FLORENCE, S.C. — Two groups are working to make exercise exciting, intense and a bond-building experience. The groups, one each for males and females, are part of the F3 and FIA movements spreading across the country.

F3 began in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2011 and now has groups in more than 11 states. The Florence group began in May 2014 as a weekend group for men looking for a challenging workout and camaraderie.

Now, the group has expanded to include workouts five days a week in locations across Florence.

Ken Flowers said he was interested in the group himself because of the friendships made.

“I’ve been working out for years but the main thing about F3 is everyone holds everyone else accountable,” Flowers said. “We are always kind of lifting each other up and encouraging each other. If someone misses a workout, they usually get an email or a text saying we missed them. If you go to the gym, working out by yourself, you don’t get any of that.”

The three F’s represented in the name are Fitness, Fellowship and Faith, which Flowers said is the core of the group.

“Regarding all three aspects, we work out together, sometimes we have lunch or dinner together,” Flowers said. “Once a week we get together for breakfast and have a men’s Bible study. We end each workout with a prayer. It really is taking off. We probably average about 20-25 guys on Saturdays. Since we’ve started, we've had about 200 guys come out.”

FIA (Females In Action) began after a few wives and girlfriends of F3 members realized the benefits of the men’s group and wanted something similar that they could participate in.

Kristie Marlowe started the Florence group after hearing about it through the grapevine.

“A fellow that I date, and a few others friends I have, are in F3,” Marlowe said. “I love fitness and I like Crossfit but I don’t like a lot of the heavy lifting with weights. I like boot-camp style workouts and an all-women group is kind of hard to find. So when I came across FIA, I thought that a lot of women in Florence would be interested in it.”

Marlowe said there has been a huge response to the group, which met for the first time March 7.

“The first workout, we had 40 women,” Marlowe said. “Since then, I have had a lot of women thanking me for starting the group, telling me it was just what they needed.”

Both of the groups are boot-camp styled, with a group member leading each week. With F3, all group members take a turn building a workout routine and guide the group through it. Florence’s FIA is led by Marlowe, Chasidy Ward, Melanie McNutt and Abbi Gibbs.

All of the members of F3 and FIA get a nickname from other group members as part of the friendship-building process.

“The group is free but the nickname is kind of like our buy-in,” Marlowe said. “You have a nickname and you feel like you’re part of the group.”

Outside of the workout, F3 and FIA are civic-minded organizations, giving back to the communities they are established in.

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