When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, triathlon athlete and Friendswood resident Raymond Moore was looking for a new workout as organizers were canceling races. It was then that he found F3.

F3, which stands for fitness, fellowship and faith, is a network of 3,861 peer-led workout groups for men with chapters in 46 states. Unlike other fitness programs, which mostly focus on building physical fitness, F3 sets itself apart as a practice that offers community and brotherhood.

“I like the fitness part of it,” said Moore, who shared he has lost 50 pounds since joining. “But I always say the relationships I’ve formed with other men are fantastic. I’m able to confide. I’m able to be counseled. I’m able to be built up by other men in the community that are positive. It helps me to be a better person.”

A member of F3 for over seven years, Matt Fahey, a Pearland transplant from North Carolina, was looking for the same type of community in Pearland yet was unable to find a local chapter—so he started one.

With two other men, Fahey started an off-the-books group before registering an official group in January 2021 under the name Ironhorse.

Now, about 11 men meet on weekdays at 5:30 a.m. in Centennial Park to participate in what Fahey calls “boot camp-style” workouts. The majority of the workouts use body weight exercises, but the group also sometimes lifts cinder blocks, called “coupons” within the F3 program. F3 has its own lexicon of terms, where you’ll find lingo such as coupons and “FNG,” which stands for “friendly new guy.”

One of the biggest appeals of F3 is the program is entirely free. The workouts are all done outside and don’t require any expensive equipment to participate. Fahey said the fact that it’s free to participate was a big draw for people who were laid off during the pandemic and were looking to reduce their budget.

Each workout concludes with a “circle of trust,” when the men share their life struggles—such as challenges in their marriages or roadblocks at work—and offer each other support.

Pearland resident Arthur Mecom was looking for community and consistent workouts when he found F3 through men he met at a local scramble golf tournament.

“I kept trying to get into better physical fitness but never had anything consistent. If I joined the gym, I didn't want to pay for a gym that I wouldn’t go to,” Mecom said.

After joining, tragedy struck Mecom’s family when he and his wife lost their daughter at birth. As he and his family grieved, the men of F3 came together to offer healing and support.

“The biggest thing was having those guys there and constantly praying for me and praying for our family. Having them there was bigger than anything,” Mecom said.

Beyond workouts, the men of F3 live out the organization’s other two values of faith and fellowship in practice. The F3 chapters host regular activities as a group, such as having dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings or going fishing.

While the two men who founded the group over a decade ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, were Baptist, Fahey said the group is not limited to Christians and is open to all people who have faith that they are a part of something larger than themselves.

The faith component of F3 also manifests in acts of service the men do in the community. Most recently, the Friendswood chapter of F3 served lunch for the Friendswood Police Department.

“It’s about community and having a place of belonging. That’s something you, as a man, don’t get elsewhere,” Fahey said. “It's more than a workout. Yes, you’re getting your physical benefits, but you’re also joining a brotherhood where people care about you. They’re going to ask how you’re doing. They’re not going to leave you behind so to speak.”