F3 Hartsville started an afternoon AO; you’ll never guess what happened next.
Now that I have the clickbait title out of the way, let’s have a real discussion about an afternoon AO. I’ll try to keep this short, but I want to make the case that every area should give this a chance. Hopefully I can address your questions, concerns, and our learnings from this endeavor. Please don’t take this as any sort of self-promotion, as I mainly hope to spread this idea and grow F3.
We started our afternoon AO the first week of January, in hopes of capitalizing on those looking to get fit as one of their resolutions. Gyms are full of “Resolutionists” in January, but maybe F3 could grab onto and hold some of them. I don’t miss many Saturday convergences, but due to my work schedule weekdays are mostly impossible for me to attend. I knew there had to be others out there with similar conflicts that were looking for that same brotherhood and opportunity that F3 provides. So, on January 6, 2016, 11 Pax gathered including 3 FNG’s. Of those 3 initial FNG’s, there’s varying results, just like any other AO. One, Scout, never misses an afternoon workout and attends many mornings as well. Another comes fairly regularly and the other has fallen away from the group. We decided to name the AO “Revolution” since it is held near a war memorial and was also a breakaway from the F3 norm. Revolution has had its ups and downs, with several low points during the winter when only 3 of us got better. These days we average about 15 and are considering a split.
I like to pass along some of our experiences, mistakes, and understandings in building an afternoon AO. So, what does it take to start an afternoon AO? We started with the backing of our local leaders, and one guy, me, determined to make it work. This as it turns out was not ideal, but necessary. There were many times that it would have been nice to have someone else to turn to for that Q. The local PAX was happy to support when possible, but afternoons do not work for everyone. Do you have the guy that can Q at a moment’s notice? Who has the mental library of various workouts to draw from? You probably do. Ideally you should start with about 3 guys that can commit to afternoons. It also helps if you can get some of your morning Pax to rotate through as they are able. Not just to Q, but to support the group with their attendance.
Let me address some of the objections to an afternoon AO.
“It’s not the gloom” Try a 108 degree heat index afternoon for 45 minutes and then tell me it’s not gloomy. There’s also something strange about starting in daylight and finishing in the dark during the wintertime.
It takes men away from their families We’ve found this to mostly not be true. Most of the regulars have older kids, no kids, or are too young to have families. On a typical day, the group ranges in age from 18- 55.
Men will leave the morning workouts This has been totally false. So far, we don’t have anyone that has left a morning AO to exclusively move to afternoons. In fact, Revolution has improved our local pax in several ways. Several of the afternoon regulars visit morning AO’s also. Many men who come in afternoon can’t come in the morning due to their schedule. Others, really just don’t like mornings. And we’ve all had EH’s thwarted by the “it’s too early” excuse. Now, you can make them find another lie. Fartsack this morning? No worries, there’s a chance for you to make it up this afternoon. And for those that are feeling good on any particular day, it has offered them an opportunity to double down.
One of the main challenges Revolution has faced has been building Q’s. After 7 months, we finally have a base of solid Q’s that we rely upon. As I mentioned earlier, having those guys that are adept/versatile Q’s and completely committed to an afternoon AO is essential to its success. I strongly believe that every region should have an afternoon AO. There are several men who have been impacted in our community that would have never been reached without Revolution. Take the chance, start that afternoon AO, it’s an opportunity to grow and reach your communities in ways that we have been ignoring.