Program Report: Tim Whitmire – F3 Nation

The F3 Movement -Fitness, Fellowship and Faith.

At the first sign of puberty I was segregated in school from girls and it stayed that way for the next fourteen years including college and four years of teaching. Through all those years I was playing or coaching football…an all-male activity. During that time, most of my daydreaming was about bonding with the other gender.

So I never gave much thought to male bonding until many years later when I was invited to Durham Rotary and given the chance to rejoin about 15 years ago. At the time I was managing a medium sized real estate office that was all women, except me.  When Paige Wilson invited me to lunch I sat at a table with all men. It wasn’t until I got back to the office that I realized what I had been missing and immediately agreed to join.

Tim Whitmire, one of the co-founders of F3 was introduced by our President, Seth Jernigan, who is also a member of one of the local F3 groups.

The motivation for starting the movement came when Tim and his co-founder left an early morning workout group in Charlotte to found their own when the leader of the original group decided he didn’t want that group to grow anymore. The F3 movement has grown to about 1300 workouts per week and numerous groups, most of which are in the Carolinas but spreading rapidly.

Of the five characteristics that Tim described, the one that seemed to draw the rapt attention of some of the women I was sitting near was that the F3 workouts are men only. It did seem a little retro at a time when we had a women candidate garner more votes in the presidential election than any man or woman had ever done before. Tim was apparently asked about this before and pointed out that there were also groups of women (See Females in Action – FiAnation) doing the same thing.

The other characteristics were that the workouts are always free, always outside, always participant led and always ended in what he called a “circle of trust” where participants share their real names and their nicknames.  One that was not on the list but certainly raised a few eyebrows was that the workouts are always early in the morning…like 5:30 early. There were a number of guests in the audience that were in President Seth’s group who introduced themselves the same way they would in a Circle of Trust. Many of the nicknames brought chuckles and obviously had stories behind them.

The Faith component seemed to deal with a view about a man’s larger role in society to be a leader and do good deeds. Tim used the expression High Impact Man or HIM. He also described it as a “counter culture” movement. Those of us whose “high impact” years were in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s during the first counter culture movement, might have been surprised at the five values that they include.

  1. It’s okay NOT to be comfortable. This is true in the context of getting fit but also in meeting almost any challenging goal.
  2. It’s okay Not to know what’s coming next.
  3. It’s okay to decide what you want to care about.
  4. It’s okay to show leadership.
  5. It’s okay to be part of something larger that yourself.

I hope I remembered that last one correctly because in my notes I just scribbled “Putnam’s Bowling Alone – about the decline of civil society and social capital.” Putnam was one of Tim’s teachers at Harvard and the reference rounded out an impression that was evolving in my head that there were similarities between the F3 and Rotary, especially around the idea of fellowship, good deeds and being part of something bigger than yourself.

This was pretty obvious, and maybe a reason that President Seth invited Tim and openly encouraged the F3 guests to consider joining the club. These guys are indeed the type of members we would like to attract.

It works the other way too and Seth suggested that Rotarians consider F3. It was quickly noted that they welcomed “older” participants and that when you hit forty you were considered “respected.” Since many of the men in the club, including me, are several decades beyond that and would have to be considered very, very, very respected to go out four or five times a week at 5:30 in the morning and participate in boot camp PT, I’m not sure how successful their recruiting effort will be will be within the club.

Of course, Rotary doesn’t have a fitness component built in but I know I’m going to die before I ever do another Burpee, run a 6 minute mile or do a one-handed push-up (okay, I’ve never done a one-handed pushup.) I’ll just do my Silver Sneaker workouts in a well heated gym. And frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that women usually add a great deal to any fellowship opportunity, morning, noon or night.

Learn more about F3 at

Submitted by Jay Zenner

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