Do you believe in coincidence? I don’t. But I do believe in God and the fact that He has a hand in our lives. So out of a heart full of thanksgiving I want to post this story to document for everyone the unmistakable hand of our Lord in the founding of Body & Soul. It gives me joy in the retelling, and hopefully you will find yourself on your knees as I was when I wrote this down for the 35th anniversary celebration in August 2016.
September 22, 1980.
My dad died. God was there to take him home and to plant a message or a seed of an idea. You see, as the hospital staff was passing by giving their condolences to me, some of the hospital staff, in separate conversations from each other, mentioned to me that they might have been able to do more if he had been in better shape. Why would they say that?? My dad rarely exercised because of a heart problem at birth. That was in his record, why would they comment on it after his passing?
But the comment about him stuck with me. So some time later Jeannie and I discussed it and, motivated by that thought, we put the boys in soccer and I returned to the jogging and lifting I’d done since college.
Then one day after my jog I was leaving for work, and God was there again.
I asked Jeannie, what she was going to do about exercise?
“Well, jogging is not really my thing… I’m not sure what I want to do,” she said.
I turned to go and saw a county newspaper on the kitchen table with an advertisement in bold. “Dance Aerobics” it read. “Hey honey, you like to dance, what about this?”
She loved it from her first class. God was there, too. Just a few months later she was asked to become a teacher of Dance Aerobics for the Rec department.
God was there when Nan thought of Jeannie and adding exercise to a women’s event called “Body and Soul Day” at our church.
God was there to get contemporary Christian music albums into her hands, music we did not know existed at the time.
God was there that night she choreographed for the first time in her life, and choreographed 10 songs in one night.
God was there when the event went so well that they begged for more after they returned home.
God was there at the first class in Nan’s basement and when Jeannie gave her testimony for the first time and won a soul for Christ.
God was there with Jeannie in that first class at McLean Presbyterian Church in McLean, VA. where, in the biggest room they had, ladies were crammed in and overflowing to a nearby hallway.
And God was there encouraging Jeannie to train others to lead classes so that class could be split up. Jeannie, who less than a year earlier had never choreographed before was now a trainer teaching choreography. And He was there in the basement of our home encouraging the first 4 then 8 ladies to join in and learn how to lead a class.
And God was there when Jeannie and I talked about “all those classes to fill.” We looked at a puny $135 balance left of the money we had set aside for this and with little hope that we could afford it we called John Vogt at WCTN radio. “How about our Impact Plan,” the rep said. “Three ads a day for a week, only $135.”
God was there keeping Jeannie home with two sick boys so she could answer the 200 plus telephone calls that resulted from the ads. And the classes filled to overflowing.
God was there in the late Spring of 1982 when I went to lunch with a good friend and mentor, Armand Dauplaise. We talked for well over an hour with me discouraged over my job and not sure what I should do next and seeking his advice.
As he paid the check he asked, “What’s your lovely wife doing these days.” And I launched into the incredible story of Body and Soul and the growth from 4 to 8 then 17 classes, all filled to the brim. He put down the bill and we continued to talk for another hour.
“Here you are wondering what you should do and God has put it right in front of you.”
“You need to incorporate, you need some startup money, here.” Armand wrote a check to me, not to a charity, he got no tax deduction, he wrote a check for $8,000 made out to me. God was there.
God was there as Jeannie and I prayed about me going full time in the ministry but worrying about debt on the house. He was there a few weeks later when an out-of-left-field investment paid off 15x the original amount. So much for debt. We stayed in the house, turned the basement into an office and I joined the new ministry full time.
God was there as we found Christian lawyers to do the incorporation and a Christian man, Doug Stites, who owned his own mainframe computer and freely helped us get away from the 3×5 cards scattered on the basement floor.
God was there when I went to grad school in exercise physiology so I could train teachers to pass the certification test. And He blessed that effort with nearly all who took the course I offered passing the first time. And He was there also so I could meet a young grad student, engaged to a musician and lead them to Christ and see her become a Body & Soul teacher and a mom, and him lead worship in our church and later become a band member for Christian artists on tour.
God was there then, by my count over fifteen times, in a string of events that if broken may have resulted in a different path.
And He is here today.
Jeannie and I have walked with Him and watched Him at work since we were teenagers together. We raised our kids with Him at our side seeing His hand in our personal lives over and over. And we have participated with Him in this ministry for 35 years.
God will be in this ministry every day working through any one of us with a heart open enough to listen, to hear, and to reach out in His name.
So for all of us who carry on we have but three tasks, here is the mission: Praise our God. Get to work. Watch Him work.
Co-founder and head for all IT development and support
Presented August 2016 at the 35th anniversary celebration of Body & Soul Ministries
One down, two to go…
I finally took my own advice this year and only purchased Halloween candy that I don’t like, so I would give it all away to trick-or-treaters and not eat any of it myself. I can’t begin to tell you how big this is. I love chocolate. I mean, I really love chocolate. Therefore, the jumbo bag of Halloween candy that made it to my house had zero chocolate in it. Only hard candies and sweet tarts. So I’m feeling pretty good about surviving the first of the three holidays that have the potential to derail my healthy lifestyle. One down, two to go. Halloween candy swoops in like a witch flying in on her broom, with Thanksgiving arriving only 24 days later with its creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole covered in mini-marshmallows, and homemade pumpkin pies. Then, just four weeks after the Thanksgiving feast, we find ourselves enjoying family, friends, and the neighborhood cookie exchange…and the office Christmas party. So how do we enjoy the holidays, connect with family and friends, and stay focused on our healthy goals all at the same time? Well, it takes focus and commitment…and a bit of pre-planning. It means we must be intentional with our social calendar and our meal planning. Just like buying Halloween candy – we must approach it with our healthy goals in mind.
Stay on track nutritionally – If you currently subscribe to a healthy eating plan (think vegetables, fruits and lean meats), keep the majority of your meals in line with your plan. Look at your social calendar, identify the events that will involve food, have a healthy snack prior to these events, and during the party be sure that you exercise portion control and carefully choose the items that you really want (it must taste as good as it looks). If you’re still developing your healthy eating plan, commit to it today by making wise nutritional choices, so that by the time holidays #2 and #3 get here, you will have developed healthy habits that you are more likely to maintain.
Stay on track physically – If you currently have a healthy habit of movement and physical exercise, congratulations. You’re already a winner! Stay on track physically by making the commitment to continue attending your group fitness classes and even commit to trying a new class as a Christmas gift to yourself. Be a blessing to your friends, and invite them to join you. Continuing your healthy habit may require saying no to a few holiday invitations, so take a moment and consider your social calendar before responding, and be intentional so that your healthy fitness goals don’t get bumped from your schedule. If you struggle with keeping your exercise appointments you make with yourself, find a friend and hold one another accountable so that both of you stay on track.
Stay on track spiritually – If you currently take time to pray and read God’s word as a regular habit, you are most likely staying on track in many areas of your life because these practices feed us and enable us to achieve more than we can on our own. When we commit to spending time with God, He equips us with knowledge and imparts His perspective upon us, allowing us to stay on the track He has mapped out for us. Staying on track looks a bit different for all of us. For me, it means I am more likely to choose healthy options (good food, regular exercise, kind words, rest) and less likely to dive headfirst into the dessert table or skip my Body & Soul fitness class because I responded yes to too many holiday party invitations. Let God equip you this holiday season during times of prayer and Bible study, and then enjoy the blessings that come from achieving healthy nutritional and physical goals.
The time is now. Eat well. Keep moving. Connect with the Lord. One down, two to go.
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.
Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com.
Have you ever been in a circumstance where you knew you should “give” something, but did not have the resources? Maybe it was a financial commitment, a time commitment, or in this case, the choice to exercise for your health. As you were faithful to fulfill your commitment, you were amazed to see that God had actually multiplied your resources in ways you could not explain. Maybe it was when you gave of limited time, or limited finances.
Focusing on exercise, as the fall season brings shorter days/longer nights, I am faced with the choice of exercising or hibernating. Honestly, to my body, it feels like it’s midnight when the sky turns pitch black when it’s only 7 p.m. (I personally prefer longer days of sunlight – how about you?) My Body & Soul students laugh with me when I arrive to my 6:30 class feeling like I should be getting ready for bed, rather than starting to teach. (I am assuming that SOMEONE else reading this blog also feels my pain… Yes?)
So what should we do when we’re tired and energy-depleted? Should we forego exercise? We might think, “How can I spend energy I don’t have?”
I think one of the best ways to increase our energy reserves is to actually MOVE. It’s the concept of GAINING “limitless” energy through GIVING energy (or exercising).
Did you know that as we exercise, our body creates energy? There are studies showing that people who walk more daily steps, end the day with more energy than on days when they walk less.
Exercise gets our blood pumping which improves our circulation as it moves oxygen through the body. The result? We feel revived! We literally get a “second wind.”
Exercise also helps us reduce the effects of stress on our bodies. Stress can ZAP our energy. Our brains tell us not to add one more thing, not even exercise! However, exercise increases our capacity to handle stress, while at the same time improving our sense of well-being. I get to experience this first-hand in my Body & Soul class. If we “JUST DO IT” we can actually INCREASE our energy levels.
I had to remind myself of this the other night as Kacee (my dog you met earlier this year J) was asking – no, BEGGING – for her walk! It caused me to do a little self-talk, get up, and take her for a walk, despite how I felt! Of course the fact that Kacee is relentless until we walk, DOES help my motivation level. So if you need extra motivation, you may want to consider getting a dog! Just sayin…
As our B&S pushup song says, “it’s harder than I thought, harder than I thought it’d be.” Yes it is, but it is totally worth it. Once I just do it, I’ll come home from class, or in from a walk, feeling renewed.
I was talking with a very busy friend and ministry leader, last week. She told me that she gets up super early to go for a jog/run because she IS so busy, and EXERCISE is what GIVES her energy to get through the day. She has made the decision to exercise MORE, not LESS in order to have the energy to accomplish what she needs to. This is someone who has pushed through the fatigue of fighting breast cancer.
As I look at how our energy is multiplied, I am also reminded of how this same concept works in our spiritual lives when we dedicate our time to the Lord – to sit with Him, read His word, and pray. We think we don’t have time to do this, but we can actually get MORE done on days that we spend with Him, than on days when we think we just don’t have enough time. God actually multiplies our time.
I encourage you to take action on either of the above—the spiritual or the physical. I’m sure you will be amazed by what you gain when you give!
Teri Moscatelli is the Director of Operations for Body & Soul Fitness, as well as Northeast Regional Director, ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and ACE Faculty. She is the wife to Steve, mom to three lovely daughters, two sons-in-laws, and her dog Kacee.
Pictures are courtesy of Teri Moscatelli and pixabay.com.
As the leaves change colors, and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air and entices our taste buds, we all know the season has changed from summer to fall. My advice? Close your eyes, drink in the moment and slow down enough to enjoy autumn. Let the sights and smells and tastes of the change of seasons flow over you and just breathe.
We just got back from a trip to Colorado where we experienced the bright yellow beauty of aspen trees covering panoramic mountainsides, creating breathtaking views. Day after day, the sun was warm on our faces, the sky was bright blue and we were constantly reminded to “just breathe” since we had traveled from sea level to this mile-high part of the world where there is less oxygen, to be sure. Quite a change! Thank goodness I was in shape for the change in altitude, as a devoted Body & Soul member—my lungs were primed and ready to adapt. Water was my friend, and I felt like I drank gallons of it.
The reason for our trip? Family! Embracing our “grandparenting season of life,” we went to be with our son and daughter-in-law and then to keep the three grandsons as Mom and Dad headed to Budapest for a special trip. It was a joyfully busy time of carpools to swim team and cross country practices and meets, preparing lunches and getting the older boys off to school on time, then fun time playing with the youngest while the older boys were in school. I focused on enjoying the “moment” and took time to notice how the boys had grown and changed so much since the last time we kept them for a Mom-and-Dad getaway. This time around, the boys launched right into getting their homework done immediately after school, knowing it had to be done before anything else was going to happen—no questions, no prompting needed. (Do you believe it?) They also knew they had to practice their musical instruments on a daily basis and I smiled as I noted improvement in their ability. Nice! We see the change in kids more than we see it in ourselves, I think. Do you agree?
One more thing about change–If you are someone like me who doesn’t really “love” change, I encourage you to take another deep breath and trust your unchanging God. He will walk with you through each change that happens in your life. He knows the answers to “what’s next” even when you do not have a clue. He has plans for you that are better than you can personally imagine. He is the light in whatever darkness you face. You can count on him. You can trust him. “He’s got this”—as they say in current phraseology.
In the book of James, it says this: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1: 17) God has good and perfect gifts waiting for you. He is a solid rock—unchanging in this world full of changes. Cling to this thought and you will make it through the changing of seasons in your personal life. I can personally attest to this! And along the way, cling to this–the beautiful change of seasons is a gift from God—don’t miss it. The change you see in your children as they grow is a gift from God, too. Be grateful. And the changes God places in your life can also be a gift if you put them in perspective and trust that He is with you. He never changes.
Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.
Photos courtesy of Jeannie Blocher.
As a personal and group fitness trainer, I’ve had the opportunity to rehabilitate joints and retrain muscles with many of my clients and students. I love everything about the human body, so you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to observe surgery in a real orthopedic operating room. It was so cool! I got so wrapped up in the experience, that the surgeon had to ask me to move back a bit when I leaned over too far to get a better look at the patient’s biceps tendon. Did I mention how cool this was?!
The most common complaint I hear from clients is that they are experiencing some degree of low back pain, and studies show that general pain in this area is often caused by muscle imbalance between gluteal muscles and hip flexors. Quick anatomy lesson: gluteals are the muscles of our buttocks (buns, backside, tush, rear, bottom – the list goes on), and the hip flexors are the muscles at the top of the thigh in the front (where our pants wrinkle when we sit too long). The relationship between these two muscle groups must be balanced for them to function properly and allow us to run and jump and lift without pain.
How do we keep these muscle groups balanced? Build the following three exercises into your fitness regimen. And the result? A healthier back!
Glute Bridge – this exercise targets the gluteal muscles and requires the low back to engage as
well as you lift the hips off the floor. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be lined up with your hips, and your heels should be several inches away from your hips. Keep your arms on the floor by your sides. Squeeze your gluteal muscles as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Your body weight should transfer to your upper back. Push your heels evenly into the floor. Perform 12-15 repetitions, holding each contraction for 4-5 seconds.
Quadruped Arm & Leg Extension (a.k.a. Bird Dog) – this exercise targets the posterior muscles of the back, hips and shoulders. Position yourself on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Your back should be flat and your abdominal muscles contracted. Extend one arm up by the head until the elbow is straight, as you extend the opposite leg parallel to the floor until your knee is straight. Keeping your torso still, release the arm and leg, and extend the other side until both limbs are straight and parallel to the floor. Complete 10 alternating repetitions.
Plank – this exercise targets the abdominals and back muscles, along with many stabilizers of the body. Because this exercise is isometric, meaning that it is performed without joint movement, it is generally safe for most exercising populations. Another wonderful quality of the plank is that it can be modified for exercisers of all levels. The modified plank position begins with your forearms and your knees on the floor. Bring your hips toward the floor until your body is straight (slightly diagonal) from your shoulders to your knees. The full plank position is the progression where your knees are not on the floor and instead, you are high on your toes, with your body parallel to the floor. Build up your endurance until you can hold this position for 15 seconds, performing 5 repetitions.
Don’t get sidelined by back pain! Incorporate these strengthening exercises into your fitness routine to establish better balance between your gluteals and hip flexors. And, of course, you will find beneficial exercises like these, and many others, in a Body & Soul group fitness class near you.
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.
Photos courtesy of Amy Stafford,
What one food:
- Is grown in almost every state of the US with Washington being the most famous?
- Was given as pay to teachers?
- Do Americans eat 120 days per year?
- Reduces heavy metals in the body?
- Has an aroma that can lower blood pressure – just by smelling it?
I remember traveling with our friends and relatives to the apple orchards in the coolness of an autumn day anxious and ready for fun. As soon as we found the perfect place in the orchard everyone was busy seeing who could fill their bags with apples first. While all this activity was going on I would find the best place to do what I do best – test the crop. Well someone had to make sure these were truly good. Sure enough when my family found me my face and arms were covered with sticky sweet juice. “The testing is done – these are truly ready for picking.”
Value beyond compare…
We have all been tempted by this sticky sweet fruit but did you also know they are very nutrient dense? Apples have 3 forms of fiber in them; insoluble, soluble and pectin that are higher than almost every other food – especially fruits. This fiber can manage blood sugar, promote fat loss, improve digestion, remove toxins such as heavy metals and mercury and cleanse the liver.
A huge benefit, for those wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, is that apples are highly satisfying to the appetite which allows people to eat less. Research has shown that pectin, which is in high concentration in apples, slows digestion keeping food in the stomach longer. The study showed that those who ate fruit with the pectin in it reported having little sense of hunger for 4 hours, while those who drank juice without the fiber and pectin were hungry much sooner. So, whether you grab an apple as a snack or serve it as a delicious dessert, you’ll be cleansing your body and trimming your waistline at the same time.
Varieties bring goodness…
In my younger years I rarely reached beyond our 4 main apples: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji or Granny Smith. But in the last 10 years my reach now goes to the Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, Winesap and Ginger Gold. My top two favorites are the Fuji and the Braeburn. I love firm crisp and sweet apples. Create a sumptuous flavor by combining two or more apples in pies and sauce. After this foodie experiment you will probably agree – store bought sauce and pies don’t add up to the delicious flavor you created.
Savor the flavor…
While apples are in their prime season in the fall with proper planning and cooking techniques we can enjoy the harvest all year long. Keep apples in a cool place away from moisture, heat and light. You may remember older relatives keeping apples in the cellar to last all year. Since cellars are a rarity today here are other options.
- Make your own sauce – so simple – a must try. See Healthy Treasures for delicious apple recipes.
- Dehydrate the slices – perfect for lunches, hiking, snacks and can be rehydrated to make pies and other recipes. Dried (dehydrated) apples keep for years if kept in a dry container. See Dehydrators here.
- Prepare pies now and freeze. I usually make at least 2 pies per year by slicing the apples, adding in the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, sugar (sucanat) and placing all this in a freezer zip lock bag. Then when I want a pie I just thaw the bag and put directly into a pie shell and bake!
Recipe: When looking for a healthy alternative to a sweet treat– try slicing an apple and putting it into a bag with freshly ground flax seed and cinnamon. Toss and enjoy. Now your hormones will join in and bring satisfaction, happiness and a slimmer waistline.
Apples are a God-given gift of satisfaction and delight wrapped in its red, red-orange, yellow, golden or green package. Enjoy and give thanks.
Annette Reeder is known as the “Biblical nutritionist.” She is a well-known author and speaker, focused on the good gifts God gives us. Visit her website flavorofgrace.org.
Pictures provided by Annette Reeder and Pexels.com.
My son Owen has always been unique. We used to keep a diary of all of the smart and funny things he used to say when he was learning how to talk and when he was in elementary school. We thought he was so clever. Once when he was little, he told us that one of his teachers never seemed very happy, so he decided that every day he would smile at her and try to get her to smile back, because, as he confidently stated, “smiles are contagious.” Despite his sweet nature, when he was a toddler he struggled terribly with anxiety around people. I remember having to tell guests at our home not to make eye contact with him for the first half hour or so until he warmed up to them. Even grandparents’ visits would sometimes cause him to cry and scream and hide behind my husband and me.
Owen is now a sophomore in high school, and a lot has changed. He has matured in many ways, and thankfully no longer screams when visitors come around. But he is still more comfortable at home or with people he’s familiar with.
A few weeks ago, though, he was invited to a youth group event at a church that he doesn’t normally attend. He agreed since he knew the friend who invited him pretty well. But when I brought him to the unfamiliar building, I started to get anxious myself. We didn’t see anyone else there, not even his friend. We double-checked the time and place, and it looked like we were where we were supposed to be. Suddenly, my son noticed some people standing by a small out-building near the church. We wondered if that was where the youth group might be meeting. I asked Owen if he wanted me to go with him and check, but, of course, the thought of his mother walking him into class was more embarrassing than walking into the wrong venue, so he declined politely. He said he would go up to the building and give me a thumbs up if it was the right place. I watched him walk slowly up to the people milling around the door, knowing him so well and knowing how uncomfortable that was for him, and my heart twisted.
He marched forward and peeked inside the door. He was gone for a minute and then reappeared in the doorway with a grin and a thumbs up. I breathed a sigh of relief and at that moment I was so overcome with love for him that I actually said out loud in my car, “Oh, I love that boy.” It was such a stirring emotion that it almost startled me. I sent up a brief “Thank you” to my heavenly Father for my son, and almost as quickly, I felt Him saying to me, “That’s how I feel about you.”
Now my son had not done anything amazing in anyone else’s eyes but mine. Because I know him well and I know he did something that was uncomfortable for him, even scary, it made me proud. I think God sees us that way too, and I love that He gave us the opportunity to be parents so that we could see and share some of those emotions.
I had been feeling inadequate lately, as many women do, with all of the demands that are put on us and the many directions in which we are pulled, and in that moment, I felt like God was telling me that he is proud of me. Oftentimes I feel like I need to be doing BIG things for God in order for Him to be proud of me. But in that moment with my son, I realized that God sees me taking steps of obedience that are scary for me, and He is smiling and cheering me on. Like when I take a step to start a Body & Soul class, or a bible study in my neighborhood or inviting a friend to coffee that I don’t know very well because God has put it on my heart to do so. He does not consider what I do as small. Instead, He encourages me with His boundless, limitless love, just as I do with my son.
Psalm 147:5 reminds us when we forget, or feel like our gifts and actions aren’t big enough for God, that “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limits.” God knows what we are good at. God knows what we are scared of. He knows each of us as intimately as a parent knows a child, and he loves us even more because of, and in spite of, those qualities. If you don’t know this love personally, I encourage you to take a moment and ask God to show you that limitless love of His for you in a tangible way. He is always happy to hear from his children — because to Him, you are incredibly unique. And His heart beats for you in an “Oh, how I love that child” kind of way!
Chriss Prium is a Body & Soul Fitness Instructor and Boot Camp Program Trainer. She currently teaches both boot camp and power strength classes in Byron Center, Michigan at First Reformed Church of Byron Center. She is a wife to Mark and mom to Owen, Grace and Lily.
It sounds sacrilegious, I know, but bear with me. I’m not suggesting that Jesus was a couch potato, or a slacker when it comes to exercise. In Biblical times, movement was a part of everyone’s lifestyle. There was no Uber or Lyft to get from point A to point B; you basically had to rely on your own two feet. And there were no “desk” jobs that I know of. The work week required…well, work—real physical labor. Jesus was a carpenter. And, yes, carpenters worked with wood, but also with stone, iron, and copper. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus was strong and skilled enough to shape materials into products with purpose. So, no, I’m not saying Jesus was out of shape.
When I’m asking about Jesus’ body, I’m talking about us! You see, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the head of the body and we, His followers, make up the body itself. So I’m posing the question: what kind of shape are we in? Are we ready to use the tools at our disposal for what is needed? How is our energy level? Are we up for making a meal for a sick neighbor, running an errand for a new mom? Are we strong enough to keep up with our kids (or grandkids)?
All of the above are important questions, but perhaps the most important one is this: does your faith make a difference in how you approach fitness? Does your shape reflect your faith? Body & Soul’s tagline is “where faith and fitness meet.” But is this true for you? Does your faith intersect with how you care for your body or vice versa? This article that came out recently in U.S. News & World report talks about this very subject. Check it out here: “Finding fitness through faith.” And comment below on how/why/if your faith motivates you to move!
Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC Metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul.
I recently went zip lining for the first time in Belize with my husband, my brother, and my sister-in-law. The four of us were excited as we made our way through rural Central America in our rented SUV, carrying plenty of water, extra snacks, and sporting our trendy outdoor gear to look like experienced zip liners. I felt jazzed as we arrived at the starting point and made friends with the Mayan guides that would lead us through the maze of lines in the canopy high above us. That was up until the waivers came out as multiple-page documents. I quit counting how many signatures were required because the number rose quite rapidly along with my blood pressure! Everyone else seemed to get more excited about the upcoming adventure, but I began getting more nauseated, wondering how to get out of it without looking like a chicken. True confession – my adventure-seeking stalls out a bit when I think physical injury could be involved. You see, I need my physical body to be intact and unbroken for the most part in order to do the other things I love, like teaching Body & Soul. So when the risk gets higher, so does my level of fear. But if I give in to fear, then I miss the adventure. Can you relate to my struggle?
According to dictionary.com, adventure is “an exciting or very unusual experience; a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome”. Oh my. If I allow fear to rule, adventure doesn’t hold the same appeal, and that definition dampens my excitement. I like the exciting and very usual part, and even the bold part, but risky and hazardous and uncertain make this girl second-guess her pursuit of adventure. I know what you might be thinking – just say no to fear and say yes to adventure. I’d like to propose that it goes deeper than that. As a woman of faith, I believe that God is in control, and this faith gives me just enough courage to say yes to adventure while surrendering my fear to Him. Not because I have the will to say these things, but because I know that He has my best interest at heart and that His plans for me are good and perfect. My job is to join Him in this adventure, even when I feel afraid of the outcome, fearing that I might get hurt. So in faith, we say yes to the adventure and surrender our fears to Him. As far as the uncertain outcome – maybe that should be the greatest attribute of adventures. Even when we cannot predict it, may we never doubt that the outcome of God’s adventures for us are completely certain because He is in control. For that I am grateful.
So what adventure have you been considering, yet haven’t climbed to the launching deck and clipped into your harness? Whatever it is, I hope you’ll say yes. I can’t predict the outcome exactly, but I’m confident that you will grow in your faith – and chances are, you’ll get pretty jazzed by the exhilarating ride!
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer, American Council on Exercise Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.
Photos courtesy of Amy Stafford
Cover Photo made through Photofy
Some girlfriends and I had a tradition of renting a house in Berkley Springs, West Virginia, for a spring get-away. As young moms, we carved out the time for a much-needed break from our usual responsibilities. It was a treat to hike in the mountains, get massages at the main lodge, and do a little pampering. Part of that self-care was exercising, too. I remember one weekend in particular when my friends asked me to lead Body & Soul-style workouts at various points. This was in addition to the aforementioned hiking. When the weekend was over and I went to teach my usual Monday morning class, I remember worrying about whether I’d have the strength and stamina to do so. To my surprise, I didn’t feel weaker or more tired than usual. On the contrary, I actually felt stronger and better!
Of my own accord, I wouldn’t have worked out as much as we did in our cabin in the woods. But my friends kind of hoodwinked me into it. In helping them, I inadvertently helped myself. This got me thinking: what if we could find a way to trick ourselves into moving more? What if we could change our preconceived notions of what we’re capable of? What if, rather than feeling limited by our bodies, we could begin to feel strong and limitless?
Three ideas sprang to my mind. They are tips for shifting our thinking and our routines to make room for moving. They are a way to move from limited to limitless.
- Move on autopilot.I don’t mean the workout, itself, of course. (I often tell my students not to “sleepwalk” through a workout.) I mean, we need to make working out our “default” button. Since initiating exercise is the hardest part, we are going to have to find a way to trick ourselves into incorporating it into our routine, so it becomes automatic like brushing our teeth or stopping at Starbucks. No question about whether it’s going to happen or not.
So, do something new to kind of force yourself into a new pattern. Lay out your workout clothes by the bed, so that when you wake up, the most obvious choice is to put the gear on and work out. Set a specific time to meet your spouse or friend for that post-dinner walk. Join a fitness class (like Body & Soul, of course) and make a date to grab coffee with a friend afterward, so you have to show up, whether you feel like it or not.
Top it all off by using language that reminds you of your own new mindset, e.g. “I work out on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” instead of “Yeah, I belong to that gym but I hardly ever get there.” All of the above leave you little wiggle-room to squirm out of exercise.
- Walk by faith. Even people who don’t consider themselves “spiritual” can do this. It means acting in accordance with something that you choose to believe. You want to stop seeing yourself as a person who struggles with self-care to seeing yourself as a person who is active and strong. This is faith—believing before the transformation can be observed with the naked eye.
An active person picks activity over sedentary choices. every. time. Choose dancing over a movie, a walk over board games, tennis over a t.v. show. The more consistently you do this, the more you will see yourself as the active, strong person that you truly are, and that vision/belief will become a reality.
- Fan the flames.I was chatting with Grace, a young friend of mine who is on the track team at her high school. She told me that when she is not in a race, she is cheering on her teammates in their events. That gave me an idea. Maybe one way to transition from helpee to helper is to get over ourselves and look to lifting others up. This is when the Biblical principle of “give and it will be given to you” will kick in. In the process of motivating others, you will begin to believe your own hype. Words like “you can do it” and “it’s never too late to join a class” and “I’ll walk with you” and “let’s work out” will motivate you to make better choices yourself.
What do you think? Are you interested in shifting your mindset? Do you believe it’s possible? Can small changes impact your attitude toward fitness and movement? Are you ready to leave behind limits? Do you want to help others get moving too? Let me know. In the meantime, I’m going to go lay out my work out clothes.
Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org).
Featured image used by permission from pixabay.com.
Music has a powerful and limitless impact in our lives.
A song that impacted me greatly at one point in my life was “Alleluia” by Michael W. Smith. It is sung in church services and has become well known in many circles. For me it is a song that fills my heart with emotion every time I hear it.
The influence of this song in my life goes back to 2003, when my son John was with the forces in Iraq that rolled into Baghdad to capture Saddam Hussein. Now he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, but back then he was an A-10 pilot, and during this time he was assigned to be an air liason officer on the ground, talking to the planes, calling the close air support. He was in grave danger more than once, and I was a Mom on my knees, praying and listening to music that lifted my heart and boosted my trust in God, the one in control of it all!
I listened to the lyrics, “Alleluia, the Lord God Almighty reigns,” again and again and they went deep into my heart. Even today when I hear that song, it brings back the memories of that time, and along with that, it brings tears to my eyes. I am grateful that John’s life was spared and that God brought him home safely. And when John tells his story, he gives the glory to God. I am grateful for that, too.
Do you have songs that have an impact on you like this? Songs that evoke emotion? It often happens with songs we use in Body & Soul. As we pour ourselves out in physical exertion, it opens our souls to hear the words to the songs in a special way. This upcoming fall the music of the Limitless session is no exception. Below you will see the list of songs, and a chart of links to the lyrics. I hope you will check them out, and I am sure you will have some favorites. I pray that the message in the music of this session will inspire you to trust in our limitless God, no matter what you are going through. He truly is the source of limitless love, limitless grace and limitless hope! Please take time to share your favorite Body & Soul song with us and how it impacted you. Comment below– we would love to hear your story.
Limitless Session Songs, Artists, & Lyrics
|Songs (click the title to see lyrics)||Artists|
|Look to You||Planetshakers|
|Eyes Up||Building 429|
|Blown Away||Josh Wilson|
|This is Not a Test||TobyMac|
|I’m for You||TobyMac|
|Air I Breathe||Mat Kearney|
|Never Too Far Gone||Jordan Feliz|
|A Million Miles Away||Hawk Nelson|
|Love Feels Like||TobyMac|
|You are Loved||Stars Go Dim|
|All My Cares||Citizen Way|
|When the Fight Calls||Y&F|
|Greater is He||Blanca|
|Everything Comes Alive||We are Messengers|
Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.
A-10 photo courtesy of David Leeson
I dropped my only child off at college for her freshman year just 7 days ago, and I’m already experiencing the benefits of training her for a brief period of time, and now enjoying the pace of my recovery phase. (Leave it to a fitness professional to equate parenting to a training style!) Don’t get me wrong. I miss her like crazy and I have plenty to keep me busy while she’s away at school, but the day-to-day workload is definitely different than when she was with me daily. This new interval of life is giving me the opportunity to have deeper conversations and sweet interactions with her, rather than calling out quick hellos and goodbyes as we run from one event to another. The work phase and the recovery phase are both turning out to be beneficial.
Interval Training, physically, works in much the same way. It isn’t new in the fitness industry, but it certainly is growing in popularity. If you google it, you’ll see that the benefits are plentiful. As defined by dictionary.com, interval training is an exercise and training program in which each session consists of periods of intense exertion alternating with periods of rest or lighter exertion. In other words, we work really hard for a brief period of time and then we recover. You can now see why it sounds a bit like parenting to me. As parents, we work really hard to invest in our children, training them as best we can for a brief period of time, with hopes of a time of recovery where we reap the benefits of that training. If you aren’t a parent, please keep reading anyway – especially if you’re a pet owner. That takes intense training as well!
Here are my personal top 5 reasons that I love interval training (and why you will, too):
- IT increases endurance (think stamina)
- IT is more fuel efficient (think “well-oiled machine”)
- IT yields greater power (think strength)
- IT burns more total fat and calories for a greater length of time after my workout (think weight loss)
- IT is time efficient (think greater blessing in a shorter amount of time)
Now that you know WHY interval training is beneficial, let me share with you an easy way to kick-start your interval training exercise plan. First, simply choose an exercise (walking, swimming, biking, running, etc.). Then perform the exercise at 2 different speeds for a pre-determined time. For example, walk or jog at a strenuous pace along the long side of a football field and then walk or jog at a relaxed pace along the short side. Alternate this pattern until you’ve completed as many laps around the field that was your determined goal. Implement the same philosophy by swimming a pre-determined number of lengths in the pool at a high exertion level (think Michael Phelps), followed intermittently with fewer lengths at a lower exertion level (think “normal human”). This same sequence can be applied to other exercises of your choosing. HINT: It helps if you choose an exercise that you actually like. If you like the exercise, I think you’ll love the interval training style and its results.
Another great way to add interval training to your exercise routine without having to create it yourself, is to join a Body & Soul Interval-style group fitness class. Find a class near you on our website and contact the instructor to learn more! And remember, just like parenting (and pet ownership), the work phase takes a lot of exertion and effort so give it all you’ve got! Don’t hold back, because the recovery phase is the reward for a job well done.
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness.
Photos courtesy of daynastudios.com.
Do you like making plans? I do! I like thinking about fun future events, anticipating exciting things to come and doing my part to make them happen. I’m a list-maker and I like to check things off the list. If you are like me, you understand the satisfaction of finishing things and seeing the positive results. But there are times in life— many of them, actually—when we can make limitless plans, but the reality is that we need limitless flexibility as we rely on our Limitless God. I just got a special reminder of this….
Our newest grandbaby, Titus Ethan is three weeks old. Roy and I have been helping out, as Becky and Steven have been learning the ropes of parenting and it has been a great joy. Titus was well planned-for: baby showers, nursery set-up. Check. Check. Supplies in the house, extra meals in the freezer. Check. Check. House cleaned, lawn mowed, all checked off in anticipation of the due date. (Becky and Steven are planners, too, as you can see.)
However— as is sometimes possible with first babies, Titus was a few days after his due date in arriving. Since it was a natural birth, we all had to wait for him— and it was God who had the plan for his perfect arrival. All of us were able to attend the wonderful Body & Soul 35th Anniversary Celebration and Concert (including Titus, in utero). Then we had just one day to recover— and the next day Becky was in labor and Titus was born just after midnight. As we all look back we can see how amazing the timing was. With the workshop over, Roy and I were able to be completely available to help Becky, Steven, and Titus in every way needed. What a glorious, perfectly planned (by God) unfolding of events. We are grateful.
With the birth of Titus, and in regards to all aspects of life, I am glad to know that God has good plans in mind for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says it so well: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I can have limitless plans for the future, but God will bring about the ones that are best for me—and he will “delete” the ones that are not good for me. Whatever circumstances those plans may bring, he will be there with me— and with you!
What are your plans for this fall? After you get the kids back to school, then what? Take time to think and plan a little, then commit your plans to the Lord in prayer. One thing to pray about is joining us in Body & Soul for the fall session “Limitless.” The message in the music will encourage you— it’s all about limitless hope, limitless love and limitless grace. The physical exercise will help you get stronger and healthier, and the friendships you will find there will give you support and great joy.
Don’t stop planning—but be sure to listen for the Lord’s plans!
Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.
Recently a commercial aired featuring Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. The voiceover says, “I could choose to hit snooze. Roll back over, catch a few more winks. I’m at the gym 300 days a year. I could take a day off. But I don’t. I choose to rise to the challenge. But yeah, I could choose to hit snooze.” It ends with these words across the screen “Choose to be Awesome.”
With school starting, the demands on parents increase—with forms to fill out, supplies to purchase, clubs, uniforms and practices for each of the kids, it can be exhausting and you may just be bracing yourself for the onslaught of competing claims on your time. You might find yourself wanting to “roll back over and catch a few more winks.”
And while there will be a lot of demands and challenges ahead, you don’t have to clench your fists, turning into one big ball of tension. You can rise to the challenge like Simone.
You can meet these challenges with ease when you feel encouraged spiritually and strong physically.
Let Body & Soul Fitness help you get there!
With five programs, there’s literally something for everyone: cardio, dance, boot camp, strength training and more! Check out the featured video for a glimpse of what we do!
There are classes all over the U.S. (and around the world for that matter) starting up just when schools are! Click on this link to join a class near you.
“Back-to-school” doesn’t need to be dreaded! Rise to the challenge and “choose to be awesome!”
Tammy Taura filmed the video footage for us! She is an instructor in Northern Virginia who teaches a variety of programs.
Written by Hilda Labrada Gore, Director of Communications, and Mary Ross Ward, Director of Marketing
Y’ALL….I am home from my VERY FIRST workshop…
And I am just OVERWHELMED with SO many things…
And most importantly…
The Holy Spirit!!
That feeling you get when you finally figure out what God is calling you to do.
When you realize you are about to make that big leap to follow His lead.
When you suddenly see how a whole bunch of things that happened the past few weeks, months, year all make COMPLETE SENSE.
Y’all….there ain’t nothin like it!
I am so filled with the Spirit and joy and excitement and nervousness after my Body & Soul workshop this weekend.
My 4 year old learned this phrase in Sunday school: “Listen and obey.”
It’s become a new favorite catchphrase around here.
I gotta tell ya…
When we shut our mouths, our thoughts, our pride, and our self-doubt up…
and we stand up against the enemy…
and open up our ears to really HEAR when God is telling us “GO”…
And then we actually DO the thing…
It’s crazy awesome.
He is LIMITLESS.
God CAN use you…and He WILL use you.
We just gotta listen.
And we definitely gotta obey.
Those are my new peeps right there y’all.
I am beyond blessed to be a part of this tremendous ministry.
And I can NOT WAIT to get started this Fall!!!
Dani Combs | Boot Camp Instructor | Woodbridge, Virginia
Do you feel God calling you? Join our team of instructors. Go to www.bodyandsoul.org and click on start a class or become an instructor, and join us at the December workshop.
Group photo taken by Dayna Wergedal. www.daynastudios.com
Do you think of the movie “Mighty Ducks” about the kid’s hockey team, or do you remember the animated superhero mouse from years ago, “Mighty Mouse?” And what does the word “mighty” even mean? Merriam-Webster.com defines “mighty” as “having or showing great strength or power: very great.” The fictitious hockey team and the flying mouse might meet that definition, but I’d like to focus on that power in real life.
There is a song called “Mighty” that is sung by Christian artist Beckah Shae. I just choreographed it for Dance Blast and it has a great beat and catchy tune, so it is running through my mind right now with a vision of fun Dance Blast swing moves. (don’t worry if you are not a dancer—in our cardio/strength classes it is a squat song!) But the most important thing about this song is its focus on God as the mighty one! The lyrics say: “Mighty all the time, his power never ceases to amaze me. He’s everlasting… He’s better than a superhero ‘cuz he ain’t limited in power… he’s mighty all the time.”
Powerful, mighty, great, everlasting. These words all describe God. Psalm 147:5 says “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limits.” He is as mighty in power as a summer thunderstorm with lightning shooting across the night sky and thunder so loud it seems to shake the ground, and yet he understands what we are going through with a compassion and understanding that has no limits.
Maybe you are going through something difficult right now and you need to be reminded of God’s mighty strength and limitless power in your life. Well, there’s no need to wait, here’s what you can do:
Begin now to:
- Consider how God’s power can power you up—when we are weak, he is strong. If you need more “power”—physically or spiritually, God will be your power source. Get in touch with a church or community that can show you how to “plug in” to God’s power. Find a moms’ group or Bible study at a church near you where people can spiritually and tangibly encourage you.
- Ask God to help you be “mighty” (showing great strength or power) to face challenges that come your way. Listen to Beckah’s song “Mighty” and plan to come to her concert at McLean Bible Church on Friday, August 5th! Tickets are only $10.75. Click here for ticket information.
- Think about the idea of trusting a God who has “no limits.” That means that nothing is impossible for him. He is worthy of your trust! Our Body & Soul fall session is called “Limitless.” Find a class near you where you can be strengthened in faith & fitness. bodyandsoul.org
Be encouraged. There is a mighty God who offers you limitless hope, today and every day!
Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President of Body & Soul Fitness. Join her at Mclean Bible Church at 7pm on August 5th, 2016 for a celebration of 35 years of Ministry and a special Concert by Beckah Shae. Tickets available here.
Photograph by Vladimir Kudinov courtesy of Unsplash.com, text added by Rebecca Gilbert – joyartanddesign.com
Life can be so crazy these days! There is tension on a global scale, nationally, locally, and even in our own homes, at times! How can we stay focused and encouraged in the middle of it all? How can we avoid anxiety, stress, and discouragement?
Let Christian artist Beckah Shae encourage your heart today! In Body & Soul classes, we work out to many of her songs, including one with a retro feel called “I’ll Be Alright.” We need that reminder when the going gets tough. We will be alright. We can get through all that is going on with the strength and love of God.
So put your feet up, catch your breath, and click here to listen to Beckah’s recent conversation with me. In this brief 12-minute interview, you will be inspired as Beckah highlights:
- her own challenges in the gym and what motivates her to work harder
- a recent sprained ankle and the frustrations that accompanied her injury
- how we all can stay strong amidst life’s setbacks
- how the “Champion” cd came about
- what inspires each song she writes
- what you can expect at a Beckah Shae concert
- how she stays focused on the “Champion and Perfecter” of her faith
- how Jesus finished strong
By the way, you can hear Beckah LIVE in concert on Friday, August 5th at McLean Bible Church. Tickets are only $10.75 each, includes $0.75 for shipping. Click here for more information on the concert and our whole Body & Soul 35th anniversary celebration that weekend! It’s going to be a lot of fun and very encouraging! We’ll be all right, all right!
Hilda Labrada Gore is the Director of Communications and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, and westonaprice.org).
Most every year for the past eight years, I have attended a Christian Wellness week sponsored by First Place 4 Health. Five years ago, my time there was a pivot point for my future. Early in the week, my blood tests results returned, the nurse called with bad news and the negative report shook me to the core—my blood sugar was dangerously high. Honestly, I took the news hard. I called my husband and he prayed with me and encouraged me to do whatever it took to get well. Then I cried to some of my friends at the conference. They were doing their best to encourage me with the “you can do all things with Christ” kind of cheerleading and sincere prayers. Vicki, my personal trainer there, a wonderful Body & Soul instructor, is a friend who knows humor is often a great motivator for me tried a little levity: “You work out hard, you are at every physical exercise session. There is a thinner healthier Pam inside– she is just bubble-wrapped!”
I went to bed and prayed something like, “Lord, you know how depressed I am. If there were any chocolate bon-bons here I would eat the entire box, so it’s a good thing I got this news here! Father, I have been encouraging women to live healthier in my books and talks yet something is going very wrong in my body. I am such a failure. Maybe you should just take me home to be with you. Okay, that is stinkin’ thinkin’. So I need some help here. Your Word says, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, NASB) I need some safety in my thinking and in my body, so minister to me as I sleep. When I wake up tomorrow morning, please provide an answer so I might go forward and live long and strong for you.”
Cell service was sketchy at the retreat center, so I hadn’t been receiving calls or text messages, including a daily text one of my audience members sent that included some quotes from some of my own books. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and God was faithful to send slumber but at 5 am my phone vibrated and I picked it up to read this text message:
Get up! God has set His alarm clock, and it is time to overcome every weight, every infirmity, every sickness, every bondage that has tried to strangle the physical, emotional, and spiritual life out of you. It doesn’t matter how long you have been bound, stop hitting the snooze button and GET UP!- Ron Parsley, World Harvest
So guess what I did? I GOT UP!
And I thought,
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Something needs to change! What is it, God?
I took my concerns to prayer that morning in my devotional time with God. As I thought about my life, I prayed:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NIV)
I knew I needed a little more motivation than the good advice on my refrigerator magnets:
Something is better than nothing. Do the something you can do.
Your life will change when you change
I have been selecting a word for the year since I was 19 and it serves to refocus and readjust my life to keep me on track. My husband, Bill and I pow-wowed and we selected the same word for our year: STRONG. We decided every choice and decision would be run through the grid of “Will this make me stronger? Our marriage stronger? Our health stronger? Our business stronger? Our ministry strong? Our family stronger?
We selected a theme verse for the year:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
This was a perfect verse because it had the goal: Be strong and courageous, but it also dealt with my emotions, “don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.” And because I travel so much for my speaking, I loved that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” reminder.
The word strong here means to grow to be strong– so God says it is a process! Courageous is also verb meaning to make strong, bold and victorious. The word discourage is a pretty encompassing emotional word and God was saying, “don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear—Pam don’t let this “shatter” you!” The answer of HOW to overcome these negative emotions is in the context of this verse:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7–9 (NIV)
The path to strength and victory seemed clear in verse 7, “obey ALL the law (the Word), don’t get distracted (go left or right).So I hung my heart on the word STRONG. It became my word for that year, and I selected Joshua 1:9 as my verse for the year to focus my heart. My friend, Mary, a Body and Soul instructor gave me a t-shirt emblazoned with “Stay Strong” on the front, so I adopted that as my theme for the year. I also printed out all the verses about being strong and staying strong and that is where I spent my devotional time over the course of the next few months. Bill and I took a photo of us and a set of weights laid out to spell the word, “STRONG” and we made a poster of it. I downloaded songs with that had strong in the title or lyrics. (I eventually adopted Mandisa’s song, Stronger, as my personal anthem). I tried to spend time with people that were strong physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially in order to learn from them. And God made me strong enough to:
- Call a new doctor, nutritionist, and trainer—and work the plan they laid out.
- Believe God would cover the price of medical tests and doctor appointments other items that I felt I needed to stay strong
- Give me the willpower to apply the wisdom that doctor gave
- Be honest with friends and family so they could pray and tangibly support me.
- Add strength training to my ongoing aerobic exercise regime
- Trust that if I slept the proper hours per night, I could still get done the work God needed to me to do
- Reward myself with healthy things like fun workouts, kitchen equipment, new exercise wear, or an occasional spa day instead of some sugary treat.
No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.
So what were the results of meditating on the word STRONG and studying how God makes one strong? I got strong! I shed over 50 pounds; I went from walking to running; I could lift more weights, my core improved and my backaches disappeared. I moved from health risk to health strength. And my faith increased as I strongly believe (then and now) that God can accomplish what seems very impossible – in every area of life.
However, this is not a one-time journey for me. It is an “everyday-for-the-rest-of-my- life-battle” that I must win.
And you must win your battle to wellness too. In my new book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success In Keeping It All Together, I share how to help YOU get and stay strong by choosing your word, verse, theme, and plan for YOUR year.
Each day, even now, I begin my day, “Lord, give me strength!” Because I have two choices: STRONG or dead, I choose strong! You can choose to be stronger too!
You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe and smarter than think you are.
Pam Farrel is the real deal. She loves to encourage women in their faith and Choose Joy in life. She, along with her husband Bill, is an international speaker and best-selling author of over 38 books including: Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Red Hot Monogamy; Love, Honor and Forgive; The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make, The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, The First Five Years, and 10 Secrets to Live Strong, Smart and Savvy. For more information, check out www.love-wise.com.
Body & Soul Fitness often leads the exercise component for First Place 4 Health’s wellness weeks. For more information on attending a wellness week go to www.firstplace4health.com. To learn more about our upcoming 35th anniversary celebration and concert or to find a Body & Soul class near you please go to www.bodyandsoul.org.
Step into a Body & Soul class, and prepare to be transported into a stress-free zone for the next hour, far away from the worries of the world. One student quoted that Body & Soul is music to her soul – one of the many wonderful things about Body & Soul is the music that we use in our classes – it certainly makes it the unique and incredible programme that it is.
Recently, for the first time, Body & Soul introduced the African song “Tomurumbidza” into Dance Blast. What a blast ladies had across the globe as they worked out in true African dance style to this fantastic up-beat track by Tembalami. Bringing different colours, cultures and creeds together in faith and fitness is what makes Body & Soul so special.
You will be blown away when you learn more about the artist behind the music. Tembalami, one of five children, was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, and started singing in church at the age of 11. Music became his passion and at 19 years old, Tembalami cut his first studio recording as part of a gospel group called The Burning Bush. Soon after, he started a choir called ZimPraise with his best friend and five other musicians. Zimpraise today is the most popular gospel choir in the nation. In 2011, Tembalami launched his first solo album “Brighter Day” and the track “Tomurumbidza” was an instant hit on Youtube, exceeding half a million views and this opened doors to the international market. His second album, featuring artist Bayete, went straight to number one on the charts in Zimbabwe and Kenya. But Tembalami does not rejoice in the success, as much as he rejoices in the message behind the music. He sees the songs as a way of expressing his love for God and His people and he firmly believes that music can not only heal and inspire, but also change lives.
This belief motivates his music and his work outside the studio. He has a vision to inspire, build, motivate, teach and lead our generation from hopelessness to triumph, by modelling a Jesus-centred lifestyle. He currently runs a programme in many high schools in Zimbabwe to equip the the students for servant leadership. He uses music as an entry point but ultimately his goal is to train the children to lead youth groups within their schools. He assists the underprivileged schools by donating his music, teaching materials, and sourcing sound systems. He has done much to influence the youth of Zimbabwe!
Tembalami has been generous with Body & Soul, as well. He has allowed us to use his music, copyright-free. And Body & Soul has supported his work, by donating two speakers for use in Tembalami’s youth group projects. What a joy it has been for Body & Soul to partner with an artist with a heart like Tembalami’s.
Kate Lawton lives in Zimbabwe and is Body & Soul’s Regional Director for Africa.
Pics provided by Tembalami and Kate Lawton.
I love nostalgia. I enjoy thinking back on sweet and joyful times that make me smile. Let’s walk down a Body & Soul memory lane for a few minutes…
My husband Roy and I remember when we kept track of each Body & Soul student and instructor by creating their own 3×5 card with their personal information on it—which only included their home address and phone number. There were no cell phones, so no cell phone numbers. There was no such thing as email, so no email address. No facebook, so no facebook messenger! We thought we had taken a BIG step into the future when we got our first Body & Soul computer—a Mac 512 with a 9 inch screen. Do you remember such a world?
Nan McCullough and I remember the first Body & Soul class. Nan knew I was teaching “aerobics” for the local Recreation Department and she invited me to lead some exercises for the “body” part of “body & soul day”—a lady’s event for our church. It was an instant hit, so we moved the “class” to Nan’s basement and she invited all of her neighbors to join us. We had so much fun dancing to Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, and the Imperials. Do you remember those names from the early years of contemporary Christian music?
Our first international classes were in Nairobi, Kenya—25 years ago! Cortina Orr was teaching Body & Soul while her husband attended Dallas Seminary, and when they got the call from God to go to Africa, she took Body & Soul with her. We still have classes at Nairobi Baptist Church today!
One more—do you remember when TobyMac and Michael Tait sang together in a group called DC Talk? Now Toby is mentoring young artists including his son Tru and Hollyn (which we will be using in Body & Soul this fall!) Michael is the lead singer of the Newsboys and recently made an appearance in the two God’s Not Dead movies. We have exercised to their music in Body & Soul since their first CDs were out—or maybe that was “albums”—it certainly was way before iTunes! Ah, how the world has changed.
No matter how long you have been a part of Body & Soul, you have probably have both laughed and cried with your fellow class members as you have “done life together” in Body & Soul. There’s something about sweating together that is bonding—am I right? It’s work to stay fit, and the accountability and caring in our classes is truly amazing. But the spiritual encouragement is the very best part. When our physical strength is waning and life’s challenges try to overcome us, the message of God’s hope and Christ’s love for us helps us to carry on. Let’s all determine to stay connected, together experiencing faith & fitness in Body & Soul.
For a bit of retro fun, we want to encourage you to join us at our 35th Anniversary Workshop and Celebration this summer. Please consider this a personal invitation to experience nostalgia with us at our retro workout Thursday evening August 4 at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA. Oh, yes, it will be cardio routines and music that we have used through the years! You are also invited to join us at other fitness sessions, and our Friday night Celebration on August 5th followed by a fantastic Concert with one of our Body & Soul artists, Beckah Shae. To register go to: Body & Soul Manager Online
See you there for a walk down a very special memory lane, as well as a vision for the future, as Body & Soul moves on to touch more lives with faith & fitness!
And we would love to hear your memories, too! What is your favorite song that we have exercised to in Body & Soul? Who is your favorite Christian artist of all time? What is the most special memory you have of your class? Leave a comment and tell us about it! We are so glad to have you as part of our Body & Soul family!
Jeannie Blocher is the President and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness
Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! That pretty much describes the Heath household during the summer months– especially the crazy part! This summer you can lead your family on a summer vacation filled with healthy fresh ideas for food, fun and fellowship with this SUMMER acrostic:
S – Sleep:
Sleep allows our bodies to repair and recover from the wear and tear of everyday living. There are two age groups that need an abundance of sleep – newborns and teenagers! Yes, there is a reason your teen wants to sleep until noon; he really needs the sleep to release the growth hormone. Last summer my 14-year-old grew before my eyes! When you sleep, your body recharges. Research has shown that a lack of sleep contributes to weight gain. One study indicated that people consume 10 to 15 percent more calories when they are tired. Other consequences to sleep loss are a higher accident rate on the job and more auto accidents. In addition, “I’m too tired” is often the excuse for avoiding intimacy with our husbands and spending time with our children. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. God knows the value of rest. He even made it a commandment!
U – Umbrella:
I know it’ s not a verb, but I’ ll make it work. Protecting our families from the dangers of the sun is a top priority this summer. Use a full spectrum sunscreen and reapply often. Protecting our families, especially our children, from too much TV and video games is also a priority. The television and video games is a tempting babysitter—use parental discretion, set time limits (one hour of TV for one hour of outside activity) and check on them often.
M – Make plans to do nothing:
One thing I especially like about summer is the flexible schedule we have at the Heath house. Some mornings, Rob (my husband and super dad) will ask: “What are you going to do today” and we love to answer, “Whatever we want!” Spend some days this summer without an agenda. Busyness and over-commitment are taking a toll on the American family. When we overcommit our lives, we leave no space for joy in our lives. Be still and know that I am God… (Ps. 46:10) might be a good family memory verse for this summer.
Don’ t wait another year to take the wonderful long awaited family vacation. Sue Shellenbarger, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal says we are people who live in the “tomorrow trap”–people who essentially are so overcommitted that they take refuge in visions of a relaxed life somewhere down the road. Many of us say that our God and our families are important to us, but we don’t live as though they are. Be intentional with your time this summer and choose to do at least one thing that will involve all the members of your family. I know this is almost an impossible task in light of the busyness of life, but it will be well worth the effort.
E – Eat well:
Summer seasonal foods are bountiful, especially wonderful fresh fruits and veggies. Blueberries are one of the best brain foods in the world and at this time of year are relatively inexpensive. Caring for our bodies is an act of stewardship and worship that glorifies God. In Romans 12:1 Paul asked believers to present their bodies to God as ” living sacrifices” every day. A healthy body demonstrates gratitude for what God has done for us and that we are available for service to him.
R – Renew:
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (Psalm 66:4 ESV) Enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of our world. Take advantage of the opportunities to renew your mind with study and contemplation on the Word of God. Renew and refresh your relationship with the Lord and others. Experience meeting God in different ways this summer. He is everywhere, just around the bend in the road and right in the middle of the sunset.
Spend your vacation and spend it well – ENJOY!
Vicki Heath is the National Director for First Place 4 Health and author of “Don’t Quit Get Fit” and her latest book, “The Wellness Journey of a Lifetime.” www.firstplace4health.com Vicki is also a Body & Soul instructor and leader.
Pictures by Pexels.com. Sources are Unsplash and Juan Salamanca.
The scale – what emotions do you feel when you hear that word? Let’s face it we all have a love/hate relationship with the scale. We love it when the number drops, and hate it when the number goes up. Do you know the number one reason women don’t go to the doctor? You guessed it – they don’t want to step on the scale! I’ve often stood on the doctor’s scale backwards so that I couldn’t see the number when they took my weight and told the nurse to keep it to herself.
Too often we let this number dictate how we feel about ourselves. Many factors go into the number on the scale and weight can fluctuate by up to as much as 5 pounds in any given day. So why do we give this number so much power and allow it to validate us? Do the perfect airbrushed images in magazines make us believe we should all look like they do? No wrinkles, acne, cellulite, or imperfections allowed.
The scale shouldn’t define us, God should. So let’s look at what his word says about us. Psalm 139:14-16 (MSG) tells us “you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb… body and soul, I am marvelously made…you know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Wow, when we stand on the scale and the number isn’t what we wanted to see and negative thoughts blast into our minds, we need to remember this! God took great care in creating us and he wants us to know “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jer. 31:3 NLT) It cost God everything to save us, that should tell us how much worth we have to Him.
So then what do we do with the scale? Here are a few tips:
- Keep the right perspective. The scale is a tool. That’s all. It’s meant to give you information. That information should motivate you not define you.
- Realize there are other tools. If you aren’t seeing the scale move, take your measurements. It’s a great gauge on what’s really happening. Often the scale misrepresents the hard work happening as you exercise. Muscle is built more quickly than fat is released, so the scale might increase during your first couple of weeks when starting an exercise routine.
- Don’t weigh yourself every day. Remember, your weight can fluctuate for so many reasons. Plan one day a week at the same time of day to weigh in. You can make yourself crazy otherwise. I know this all too well.
- Ask yourself how your clothes are fitting? This is one of the first signs of weight loss even if the scale isn’t moving.
- Lift weights. If you’ve hit a plateau, consider adding strength training or increase your weights if you are already lifting. This simple change can get things moving in the right direction again. And you won’t bulk up. God didn’t give women the testosterone needed to build muscles like men.
- Get the right amount of sleep. 7-9 hours a night. Your body needs to rest well to be less stressed. Stress can be a huge factor in weight loss. Reduce the lights, sound, and electronics in your room to give you the most advantageous sleep possible.
- Each day spend 15 minutes focusing on God as your loving father. Did you know that this alone releases oxytocin, a chemical our bodies need to reduce inflammation and stress? And imagine your outlook on life after thinking about His love for you for 15 minutes!
- Set realistic goals. No one can expect to lose 20 pounds in one week. Strive for 2 pounds a week for long term weight loss.
- Quit being so hard on yourself. Reread tips 1-8 and meditate on the Scripture verses above.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. You have created me and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to take any negative thoughts captive and replace them with the knowledge that you love me unconditionally and nothing can separate me from your love. Thank you for your faithfulness to walk this journey with me. Help me to do my part and trust you with the results. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Journal: How often do you “have a date” with the scale and how’s that working for you? What drives your self-image? Who/what do you rely on to build you up? What things can you change to correct negative thoughts?
To find a Body & Soul class near you, please visit www.bodyandsoul.org. Body & Soul is where faith and fitness meet.
Banner photo by somorgado through Pixabay.com, Text added by Mary Ward . Embedded photos (1) by luxstorm through Pixabay.com, (2) by kaboompics.com through Pexels.com.
STRESS is all around us. It can be caused by our environment, diet, exercise (or lack of) and attitude.
With God’s guidance we are able to control these areas even if it seems impossible. God takes our STRESS and gives us GRACE.
Stress for me looked like:
- a car accident waiting to happen – wait – it did happen.
- a divorce about to take place – no it didn’t happen but we were sooooo close.
- an enraged bull dog face
- an empty box of Ho – Hos (if you remember what they were)
- a husband afraid to come home
- my kids hiding in their rooms not sure what mood Mom is in
I read in Scripture that I should be able to soar like an eagle – no stress at all. But if I was an eagle I would be tangled in the high wires with feathers going every direction.
But that is not how Scripture describes it or God designed it.
Eagles are mentioned throughout Scripture and each time they are viewed as a magnificent bird with great power, strength, speed and awesome wonder. Their wings spread out over 90 inches – that is almost 8 FEET!
No wonder they can soar above the storms, at speeds of 30 MPH or even up to 100 mph when they are diving for prey.
The Cycle of STRESS
Stress is a cycle that if never tackled it will be with you forever!
When you notice stress – immediately say ‘STOP’.
Changing the diet can stop stress. No, not eating chocolate even if stressed spelled backwards is desserts! But eating foods high in B complex, fiber and vegetables.
Stress depletes the stores of B Complex and vitamin C. Now there is no defense for stress and your immune system is in terror fully exposed.
Next – sweet cravings come in like a tsunami – without B and C vitamins your body will go into a wild craving mode for chips or sweets. This is evidence of no vitamin stores in your body.
Eating those chips or sweets – create a short term hiatus with a long-term depression.
Eat more chips or sweets – short time of bliss – then more stress!
The only way to stop the cycle of stress is to decide where to get off.
Here are 3 options for getting off the stress cycle:
- Change your attitude and altitude. No one can make you stressed – it is a choice. If surroundings cannot be changed then change the altitude – let God change your attitude.
- Take a high-quality B Complex – make sure it is designed as suggested in the Treasures of Health Nutrition Manual. This delivers to your cells what they are clamoring for – HELP!
- Change the diet – include high fiber (beans, whole grains, legumes, whole – raw fruits and veggies), B vitamin rich foods (whole grains), lots of raw foods, and NO processed foods.
- Consider herbs for stress. Ashwagandha and beta-sitosterol. These are my favorite go to when I have too many ‘must-dos’ on my list for the day. They work quickly with no side effects – except a better ability to cope!
Remember God designed us to recognize stress and then respond accordingly.
When we ignore it – we pay the price down the road with death and disease.
When we respond and correct it – we come back into balance and life is manageable. ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation.’.
Read the symptoms of stress in the Treasures of Health Nutrition Manual.
Annette Reeder, holds a B.S. in Nutrition from Huntington College plus a Diploma of Biblical Studies from Liberty University. She has been studying food, nutrition and medical science for over 30 years.
For Body & Soul, at this particular moment in time, it means that God has limitless possibilities for us in the future! We stand at a special juncture in time—we are coming together on August 4-6 for a special time of celebrating the past, present, and future of our faith & fitness ministry.
We will be looking back to smile at (and probably laugh at) some of the things we did in the early years of Body & Soul —the face of fitness has changed. The fitness gear we wear has changed. Our hairstyles have changed. In 1981 when it all began I was a young Mom of two very active boys. Jackie Sorenson’s Dance Aerobics was the thing. I loved to dance, but I didn’t love the music in the classes in local gyms, so with the help of my sweet husband, Roy and dear friend, Nan we started Body & Soul—and it was an instant hit. The possibilities were Limitless as we got started, and look where we are today—with 6 different program offerings, taught in classes in 22 states and 12 countries, over the course of 35 years of faith & fitness, we have served close to 80,000 students!
Right now—in the present moment, we are in the midst of a time of great celebration! We are already planning our summer “retro” classes where each instructor will choose music and routines from the sessions they have taught—over the past year, or over many years! We are also opening the registration for our celebration Workshop and Concert with Beckah Shae which will be at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA on August 4-6. Plan to join us for this special time of fun and fitness!
And where are we headed next? The possibilities are Limitless! At our 35th Anniversary event, I will be passing the baton of leadership, as Amy Stafford becomes the new President of Body & Soul. I will be by her side as the Director of Spiritual Impact. Amy has great ideas for adding the latest fitness trends to our programming. She has vision for growth in the US and abroad, and she has a great heart to serve people of all ages and fitness levels.
But the most important reason that the possibilities are limitless for the future of Body & Soul is because of our spiritual focus. We know that as human beings we have limits. We hit the wall, come to the end of our strength and feel just plain tired. But in Body & Soul we are not limited by our physical strength, we have spiritual strength which comes from our faith—our faith in God and in his Son Jesus Christ. They are the ones who are limitless. With that in mind. As we celebrate the past, present and future of Body & Soul let’s focus on this thought from Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
Banner Photo by Claire Thibault from Pexels.com
Mountain photo by Wolfgang Lutz, text added by Rebecca Gilbert
For nearly 10 years, Beckah Shae has been singing bouncy, uplifting and motivating Christian songs. She has made top 10 Billboard Christian CHR radio singles, one of which was even nominated for a Dove award. From “Champion” which was a kick-boxing song a couple of sessions ago, to “I’ll be all right” which is part of our current “Shine On” session., every song is motivating and upbeat.
You would never know it from Beckah’s music, but she was not always in this place of joy and encouragement. Maybe she knows how to lift others up so well because she has been uplifted herself. Her life story is one of movement from discouragement to joy, and from depression to peace.
In this brief and candid fifteen-minute interview you will be moved by her story of transformation. You’ll hear about:
– her troubled childhood (mother married and divorced three times)
– homelessness and times of hunger
– her stint in Las Vegas as the singer in a cover band
– how faith in God sustained her
– how she ended up in Nashville
– her unique relationship with her friend, turned husband
– her weaknesses and joys today
Beckah has a beautiful story and the voice to tell it, whether in song or the spoken word. Once you’ve listened, you may want to hear more. If so, plan on coming out to her concert on Friday, August 5th at McLean Bible in Vienna, Virginia. The concert will be held in conjunction with Body & Soul’s 35thanniversary celebration weekend. You won’t want to miss it!
Update: Beckah and her husband Jack, just gave birth to their third daughter, Hope, who joins sisters Joy and Grace. Congratulations and we can’t wait to meet you all in August!
Written by Hilda Gore, Director of Communications for Body & Soul.
We are all SO EXCITED about the new President Elect of Body & Soul, Amy Stafford, and we want you to get pumped, too! Today’s blog post highlights this smart, beautiful (and fit) woman! Amy has been teaching with Body & Soul for over 15 years and has a long list of titles after her name. She is the Power Strength Program Director, the Director of Fitness Programs, a member of the Cardio Strength Choreography team and the Regional Director for the Southeast U.S. And now, add to that list the title of “President-Elect.” (She will become the President in full this August when she takes the reins at the 35th anniversary workshop and celebration. More on that in a future blog post.) So, read on and get to know Amy and her heart via this brief Q&A.
Amy, you are the most fit person on the planet! Is that why Body & Soul picked you to be its next leader? What’s your story?[laughing] Oh, no! Only God could have done this. I love anatomy and physiology and kinesiology—all things related to the human body, but I didn’t grow up in a gym. I wasn’t a fitness instructor in college. I played some intramural sports but I wasn’t very good. When I left college, I worked in the field of rehabilitation as a therapist. I think God took my love for the human body and translated it into the fitness realm, one step at a time.
How did you first find out about Body & Soul?
A small group leader at my church brought a Body & Soul videotape to our Bible study one night. And she knew that I was teaching group fitness at a sport club in Williamsburg (where I live now and where I lived then). So she said to me, “This would be great for our church and because you already teach, you should teach it.” And I said “no.” And I said “no” for weeks and weeks and weeks. (She would not give up!) I finally took the video home and watched it. And, honestly, I don’t remember what happened next, but it just seemed to be something that I couldn’t say “no” to anymore.
I scheduled a demonstration class (which is how most classes start) and had 17 ladies show up on a Thursday night! It blew me away to see such interest off the bat. We did a half-hour workout that night and talked about Body & Soul. That launched a two-night-a-week class that’s still going today.
Wow! So, it almost sounds like you had a “Jonah and the whale experience.” I’m guessing you can’t remember exactly what happened because you were inside of a whale until you obeyed what God wanted you to do.[laughing] I think that’s exactly what happened. Because I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t want to be standing in front of a group. I did not picture myself leading a Christian exercise program. I was perfectly fine doing what I was doing at the sport club. I had a young child at the time and they took care of her while I taught. But one step at a time, God brought me through this process.
You said you had a young child. Tell us a little bit about your family.
My family is fantastic. We are small. There are three of us. My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 25 years. Our daughter, Jordan is 18 and is graduating from high school this year. She wants to study zoology in college and she would love to live in Australia, so we’ll see….
Like I said, our family is small, yet close. We love outdoor recreation: camping, biking, hiking, boating. We love being active, together. Jordan has grown up with Body & Soul, listening to Body & Soul music. Steve is now an ex officio member of the board, which is exciting. It’s a part of who we are.
That’s fantastic! What was your family’s reaction when you told them that Body & Soul had approached you about leadership?
Steve’s reaction was very quick and very positive. He simply said, “I’m not surprised.” And Jordan got excited and actually said, “I can be anything!” Because at the time, Steve was the president of an engineering firm, and I was being asked to be president, so she saw us each in a “presidential” role and she got excited, saying “I could be a president, too! I could be anything I want to be!”
That’s so beautiful! And it’s so true, right? With God, nothing is impossible and everything is possible!
Tell us what has formed your faith, your relationship with God.
What formed my relationship with God has been generations of believers in my family. I watched them as I grew up, but I didn’t take that faith for myself until I got to college. And God really got a hold of me there, in a new place, in a new environment. I started to understand what it meant to seek Him, to read the Word, and how it could change me from the inside out. Now looking back, I can see that He has really used Body & Soul to make my faith come alive. In college, I believed in Jesus and that He died for you and for me. And with Body & Soul, my faith went from “believing” on one level to “living” it on all levels. Body & Soul afforded me my voice to proclaim my faith.
What’s your vision for Body & Soul, Amy? What do you hope to see?
It has always been that we would grow. I want to see instructors grow in their faith. I’d love to see more students in our classes, and then for those students also to be growing spiritually, as a result of being touched by Body & Soul.
And what is your vision, in terms of the fitness component of Body & Soul?
My vision is that we would always be innovative, creative, relevant (in terms of fitness trends we see) and safe. I think we are these things now, and I want to keep that as a hallmark of Body & Soul—that we would be the best fitness class out there.
I believe leadership comes from a servant’s heart, and we need to stay humble as we serve. I plan on a whole lot of reliance on the Holy Spirit, counting on Him to empower me to lead a team of highly effective and talented fitness professionals who already lead B&S. I want to honor the Lord and serve the leaders of Body & Soul.
And Jeannie, of course, is one of those that I respect so much. She stepped out in faith to do something that was very new to her 35 years ago. So I kind of feel like I am stepping into those really big shoes. I’ve never led something like this before, so I just appreciate her obedience to begin something and, now, to step back a little to allow somebody else to lead. I think God has really honored Body & Soul through Jeannie’s commitment to obedience and her faithfulness to God.
And 35 years is a lot to celebrate! It’s a huge accomplishment! A lot of businesses don’t exist for 35 years, much less ministries. I think it’s a real testament to God’s faithfulness.
Thank you for your time, Amy! We look forward to celebrating those 35 years with you this August! And congratulations on your new position in Body & Soul! We’re really pleased about it!
Thank you very much!
In 1981 I led the first Body & Soul Workout at a ladies retreat at my church. We called it “aerobics” and everyone loved it. My friend Nan invited all of us to continue to work out in her basement—that was the first Body & Soul class. My visionary husband Roy immediately knew that we needed to trademark the name Body & Soul, so he set that in motion. Soon classes spread across the US and the world. Then multiple programs blossomed to meet the fitness needs of many populations. But the special part about Body & Soul was, and still is, the fact that we are more than just a great fitness program. The inspiring Christian music, uplifting words of hope and caring leadership of our certified instructors set us apart. Body & Soul is where faith & fitness meets. Everyone who has ever been involved in our classes over the past 35 years has experienced that. It is a beautiful thing!
At our Instructor Training Workshop in August we will be joyfully celebrating 35 years of faith & fitness! And there is BIG news concerning that event! Following God’s leading, starting in August, our own Amy Stafford will become the new President of Body & Soul.
I am excited to “pass the baton” of leadership to her to be our new “team captain” as we all continue to run the Body & Soul race together. I am also excited that I am healthy and committed to continue to run on the team with her as the Director of Spiritual Impact in Body & Soul as well as the Program Director for Dance Blast. God has guided us every step of the way! Watch this short video to hear the details:
This life is not a quick relay. It’s a marathon, you know it’s true. Instructors and students alike are part of this team called Body & Soul. We are all running this race of life together. In Hebrews it says this: “…let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1b. This is what we do in Body & Soul—we get stronger physically so we can run with physical endurance, and we get stronger spiritually so we can have the mental and emotional perseverance to face whatever comes next. And the music helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus! I am so blessed to be a part of it. And I am blessed to be here to support Amy as she leads us into the next era of Body & Soul. I look forward to seeing what God does as Body & Soul grows and flourishes under her leadership!
Here’s an action item for you—be a part of it! Stay faithful in attending a Body & Soul class near you. If you’ve moved, help us to start a new class in your town. If you haven’t been to class recently, start today. YOU are a part of the Body & Soul story! We hope to see you at our 35th Celebration Workshop August 4-6. Registration for the event will be opening in May. Together let’s celebrate the past, present and future of this special ministry called Body & Soul!
And one more thing—stay tuned to this blog—next week you will hear more about Amy as she shares her story with you!
Jeannie Blocher is the current President (until August!) and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness
When I was asked to write a blog post for our Body and Soul website, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I had just recently started blogging again, and thought that with all of the ideas swarming around in my head for different blog posts I would write in the future, I would have absolutely no problem coming up with something real, raw, and creative, something that would neatly tie right into this ministry that I am so passionate about. Instead, there I sat, with deer-in-the-headlight eyes staring at a blank screen, as if I were a day post-delivery. Isn’t this the way life seems to always go, though? The irony of it makes me just laugh, out loud, and then whisper to myself “Everything is normal.” Yes!
But, then I realized that the inspiration was inside me the whole time. For days, I had had a song stuck in my head. When I started listening, I realized, “Wow, there are some great lyrics in this song!” And then, a split second later, it hit me, “Wait a minute, this is a Body and Soul song!”
You may be wondering why the wheels in my mind were turning so slowly. Straight up, I am sleep deprived. Good, sound sleep has been a distant memory for the last 6 months, since my son was born. So anything that I write today that makes any sense is derived from the Only One who could sift through all the static and pull out words that actually go together and make some sort of sense.
And so I begin. The song that was playing in my head is by Building 429. It’s entitled “Go” and it talks about us being God’s hands and feet. And repeatedly says the words “GO!”
As I look around the world in which I live, I see less and less desire for people to actually get up and GO. We think we don’t really need to, I believe. We now have many different ways to communicate, connect and stay in touch with every and anyone we choose, at every and any time we decide. This, in some ways, disables our willingness to want to actually GO anywhere. Somehow, it seems, the more connected we are virtually, the less connected we become in the physical sense. Around Christmastime last year, a friend of mine decided that her family was not going to send out Christmas cards because “Everyone already sees us all the time on Facebook anyway.”
Hmmm. That didn’t sit well with my soul. Something about that just felt wrong. There is something lost in all the connectedness that we “think” we have. Virtual connection is no substitute for the real thing.
The song “GO” is a great reminder that if we don’t physically “get up and go,” who will? This is one reason I get up and GO to church. I get up and GO to my Body & Soul class. I need to get moving, physically, to connect with those around me and to follow God’s will. If we don’t GO to the lost and the hopeless, who will? Social media is useful for some things, but there is still a whole world out there, desperate for us to come out from behind our technological devices, and GO to them to spread the word Jesus spoke, and show the love He has. So, as the song says “I’ll never say, NEVER say, never say NO.”
I’ll leave you with one last thought. Jesus says”Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
He said “GO!” Will you? Do so and you will both be blessed…and be a blessing!
Lauren Bradley is a Body & Soul Instructor from Williamsport, MD.
“Step on a crack, break your mama’s…”
Did you avoid stepping on the sidewalk cracks when you were a kid? I did as a game walking home from school, but I really didn’t think I’d injure my sweet mama if I did so. However, there are activities that we do every day that have the potential to harm our own backs. The medical literature is full of studies that show “low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world…” (Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update, Chapter 6.24 Low Back Pain, World Health Organization). The same report states: “The causes of low back pain are rarely addressed.” Interestingly, the report comments on future research needs that focus on diagnosis with biomarkers for people at risk for back pain as well as treatments that include biomaterials for disc replacement in the spine and stem cell research to restore the discs.
Wait a minute. If “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and not much is said in the medical literature about back pain prevention but rather, focus is on expensive experimental diagnostics and treatments, we should be putting more attention on prevention and caring for our backs. This is especially true the more active we are. Paying attention to proper form with strength training and posture during cardio exercises is KEY to preventing back injury. Further, in activities of daily living, awareness of body posture and mechanics when sitting, standing, lifting, and even sleeping will help us keep our backs healthy.
After my first back injury with lifting improperly in my 20’s, then noting it more when lifting my children in my 30’s, my visit to the physical therapist on back health education truly helped me when I started using the recommendations regularly.
The #1 key to remember with loving your back is: maintain neutral spine position as much as possible.
- Maintain a healthy weight. This may sound obvious, but it’s worth stating. Center of gravity may change our pelvic tilt causing “lordosis” (hyperextension of our lumbar spine and anterior pelvic tilt). Added weight can cause stress on our back. We should aim to maintain our ideal body weight. (Thank you, Body & Soul, for helping with this!)
- Change your positions during the day. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting. Sitting for a long time shortens your hip flexors and leads to anterior pelvic tilt. Prolonged standing can lead to lordosis due to weak abdominal core muscles. Take breaks at work to stand up and stretch from a desk job or sit down and rest in a job with lots of standing or walking.
- Avoid repetitive bending at the waist, especially with weights or resistance. Every degree you bend at the waist causes the back muscles to contract, to hold up your torso. Contracting muscles repeatedly or for a long time leads to muscle spasm, strain, and pain. If you exercise regularly, some exercises that may put you at risk for an injury if done repeatedly, with weights, or with improper form are: kettlebell workouts, deadlifts, bent over waist rotations, supine straight leg lifts, leaning forward with the elliptical or treadmill, and full sit-ups.
- Check your desk/workspace ergonomics. Lumbar support for your chair, proper height for your arms, looking at your computer with neutral neck position, and using a foot/nursing stool under your desk will de-stress your back.
- Side-lying sleeping position is best. A good pillow to keep your head and neck aligned with your body and a pillow between your knees to prevent spinal rotation feels great! If you sleep on your back, putting a small pillow under your knees to reduce lordosis is helpful (like they do at the massage clinics!). The worst position for your back that should be avoided is lying on your stomach which promotes hyperextension and rotation at the neck as well as lordosis of the back and even nerve issues from the arms bent and under the pillow.
So, feel free to step on all of the sidewalk cracks you want to! For a true back pain-free life, follow the above recommendations. And love your back as your mama loves you!
Liz is a Fellow of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a medical doctor for 23 years, formerly with the US Army, currently practicing in the Washington, DC area. In addition, she holds a Master’s of Public Health Degree and Assistant Professorship with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD and certification as a Group Fitness Instructor with the American Council on Exercise.
Just the other day, when my life was feeling particularly frenzied I punched the button on my car CD player and immediately heard the song “Today” by Blanca. I began to sing along and my day was changed as I sang loudly (to myself) “You’ve got today to forgive and to live, let the light shine in. To begin, start again, you’ve got today. Turn the page, make a change, love will find a way. Don’t hesitate…wake up and give it all to Him.” I felt an instant refocus. Frenzy melted away. I decided to shine – because each today matters.
When you are feeling in a frenzy because of your busy schedule, struggling with a hard decision, concerned with what’s going on in the world, or challenged by something that seems impossible to overcome what do you do? What is your “go-to” to pull your mind out of the darkness of tough stuff into the light?
There are many good choices. Here are three that have helped me on a day by day basis to “keep my shine on.”
- Seek peace and comfort through music and the message in the lyrics of uplifting songs. I’m not talking about distracting yourself by putting on loud, crazy tunes. I am suggesting songs like the ones we use in Body & Soul – positive, uplifting music that encourage our heart and lift our spirit. Music can actually guide us to be able to shine in dark times, and in busy times of distraction and lack of direction. It is amazing how music can calm our spirit and refocus our mind—a much needed thing in today’s frenzied world.
- Seek out a friend or family member who will listen and give good advice. Allow them to shine into your life. (and don’t forget to look for opportunities where you can shine the light of love into the lives of others!)
- Seek wisdom by reading God’s Word. It brings comfort, encouragement and hope! God shines out to us through the Bible, his love letter to us. “The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us.” Psalm 118:27a
This devotional is a gift to you. It starts with a list of the “Shine On!” songs that we are using this session in Body & Soul. You are enjoying them as they power you up for exercise in our classes. Now you can download your favorites and with one click you can take your thoughts captive and begin to shine. And don’t forget to take time to read the encouraging devotional thoughts and Scriptures that we have included for you!
Here’s also a quick guide to go directly to the lyrics of the songs. When you read what the artists have written, the songs come alive in a new way. Knowing the words helps you sing along so that you, too, can shine on!
|Like a Match||TobyMac|
|World Changers||Matthew West|
|Glow in the Dark||Jason Gray|
|Turn up Your Light||V. Rose feat. KJ-52|
|I’ll Be Alright||Beckah Shae|
|Lift You Up||TobyMac|
|Grace Wins||Matthew West|
|That Was Then, This is Now||Josh Wilson|
|God of Brillant Lights||Aaron Shust|
|Psalm 23+||Group 1 Crew|
|Where the Light Is||Dan Bremnes|
|Be One||Natalie Grant|
|Stars in the Sky||Kari Jobe|
|You will Never Run||Rend Collective|
|Welcome to the New||MercyMe|
|Burn like a Star||Rend Collective|
Let’s pray for each other that we will be able to shine on this session, one day at a time. Let the music of the session take you there!
Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President of Body & Soul Fitness