If meeting up with friends now includes a 4 mile ruck before coffee…or if you find that you now head into each day with a little more patience for your kiddos, your boss and your husband…or if you notice that hoisting your dog’s 30lb bag of food into your grocery cart is muuuuch easier than it was this time last year – thank these ladies:
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since this revolution first started and I wanted to memorialize some of the magic that went into the birth of FiA. ChiaPet and Firecracker were kind enough to sit with me (Guinevere) earlier this month and shed some light on the early days of FiA and what excites them most about the future. What follows are some highlights from our bottle of wine and conversation!
Q: F3 started in January 2011 – what took y’all two years?! 😉
A: Well, we met with Dredd and OBT in the summer of 2012 to start kicking around this idea and planning. Both our husbands were doing F3 and we’d heard Dredd’s inspiring teachings at Sunday school – it seemed like something women would want. Probably not exactly like F3, but a customized version for the ladies.
ChiaPet is a certified trainer and she was already a believer in the mind-body connection – moreover she knew that adding community to the mix was the secret sauce. And impressed with her husband’s F3 joy, instead of being jealous, she’d rather find a way to capture that joy herself. Here’s an excerpt from a post ChiaPet authored a few years ago:
“Maybe it was the endorphins from the WOD, fellowship, or the additional hour of strong coffee, but when [my husband] came home, he was ready to hop in the Minivan for #mobiledaycare, solve any problem, and leap tall buildings with a single bound! Clearly this was not the same vibe that he got doing P90X, on a treadmill by a fern, or, erhem, even running with me!”
Firecracker was equally impressed and envious of her husband’s improving fitness and new friendships. Furthermore, Firecracker had unique insight to how men and women can benefit from something they do together yet separate through her and her husband’s affiliation with Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
Importantly, both Firecracker and ChiaPet received unconditional support from their husbands to launch this new venture. That might seem a “given” to the reader when reading these words in 2018, but recall their husbands had EVERY morning of the week to attend F3 workouts. They were so committed to their wives’ vision that giving up one, two or three days a week so that she could start a new bootcamp was an easy decision. (Thank you, Belk and Mighty Mighty Owl Bait!)
So then it only became a matter of when to launch a ladies’ group.
Summer is a tough time for school-aged kids so we decided to wait until fall, but as any parent knows, the start of school is even worse. However the start of a calendar year is always a great time to reassess and set goals, and so January 2013 it was. And why so god awful early? We moms gotta get home and get everyone awake and moving!
Q: How did you settle on the name?
A: Well at this point, it wasn’t just Firecracker and ChiaPet making decisions – we had added to our tribe a small group of early adopters: Wheels, Malibu, Fluffy, Axl and Guinevere. This group wanted to be able to say the acronym. And from what we’ve heard, it’s now often used as a verb. For example, “Sorry dude, I was going to go to F3 this morning, but I got FiA’d!” Haha! But notice, there it is again, men across the country supporting their wives and encouraging them to attend FiA.
Also, we had originally started with the name “F4” – Fitness, Fellowship, Faith and Females – but after working with F3, both groups decided the ladies might want more latitude to do something unique with the women’s group. As our website states, much of FiA is very similar to F3 – we copy what works for us – but women ARE different than men. What drives and motivates them is unique and “FiA” gave us more freedom to customize it in Metro and now across the country. We also felt it was very important for a women’s group to have women leaders and being a subsidiary of F3 (which is what an F4 name would have signified) didn’t make those female leadership opportunities as obvious.
Q: What has been the most surprising thing about FiA over the past 5 years?
A: That’s easy – the organic growth. It has taken off! We launch FiA regions within weeks of the F3 guys getting going. We’re thrilled so many other women are enjoying the friendship, strength and leadership opportunities that FiA offers – all for free!
And no doubt the growth is also one of FiA’s biggest challenges too – it’s hard to keep up with the demand. So ladies, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer to pass it on to new regions!
Q: What’s been the biggest reward?
A: Hands down, the new friendships that have been formed. Ladies who didn’t know each other a year prior are now vacationing together. We had two ladies visit a FiA who had relocated to Thailand, for heaven’s sake!
And for ladies who are on a new, healthy path, it’s wonderful to witness the joy in how their lives and activity levels have improved.
We so wish this had been an option for us in our 20’s – the confidence seems to just radiate from them. And they can build a supportive network of women who cheer them on at what can be a tricky transition period for most adults. And though you asked the “what’s surprising” in the previous question, we would add another thing here – it’s been surprising how young FiA has trended. Don’t get us wrong, there are still lots of 30, 40 and 50 year olds out with us at bootcamps, but we’re blown away that 20 year olds are prioritizing health and community over a bar, or Netflix or social media. Wise choices!
Q: And five years from now, what are your hopes for FiA?
A: That the nationwide and regional leadership will continue to evolve and be paid forward. And that we can still keep up! But given that “no woman is left behind” is a central FiA tenet, we would expect nothing less.
Here’s to five more years!!