F3 Comes to the Men’s Shelter: Fortitude

for·ti·tude: noun
1.strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage
2.courage in pain or adversity
3.mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously

This morning at precisely 4:55 my iphone7 woke me up as I slept in my king sized memory foam bed next to my amazing wife. I was careful not to wake her, my purebred Golden Retriever, or the highscooler on the room across the hall. I could see her sleeping with the Macbook right next to her head where she no doubt fell asleep looking at something besides homework. I put on my gear complete with my new pair of Brooks Adrenalines I purchased this past weekend. Looked out the window. OBT was waiting obediently outside in his shiny BMW. We both jumped in my 4Runner. Heat warmers on, to knock the chill off. I forgot to grab a banana, or apple, or an orange; all of which I am sure were available to me in my kitchen. And we headed exactly 1.5 miles to a completely different world.

The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Between the two campuses in Charlotte, this is the gathering place for the homeless, the lost, the hopeful. They provide emergency shelter while working to end homelessness in Charlotte. The stories are varied. If you’ve ever spent any time there than you know that there are a lot of men willing to tell you their story. As with a lot of good stories, I’m going to begin this one with the ending. As I was leaving after the workout this morning, Redgrave grabbed me and hugged me. He said “Thank you for making me feel like a normal guy for an hour this morning.” And then he asked me if someone could please pick him up again this Saturday morning and take him to that same workout he went to last Saturday. I told him that just as sure as we all just witnessed the sun rise this morning, a car with a fellow F3er behind the wheel would be here Saturday at 6:30 AM. Then he hugged me again.

I described a little bit of my personal life above (as well as broke OBT’s BMW anonymity) for a reason. Sure, there can be certain amount of guilt associated when comparing lives on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Especially when you are on the end that includes international vacations and socks without holes in them. But that’s not the point. The point was highlighted in the COT prayer when I discussed that we were all equal and the same in the gloom and our creator’s eyes. We all have fights to fight, strength to summon, and help to both give and need. The point was when OBT said that everyone who just received a nickname was a full-fledged member of F3 welcome in any workout in the country at any time. The point is what Redgrave said to me when he hugged me. We definitely used our F3 powers for good this morning.

Here’s how this whole thing started. Pipeline has been volunteering on Friday evenings at the Men’s Shelter in the HERC (Housing and Employment Resource Center) computer lab every Friday night. He helps guys apply for jobs, benefits, and housing online. He is also a full fledged member of F3. He easily recognized the need (even as a lawyer he seems to understand the general concept of supply and demand). Eventually he got hooked up with me. I used my experience from starting the workout at the Charlotte Rescue Mission (Mission I’m Possiblee) (which on 3/3/17 celebrated it’s 4 year anniversary) and we co-Qd this far. We had 2 ice cream socials to build repore and recruit. We collected athletic clothing and shoes. And then, last Saturday, we showed up at 6:30 and took 8 guys from the Men’s Shelter to their very first F3 workout at CORE and then took them to breakfast. The experience was phenomenal for everyone who was there. And then, this morning, I was humbled yet again by the outpouring of support from F3Metro. 23 guys showed up to support the effort.

This is probably the part that matters least, but here’s what we did….
– Slow mosey to the side lot for a brief explanation of what the heck was about to go down and COP.
– Side straddle hop x 10, Windmill (a very important stretching exercise) x 10, squats x 10, SSH x 15, merkin x 10, mountain climber x 15, LBC x 15, Carolina Dry Dock x 10, monkey humper x 15, good morning x 10, rock hopper x 10, flutter x 10.
– Mosey one block to the field next to AutoBell. Plank exercises to wait.
– Partner up. Line up facing the field.
– A does 20 exercises, B runs the field and back. Merkins, squats, Carolina Dry Dock, LBC. Done one at a time waiting for everyone to finish before the next begins.
– Do the same thing again without stopping. All 4 exercises.
– Lt. Dan pauses for a smoke break (where was Fishwrap).
– Shake-out walk tot he fence.
– 6 minutes of Mary. Flutter, LBC, Freddy Mercury, Heels to heaven, Protractor, High Slow Flutter, Knee-up, Russian Twist. Don’t drop ’em.
– The Rudy high knees. 5 minutes of running in place, high knees, and drop when I say.
– The circle burpee. Everyone do 1 burpee in sequence. Three rounds.
– Cougar does 10 burpees because he said “Go Heels” while I was Qing. No burpees for anyone else.


– It was, as far as workouts go, a great workout. Ice-9 and Stinger were racing each other. Cougar doesn’t know any Spanish, and OBT just couldn’t understand why anyone would get their car washed at 6:30 AM at Auto Bell.
– The new Fortitude AO (area of operation) looks fairly promising. Several empty streets, hills, parking lots, and fields to work with. And an impressive view of the Charlotte skyline.


– There is a lot of thanks to give for making this happen. First of all thanks to Pipeline for his vision and leadership to bring F3 to those who can use it the most. Thanks also to all of the Pax who have helped to support this initiative at the ice cream socials, the Core workout, and of course this morning. We will need lots of continued support as we move forward.
– F3 Foundation. Thanks to the Foundation for sponsoring the ice cream socials and this initiative overall. Soon to come are F3 Fortitude t-shirts brought to you by the Foundation.
– Thanks to everyone who have donated gently used athletic clothing and shoes. Most of the men who have joined us this past Saturday and this morning would not have been able to without your donations. And a special thanks to Natasha who owns the RUN FOR YOUR LIFE University store. He donated a ton of blemish shoes. Please patronize him. And keep these donations coming. This will be a permanent part of this initiative. Best to bring them yourself on a Tuesday morning. Or get them to me.
– Core. Thanks for the hospitality last Saturday. It looks like that might be a regular thing every weekend. Hopefully folks can plan to provide rides and breakfast after.
– The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Thanks to everyone there, especially the Executive Director Liz Clasen-Kelly and her team for their support.

Thanks again to everyone who made today possible. Thanks to everyone who will help out with tomorrow. Although it is extremely important to figure out who can subtly skip the most exercises possible to remain at the front of a Jacob’s Ladder, this is where the rubber of our souls hits the road of life. The outpouring of support this morning is evidence that we know that; that we want to live it. Below is one of my favorite poems. I think it talks about the things that make us the same. Those things that unite us and allow us to boost each other up so that both may thrive. All of our days get dark and paths difficult to manage. We all need Fortitude to get where we’re going.

” I don’t care to know how much knowledge you’ve acquired nor countries traveled; I want to know if you’ve given your soul a place to live.
Does your spine shiver over a wise poets words of grace?
Do you commune with nature long and with tireless wonder?
Have you known despair and dared to step fully into your chamber of darkness, transforming your terror into that of a trusted friend?
Can you thrill over a star streaked sky of night, tenderly wipe away a young child’s tears, or marvel over the majesty of an artful masterpiece?
Are you a dreamer by day? A lover of night?
Does your own vast potential fill you with awe?
Do dreams of a peaceful world arouse you to ascending heights of hope?
Does the mystery of the universe excite you beyond measure, and can you feel the presence of a power greater than yourself in all of your affairs?
Then join me on the path of wonder, and I’ll meet you in a field of infinite possibilities.” – Diane Loomas

Until next time.
Your friend,

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