To learn more about FiA Birmingham or to find a workout group near you, check out FiA Bham on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. To read more about fitness programs in Alabama Baptist churches, click here.