Story 7

From Walking in a Daze
to Posting in the Gloom

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

The summer of 2017 was probably the hardest summer of my entire life.

My mom was killed in an auto accident over the Fourth of July weekend after being life-flighted to the hospital. I had already been feeling down about life and what I think could very well have been the beginning of the proverbial “mid-life crisis.”

Work had slumped into the normal grind and I found myself looking forward to the weekends, only to have them cut short by the alarm clock on Monday morning.

I listen to podcasts at work to help pass the time while I do some of the mundane tasks and eventually I heard the episode on The Art of Manliness where the podcaster interviewed Dredd and OBT about F3.

Immediately, I felt like this movement was something I wanted to be a part of – a group of men who met for fitness (for free!), who got to become friends and serve their community together. I had been paying for a membership at my local YMCA, but I hadn’t gone in months.

I canceled my membership to the Y and found F3 Toledo’s website. The next thing I knew, there was a blip in the local news about F3 Toledo, and I found out a guy who I kind of knew from my church who was a part of it. I reached out to him just to confirm the workout time and location and showed up for my first post.

The first post absolutely killed me. I knew I was out of shape, but I did not realize how bad I had gotten. I often tell people that I resembled the giant Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters movie when I began F3.

We did the regular monthly Murph that first time (1 mile run, 300 squats, 200 merkins, 100 pull-ups and another 1 mile run). I had a graphic T-shirt that said, “That’s too much bacon. ~ No one ever” and somehow bacon got turned into sausage, and in no time I was dubbed Jimmy Dean.

I actually changed up my work schedule to fit in F3 and jumped in with both feet into the world of F3 and rucking. I found myself posting 3-4 days each week. Then signing up for a Grow Ruck Tough. The next thing I knew, I was leading some of the workouts and posting for a 2-hour ruck with a 1 hour beatdown.

What in the world was going on?

Before F3, as my wife could vouch, I had no real hobbies. Now, I can’t seem to buy enough rucking and workout equipment. I encourage my boys to do some of the exercises I do, and they actually ask me what I did at each workout.

Now that I am a part of F3, I can say that my life has changed for the better. I am losing weight and getting into better shape. I am physically stronger and actually look forward to getting up at the butt crack of dawn to workout with my F3 brothers.

The group of guys I work out with have huge hearts to serve those around us. We are always looking for ways to give to our community: Christmas presents to a children’s hospital; raising money for a family who had ended up living in a hotel; giving to a local single father who is fostering four young kids. These men live out their faith through service in our community and seeing men in action is amazing.

The best thing about being a part of F3 for me has been getting to know the other men that I see in the gloom every time I post. The fellowship and friendship being forged is stronger and more meaningful that the vast majority of relationships I have had in the past.

Being with guys who are of the same mindset of becoming better men is inspiring and encourages me to keep posting each week.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
~ Proverbs 27:17

Geoff “Jimmy Dean” Kujawa

Story 6

Like No Other Workout
I’ve Ever Been a Part of

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

As I sit here at the age of 47 and having spent most of my adult age achieving goals on my own, a series of events assisted by others has brought me to this point. As a railroad construction employee, I have spent much time on the road in various hotels, and that is where my personal physical fitness began.

Approaching 40 and seeing my weight increase as my motivation decreased, I began some self-reflection. As a divorced man with two teenage sons and spending weekdays on the road, I found myself justifying abundant amounts of fast food while also acknowledging all the self-created reasons why I couldn’t workout.

Finally, I decided that running would be my outlet, and I engaged it with a passion. Any time I had free (and some that I turned into free time) was spent running. It was simple: buy shoes, insert earbuds, press play and run. This continued at a feverish pace for 2-3 years with my diet in tow. It was just me, my music and my running. Unfortunately, time marched on as did my passion for running – to the point that my passion outran me, and I ended up back on that couch, or in that hotel, justifying that I COULD run and exercise, but yet I didn’t.

After some time, I ended up married again and with a third son 17 years after what I thought was my last child (thus my F3 name “GAP”). Reinvigorated to be the best me I could be, I once again focused on my fitness program. This time I would join a gym with my wife and do some classes. The staff and other members were nice, and the classes brought me out of my solo routines. While I still had my moments of earbuds, playlist and running, the majority of my time was on a spin bike or doing boot camp drills in the gym.

During this period, I also found myself looking to gain a better understanding of and relationship with Jesus. As a result, my wife and I began to try a few different churches out to see if one “fit.” Thankfully, a friend suggested we come to their church, and the pastor spoke to me. Not one on one, but in his sermon, as he delivered his message. I knew that the Lord was telling me that this is your home. Soon after we became members, I was finally baptized and accepted an invite to the family ministry team. For months, I went and participated to the best of my ability to help create ideas for the church to strengthen the bond of families and families to Christ. Then at our July meeting, one of the team members suggested I go to Southview High School on Saturday morning and try out a new workout group that her husband was part of. She took my number and assured me that her husband would contact me Friday to give me all the pertinent details, which he did.

I awoke that morning 2 hours early and sat on my couch thinking of what I had committed to. My plan was to get there early and scout it out with mixed hopes of it only being one or two people, or that it would be so many people no one would notice me. By the time I arrived, there were 10-15 people and more were pulling in. In the end, over 50 people arrived, and the journey began. Quickly, I saw this was like no other workout I had ever been a part of.This group constantly gave reinforcing positive comments, went back to rally around the last guy, and even asked how many merkins (push-ups) I had left so they could “pick me up” by doing some! However, the greatest spark came in the end.

It wasn’t when I was in the center of this group while they asked questions and called out nicknames trying to attach the perfect one – it came after. This group of over 50 guys got in a circle with prayer requests for themselves and others. They also discussed issues in the community and how we could/should help, and they wrapped arms around each other to close the circle as the Q led us in a prayer of thanks and hope for those in need. It was then that I realized this was something I needed to be part of.

Through F3 and this group of men that I have met, I have experienced so much that I could have never imagined. While I still travel for work and find myself in those same old hotels, I approach each and every day with a new outlook. I look forward to the next workout as much to see the group of guys as the workout itself. 2nd F is an experience that I otherwise would have not taken part of. In fact, the first time I let my wife know I was going to grab some coffee with the guys, she double checked that she had read the text right. Within the workouts, I find myself with greater joy as I watch another achieve a new goal than I would had I achieved the goal myself. I feel better about myself as much emotionally as I do physically. Recently, I have reached further and began to attend Bible study on Fridays. Like my first time ever going to a F3 workout, I was timid at first, but once again, I found myself supported and welcomed.

In summary, I don’t know how I could have ever thought or hoped for a group of men like that of which I found in F3. I never realized all that I was missing or all that this could be.

Chris “Gap” Sellers

Story 5

From Fear to Faith
Through Fitness and Fellowship

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

My story starts in an average household being raised by healthy parents. I seemed to have a pretty normal childhood despite getting into trouble around the neighborhood and/or at school.

I was always very skinny and felt awkward about my body and my looks. I had a lot of insecurities that I masked with making others feel poorly about themselves. So subsequently, I suffered from the distinct feelings that I was different and never quite fit in despite being surrounded by people.

I always had an insatiable appetite for everything. From an early age, I could never get enough of whatever I believed made me feel whole. This was not an issue early in life because that hole that I was always trying to fill was quenched with eating or playing sports. As I grew older though, I began to experiment with alcohol and drugs. This quickly became an issue, and unfortunately, it seemed to feed a dark fatal hole. This darkness took up residence directly in my soul.

Once my addiction was in full force, I no longer felt detached – I felt more a part of the group. My inferiority complex had become stronger causing me to self-medicate with sex, alcohol, and drugs. My drinking and drug use continued to progress through college. I began to cross a threshold into extremely unhealthy living. This included lying, stealing, and failing out of numerous colleges (5 to be precise).

I was an “excuse guy” who never took responsibility for my actions. I did not respect my family, my friends, myself, or God. I grew up in the Catholic faith, but I completely abandoned my relationship with God and the church. I saw them as damning and knew I was screwed. I didn’t want to hear or think about the consequences of my actions here on earth, and I certainly didn’t want to focus on the truths of my hereafter. The more I tortured my body with drugs and alcohol, the skinnier and more out of shape I became.

I have a lot of addiction issues riddled through my family, so being genetically predisposed didn’t help the situation. I was so lost, that suicide seemed like the only viable path. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore due to guilt, shame, and pure pity with how awful I looked. I tried to drink and drug myself to death, but I couldn’t even do that right.

Unfortunately, I kept waking up reliving the same day over and over – it was a live version of Groundhog’s Day. I finally became so sick of being sick and tired, that I reached out to my Mom and Dad. My Dad had been sober for 25 years and remained sober by the grace of God though Alcoholics Anonymous.

At this point in my life the only option I had was to ask Him to help me. My life immediately took a turn for the better. I received answers to so many questions – the questions I spent my whole young adult life searching for. What was wrong with me? Why was I different? Why couldn’t I drink and live my life like others?”

So my new life started, and I began to relate to a new group of individuals that were fighting this disease together. That felt good. At first, my addiction just transformed itself; I started to eat negative foods such as candy and soda. I gained an unhealthy amount of weight, to the point where I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror. I asked God to help me, and I decided to start working out. I had never done this before, because I was always too afraid, and because I was so weak.

What I realized was pride had stopped me from even trying, because I didn’t want others to see how pathetic I was. I continued working out for a while, but I plateaued. I became complacent with my exercising and my relationships. I needed more, and this is where my journey from sad clown to the happy clown started.

I had met my friend Bryan (Klinger) through a church group that was trying to improve our relationships with God, other men, and the parish community. He was a good guy, and I trusted him. So when he told me about this workout group called F3 and asked me to show up on May 13, 2017, I said, “sure.” However, I believed it was going to be a little Bible study group where we did a couple push-ups and read some passages from the Bible. I even told my other buddy I brought, “I plan on going home after this and doing a real workout.” So mind you, I have been working out for a decade now and was in pretty good shape. I pulled into the parking lot at Southview High School and about 40-50 guys were circled up, and my jaw dropped, and I was blown away at the showing. I found out guys had come all the way from Cleveland and Columbus to help launch this program.

When they started with these weird names for jumping jacks, I really questioned what I had gotten myself into. Then they described the reverence and respect paid to the troops. I loved that – I always want to show respect for the troops. So, we get into this beatdown, and I started struggling, and I mean really struggling. There were men there 10-15 years older than me that were not hesitating, and I felt humbled. I wanted to throw-up but held on for the ride. Once they finally finished, I was thinking this is going to catch like wildfire with people like me.

We finished with a prayer at the end of the workout and prayer intentions for other people. This was something bigger than myself. Plus, everybody got this F3 name, and that was cool. I thought I had to name myself, and I said, “Drago” because my whole life people said that I reminded them of the character from Rocky. Then, I was quickly humbled when they told me that I was going to be named by the group. So I stepped into the center and before I even said anything about myself this bald joker the ‘Colonel’ says, “Mickey, call him the short old trainer from Rocky.” Makes sense since I am a 38 year old, 6’6” guy.

Obviously, this guy was trying to be ironic, and I was a little embarrassed, but these were my kind of guys. They are in shape, discuss God, and bust other guy’s balls. I was home. This is what I have been searching for my entire life.

I quickly tried to assimilate by showing up at every workout and getting to know the guys and the process. I was given the book “Freed to Lead” and was inspired even more. I met a couple guys, one named Pixar, and the before mentioned, Colonel. I was told they were the ones, along with my friend Klinger and Brute that started this PAX in Toledo.

We were an immediate success drawing 25-50 people every beatdown and the expansion was on. The addition by division was met with sadness, but Colonel told us to trust the process. We did, and he was right. I have been blessed with so many close brothers that I never had and always wanted. Like so many men have said before, “F3 answered questions I didn’t know I needed to ask.”

I have since participated in numerous GORUCK and other physical challenges. The greatest gift I was granted though, was a new fresh perspective and a change in attitude and outlook. I saw the world a whole new way through these men. They challenged us to think outside ourselves and find ways to make our community a better place. I asked God to open my heart and my mind to opportunities and ideas on how to do this. I was watching a movie that focused on the struggle of kids with cancer which would have normally touched me on a surface level, but it was much deeper through the eyes of F3. I thought, “What can I do to make their lives better?” So I reached out to the PAX, and they said let’s do a toy drive for the kids with cancer during the Christmas season. The charity and generosity was infectious amongst these men. We wrapped and handed out over 150 presents for these kids, and it all happened in under two weeks. F3 has changed me into a person who tries to be better to my M (wife), 2.0’s (kids), and each and every person I deal with.

I am in such better shape physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I wake up every day excited to go into the gloom with my brothers. For the rest of the day I am able to transfer that energy into everything I do. The brothers I have gotten close to will do anything for me, and I will do anything for them. They have no idea how they have helped saved my marriage, my sanity, and even my life. I can never repay what they have done for me.

Chris “Mickey” Bosinger

May 2019 Ruck – Backblast

May 18, 2019
0600-0900; 0900-1200
May Monthly Ruck: Legs were made for rucking
Shops at Fallen Timbers

First half: Wake, Isosceles, Huckleberry, Mother Rucker, Flo, Tupac, Bluto, Patriot, Billy Bob, Huffy, Mailman, Scrooge, Cousteau, Mercy

Second Half: Tupac, Billy Bob, Casper, Mercy

Before diving into this, I want to express gratitude and appreciation for everyone that showed up. It means a lot that you trusted me with 3 -6 hours of your Saturday am.

We started at 0600 with a few guys coming in hot. Rain and construction on the best exit to get to Fallen Timbers slowed up the process, but we started the ruck with 11 and ended with 14. No one dropped off, and it was nice to add to the group.

In the introduction, Mercy gave the core principles of F3 and the mission, a brief over view of our 3rd F component – Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Braedan’s Bridge, and off we went.  

We moved to the hotel parking lot, circled up, and did some warm-up exercises in cadence, then moved out around the parking lot and to the trailhead of the Wabash-Cannonball’s South Fork. Around this time, the rain started to pick up.

We took the South Fork to the North Fork of the Cannonball trail, onto Jerome Road to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield trail. With us, we had some sandbags and water jugs. The jugs were lighter than the sandbags, but the movement of the water, and the shape of the jugs, made the carrying awkward and difficult, as it should be during a CSAUP event.

We also had a weighted shovel flag, just to add to the difficulty.

When we exited the Fallen Timbers Battlefield trail, we were able to gather the last person of our group. We found out that we have a fugitive from Oklahoma among us. The fugitive also found out about his wanted status in the State of Oklahoma since he’s never been to Oklahoma in his life, but the situation did not bring around any more trouble than that.

We rucked over to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Monument, and planted the flag and grounded our coupons.

At this point, Mother Rucker took lead for a segment. In two lines, we raced against the clock to dump our rucks completely, and hold them above our heads. Of course, we were not fast enough, and as a group we did some PT. There were crab walks, lunges, lunges as a group, bear crawls, and other exercises as we failed a few times to dump our rucks quickly enough, and then failed to shove it all in our rucks again.

(Pro tip on this exercise: after the initial dumping, don’t worry about putting things back in their specific pockets. Just shove it all in like a winner. This makes the dumping easier, and gives you time to help the rest of the team.

Also, at some point, even if you do things perfect as a team, the cadre will find issue with something if he wants to kill more time, so there’s the other aspect – something may get nitpicked as an excuse to do more PT that was already planned.)

After we successfully dumped and shoved it back in, we had a few minutes to pack up our rucks, and we moved out, down through Side Cut Park, down to River Road and along the Maumee River. We made our way back up to the footbridge that stretches over the Anthony Wayne Trail, and we rucked back to the starting point. While waiting to cross a street, we did some squats until the light turned. Some of us were lucky enough to do some squats with the coupons.

When we made it to our start point, we were lucky enough to have 20 minutes or so left. The standard for monthly rucks proscribes the length – 3 hours, and I wanted to be sure everyone got their money’s worth.

We circled up and did a version of the Robbie Miller WOD in cadence.  The full WOD is 12 rounds, 6 reps of each exercise. Rucks were optional for this. The 4 exercises: bent over rows (instead of pull-ups), burpee squats, 4 count mountain climbers, and ruck getups.

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This was work, and after 2 rounds, ruck get-ups were switched out with overhead ruck presses. We pushed through one more round with this modification, and we had a few minutes left.

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Wake was kind enough to let me know that I did not need to worry about anyone feeling shortchanged if we stopped at that point. By this point, the reason for our 3rd F component had arrived, and I knew we had 1 more round in us. So we persevered and finished strong.  

My face when I’m wore out.

We put in a lot of work. It was a solid 3 hours, and I was proud of the work the PAX put in. We had rucked just over 6.5 miles, with a tough amount of PT. But this work was about to be put in perspective.

While circled up doing the WOD, Tammy and Braedan arrived and watched. Tammy and her son Braedan were the 3rd F focus, and I was thrilled Tammy wanted to come speak to us at halftime. Tammy told us about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It affects mostly boys. When we workout, we breakdown muscle. Our bodies produce Dystrophin to help us build back our muscles. Braedan’s body does not produce Dystrophin. As you know, our hearts and lungs are important muscles. So beyond the impact of walking and physical activity, this form of muscular dystrophy threatens breathing and living.

Tammy painted a raw picture of this disease, with Braedan, 13 years old, standing there with her. However, Braedan and his family are inspiring. When they received this diagnosis, they decided to make the most out of life. Braedan is an avid hunter, and hunts everything. From hunting turkey to big game in Africa, Braedan and his family have refused to be victims.

With amazing perspective, Braedan once told his mom that he didn’t like Duchenne, but it was kind of a good thing he had Duchenne. Taken aback, Tammy asked why – Braedan said that then he would not have been able to meet so many people were it not for Duchenne.

Braedan lives life to the fullest, and is an inspiration to me, and I hope he inspires the rest of the PAX.

We have an opportunity to serve and help find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. On October 5, the 7th Annual All In for Duchenne casino night is being held at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania. We have opportunities to volunteer, attend, or donate items to be auctioned off. I asked the PAX to consider these things, and I will be posting more information, along with a calendar event on GroupMe.

We closed out in ball of man, as Braedan joined us.

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As the circle disbanded, Cousteau was awesome and thoughtful enough to give Braedan an F3 patch. Tammy was thrilled with our response to her and Braedan, and I look forward to coming through for her and Braedan for their casino night.

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The second half of the ruck started up as Casper joined up with Mercy, Tupac, and Billy Bob. We dumped the coupons and weight on the flag, focusing on keeping up the pace. We headed back over the footbridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail, past the Battlefield Monument, down to Side Cut’s paths along the Maumee River. This time we rucked through to the Silver Lake area, looking for to get some elevation in. We had some patches to earn via GORUCK’s monthly ruck club callout. We needed 1,500 feet of elevation, or 1,500 stairs climbed. We rucked through an outdoor event that was being held in the Silver Lake area with our American flag.

We thought the sledding hill was going to be an option to earn the elevation, but there was an archery activity taking place, with arrows being shot towards the hill. We reconsidered and moved on.

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Along the way, Tupac EH’d several people and ate wild Asparagus

Planting the flag, we found a flight of 15 steps. With some quick math, we figured out we needed to go up and down these steps 15 times. We split it up into quarters and pushed. It was not easy, and Casper who co-Q’d the beatdown at the Fortress just a few hours before which happened to skew heavy toward leg work, was blessed with more leg work.

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A lot of people were in Side Cut while we earned our patch. Again, this was not easy, and it was hard-earned. I was proud of the push we made as we earned this patch together.

We stopped a short second, ate some Gushers, and headed back to the starting point. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and it was wonderful weather.

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We got back to the starting point, hitting 7.5 miles for the second half, 14 miles total for Tupac, Billy Bob and me.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead this ruck. I’m appreciative of all those who came out. I’m glad I was able to present a cause that means something to me.

Legs were made for rucking, and one day, Braedan might have that opportunity because of the money raised to help end Duchenne.  

Story 4

It’s All About THE PROCESS

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

In the morning of April 17, 2016, I found myself journaling about relationships. The question I asked that morning was, how can I attain true friendships. This question led me to begin writing the following:

“Lord I ask you to please place the right men in my life to share and have accountability in regards to life issues. This is an area where I have always struggled. Many times I have thought about having friends but childhood experiences made me struggle with this concept. However, I know I have to break the cycle. I know part of this problem is my insecurity to meet new people. I feel that You are working your plans for me. Please allow me to have this opportunity and give me strength to continue to grow.”

In June of 2017, a member of my men’s group from church mentioned that he attends a work out with other men that takes place at 5:15 am. He described the workouts and the routine of getting a name at the work outs for the new guys. I found his comments interesting, and I asked him for the meeting times and locations. He mentioned that the workouts were taking place at various locations throughout Sylvania. I found it interesting due to the fact that I could go the workout and head to work after it was done. He asked if I wanted to go to the next workout with him the following morning, and I said yes. My final question that night was, what is the name of this workout group? His answer: F3.

My first workout was a Thursday morning. There were probably around 25 guys. I found it very interesting, and I really enjoyed the first day. I was given the name Cogsworth. I remember going to work that morning thinking about what was said during the COT (Circle of Trust). The component of the guys praying for various issues and opening about their struggles made me come back for more.

What does this group mean to me? It means various things. Prior to joining F3 I was struggling with the routine of life. As the head of household in my family, I felt I was missing interaction with other men. I did not have a network of men that I could spend time and talk about the struggles that we face as men.

I should mention that I am a very blessed to have a wonderful wife that supports me, and she is always there for me. I have two wonderful daughters, and words cannot even describe how blessed I am to be called their dad. However, as every man falls into the routine of work and all the other stressors of life, we tend to forget and struggle to be leaders in our families.

This group of guys that I have known for the past six months have given the opportunity to share my struggles and accomplishments to become a better man by improving my health, network of guys, and my faith.

As I go over my journal entries prior to joining F3, I see a man that was trying to overcome issues on his own. My life counselor once told me that I was not mentally tough during one of our sessions. This group of guys have helped me to be mentally tough. It is still a process that continues to improve and some days it is hard to overcome, but I have learned to cope better when I am surrounded by my F3 brothers.

It is my prayer that this group of men will continue to get stronger and that we can become the men that we were meant to be in our homes and communities. The process is not over and will continue to improve. See you in the gloom.

Aye!

Arnold “Cogsworth” Cruz

Story 3

The Best Decision in a Long Time

I like to think of myself as one of the four originals with F3 Toledo. Myself, Colonel, Klinger and Silent P were the four that originally went to Cleveland on a cold Saturday morning. I had no idea what to expect. After getting my butt kicked for an hour, worse than any basketball conditioning I had ever done, I agreed to help get this going here in Toledo.

I still remember the night before the official launch standing in Klinger’s garage with Colonel talking about how many guys would show up and what kind of success it would be. I never thought it would turn out like it did. The impact F3 has had on me has been in several different areas. It has forced me to step outside my normal exercise routine, which is a great thing. This is the best shape I have been in over the last 15 years. It has also introduced me to guys that I never would have known and allowed me to create new friendships with like minded men. One thing I have seen with F3 is many of the men that post all have similar qualities. For a guy who grew up in Sylvania and still had high school friends he hung out with, I never thought I needed any more friends. F3 changed that and has allowed me the opportunity to make friendships with so many more guys, and I am thankful for that.

Finally the faith piece: as a born-again Christian knowing you have other Christians praying for you, the city, your family, whatever it might be is comforting. Knowing God hears all prayers I have already seen the positive impact it has had with the growth with F3 Toledo, FIA and in our own household. Working out, Bible study, and socializing with a great group of men has made me strive to be a better follower of Christ, husband, father and business owner.

Back in March 2016 when Colonel asked me to check out F3 Nation and see if I was interested in helping him get something started here in Toledo, as a friend, I politely accepted not knowing the impact it would have on me. Bottom line – it was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time.

Jason “Brute” Harsh

Story 2

Dedicated and Pushing it Every Day

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

When I was first approached about F3 in Toledo, I thought that it was a pretty neat idea and that some guys would probably get behind it. I wasn’t sure that it was something I needed because I considered myself pretty active and “in shape.” I coach middle school cross country and track, so I was running almost every day. I’ve trained for running events and triathlons, so I thought I knew what it meant to be dedicated to a workout plan.

I’m not much of a TV watcher, and I can’t stand to sit around and do nothing, so being overweight hasn’t really been an issue. I knew there were some areas that needed improvement, but I was comfortable with my physical fitness and confident that I could maintain it for the years to come. Other than the time I spent coaching kids, I didn’t really experience any joy with exercising, but I knew it was something I had to do. So, I was OK with checking the box next to ‘Exercise’ on my list of things to do. I was thinking that F3 was just an exercise group, and I felt like I had that area of my life covered.

I went to an F3 workout in Cleveland before things got started up in Toledo, and I got absolutely smoked! So much for thinking I was in pretty good shape. I remember looking at my watch after what seemed to be at least 45 minutes of the hour-long workout, and it said that only 20 minutes had gone by! What?? Something must be wrong with my watch! We’re not even halfway done??!! On top of that, I was confused by all the weird names they were calling the exercises and couldn’t understand how everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing. I did get a few laughs from the ribbing the guys would yell out to each other, and it was nice to hear people say encouraging words to the guys who were struggling like me. I finished the beatdown, but I was definitely in the back of the pack. That’s when I realized that maybe I had the wrong idea of how F3 could impact my life.

As things moved forward in Toledo, and I consistently started posting to beatdowns, I really started seeing that almost all of my notions about my workout habits were mistaken.

Did I run almost every day of the week while coaching?

Yes, I did, but I also knew that I was doing the least amount of possible work just so I could keep up with the middle of the pack of runners. I also knew that I would take most of the months between cross country and track season off, and I would start to get back in shape a few weeks before the next season started.

Have I trained for and completed running events and triathlons?

Yep, that one is true too. But, was I truly dedicated to my training plan? I knew the answer to that question was no. If I was honest with myself, I knew that I probably only completed about half of the workouts on whatever plan I was following. I was pretty good at coming up with reasons why it was OK for me to skip a day, and I didn’t let it bother me. At the same time, I was never able to really push myself like I felt I should be able to during an event – I was always struggling to just reach the finish line, not really competing.

Have I ever been overweight?

No, I haven’t. But, do I keep losing the same 10-15 pounds every year? That one would be a yes. I think I know the weight that is right for me, when my body “feels” right, and I’d say that I’m at that weight for about 3 months of the year. I spend the other 9 months either slowly moving above that weight or towards that weight. When my clothes stop fitting comfortably is when I usually start getting more serious about working out. I knew that it didn’t really make sense for me to do that every year, but it didn’t bother me enough to do something different. F3 helped me see these things more clearly and made it easier for me to make some positive changes.

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is that my consistency has improved greatly. It’s not unusual for me to go to 5 or 6 workouts a week, and it’s been that way for the last 9 months. When I know that there’s a group of men getting up just like me because they want to get more fit, it makes it so much easier to make the decision to get out there and put in the work. I know that if I don’t show up, someone is going to text me or call me and say, “Everything alright? Didn’t see you this morning and want to make sure you’re OK.” Much easier to post than it is to answer those questions with, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just didn’t feel like getting up today.” The shared responsibility of everyone’s fitness level has made it easy to be consistent. I want to be held accountable, and the power of the men in F3 Toledo have done an excellent job of doing just that.

And this brings me to the next positive change – dedication and pushing myself every day. There are men of all fitness levels in the group, and there’s always someone that’s stronger, faster, or with more endurance than me. This has allowed me to workout harder and more effectively than I ever have before. I leave workouts knowing that I pushed myself as hard as I could because I’m always trying to keep up with the guys that can do more reps than me or can run to the top of some hill faster than me. It’s much harder for me to say to myself, “I’m not feeling that great today, I think I’ll just go half speed or not the full distance I’m supposed to.” Without anybody having to say anything to me, I’m going to do my best to get better each day. At the same time, I know that there might be someone looking to me to provide some of that motivation, so I feel like I owe it to them to give my best at all times so that they in turn push themselves as much as they can. It’s a bit of an odd dynamic, but it works!

All that stuff is great, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to the most important part of F3 – brotherhood. Real brotherhood in the sense that I know there are men I can turn to for laughs, advice, sharing, etc., and they will be open and honest with me. Real brotherhood in the sense that there are men that hold me accountable and expect me to provide them the same openness and honesty they give to me. Real brotherhood in the sense that we help each other become stronger leaders in our homes, our families, our workplaces, our churches, and our communities. There’s a palpable sense that together, we can accomplish so many positive things for our lives. If you would’ve asked me before this all started if I felt like I had friends, my answer would’ve been yes, and I would’ve meant it. But, in my adult life, I haven’t had friends that I would hang out with on my own. My wife and I have friend couples that we might go out to dinner with every once in a while.

It’s always a fun time, but it’s not like I was calling the guy up to see how his day was going or if he needed help with anything. There are even men that are a part of F3 Toledo that I would’ve said were my friends before we started working out together, but I never really did anything to improve that friendship.

Really, it was more of if we happened to be in the same place at the same time, or if our wives made a plan to get together, then we’d catch up and have some laughs. But, after all the hours we’ve spent together in the gloom, that friendship is now a true friendship.

We do share an interest in how each other’s day is going. We do make plans to get together and grab lunch or a beer without any help from our wives. If I need help with a project or want some advice about something, I know there’s at least 10 guys I could call up and they’d be genuinely willing to help. The support and power that comes from having true friends is enormous, and it has really made a positive difference in my life.

All that from just an early morning men’s workout group? Kind of sounds a bit unbelievable, right? Well, believe me…it’s all true! My F3 brothers and I will be out there pushing each other to be the best versions our ourselves – come see for yourself!!

Bryan “Klinger” Riley

Story 1

Toledo… Really?!?

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I learned of F3 while living in Charlotte, NC (I lived there from 1999 – 2014). At that time, I heard rumblings of guys that worked out only a short jog from my home. I passed these men on my way to the gym or work and was curious about what the attraction to what I now refer to as “the gloom.” At the time, I was working out at a Crossfit box, playing basketball a couple days a week and felt I had little need for the fellowship or fitness F3 provided.

However, my curiosity grew to the point that I put in my calendar dates to post at 5:30 AM with no EH (invite) to see what it was all about:

  • Tuesday, 6/4/13 – Freedom Park – F3
  • Wednesday, 9/25/13 – Cotswold Elementary – F3
  • Tuesday, 10/1/13 – Cotswold Elementary – F3

I never posted. Instead deciding to go on a solo run, I promised myself to work out later that day (did not happen more times than it did happen), or I just told myself it’s way too early to work out outside, it would be odd to show up without an invite, etc.

Around August of 2013 I was promoted at work and went from being home every night to traveling Monday – Friday covering 7 states and leading an 8-person sales team. With 3 kids under 4 years old, coming home and going to my first F3 workout quickly became an afterthought.

Being away from my wife and 3 girls was even more difficult than I anticipated. I thoroughly enjoyed leading the team at work but not at the expense of my family. In May, an opportunity presented itself to move to my wife’s hometown of Sylvania, OH (Toledo metro area) to work for a great company that a former colleague called me about. I made the difficult decision to leave a city I loved for 15 years for a great job that would allow me to be home every night with my family and my children to grow up around family in Ohio.

Fast forward to September 2016 and I had allowed myself to become what F3 calls the “Sadclown.” Working out was sporadic (solo runs, intermittent in the gym or working out at home with basketball once a week). I complained about what Toledo did not have compared to Charlotte. I missed the friendships that I had with people I had known in Charlotte for many years. I secretly hoped my wife would say she wanted to move back to the Carolinas, which admittedly was unfair considering her entire family is in Toledo and my girls loved being able to see their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandma/grandpa every week.

September 15, 2016 – I decided to reach out to F3 via the F3 expansion request on the nations site. I sent an email explaining what I knew of F3, the fact I was from Charlotte area, had never posted, but I included a list of the top 10 reasons Toledo needs F3. Evidently it was enough for Crotch Rocket (CR) to respond that night and promised to talk with me live. I proceeded to bug CR weekly until he scheduled my call – and then rescheduled…

During our initial conversation, CR let me know that they had intentions to LEAP (launch in a new city without a driving distance existing F3, or existing member of F3 pax member moving into the area) further into Ohio and Indiana in 2017. He was quick to say that upon further review Toledo wasn’t in consideration to plant the F3 flag, and the focus was on Columbus and Cincinnati. I pleaded to give Toledo a chance to launch and promised to get to work immediately recruiting guys even as were about to enter the winter, and I knew even if approved to launch it would be at least 6+ months away…

The first man I asked to consider F3 and to help was Bryan Riley (Klinger). My second and third contacts were Jason Harsh (Brute) and Vince Palko (Pixar). Contacts with these gentleman prior to F3 were limited to girls’ cross-country coach (Klinger), Church functions and a couple pickup basketball games (Brute) and a colleague from a previous company telling me to reach out to Vince (Pixar) when I got to Toledo. I met Vince while our daughters were running on my 1st summer in Toledo, and we said we’d grab a beer or coffee – never happened…

These men were kind enough to run through workouts to check out potential locations prior to launching. In our final workout on a Saturday morning – May 6th, 2017 – Vince and Bryan sat with me over some bagels and coffee laughing at my concern we wouldn’t have enough men posting for the launch workout on May 13th. I had a tally on a napkin asking who they had as HC (Hard Commits) praying for a solid turnout to prove Toledo would represent F3 well and show out!

On May 13th, 10 pax from F3Cleveland (led by Schotty) and Packo from Columbus, came to make sure we launched right. The feeling of watching car after car roll into the parking lot of Southview High School in Sylvania, OH was something I’ll never forget as 35 Toledo men showed up for a total of 46 – one of the largest launches in F3 History!

Nine months into F3 in Toledo and it has already made an impact on dozens upon dozens of men’s lives. The beauty of F3 everywhere is that it is open to all men – regardless of one’s financial situation, politics or belief system. The walls we typically build, knowingly or unknowingly, in our world can be torn down or at least run over when these are not seen as a conversation stopper or deterrent. Over 100 men have Q’d (led) a workout, almost 400 men have come through and given it a shot, with well over a hundred sticking around to make it a part of their weekly routine. We have started over 16 official workout times with pre-runs and pre-rucks happening regularly, leadership book studies, bible studies, happy hours, etc.

What I love about F3 in Toledo,
and I am certain happening throughout the country: 

  • Men are becoming stronger every day across all 3 F’s
  • Men are losing weight, doing pull-ups for the first time or first time in a long time, doing 100 burpees or pushups throughout a workout when they previously were sitting on the couch or working out alone sporadically….
  • Men are leading vocally and by example to their peers which in turn makes them better leaders in their careers and in their homes
  • Men are vocalizing their faults and trials to other men that are now friends they trust in multiple arenas – COT, during Rucks, Lunches, Happy Hours, Bible Study, etc. – all of which were not present nine months ago
  • Friendships are being forged through sweat and direct, honest conversation
  • Prayers and prayer intentions are being heard and said every day at every workout
  • It just might be the only place they hear a prayer or have their prayer heard that day/week

I know of no other avenue that can impact men from 18-80 like F3. We all owe an amount of gratitude that is impossible to put a price tag on to the men that showed up on 1/1/11 in Charlotte: Dredd, OBT, along with CR and others. They took a simple workout and turned it into a leadership machine that can allow us to all become more confident, healthier, and more accountable to ourselves and those around us all for the cost of waking up a little earlier than normal and doing it again and again. Not a workout goes by that someone, or many, state that there is no way they would do this if it wasn’t for F3.

For me personally, living in Toledo has gotten exponentially better. I no longer go on solo runs or make excuses to not work out. How could I do that when I have a hundred plus friends I can reach out to or meet up with at the designated workout times. I no longer complain about Toledo because I now see that my complaints had more to do with a lack of knowledge. The knowledge that within a few miles radius of my house there was the potential for 60+ to meet up on a Saturday before 7 am to be led by a peer in a tough workout no matter the weather (-10 degrees, rain, snow, etc.) and would do it again on any weekday at 5:30 am. That this same thing has since been extended to Perrysburg and metro Toledo, with even more locations around Toledo.

Furthermore, no one can explain that the workout is the least impactful part of what takes place in F3 until you show up and 20 F3 Toledo show up multiple times. You can get a workout many ways. Every man that posts to F3 has something to give and something to take that day and in a more impactful way to them and others than could ever happen on their own or at your local gym.

What F3 has provided me and many others in Toledo is a time to get better every day of my life and allows us all to be humbled and encouraged at the same time. Humbled by being pushed to the max at a workout; by listening to a fellow pax member requesting thoughts/prayers for a challenge in their life; for leading a group of men and most likely failing at portions of it.  Humbled because while each workout and every opportunity within F3 is “You vs You” it starts to really impact you on a personal level when you realize the power is knowing it isn’t about You – it’s about the man showing up alongside You. Encouraged by being positively pushed to finish a workout to the best of your ability that morning; knowing many are thinking/praying for you and your request; knowing that your circle of legit friends has grown the day you commit to this as a part of your life.

F3 Toledo’s impact is just starting to take shape in less than 1 year. The impact we will make on each other, as individuals and in our community is going to continue to surpass any and all expectations just like we did on May 13th. Some may even call what we are doing in such short order and with such passion, miraculous…

Jared “Colonel” Helton

April 2019 Ruck – Backblast

Final Four Pub Ruck
April 6, 2019
AO: South Toledo
QIC: Geppetto

PAX: Klinger, Mayor, Rhonda (Hate), Thumper (Hate), Bambi, Stark, TuPac (Respect) Geppetto, Jimmy Dean, Bob Vance-Vance Refrigeration, Ticket

No FNG’s so right into Mission and Principles:

F3 – Fitness, Fellowship, Faith

Mission – Plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.

The core principles of F3 are that it must:

  • Be free of charge
  • Be open to all men
  • Be held outdoors, rain or shine, heat or cold
  • Be led by men who participate in the workout in a rotating fashion, with no training or certification necessary.  You versus you. Modify or stop an exercise if you need to. The most important thing is that nobody gets hurt. 
  • End with a Circle of Trust

We circled up in the parking lot of Shawn’s Irish Tavern at 2pm sharp.  Weather was absolutely perfect. Low to mid 60’s with a very light breeze.  The SkyQ blessed us today!

Pax were organized 2×2 with the flag at the front left (more on that later) and our two coupons directly behind the flag.  Two pieces of the F3 Ohio steel were used as the coupons. PAX were paired up as follows:

  • Klinger-Mayor
  • Bambi-Rhonda
  • Jimmy Dean-Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration
  • Stark-TuPac
  • Ticket-Thumper

These pairings would remain constant throughout the ruck.

We headed out of Shawn’s parking lot with Doc Watson’s as our first way point.  We traveled northeast on Heatherdown’s Blvd and Klinger and Mayor set a blazing pace!  The PAX didn’t miss a beat and our formation stayed tight. As we approached the intersection of Heatherdowns and Byrne we passed Flo’s (respect) insurance office and took a photo as the PAX rucked by.  We missed Flo today and hope he gets better soon as he was under the weather and not able to attend the Pub Ruck. YHC instructed the PAX to turn right on Byrne Road and was quickly corrected by Stark that was not the correct direction.  YHC was reminded of his directional deficiency numerous times by Bambi throughout the remainder of the ruck!

As we approached Doc Watson’s we passed the bar to cross at the intersection and avoid playing Frogger across five lanes of Byrne Road.  This added a little distance to our ruck but at the pace we were setting we needed more miles in order to stretch the event to the three-hour minimum.  It also gave us a little extra time at each stop, which no one had an issue with. We entered Doc Watson’s parking lot and planted the shovel flag in a small mulch island near the entrance.  We would have about 40 minutes at the bar, again due to our blistering pace and Bambi and Rhonda continued to ruck and get some miles in.

After some initial stares from the bartenders and patrons we settled in at the bar area.  We took off our packs and sat down for some rehydration. Waters all around and beers that ranged from Thumper’s “Can of the month” Miller High Life ($1.14 – it is the Champagne of Beers!) to IPA’s.  TClaps to Stark for picking up the tab on the beers! Rhonda and Bambi joined us after getting their extra mile in and we had a few minutes remaining so a round of Miller High Life was ordered and drank quickly in order to get back on our route by 3:15.

We circled up outside Doc Watson’s and YHC did a quick Count O Rama to make sure all were accounted for.  We grabbed the flag and headed south on Byrne towards our next stop, Earnest Brew Works. We continued our fast pace and covered the 1.8 miles to Earnest in under a half hour again giving us some extra time to enjoy, in YHC’s opinion the best craft brewery in NW Ohio.

We planted the flag, took off our rucksacks and were warmly greeted at Earnest by smiling faces and wagging dog tails as Earnest is pet friendly!  Mayor picked up the tab for the beers at Earnest which ranged from the easy drinking and aptly named “Easy” to the flavor packed double Oatmeal Stout “Big Oatis”.  Bambi and Rhonda put in some extra miles and joined us after for a quick beer before we headed out towards our Endex.

We now made our way back to Shawn’s and YHC again sent us in the wrong direction.  Instead of the shorter 2.3-mile route we ended up taking the slightly longer 2.4-mile route back up Byrne Road to Heatherdowns.  Again, this ended up being OK as we continued to move at a very quick pace, regardless of which pairing was at the front.

We debated heading to The Distillery for a final beer however this would have put us over our official end time of 5pm.  So, we decided to head back to Shawn’s and wrap up the ruck portion of the day and transition into the Winter Challenge Patch and awards presentation.

Ended with:
Count-O-Rama – Eleven
Name-O-Rama

Sharing of the six – TuPac.  EH’d by Casper at Starbucks. Posted to give F3 a try and has literally not stopped posting since that day.  Got his name because during his naming at the first workout he told everyone that he was going through some “changes” in his life.  Doesn’t really like to exercise but loves coming out for the fellowship and for everything that F3 has done for his life. Aye!

Ball of Man – Prayers for Bambi’s father-in-law, for Patriot and those going through job and career changes and for our F3 brothers dealing with marital and relationship issues.  Thanks and praise to the SkyQ for the great weather, fellowship and this group of HIM’s who continue to amaze with their dedication to each other and to the community.

Spreadsheets from the Gloom:

  • We lost count of the number of car honks early, but a conservative estimate would be thirty+.  TuPac and Stark completed quite a few air presses while carrying one of the coupons. Respect!
  • Total miles covered: 6.6.  Pace: Exactly 15:00. Great work by all to keep a four mile per hour pace for the entire ruck.  We were UNDER 15min/mile for the final 2.4 miles stretch!
  • Bambi and Rhonda rucked to and from the event!  Combined with their 3-hour morning ruck, they covered over 25 miles today.  Nice work men!
  • Multiple times cars stopped along our route to ask what we were all about.  One woman, who was in the military was very happy to see us out supporting the community.  
  • TuPac was in EH mode and talked to people at Doc Watson’s and Earnest about F3Toledo.
  • YHC continually asked for the flag to be kept on the left thinking it has military significance as he heard Klinger direct someone at The Frog to keep the flag on the left.  Bambi asked Klinger about this and there is no military significance when there is only one flag. As we talked about it, Klinger recalls the flag getting caught up in trees during The Frog and asked the flag to be moved to the left side to avoid entanglements.  So there you have it!

Service Project:  Sports equipment donations were collected for Uplyft Toledo, a non-profit organization which aims to give all children in NW Ohio the opportunity to participate in fitness activities and enjoy the associated benefits.

Items collected included basketballs, soccer balls, athletic shoes, baseball helmets and bicycle helmets from the awesome gals at FiA Toledo!

It was an honor to lead the monthly ruck!

May 2019 Ruck Pre-Blast

Legs Were Made for Rucking

Date:            Saturday May 18, 2019
Location:    Fallen Timbers
Time: 0600 – 1200
Alternatively, 0600-0900, or 0900-1200

To get your money’s worth, this is a 6 hour event, but there is the opportunity to drop off or join up at 0900.

The event will begin and end in the parking lot to the north of the Cinemark Fallen Timbers Movie Theater at the Shops at Fallen Timbers.

Those joining at 0900 must be ready to join the group at 0900. Park in the same spot.

Packing List

  • 20 pounds minimum ruck weight
  • Reflectors on Ruck
  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries
  • Index card with emergency contact information and any other pertinent information
  • Full water bladder
  • Nalgene water bottle

The purpose of this ruck will be to appreciate what our bodies can do and push them further.

Total ruck distance will be between 10 and 15 miles for the entire 6 hours.

The service project portion will be in support of a local charity, Braedan’s Bridge. Braedan is a 13 year old boy from Oregon, Ohio who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2011. Duchenne affects 1 in every 3,500 male births. These boys become confined to wheelchairs in their teens, and typically never see their 21st birthday. There is no known cure.

Braedan’s Bridge hosts an annual casino night at Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter  in October to raise funds to find a cure for Duchenne. We will have the opportunity to learn how we can help volunteer or donate at the ruck.