Men sweat in nationwide fellowship

Published 7:02 pm Thursday, February 15, 2018

In the dark early morning of a cold winter day, eight men had already started their Wednesday morning workout at Western Branch Middle School.

They sweated through jumping jacks, pushups, sprints, squats and flipping a tractor tire in the frigid morning darkness. There were intervals of sprints, burpees and tractor-tire flips up and down the school football field.

They regrouped at the shovel flag — exactly what it sounds like — planted in the ground by the parking lot and joined in a moment of prayer. Beside that was the American flag, which also lets members know where a morning workout is happening.


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The men of F3 Nation finished well before the sun came up.

“The last thing we do is pull the chain on the sun to get it up,” laughed F3 member Chris Wohl, known by others as “Space Monkey.”

F3 Nation is a national network of free, peer-led workouts for men. The group began in Charlotte, N.C., in 2011 and has spread to more than 25 states.

F3 Nation members pray near a shovel flag — one of the group’s trademarks — after a session.


The name stands for “fitness, fellowship and faith,” and the group’s credo is “leave no man behind, but leave no man where you find him,” according to their website.

F3 Nation first came to Hampton Roads with a workout at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach on Nov. 11, 2016. According to regional leader Tyler Hudson, more than 130 individuals have participated in at least one workout since, and there are approximately 30 regular members.

There are currently seven weekly workouts in Hampton Roads. One takes place at Western Branch Middle School on Wednesday, two are at Eagle Harbor in Carrollton on Tuesday and Thursday and four happen at Mount Trashmore on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Members vary from marathon runners to “guys that come right off the couch,” Hudson said. Each workout lasts exactly 45 minutes — except hour-long Saturday workouts — and that punctuality is out of respect for people’s busy schedules.

“Everyone that shows up here is a high-impact person, and with that we have other things that we do,” he said. “We have jobs and families. But usually the only excuse you have at 5:30 in the morning is that it’s early.”

Every member is given a nickname by the others, with the leader of that particular workout — known as “the Q-in-charge” — having final say.

Hudson is known as “Dreamliner” after the Boeing 787 jets, and they call Wohl “Space Monkey” because of his job with NASA. Others are “Funny Car,” “Ma Bell” and a man who works on a submarine called “Screen Door.”

“How bad would it be to have a screen door on a submarine?” Hudson laughed.

They have family outings together. Females in Action, an F3 Nation counterpart that features the men’s spouses and significant others, is also active in Hampton Roads.

Many men are drawn to the camaraderie of these exhilarating activities, such as the Colonial70 relay. Hudson and others teamed up for the 70-mile relay route from Hanover to Jamestown in April 2017.

“It’s a ton of people piled into a 15-passenger van, and the fellowship that takes place along the way is a lot more fun than the running itself,” Hudson said.

He said that fellowship is what keeps many involved.

“Friends are really easy to make in high school and college, but then you get out of college, get married, have kids and start working,” he said. “Those are all good things, but what suffers are those male friendships that kind of go away.”

Members of the F3 Nation also give back to their respective communities as they become better leaders.
“They come out, get invigorated, become leaders and then go out individually or with their families to serve the community that way,” Hudson said.

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