Story 16

Moving Forward with Purpose

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I have pretty much always been into “fitness” – from sports in school, to the military, to lifting during college. I started running shortly after my father passed away in 2013. I always told myself it was to clear my mind and give me some alone time to think through whatever was going on. Turns out, that really wasn’t the case.

I have always had friends and acquaintances – family friends, school friends, and work friends. Some felt like brothers, but through no fault of mine or theirs we all drifted from hanging out every day to the occasional text on birthdays and holidays.

I was raised in the Catholic faith, and later we moved to a non-denominational church, and eventually, I went my own way altogether. My “faith” consisted of the occasional prayer, discussions with my wife and her family, etc.

I was EH’d by Mickey and some other Toledo PAX during a 10K at Macqueen’s orchard, the last of a race series. I looked up F3 and thought it would be a cool way to work out, but I only went skin deep and then waited a couple weeks to post.

On October 23, I made my first f3 post at “the Gauntlet”. The workout was tough, but I also saw something I wasn’t expecting – a group of men busting their butts, working together, talking, laughing, busting balls – and right then I knew this was more than just a “cool workout”. I knew it was home.

As I continue to post, I continue to figure out what I was running from (Sad Clown Syndrome – and that is not a race you can win on your own), what had happened with my buddies (they were NOT big
enough grains), and what faith really means. I had discovered the “Problem”, and more importantly, I now have hope and faith that I can combat it. F3 has done more for me in these short, dark, cold months than I can hope to repay. The fellowship/brotherhood that can only be forged through suffering, celebrating, and praying together is irreplaceable. The simple act of sharing our hopes, fears, and prayers with no judgement and realizing how many of us share those same feelings and emotions is an almost indescribable feeling, but the best I can do is say it feels like a part of me that has been missing has now been replaced.

The impact goes beyond the AO’s and the COT (circle of trust) though – so much further beyond. At work and at home, so much of my thinking has been remapped towards acceleration that it is noticeable to those around me. My boss and co-workers, my wife and kids have all gone so far as to mention how much I have changed.

When you realize work isn’t your purpose, that your wife shouldn’t be your best friend (but something significantly more), and your kids are a part of your legacy so it is YOUR responsibility to show them how to become HIM’s… it’s like you are seeing the world in a whole new light. Time is a valuable and finite resource – we each only have what is allotted to us.

I used to slog my way through each day, only feeling the slightest bit of hope and manliness when I was grinding out a long run or lifting weights, but the feeling was fleeting. As soon as I returned home or to work, it was gone, baby gone.

The feeling of finding that missing purpose, of losing yourself in the gloom and being around other men who are equally finding that purpose and accelerating themselves is something every man should have in their life. Every day is now an opportunity to work towards that purpose, to improve myself or my relationships with my wife and children. To work towards leaving a legacy that serves them. It is not something to be afraid of, it is not something to pass up for a couple hours of sleep. Once you have that, you will never look at life the same.

I showed up on October 23rd looking for another “cool workout.” I left with a newfound sense of freedom, fellowship, and ultimately a new outlook on life in general.

Josh “Woodstock” Brown

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Story 15

Filling a Void

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me.

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me. 

About three years prior to joining F3, I relocated from Lexington, KY to Toledo, OH. There is the first part about F3 – your name. Get it? Bourbon = from KY and last name of Burns. OK, got that out of the way. I had lived in KY my whole life and in Lexington for the last 15 years of my life. I moved to a city where my wife and her family had roots, but I had none. I had made some friends through church, work, and my neighborhood. But not many that were deep relationships. You know, the ones that the other man isn’t afraid to call you out if he sees you going down a bad path. Not afraid to push you when you need a kick in the arse. I missed that. I needed that. I would not admit it. I may not have even known it. Nevertheless, I needed that. 

Going into F3, fitness was not a major concern. I am not the most fit person by any means, but I can hold my own. I regularly lifted in a nice warm gym and ran outside often. One day my workout buddy mentioned F3. I blew it off. I didn’t need that to stay fit; I had my comfortable routine. He kept at me and kept at me (EH’ing me as I have come to learn). Thanks Tots! So finally, one Saturday, I showed up. 

That first Saturday in early September was great. I got in a different workout than normal and met a few new guys who called each other crazy names. It was fun to do something different than my norm. I told myself that I’d make the Saturday workout a norm but keep my regular routine during the week. I ended up coming back the following Monday. It was a holiday and the gym was closed – might as well. It was The MURPH. Yes! I loved pushing myself with The Murph.

But wait, it was so much more than that. The Murph was fun. Finishing was fun. Cheering on the other guys and motivating others (including me) was the best. I didn’t give a rip how I did. Something in me switched on. I wanted to push others. I wanted to push myself to get better. And just like that I was hooked. 

Now I show up regularly. Usually five times a week. I push myself to get better. I push others to get better. They push me to get better. I share my life with my F3 brothers. They share theirs with me. We are there for each other in happy and sad times. It is a strong bond that will last for as long as you are willing to invest in yourself and others. My life has truly been changed by this group; it fills a void I didn’t know I had.

It is difficult to put into words what F3 means to me. But I will sum it up with this: I am supposed to be a loner. Now I would do almost anything for these guys I consider brothers in life. The fellowship and camaraderie is priceless. Watching yourself and your new brothers grow physically AND mentally is life changing. I know I can ask for help and have 20 guys ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. You can’t put a price on that. No gym membership or diet will give you that. This is free. This is F3. 

Jonathan “Bourbon” Burns

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