Air club for men: getting up, outside and in shape together propels a movement.

Author:Garfield, Ken
Position:NETWORKS - F3
 
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On a chilly morning outside Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, 25 sweaty guys end a workout in a huddle, heads down, arms on each other's backs, sharing a prayer. It's the same place a movement called F3--fitness, fellowship and faith--started almost four years ago, encouraging men to run, bend and bond. F3 doesn't have a paid staff or dues, and attendance isn't tracked. But thousands of men in more than a dozen North Carolina and South Carolina cities show up, typically two or three times a week, for 5:30 a.m. workouts that mix running, sprinting and exercises such as squats and push-ups with a touch of spirituality. The group's mission is to "reinvigorate male community leadership," says Tim Whitmire, a business-development officer for Charlotte-based tech company DealCloud Inc. He started F3 in 2011 with Dave Redding, a lawyer at Tison Redding PLLC in Charlotte. Workouts follow several tenets: They must be free, open to any fitness level, held in a publicly accessible location, led by a participant and close with a nonsectarian prayer, which F3 calls a "Circle of Trust." Only men are invited because organizers believe guys need a place to be guys. Community service such as mentoring elementary-school students is encouraged. While F3's website says the group is open to those of all faiths or no faith, members are overwhelmingly Christian.

Organizers are ambitious about growth...

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