Story 11

Helping Men Be
Better Versions of Themselves

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I have been part of F3 since June 2017. It changed my life for the better and I didn’t even realize I needed a change. I am so grateful for The Colonel, Klinger, Brute, and Pixar for bringing F3 to Toledo, Ohio and to my friend, Froman for introducing it to me. It has truly been more than a workout. 

I remember when I first heard about F3. It was mid-May 2017. Froman and I were helping setup for a festival at our church. He was telling me about this workout that he had gone to the weekend before. It sounded like a really tough workout. And they started at what I thought was pretty early in the morning for a  Saturday, 7 AM. Then, he started to tell me about this thing called a Ruck which they did that at 5:15 AM during the week. It sounded interesting. But, I was a night owl. There was no way I could get up in time for a 5:15 AM workout. It sounded kind of cool but kind of crazy at the same time. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I started to have a conversation with myself about why I couldn’t get up that early, let alone go work out. Over the years, I had tried working out at different times of day. I felt sluggish in the morning, rushed over lunch, and couldn’t fit it in after work. This F3 thing just didn’t sound like it would be for me. But, there was this nagging feeling that I should give it a try. There was no way I was going to start on a Saturday when they had boot camp style workouts. I was too out of shape. But, the Ruck was just a little walk through some neighborhoods with a little weight on our back. I could do that, I thought to myself. So, I decided I would give the ruck a try. 

I attempted to go to my first Ruck in late May 2017. My alarm blared at 4:45 am that morning. I woke up, turned off the alarm, and went back to bed. It was way too early for me. Two weeks later, I decided to try again. This time when I woke up, I stayed awake. On June 15, 2017, I went to my first F3 workout, a Ruck of a little less than 4 miles, with some core work every half mile. It felt great. The guys were very welcoming. I got an F3 nickname, Ticket. I learned that the two other guys that posted that day and I were the 100th men to post to an F3 workout in Toledo. It had been just over a month since F3 had started in Toledo. Everyone was full of energy and enjoying being out early in the morning on a beautiful day. I was hooked. 

After a slow start, I began to post regularly in July. The workouts were led by someone different every time. There was no routine. I didn’t know what exercises we were going to do next or how many reps we were going to do. My body just had to adapt. There were guys at the workouts with all levels of fitness, from super-fit to out of shape (me). While everyone struggled to some degree, some struggled more than others. All the while, the guys that were handling it well encouraged those who were struggling. If one of us on the “struggle bus” fell behind, someone would fall back to pick us up. No man left behind. 

Getting back out to the next workout became easier and easier. The guys I shared the morning “gloom” with helped keep me to be accountable to myself in trying to get in shape. I was also meeting new people. We would grab a bite to eat after some workouts, and we’d get to know each other a little better. There were guys at the workouts with all levels of fitness, from super-fit to out of shape. 

At some point, an old injury began to flare up, and I found myself unable to join in the workouts. I ended up having a meniscus tear. I knew I should stay away, but I missed hanging with the guys. For 3-4 months, I would find myself trying to find an excuse to get back out there every now and then. The guys would check in, wish me a speedy recovery, tell me to be smart, and heal up. But, those bonds I had started to form kept drawing me back out. 

It was during my injury, and seeking a way to stay connected to the group, that I stumbled upon a way to help the group in my own way with or without an injury. We had just had a local news team out to do a story on our local F3 group. A few of us went to a local sports bar to watch the segment. One of the guys asked about whether we had a mailing list. I didn’t think anything of it in the moment. But, a day or two later I started to think about compiling a list and then tracking who was going to workouts. I reached out to Colonel, and he said one of the guys was starting to do just that. I reached out to him to get a look at what he had done so far, and I knew this was something that was needed.

After a couple of weeks working together to build out the tracker, and getting caught up on old workouts, we were ready to start tracking on a go forward basis. We began to publish reports of who was working out the most, how many workouts were happening around the area each month, and how many new guys were working out each month. Immediately, the sports nerd in  many of the guys started coming out. They loved the stats. Over time, they would reach out to find out their individual stats. The stats were not only providing good information to organize and plan, but also additional motivation for some of the guys. Without being out there working out with them, I was helping guys to improve themselves. Also, in tracking the stats, I was beginning to learn new things that could help me professionally. Things I wanted to learn but was not feeling inspired or motivated to learn. 

As the holiday season approached, the group really began to look beyond the workouts. There were several guys that led efforts to contribute to the community and beyond. There was an event with proceeds going to the troops, gift drives for a local hospital, blanket donations for a local homeless shelter, and people shoveling driveways for neighbors. All of this was inspired by men that had been touched by F3. 

That is ultimately what I love about F3. It is more than a workout… much more. It is truly fitness, fellowship, and faith. It is beyond a doubt a workout that is as hard as you want to make it. But, it is also accountability to yourself and others to follow through on commitments. It is a leadership development group. It is the camaraderie that comes with guys you can count on. It is inspiration. It is motivation. It is doing something bigger than yourself. It is contributing to your community. It is all of that…but most of all, it is truly a gift that needs to be shared with people that don’t even realize they need it. One of the best decisions I have made in my life was the decision to wake up, stay awake, and get in a workout one summer morning. It changed my life.

Jason “Ticket” Ziegler

Check out other #Miracle stories.

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