During my still relatively short time at F3, I have struggled to comprehend why some FNG’s stick it out and some don’t. Often, guys that I feel will certainly stick, are never to be heard from again. EHing guys to give it a try doesn’t seem to be a problem, but getting them back for that second cup of coffee can be difficult. Certainly many of those “one and dones” were fitter than I and struggled far less at their first post. What was different? Why was I one of the fortunate few while others fail to see the blessing that it is? More importantly, what can we as the Pax, do to increase our FNG retention rate? To get a clearer understanding, at least from my personal perspective, I feel like I need to go back to the beginning…
Although YHC has somehow been at this almost two years now, the memory of my first post at StinkHill (unlike most things) is still very vivid in my mind. After reading of the upcoming launch in Hampton Roads on a Hokie message board, I made up my mind to bite the bullet and give it a shot, but had to wait until week two since I was out of town on launch day.
As I strode into the shadow of StinkHill for the first time that fateful Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but feel that all too familiar fluttering of butterflies rustling in my stomach. I had done a little homework and researched the website a bit, but still did not quite know what to expect from this diverse group of guys standing before me… most of whom appeared to be in much better shape (and DEFINITELY younger) than myself. As the workout began, it didn’t exactly ease my apprehension that these guys with funny names also had equally funny names for exercises I had been doing my whole life. (“Side Straddle Hops” for Jumping Jacks? “Merkins” for Push-Ups? What the heck is an “Imperial Walker”? Are these guys TRYING to make me feel stupid?). As the Q pushed us on from there, the exact order of things began to blur as my heart rate exploded and my muscles fatigued. From what I can remember (other than the pain), we ran far too much and paired up to do a horrifyingly increasing number of repetitions of a group of exercises at the bottom of Mount Trashmore while your partner “sprinted” to the top and back so that he could joyously pick up where you left off. Of course, this insanity was named after a cartoon character explorer my daughter used to watch… are these silly names meant to help temper the torture? When we mercifully returned to the flags and all was said and done, I was completely spent, but felt a sense of accomplishment that I had made it through without what I now know is termed “Splashing Merlot”. My chest was tight (like I’d been swimming all day) and my legs felt like jelly, but I showed up the next week for more punishment. Why?
Maybe that was the reason. After a week off, my body had recovered somewhat and perhaps my mind had been convinced that the previous week’s beatdown was just a bad dream. Had I been encouraged to attend another workout the next day (or even a pitch black 5:30 am workout a few days later), I might have been convinced that one of the F’s in F3 was for FOOLISH and never been heard from again. The fact that there was only one workout a week at the start was likely my saving grace. When AO’s were gradually added, I had already digested the Kool-Aid and was feeling its full effects… For the non-F3ers that may have stumbled upon this, that is just a metaphor; we are NOT a cult ?.
So what are we to do for our FNG’s now that we have multiple workouts in a given week? TALK to them. An occasional “Good job” and “Keep it up!” is a nice start, but is not nearly enough. Ask them about their kids, family, work. Let them know about the other workouts, but make it very clear that there is no obligation to attend. Relate your own not so pleasant initiation into this amazing group of men, and let them know that there is no shame in starting with one workout a week to become acclimated. We all need to realize how very valuable each FNG is and what they potentially can bring to us all. Not that YHC has done anything particularly special, but how different would this group be if this particular, almost 2 year old, FNG had been a “one and done”? It is the same with each one of you… each successful EH and, in turn, each successful EH on their part…It goes on and on. That entire chain is lost if the first link is broken. Each FNG can be the start of new chain and we need to treat them that way.
Now that I’m done with my rant, please realize that this is mostly directed at myself and my own lack of effort towards making FNG’s feel welcome. Help me out by replying with other ideas and thoughts and…
Keep Giving it Away Men,