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We want you to help spread this ministry to even more communities in the U.S. and abroad! Without your generosity, there is no way we could do what we do.

Please consider making your most generous #GivingTuesday gift today!

My friend is going through a rough patch. Ann (not her real name) is out of work and has been for a period of months. She doesn’t have a place of her own. Friends have opened their home for her to stay with them, and she is thankful for their generosity, but there’s no denying that this circumstance has been hard on her. She is worried about the future. And who can blame her? How long before she gets gainful employment, a place of her own, and some independence and stability in her life? A woman of faith, Ann was struggling. Where was God? Did he hear her prayers? She started feeling like her joy was gone and fear had taken its place. You can’t blame her for being discouraged. You and I would have felt the same way, had we been in her shoes.

Ann decided to take a page from a child’s imagination. She was going to play “make believe.” She was going to act like she was living in the Land of No Fear–a fictitious place where nothing was wrong. She determined to live like this for a weekend. She pretended that all was well and that there was nothing to worry about. She sang in the shower. She greeted those around her with effusive embraces and was able to listen attentively to their stories. She felt loving and confident…and happy, the happiest she had felt in months.

After a weekend of living in the Land of No Fear, Ann braced herself for a return to reality when Monday rolled around. But it struck her that maybe she wasn’t pretending, after all. The Bible says that “Perfect love casts out fear.” Maybe her true reality was that God’s love was sufficient to sustain her, through the worries and doubts. The Bible also says in II Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind.” Ann trusted in these truths, leaning on them, throughout that weekend. And I know that she has now decided to keep doing so.

There was wisdom in Ann’s experiment. At a nutrition conference I attended recently, I heard someone say: “Gratitude and fear are both located in the same region of the brain. It’s impossible to experience these emotions simultaneously.” As we approach thanksgiving, I want each of us to step into the Land of No Fear. We move in when we release our doubts, anxieties, and concerns, and trust that God’s love is sufficient to sustain us. The Land of No Fear is not a fairy tale; it is a reality we can live in, every single day.

Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul Fitness and teaches classes in Washington, DC. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast. For more encouragement from Hilda, go to holistichilda.com.

I love the holidays. In my opinion, Christmas songs can start as soon as the first leaf turns orange signaling that fall is here. Halloween and Thanksgiving are fine and all, but, for me, the Christmas spirit takes over fall and winter. This is my favorite time of year for many reasons, but a focus on joy and gratefulness is a large part of it.
However, there are a lot of things I don’t like about this time of year. Ice storms and freezing rain aside, the Christmas season has been manipulated into a strange and unfamiliar time. Black Friday sales are already starting and the retail sector is gearing up for its most profitable time of year. Now, I have nothing against the retail industry or for-profit companies. What I do have a problem with is the fact that we have let the true meaning and purpose of Christmas be contorted into a time of year when all we can think about is “things”.
I am a minimalist at heart and am not a big fan of having excess. (My husband dislikes this because I will spontaneously purge items from our household.) But this has also made me acutely aware of how our society is all about “things” during the Christmas season. As one of my favorite bloggers likes to say, “Everything is 100% off when you don’t buy it.”
We’ve gotten so far away from what this time of year is all about. For Christians specifically, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and an acknowledgement of his life’s teachings. It’s a moment to pause and count our blessings, spend time loving our family, and to give back to those in need. Jesus cared deeply for those who needed Him most. Why don’t we spend the time of year when we are celebrating His birth, representing Christ to the world?
If you are tired of the way materialism has taken over the Christmas season, like I am, consider these ways to shift your holiday spirit:
1. Volunteer somewhere! This year, Body & Soul Fitness is partnering with the Salvation Army. Contact your local station for volunteer opportunities near you.
2. Instead of gifts, make donations to worthy causes. For our family’s Christmas gifts, we make donations in the name of each family member. They will receive a notification that a gift has been made in their name and they get to hear the impact it is having. Is there anything more rewarding than helping others?!
3. Don’t want to donate? Make something homemade! Taking the time to craft something from scratch creates a sentimental gift that will be remembered. Some of my favorite things to make for the holidays are assorted cookies, salt scrubs, and pumpkin butter.
4. Take the time to purge your house of things you don’t need. You can sell these items online, donate them to your local thrift store, or give them to other families in your neighborhood, church, or local school system.
5. Make it a point to refocus the holiday season on what it is really about. This doesn’t mean you need to throw out your Christmas tree and ban all gifts! You CAN make sure your family is focusing on the celebration of Jesus’ birth and representing Him to others during this season and all year long. You can take time each day to read scripture, follow an advent calendar, or say a prayer of thanksgiving for the way Christ has impacted your life.
Let’s make a commitment to take Christmas back this year! What ideas would you add to this list?

Rebecca Huron is the Community Manager and Director of Development at Body & Soul Fitness. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and precious baby. Rebecca is passionate about serving those in need, cooking, and blogging at The Vintage Vista.

Ahh…what to do with an ENTIRE day off?! I woke up feeling excited yet overwhelmed. The whole family was home from school and work due to a holiday. Yay! Precious time. I briefly entertained thoughts of fun outings like heading to the beach for the afternoon. I LOVE the beach, and a breath of fresh ocean air sounded downright glorious.

But as I looked around at the piles, unfinished projects, and general mess that goes hand-in-hand with an active family, it all grabbed and held my attention more than the idea of a day trip. Like everyone, our family has a to-do list that is miles long. Sometimes we feel defeated by it. We prioritize and make schedules and plans. Sure, there are days you toss the list, leave the messes and go to the beach! But on this particular day, I felt we needed something different.

I started to think: what if we stayed home and formatted that to-do list a little more creatively? A little more intentionally, perhaps. Then it hit me–I had an idea. I sat the family down and said excitedly, “Ok! Who knows what interval training is? We have a lot to do and a whole day off to tackle some of it. We’re going to do it interval style!”

Dictionary.com defines interval training like this:

interval training


  1. an exercise and training program in which each session consists of periods of intense exertion alternating with periods of rest or lighter exertion.

This type of exercise has proven to be highly effective on the body. We even use it in some of our Body & Soul Fitness programs. And so, I thought, maybe, just MAYBE, it would also be highly effective on my house!

I showed everyone what I wrote out and we went for it!

  • 45 min-clean great room
  • 15 min-rest
  • 45 min-exercise dogs
  • 15 min-rest
  • 60 min-trip to thrift store for Halloween costumes
  • 15 minutes rest
  • 45 min-solo work: bedrooms, office, etc.

Dinner, yard work, and so on! We called it “interval working” or “interval chores.” Not only did we accomplish more than we typically do in a day, we also had plenty of time to relax and watch a family movie that evening. And the kids–they loved it! They enjoyed the challenge of beating the clock, and the joy of accomplishment as a team. We reaped the benefits of work balanced with rest that day!

Approaching our housework through the paradigm  of “interval chores” was a new, adventurous change from our normal work/rest rhythms. In fact, it was EXACTLY the glorious breath of fresh air that this ocean-loving girl needed!

Paula Huss is a certified group fitness instructor with Body & Soul Fitness, and also serves as assistant Western Regional Director. She currently leads classes at Mt. Olive Ministries in Milpitas, CA, where her husband, John is Senior Pastor. They have three creative kids: Max, Gina, and Drew as well as two energetic rescue dogs. Paula is passionate about encouraging others to keep moving, eat well and enjoy healthy, renewing rest. She also loves to sing, and listen to crashing waves.

The hurricane season this year has created devastation in many parts of the world and our hearts have been heavy as we have lifted prayers for all who have been affected and found ways to help personally. I have been praying for God to not only heal cities that have flooded but to heal hearts that are weary and souls that need encouragement and hope. It has brought to my mind the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” by Horatio Spafford—one of my favorites.

The story of this hymn grips my heart every time I read it. Spafford was a prominent lawyer and a church elder in Chicago, Illinois. He lived there with his wife Anna and five children. He was a devout Christian and among his friends were Dwight L. Moody and other evangelists. The Spaffords were no strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died of pneumonia in 1871 and, that same year, Spafford lost much of his business in the great Chicago fire.

Then, in 1873, tragedy struck their family again. Anna and their four daughters boarded an ocean liner to head for Europe with Horatio ready to join them, coming on a later ship after dealing with a business problem that had arisen. About 4 days into the crossing, the ship that the Spafford ladies were on collided with another ship and went down in 12 minutes. All four daughters were lost, but Anna Spafford survived and sent this telegram to Horatio: “Saved alone, what shall I do?” He immediately booked a passage on the next available ship and when he sailed over the spot where his daughters perished he was inspired to write these words: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.” Even in the midst of intense sorrow, he was trusting God to the depths of his soul. And this is not the end of the story. The Spaffords had 3 more children and moved to Jerusalem where they founded the American Colony, a Christian utopian Society engaged in philanthropic activities among Jews, Muslims and Christians. They continued to serve God and find joy despite the hard things they had experienced. What an example for all of us to follow as we live out our lives where God has placed us.

God has placed me at the beach and I see sea billows roll often. I walk on the beach on calm days and also on days when the red flags fly, indicating rip currents and danger. When family and friends come to visit, we never know exactly what the weather will be, but it doesn’t matter, because there is something about the beach that makes us all feel that it is well with our souls no matter what is going on in our lives. There is a majesty of God’s presence there in the face of the awesomeness of His creation.

“This is what the Lord says: He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who declared the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that the waves roar–the LORD Almighty is his name.” Jeremiah 31:35

A few weeks ago our daughter visited with our grandson and some friends for a few days of R & R—we knew that hurricane Jose was going to be passing by during their time with us. Thankfully, it was far out to sea. We walked on the beach and were buffeted by the wind and saw the sea billows rolling—the pictures tell the story.

Watching my little grandson enjoy the windy, wild day with joy in his heart reminded me that we can find joy even on days when unexpected weather and unexpected challenges come our way. I have never experienced the level of loss and tragedy that Horatio Spafford did, and this year Virginia Beach has been spared from the effects of each hurricane that has come barreling through so far. I am grateful. And I can truly say that “it is well with my soul.”

Have you been able to find joy this session in spite of sorrow and pain? Have you been able to say “it is well with my soul” during hard times? Tell us how you have found joy this session. Your story will encourage others—even as the Spafford’s story and the song that came from it have encouraged many for over a hundred years.


Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President Emeritus of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an ACE certified fitness professional and faculty member, and currently serves as the Director of Spiritual Impact for Body & Soul. She is the author of Make Today Your Best Day Ever and Encouragement for the Body and the Soul, and speaks to women’s groups inspiring them to grow in faith & fitness.

In the past few weeks I’ve been plagued by what I call “first-world problems”. What I’m referring to are the inconveniences that slow down my productivity and/or take away some modern comfort that I’ve grown accustomed to. Here’s the current list: the in-door water dispenser in my refrigerator kept freezing. The uninterrupted power source that runs my office equipment died, setting off continuous high-pitched alarms. The screen on my cell phone went black, never to be operational again. And the computer in the dash of my car prompted me to install an update, after which the satellite radio no longer works, my cell phone (even the replacement that was just delivered) will not sync with the car, and the screen keeps prompting me to “see dealer” because the car detects a malfunction.

Yes, these are what I call first-world problems – the silly and unimportant, yet frustrating problems that arise in my modern daily life. No judgement please – just being real. So here’s another real statement about myself: my relationship with all things techie and electronic is a volatile one. In other words, me and office equipment don’t always get along. Either they need to function properly (as if they have human traits and should be able to control themselves), or they’re going to have their reset button pressed (numerous times), or they’re going to simply be replaced. There’s also a slight chance they’re going to be tapped on, banged on, or shaken vigorously (by this human who should be able to control herself) in an effort to fix the problem. Again, no judgement please. I am confident that I am not alone in this.

As I am moving forward and working to solve my current techie problems, I’m wondering in what other areas of my life do I need to press the reset button or simply replace? When I was without a working cell phone, I spent the weekend unplugged, which reminded me of a goal I set earlier this year to avoid the trap of being continuously connected electronically. My work piled up as I spent several days offline, but I must admit, even with the amount of work I had to catch up on, the freedom of the unplugged time was absolutely worth it! Now that I’m back up and running with a working cell phone and an office full of functioning devices, I’m finding myself looking for areas in my life that need adjusting – whether it’s hitting the reset button or replacing something altogether.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: First, I need to hit reset on my attitude EVERY SINGLE MORNING, which means I’m sitting quietly and reading Scripture first thing, before everything else starts demanding my attention. Second, I need to replace my anxious thoughts with God’s promises of peace and joy; therefore, I am setting boundaries in my work schedule and trusting Him with my to-do list. And finally, I need to reset my connectedness regularly to make sure I’m avoiding the digital trap. By the way, the refrigerator has been replaced because I really, really like cold, filtered water, and I’m continuing to learn about patience because my car’s computer can only be replaced after a new one is built for my specific car, which apparently takes some time. Oh well, like I said – first-world, silly, unimportant, inconveniences. Now it’s your turn: what needs to be reset or replaced in your life?

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

Once upon a time, a girl named Goldilocks went for a walk in the forest and came upon a house. When no one answered her knock on the door, she went in and found three bowls of porridge. One was too hot, one was too cold, and one was just right. After tasting porridge, she proceeded to find the right-sized chair, and the right-cushioned bed. I’m confident that you’re familiar with the tale, and know that the three bears soon return home to find their porridge eaten, their chairs sat in, and their beds slept in.

My story parallels Goldilocks’ tale in that I have searched for just the right-sized life recently. My story doesn’t include food necessarily, but I do resonate with her desire to find the chair and the bed that suits her best. Just over ten years ago, my husband and I built a big, beautiful house. He’s a structural engineer, so this was both a professional learning experience and a personal dream of his. For me, it was an exciting adventure in shopping for cabinets, faucets, light fixtures, paint colors, appliances, and yes, chairs and beds to fill a big house. We enjoyed the big-house lifestyle – hosting family and friends, both short-term and long-term, being the place where large groups could hold their meetings and holiday parties, and we even had the privilege of a wedding rehearsal dinner around the pool in the back yard! This was a wonderfully busy season in our lives, and looking back today, I am grateful for the opportunity to share such a property – and yet I’m also grateful that we now live in a small townhouse, where we enjoy a smaller life. We still have friends over and enjoy family visits, but our lives are much less hectic now and are characterized by weekend getaways, after-dinner walks, and much less time cooking, cleaning, and hosting.

Some people call this downsizing, which I understand is trending at the moment, but my husband and I call it right-sizing. We have adjusted our lifestyle and our living arrangements to match our priorities and our current season of life. During this exercise in adjusted living, we also sold a business, sold an office building, sent our only child to college, and both of us changed jobs. His job became smaller, moving from business owner to employee, and my job grew bigger as I became the president of Body & Soul Fitness. All these changes may sound stressful, but we did not find that to be the case. Instead, we found each decision freeing – one at a time. As we let go of bigger things, it’s as though God handed us smaller, better things at just the right time, so we could not only enjoy the right-sized life today, but were also able to find joy in the process.

No matter where you find yourself today, I pray that you are finding joy in your current season, and that you are experiencing the satisfaction that comes from the right-sized life. Enjoy it, friends! I’m heading out on this beautiful day to ride motorcycles with my husband, because we can…and I am grateful. You never know, maybe we’ll happen upon a cozy little place in the forest and make some new friends.

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

I am not a bibilcal scholar. I love the Word and love to study it but I am by no means an expert. I keep myself enrolled in Bible study throughout the year because truth be told, as much as I love it, Bible study often is the first thing to fall off of my daily list of things to do when the calendar looks too full of commitments. Knowing that about myself, I made sure to sign up for a study this summer: Beth Moore’s Entrusted. We walked through the book of 2 Timothy which was written by Paul to Timothy while Paul was in prison in Rome. It was a powerful study that I enjoyed so much. One reason that I loved it was because I got to know a little more about this guy named Paul.

Paul didn’t always live life for Christ. Most of us know that about him; we know the story of his dramatic conversion after being confronted by the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. We know he was a persecutor of the church–that he stoned believers, that he likely was present when Steven was killed, that his fury and zeal to persecute encompassed everyone, including women and children. He wasn’t a lovable guy…but then God stepped in.

When confronted by Christ, Paul’s life changed dramatically. No longer a persecutor of the church, he became one of the greatest proponents of Christ, facing ridicule, persecution, beatings, imprisonment, torture, loneliness, and eventually execution. It wasn’t an easy road that Christ started him down but Paul relentlessly persued the cross of Christ and nothing could make him change course once he set down the path of belief.

Paul wasn’t perfect. He continued being himself after he became a believer. He was a firey guy and that caused some challenges relationally for him. He had a huge falling out with Barnabas, who by all accounts was a pretty wonderful guy. Sometimes, our old self gets in the way as we walk out our faith. But God used even a dramatic falling out to continue to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Could the message have spread without these two men going their separate ways? Sure, but that’s not what happened. God’s fingerprints were on the mess that Paul made. He still used Paul. He wasn’t done with him yet. That is such an encouragement to me. My sin so often brings such pain but God can still bring beauty out of the ashes I create.

I see myself in Paul. My conversion was less dramatic than his, obviously, but it changed my life’s course completely. Nothing has been the same about my life’s direction because of my response to God’s call to come to Him. Everything changed…but there is still plenty of my old nature left to deal with. As I was listening this summer to the new music I couldn’t help but hear Paul’s story in the lyrics of our songs. Have you heard it?

In our Body & Soul Fitness classes this fall, we are working out to “You Found Me” by Mercy Me.  (It is our low jack and knee repeater song.) The lyrics say: “Come out, come out wherever you are. Your greatest wound is barely a scar. You’re free indeed, no matter what you do.” Don’t you know Paul thought about who he had been and what he had done to God’s people? He knew his own past, but God still used him in a mightly way. During the bridge of that song, they sing, “You will never have to hide….Before the heavens, before the earth, I knew exactly where you were. I am yours and you are mine!” (Oh my word…I love that part!) Paul could have realized the damage he had done to God’s people and let that paralyze him. He could have let shame keep him from coming to the disciples and then what would we know of his story? But he didn’t do that, instead he didn’t hide from what he had done, nor who he had been. He acknowledged it (he calls himself the greatest of sinners) in so many ways and then let God continue to use him to spread the Gospel. His testimony changed hearts and called people to the Lord all over the world in his own time and still even today.

The song’s high point is the chorus that says: “You found me! Never, never, never going to be the same, ever, ever, ever since that day, You found me…” That’s Paul’s story, true, but it’s our story too! God knew what Paul had done. God knows what you have done but in His great mercy, He forgives you then uses you (and me) for His Glory! That’s so crazy, so counterintuitive, so merciful, so beautiful and it reflects perfectly the character of our God!

He will use you, no matter what your past looks like. He will tell His story and bring Himself glory through you. He will not leave you blinded on the road. He will give you the courage to change your life…even if that looks completely insane to the people around you. He has known you since the beginning of time. He has found you and when you surrender to Him…oh my, you never will be the same.

He has found you. Rest in the glory of that knowledge.

Tracie Durham is a Cardio Strength Trainer for South Central. She is a former attorney, full-time home schooling mother of three kids (Abbie, Aubrie and Charlie), wife of a Fire Chief (Phillip) and unabashed fan-girl of “all the words” and mostly importantly…of Jesus.

The movie “127 hours” flashed across my mind. I began picturing myself with a twisted ankle, crying for help with my voice echoing in the Peruvian Andes, but to no avail. Perhaps my idea to hike up to Machu Picchu alone was ill-conceived, after all.

Let me back up for a moment. I had been traveling all over Peru with a friend, Katie, for a number of weeks this past September. I wanted to see Machu Picchu—an architectural marvel built at the height of the Inca Empire. Katie had been to Machu Picchu before, so we parted company for a few days—I was going to explore the mysterious ancient city, while she visited with some friends in a nearby town.

The moment I arrived in Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of the mountain that leads to Machu Picchu), I bought a bus ticket for the following morning to ride up to the site. This is what most tourists do. But at dinner that evening, a fellow tourist urged me to hike up. I didn’t know this was an option. He told me that it would be quicker and more “authentic” to make my way up on foot. Yes, it would take 1 ½-2 hours, depending on what kind of shape I was in, but the line to board the bus could take just as long and I’d just be standing around. Better to hike.

It didn’t take long for me to be convinced. I am a Body & Soul Fitness instructor after all. I love movement and challenges! So, a hike in the wee hours of the morning would definitely be in order!

Backpack on my back, I headed toward the path around 6 a.m. I breezed past the long line for the bus and was excited until I started to realize that I was alone, and had told no one of my plans. I would be hiking up a steep, secluded mountainside without a compass or cell phone or many provisions to speak of.

I began to worry and envision the worst (as I mentioned at the top), when I ran into two couples on the same journey—John and Diana from Germany and Stephanie and Drake from Canada. We introduced ourselves and it wasn’t long before we began swapping stories, snapping pictures, and laughing together as we huffed and puffed our way up the steep trail. Drake apologized repeatedly for bringing up the rear. And Stephanie joked about how she wanted to take lots of pictures before Drake broke up with her for talking him into this excursion.

When we got to the top, we celebrated with handshakes and one last photo to commemorate the moment. I’m pleased to say that we completed the trek in only one hour! On my own, not only would I have taken longer, but I probably would’ve been anxious (remember the twisted ankle scenario?) and stressed (wondering “how much farther?”) and tired and lonely. But having traveling companions made the same journey lighter, more bearable, and actually a joy!

I spent the remainder of the morning and afternoon exploring every corner of the city on the hill—the carefully-built stone structures, the Inca bridges, the fantastic vistas. By 2:00 p.m., my feet were beat so I determined that I would take the bus down. (My spirit was willing to hike down, but the flesh, weak.) To my disappointment, I discovered that the line for the bus down was twice as long as it had been to take the bus up the mountain that morning.

So I found myself, once again, setting off to hike alone. To my pleasant surprise, I encountered another group doing the same thing—a lovely family: a mom, Jane, her son, Riley, and her daughter-in-law-to-be, Andrea. We connected on the way down, and since I was more fatigued than at the start of the day, it was more critical than ever to have friends make the journey with me. I think they were just as happy to have me as a distraction to their exhaustion, as I was for their company. (Side note: it took us longer to hike down than it had to hike up! We were all pretty wiped!)

Now that I’m back home, I’m grateful for the life lesson from that day. In these challenging times, with so many natural and man-made disasters we need each other more than ever. I hope and pray that each of you have fellow travelers walking alongside you. Life can be so rough. Let’s not go it alone.

Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul Fitness and teaches classes in Washington, DC. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast. For more encouragement from Hilda, go to holistichilda.com.


​If someone were to tell me when I was 19 years old that in my late 30s I would not only be a Group Fitness Instructor, but one that is part of a ministry, I would have laughed so hard that I would have had tears streaming down my face. I would have thought you were completely crazy and didn’t know me at all. Because this was me at 19 years old.

​Like most college students, that time of my life was a confusing and wild time. Even though I grew up in the church and accepted Christ into my teenage heart one summer at a youth conference, I was not committed to a life of following Christ when I arrived as a freshman on campus. To be quite honest, walking with Christ was the farthest thing from my mind. I am reminded of the Casting Crowns song that says “She was running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction.” That was me. I didn’t want anyone or anything telling me what to do or how to live my life. I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I was a binge drinker. I was a chain smoker. I also ate fast food for almost every meal and the most exercise I ever got was walking to class. I gained 60 pounds in just over a year.

I had a doctor give me a wake up call after my mom had some lab work done for me when I came home for a visit. She was concerned about the extreme weight gain on my petite 5’2 frame. She had no idea what I was really doing or how I was living, and I did not enlighten her! My labs showed I had a slight thyroid imbalance, but not enough to cause large amounts of pounds to accumulate. The doctor basically told me “This imbalance may have caused a five pound weight gain or so, but the rest of that is from you. You have to get control of your nutrition and start exercising.” I don’t know why but I actually listened to her. I took my low dose of medication but also started a food and exercise journal. I did research. I got moving. I stopped having Chick-Fil-A every day. In a little over a year I lost the weight.

I wish I could say that when I lost the weight I found my faith again. But that did not happen. In fact, the weight loss provided me with new situations to walk farther away. At this point in my life, I had both feet walking in the world and I wasn’t anywhere close to walking with God. Everything you do not want your daughter to do in college, I did it. I made a whole lot of bad decisions. I thought I was “having fun”… but all my late nights turned into empty mornings where I felt miserable and incomplete. But I’d just shake off those feelings and repeat the cycle all over again, trying to fill that God-sized void with things that just didn’t fit. God kept placing people in my path to try and pull me back to Him, but I wouldn’t have any of it.

​Eventually, I matured a bit, graduated with honors, and got a teaching job. I started dating a wonderful man in the military. We moved in together after only dating 6 months, and you can imagine how difficult this was. My faith was still far from my heart and mind. We did get married after a year and a half…and thankfully despite a rocky beginning , we are now on our 13th year of marriage.

​In the beginning of our marriage, God placed many Christian women in my path to steer me back to Him. While we were stationed in North Carolina, I did my very first bible study with a few other wives and starting slowly putting one foot back in my faith walk. I tried to do daily devotionals, read my bible study book and pray more. But I always let the world get in the way of any more growth than that. This continued at our next base after I had our first child. More bible studies. More wonderful Christian women. More prayer. One full foot was now in my spiritual walk. But everything worldly still held that other foot firmly in place. Walking unbalanced can only happen for so long before something has to change.

​When we moved to a small town in the Missouri in 2009, I had no idea this was the place where God would finally grab ahold of me and my life would change completely.

I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” to be a “good Christian” like other women I met. I had sinned so much in so many ways that I felt I’d never be enough for God. I’d never know everything I “should” know. God used two groups of women to speak truth into me: a Wednesday morning bible study and a Friday morning moms group. They showed me and taught me that being a Christ follower doesn’t mean being “perfect”. It means admitting you aren’t perfect and the only way you can get salvation is through the one who was…Jesus. You get to heaven by faith not works . All sins are washed away with the blood of Christ. It’s not about rules or regulations but about relationship with Him. I don’t know why it took me so long to fully grasp this but I finally began to understand! God convicted me slowly over the 5 years we lived there. I learned more about His word. I was convicted of changes I needed to make in how I was living. He gently turned my eyes off of the world and I finally let my eyes turn up to Him. I got baptized in June 2013 when my second son was almost a year old. I had finally gotten both feet in my spiritual walk. I wanted to completely walk with Him for the first time and let everyone know I had made that choice!

Through all of those years, one thing remained constant. I really had a passion for fitness. For a long time it was just about what I could accomplish physically, but a couple years ago I realized that it’s a biblical command to honor our bodies.

I was introduced to Body & Soul Fitness because a mentor mom at my new moms group overheard a conversation I was having about becoming re-certified as a Group Fitness Instructor. I had worked in a gym teaching fitness classes before my first son was born and quit when I became pregnant to be a stay at home mom. Now that he was in grade school and my youngest was in preschool, I was ready to go back. We had just moved to Virginia and I didn’t know many people.. When she told me there was a fitness class at our church that was looking to have a substitute instructor, I was really excited. I felt led to serve in women’s ministry in some way and wasn’t sure in what area He wanted me to serve. I took one Body & Soul class and knew this ministry was where God wanted me to be!

I obtained my certificiation a few months after that first class and attended my very first workshop as a Body & Soul Instructor! I jumped right into team teaching with my sister in Christ, Robin, who is an amazing mentor to me. Being able to encourage women not just in their physical journey but their spiritual one as well is a huge privilege and blessing. My favorite part of class is leading a devotion at the end and praying over my students. Just writing these words is making me teary-eyed.

To remember myself as I was so many years ago…and even NOT so many years ago…I am still amazed at God’s grace and redemption. There was a time I couldn’t even pray for myself, let alone for a class full of women. God can use the broken. He can mend our scars. He can fill our voids. He has a plan for all of us. We just have to look for Him, let Him in, and give Him all of our mess. He will do the rest.



Dani Combs is a Fit360 Instructor for Body & Soul Fitness. She team teaches with Robin Flournoy in Woodbridge, Virginia at First Baptist Church of Woodbridge. She is a proud military wife and a stay at home mom of two active boys, ages 10 and 5.

Does music bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face?

We hope so! From the beginning of Body & Soul Fitness in 1981 we knew that the music we chose to exercise to made a difference—a huge difference. We knew that our music was one of the unique things that set us apart as a faith & fitness organization.

When we got started, vinyl albums were all that we had—now some stores are bringing back the retro vinyl…there is nothing new under the sun, as the book of Ecclesiastes says. In the early years of Body & Soul, I would purchase albums from the local Christian bookstore (not bought online—there was no such thing) and I would listen to them on my phonograph to choose the songs for each session.

There were precious few artists in those days. Sandi Patti and Amy Grant were young singers finding their way—and who remembers “Evie?” Then the popularity of contemporary Christian music grew, and we found groups like DC Talk—with group members like TobyMac, a kid grooving to music before rap was a thing, along with Michael Tait, who now sings lead for the Newsboys. TobyMac as you know, is now mentoring many young artists, and of course he is still producing hits himself. Oh my, how far we’ve come!

This session in Body & Soul we bring you a huge variety of music from artists all around the world—including Tembalami, an artist known personally by our instructors and students in Zimbabwe. Enjoy his song Mapapiro this session!

It is our prayer that the music of this session will help you along your journey of Finding Joy, our session theme. We have created a devotional for you with thoughts and Scriptures to guide you to true joy.

Finding Joy Devotional

Finding Joy Devotional

Also check out these links to the lyrics to each of our songs. As you read the words to the songs you are exercising to, we hope that you will find joy and encouragement in the midst of your joy-journey!

Songs Artists
The Joy Neverclaim
Joy (live version)  Planetshakers
Run Devil Run Crowder
Joy Jonny Diaz
You Found Me MercyMe
If I Don’t Have Love V. Rose
Happy Dance MercyMe
Time of My Life The Afters
20/20 Group 1 Crew
Power Group 1 Crew
All My Love Hollyn
Fearless Jasmine Murray
123 Praise! Virtue  (feat. T-Bone)
Magnify We Are Messengers
Brand New Fire Matty Mullins
The Cure Unspoken
Take it All In Group 1 Crew
Phenomenal Group 1 Crew
Worry Blanca
Giants Fall Francesca Battistelli
Can’t Live Without Hollyn
Open Hands Urban Rescue
Pioneer Beckah Shae
Joy (end stretch)  Beckah Shae
Get Down Get Down KJ52
In the Water Gawvi
Kaleidoscope Urban Rescue


Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President Emeritus of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an ACE certified fitness professional and faculty member, and currently serves as the Director of Spiritual Impact for Body & Soul. She is the author of Make Today Your Best Day Ever and Encouragement for the Body and the Soul, and speaks to women’s groups inspiring them to grow in faith & fitness.

I was humbled yesterday when I heard the words: “What excuse are you going to give God when He gives an account at the end of your life?”

You see, I always hang on my discipline to get moving nearly everyday, with my hashtag of #noexcuses and I find pride there. I have changed my physical health tremendously, and that is a GOOD THING. But moving more and changing what I eat isn’t what I was humbled about.

We don’t live by bread alone. I find so much purpose in physical activity, in training, but I need to recognize that this body I’m spending so much effort on, is a gift, and that my soul, my mind, my heart cannot live on just the “bread” I’m offering!!

I want to be a woman of the book, I want to know God’s word so that my actions reflect it. I want to be an example for my boys, for their health, but also for their hearts. Because at the end of our lives, whether it’s far away because you’re so fit and healthy, or it’s sooner because you’re not, we are held responsible for whether or not we know God. And I want to KNOW HIM. #verseoftheday

I’m Jo Donnigan – a mom, a wife and a Body & Soul Fitness Instructor.  I teach fit360: Boot Camp at Calvary Baptist and Atonement Lutheran in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Join us!  To register for a class go to www.bodyandsoul.org.

Lighthouses are special to our family. Our youngest son proposed to his wife at a lighthouse. We live on a boat so lighthouses are a beacon of hope to us in the fog or squalling sea. God’s word is that same kind of lighthouse, a beacon of hope to guide is into safe harbor during the storms of life.

In my new book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, I share one of our stormiest seasons and how God’s lighthouse of hope helped us navigate our perfect storm. The winds first hit our little lifeboat during one of our media tours. Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the ER where a doctor informed him he had high blood pressure. That news caught Bill’s attention. His dad had a stroke in his 40s that paralyzed half his body and Bill’s grandfather died of a stroke in his late 40s. Soon it became apparent that God was asking Bill to resign from the lead pastor role he had served in for 15 years. This decision was difficult emotionally and financially. In this same season, our youngest son, Caleb, was hit in a football game and rushed to the hospital where he needed a blood transfusion to save his life. Eight days later, when we brought Caleb home, all I wanted to do was to wrap him in my arms, but I had a speaking engagement, which our family needed me to keep.

During my time away, I received calls about my other two sons who had both also experienced athletic injuries. Then I got a call that my younger brother was hospitalized after having a heart attack, and could I come help with his family. My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.

joy comes in the morningWhen friends would ask, “How are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. So I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” JOY! That’s what I needed. I immediately went on a joy hunt. I read Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” and kept following the well-lit path of joy verses. I printed them, studied them, and hung them around my home. Joy became my lighthouse of hope, an anchor in a storm that lasted three years.

Since that day I found hope in the Psalms, I answer the, “How are you?” questionJoyful with “Choosin’ joy!” Responding that way helped me immensely as it kept my focus on God, His power and His willingness to put joy in my heart no matter what life brought my way. Amazingly, this saying has caught on with thousands of women who have heard me share my story of hope. That’s the power of the Word. The joy that becomes the lighthouse for your journey lights the way for those around you also. May the God of all hope continue to multiply your joy!

Perfect for group discussion or personal reflection, Discovering Hope in the Psalms offers compelling teachings, motivating devotions, and plenty of creative options for interacting with the psalms—including beautiful artwork to color. This discovery book will show you how to…

  • rejoice in God’s mercy when sin knocks you down
  • request help with hope when troubles surround
  • respond with thanksgiving for each answered prayer

Immerse your mind, heart, and soul in the hope flowing through the psalms.

This fall, Pam is offering an online Bible Study using Discovering Hope in the Psalms. To join her online study, Register hereOrder book here.

Pam Farrel loves to encourage women in their faith and Choose Joy in life.  Her latest project is no exception. Discovering Hope in the Psalms, allows you to explore God’s Word on a deeper level and engage with his truth in fresh ways!

Along with her husband Bill, Pam 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.

It’s the time of year when we say goodbye to summer and transition into a new season, sending children off to school, making plans for the approaching holidays of autumn, and hopefully recommitting to our personal fitness goals. In the midst of this change in pace, I personally long for a season characterized by JOY. Joy is my goal because I’m a summer-lovin’ girl, so saying goodbye to summer makes me a bit sad. The new fall session of Body & Soul Fitness is titled “Finding Joy”, so this is right down my alley! I’m thinking that all of us want to find joy, and many of us may be asking the question: “but how?” This is the place I found myself several weeks ago as I prepared to speak about the topic of joy at Body & Soul’s regional training workshops. As I marinated on the question, I began praying that God would show me – and allow me to share with others – ways to find joy during this fall season. Keep reading to discover how God showed me how to find joy…in 5 simple words.

  • TODAY. Today is a gift – a real gift. Not everyone has life and breath–I’m personally grateful that I do. This gratefulness causes me to strive to live in the present and to defend against anxiety about tomorrow. I have to admit that I wish worry be considered a talent because I do it so well! In the Gospel of Matthew it says “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” As an adult and as a mother, I have found that this is very true. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow; instead, live in the moment of today.
  • REST. As a fitness instructor I understand the importance of physical rest in order to protect myself from fatigue, overuse, and potential injury. I understand that rest is meant for my benefit, in terms of performance and physical refreshment. What God is teaching me is that mental and spiritual rest is also important to protect me from burnout, a lukewarm spiritual life, and overall emotional fatigue.
  • UNDER. Proverbs 3:6 reads “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I don’t know about you, but submission does not come naturally to this strong-willed, independent-thinking, summer-lovin’ girl. Yet, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I take scripture seriously and strive to obey. Submit is defined as “yielding to the power or authority of another”. In this case, my “another” is God and his power and authority are far and away higher than mine, so I’m in – and  a “straight path” toward joy sounds lovely to me.
  • SOVEREIGN. Sovereign is a big word for power, authority, and superiority. It describes God perfectly. He is the ultimate source of all power and authority. He is superior and great. He is independent of all others, and He is completely in charge and in control. Scripture describes God as the Alpha and Omega, and it tells us that He created the heavens and the earth and all things, and that His kingdom rules over all. Remembering this puts my small life in perspective and reminds me of the power and strength of the One who is my heavenly Father.
  • TRUTH. I believe that God’s word, the Bible, is true, and God is teaching me in this season to rely on truth to guide me into joy. In order to rely on it I must know it, which means I must read it and let it change me from the inside out. I am learning to remember His promises that I read, and to take them personally. I’m learning to believe what God says about me, because these truths are my defense against discouragement (and discouragement is a stealer of joy). Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and Joshua 1:8 says to “meditate on it [God’s Word] day and night…then you will have good success”. I will hold tight to His truth in a world that is chaotic and full of deception.

These 5 words are changing me with the changing of the season. They are calling this summer-lovin’ girl to slow down and live life in the present, defending against worry and discouragement as I submit to God’s authority and believe what He says about me. When I put these 5 simple words together, taking the first letter of each, it shows me how to find joy. T.R.U.S.T. Finding joy requires trust in the One who is in complete control and in charge – in every season of life. Finding joy means starting each day with this declaration: “TODAY I will REST UNDER God’s SOVEREIGN TRUTH.” May these 5 words lead you on the path to finding joy!

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

Summer is my season. I was meant for warm climates. My mom hails from Mexico; my dad, from Cuba. I shiver during three out of four seasons. So when the thermostat reads above 60, I am in heaven! And to me, the hotter the better. I seriously love sweating (one reason I’m a HUGE fan of Body & Soul Fitness classes) and when it’s in the 80°s and even the 90°s, while others are complaining, my lips are sealed. Because I am LOVING it. And my soul sings: bring on the shorts-t-shirt-swimsuit-flipflops-beach-watermelon-berry-sunshine bliss.

My only disappointment right now is that summer is only one of the four seasons. And as the pages of the calendar turn, and the unavoidable and inevitable back-to-school ads take over every possible media channel, I see the end in sight. September is coming and summer will soon be a thing of the past. While I can’t change the calendar, that’s not to say I am going down without a fight.

Personally, I plan on hanging onto summer with all I’ve got. So here are my lessons learned from each month this summer that I want to implement all year long to keep that summer vibe alive!

  • Make space to catch your breath. I went to Zimbabwe in June to celebrate 25 years of Body & Soul in Africa. There were plans to lead exercises, teach courses, meet and encourage instructors from Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda. I was geared up and ready to roll. What I did not expect was down time! Shortly after we arrived, our hosts in Zimbabwe whisked us off to Lake Kariba (the world’s largest man-made reservoir). We stayed on a houseboat for several days. The plan was deliberate: to catch our breath before the intense week of activity kicked in. And it was absolutely lovely. Our sisters in Christ, led by Kate and Barb, thought of our every need—from hot tea every morning to gluten-free bread for one of us with sensitivities to mosquito nets should we care to sleep on deck at night (which I did). We took motorboat tours of glorious sunsets; we laughed working on crafts together and taking selfies; we marveled at the hippo grunting sounds at night. But most importantly we had the space to breathe. And it was perfect.
  • Dance at every opportunity. In July, my nephew got married. We knew his reception would be one big party and it did not disappoint. My kids, husband, and I hit the floor and pretty much stayed there from the moment the DJ announced that the dance floor was open. Speaking of the DJ, he ended up dancing with us! Most of the wedding guests thought he was crazy (shouldn’t DJs just stick to the turntable and keep the tunes spinning) but I loved the fact that he simply couldn’t help himself. At a recent Nationals baseball game, my daughters and I turned the sports event into a dance party by challenging each other to stand up and dance whenever they played the batter’s prep music over the loudspeakers. We mostly succeeded in embarrassing ourselves, but the truth is, it was just great fun to let loose a little bit.
  • Embrace adventure.  Just two days ago, I took a road trip to Columbia, South Carolina to see the solar eclipse in the totality band. I knew the eclipse was supposed to be a big deal, but, to be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar (no science pun intended) until my friend, Peggy, suggested that we go. In the end, we spent 18+ hours on the road to witness a 2 1/2-minute event. And, let me tell you, it was worth every second. First of all, Peggy and I bonded on the way there–telling stories of our childhood and even practicing our French, as the odometer ticked steadily upward. And when we arrived at our destination, we were rewarded with beautiful Southern hospitality on the part of some family friends, including a delicious dinner topped off by warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream! The following day, we were blown away with a clear view of the totality–the moon completely blocking out the sun, other-worldly darkness in the middle of an ordinary summer day, and a “diamond” bursting out from the edge of the sun as the moon moved from its spot. I have never seen anything like it. And I may not ever again. I’m just thrilled that I said “yes” to the crazy road trip that led to witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime cosmic phenomenon! What an exclamation point it added to my August! 

Have you had down time this summer? An opportunity to dance? Or to try something new? It’s not too late! Grab a book and take the afternoon off. Jump off the high dive at your pool. Take a Body & Soul dance blast class (even if you don’t think you can dance). Initiate a watermelon seed-spitting contest with your kids. Watch a sunrise. Do what it takes to make summer last—and if not the season, actually, at least we can preserve the vibe that comes with it!

Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul Fitness and teaches classes in Washington, DC. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast. For more encouragement from Hilda, go to holistichilda.com.


In June, I went to Zimbabwe with Body & Soul Fitness, earning service hours for Liberty University. It was amazing and powerful. And God used the time to open my eyes to recognize how worldly happiness is different from joy. True joy comes from a life focused on the Lord.

I think a lot about focus because of my interest in photography. Photography is a gift from God allowing us to capture precious moments and it can be beautiful, but it is up to the photographer to focus on a certain image and capture its beauty. These four pictures, that I took in Zimbabwe, show two distinct stories about the same moment.

By looking at only the first two pictures, you see one elephant’s tusk and trunk. But you get a new perspective when you look at the second set of pictures. You are suddenly able to see that there are two more elephants on the scene. In fact, there were three elephants in total in that place, however, as the photographer, I chose to focus on only one. My focus on that one individual elephant demonstrates how easy it is to miss all that is happening around you.

The way I see it, with anything but God as the center of your life, your focus will always be off, never able to capture the fullness of joy. It’s like waking up each day and trying to manage life without the Bible or without God’s help—our life will become unfocused, kind of blurry, in a sense, and we may later realize we missed out on true joy.

As a photographer, I have had to learn to put down my camera from time to time, removing it as a blinder, and refocusing on what is all around me to be able to place my camera back to my eye and shoot a better, refocused image. When I am focused on a specific shot, I sometimes miss what is happening to my left and my right. This is true in my life even when a camera is not in my hands. If I am not careful I miss out on the opportunity to experience joys because I am focused on one thing, often the wrong thing.

I learned this lesson this past year as I finished my first year of college. For the first time in life, I had the complete freedom to do anything I liked. At first, my focus was on doing well in my classes but that quickly shifted to focusing on making friends. As I found my group, I began spending less and less time studying, doing my homework and ultimately skipping classes when my friends had something better planned. I was happy. Or so I thought. When my first semester ended and I received my final grades, I realized that I was anything but happy. Even without distractions, school is hard for me. I have to study more and work harder than my classmates, only to receive average grades. After Christmas break, I returned to school with a new focus. And that focus was God. I know for a fact that without God and without hard work, I won’t be able to complete my degree on time. I finally learned to say no when my friends wanted to ditch class to go to Cracker Barrel. It may seem small, but saying no like that was incredibly hard for me to do. Perhaps this is true in your life whether it’s saying no to your work so that you can put your family first or saying no to something that’s good, but isn’t the best.

In my own life, right now, I am choosing to focus on God by doing my very best. Not studying and ditching class was never my best. Ever since I’ve made this conscious change, my life is full of joy. True joy. Throughout day to day struggles, I am still able to experience the joy that can only be found in Christ.

Even a year later, I am still learning that God is like my high school photography professor. Someone looking over my shoulder, able to see all what is around me when I am focused on something else. Someone who is able to tap my shoulder and help me re-focus when I am distracted by worldly things. Someone who is teaching me to capture the true joy that can only come from Him. Just as I had the choice whether to take the advice of my professor, I also have the choice whether or not to re-focus on God and take what He is teaching me and apply it to my life. We all face this choice, don’t we? So, what about you? What are you focusing on? And how do you re-focus?

Jordan Stafford is a student at Liberty University, majoring in zoology. She is the daughter of the President of Body & Soul Fitness, Amy Stafford.

Last spring, my church suffered heartbreak like it had not experienced in all of its thirty years. Though my husband and I had only been members of the congregation for just over a decade, we, too, were devastated by our losses. It seemed like every week another family left the fellowship—our church family began to crumble, and hurt, frustration, and distrust were left in the wake.

Around the same time, we began our spring session, Shine On. Our class meets on Monday and Thursday mornings, and those are my favorite days during good seasons—during this particular season, being in class, teaching my students, was life-giving.

One of the songs from Shine On was a fun song with a quick tempo called “Glow in the Dark.” This Jason Gray song says,

Sometimes the world feels like a mess
Full of drama, full of stress
And life puts a fist right in your ribs
You can hide if you choose to
And no one would even blame you
Or you can let them see how you deal with it
That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate.

This song reminded me that even in the darkest places, in the midst of chaos, Jesus said to let our light shine before men, that they might see our good works and glorify our God in heaven. It ministered to my heart in a profound way during that season, pulling me out of a darkness that threatened to drag me under a rock and leave me there. This song empowered me with a choice—to hide or to radiate.

A few months later, I had the opportunity to travel to Central Asia with a small group of young adults. One evening was particularly difficult, and I shared with them how much this song meant to me. They insisted I teach them the choreography; so I did. Four of us Jesus-loving girls quietly sang and danced to this light-shining song in a hotel in the section of the world that is largely unreached with the Gospel. Our hearts were renewed and God’s name was lifted high that day.

Paul tells the church at Colossae “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts.” A song of worship can be a prayer, an acknowledgement of who God is, a confession. Sometimes these songs we sing, these songs we get to dance and move and sweat to in Body & Soul Fitness, remind us of who God is and they build us up, and other times they bring us to our knees in conviction and repentance.

What a gift it is to be able to shout His name without apology. We put these songs in our ears that tell of God’s holiness, His mercy, His might, and His great love for us. We hide God’s word in our hearts as we let the lyrics from each session of Body & Soul Fitness wash over us.

In this faith walk, there are no road maps, and no blueprints outside of the Gospel–the truth of God’s word. We believe that when God says He is near, He is; when God says He rights all wrongs, He does; when He says we can trust Him because He cares for us, we can—that faith is what holds us together. It keeps us on level ground. It holds us in the boat, even when the waves crash over us, time and time again.

The truth we are reminded of is what saves us. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. We bring God glory when we renew our minds and increase in our knowledge of Him. We spread His fame by the way we love one another and build each other up to do good works. While we train our bodies in our classes to run the races set out for us, we are indeed training our souls to be strong, to love big, and to find joy. Most of all, we are setting our minds on what is above, not on earthly things, not on what is seen, but what is unseen.

Continue singing to the LORD and blessing His name, dear friends. Whether in dark times personally, in your church, or among an unreached people group, Tell of His salvation, and say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”

Brandi Schroeder is a youth pastor’s wife and the mom of four wild young men. She has been co-teaching Body & Soul Fitness with several amazing Arkansas’ instructors for nearly a decade, and she counts it a privilege to lead the amazing women in her class. She seeks to inspire women to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, and she is passionate about spreading the Gospel to the nations.

For more information or to find a class near you, please visit www.bodyandsoul.org.

As I sat down to have my quiet time with the Lord, I read in Sarah Young’s “Jesus Always” devotional – “strive to live more fully in the present, refusing to worry about tomorrow.”  Those words really hit me hard, as I had been struggling with a health issue – one for which I really had no answers for.   As I continued to read, I was reminded that striving to live this way involves focusing my effort and energy intentionally on walking in trust with the Lord, following His guidance each step.  Striving…not to worry!

Now if you’re like me, this is a real struggle to keep the right focus, especially when our world is full of anxieties and challenges to occupy our lives – sometimes the concerns have to do with the world and sometimes they are all too “up close and personal.”  (If you don’t have any concerns now, then sit tight and prepare for when they pop up, because they could be just around the corner.)

Why shouldn’t we worry, since life gives us cause to do so?  Because worry robs us of joy and freedom, and makes us live in fear.  The Bible calls us to the opposite – to trust in the Lord and cast all of our cares on the One who cares for us.  So how do we move toward Him and toward trust and peace?  It takes striving, my friends!

Below are a few tips that have helped me as I strive to release worry and embrace trust.

REMEMBER to trust the Lord and His promises.  You may want to write some of these on post-it notes to display, make a screen saver, or use other creative ways to remind yourself of these promises throughout the day. What you put before your eyes will stay on your heart.

READY your mind and heart for battle.  Use God’s word to FIGHT BACK against worry and anxiety.  Have a go-to verse to bring to mind when you want to dwell on a concern.  Isaiah 43:10 says to “take EVERY thought captive.”  This requires action!

RESIST worry.  Don’t dwell on the concern, as a dog chews on a chew toy.  Release it and resist it.  James 4:7 says that when we submit to God, and resist the devil, he will flee from you.  It doesn’t say maybe he’ll back off – it says he will FLEE.  Our job is to RESIST.

REPLACE your worry list of “unknowns” with the facts that you do KNOW.  Replace idle worry with activity.  A friend gave me a beautiful plant to use as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.  It sits on my kitchen window sill (see picture) and when I see this plant, it reminds me to think on God’s faithfulness, and exchange my worry with His promises.  And as I do something active – caring for this plant – I am reminded of God’s constant care for me (And, believe it or not, it’s still alive!)

Another practical tool to use to replace your “concerns” is to wear a wrist band that you can gently snap.  A counselor friend of mine told me about this tool when I was going through a time when my mind would “default” to a negative path.  When you notice your thoughts are travelling down a negative path, gently snap the band, as a reminder to change the direction of your thinking.  (Striving to renew your mind!)

REST in the Lord:   Psalm 62:5 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God.  My hope comes from Him.”   One tool I’ve been using a lot lately is relaxation breathing. Inhale slow deep breaths through the nose, expanding your diaphragm, and then exhale slowly, blowing the air out.  You can add a spiritual benefit to this:  as you inhale, focus on God’s strength and power, and as you exhale, blow away your worry, anxiety and stress.  I am noticing a sense of peace and rest as I practice this breathing exercise.

RELAX:  It’s hard to calm down if we don’t slow down.  Try any of the following.

  • Take a walk outside enjoying God’s nature
  • Read a book for fun
  • Add in some recreation time
  • Start a new project, divided into small, achievable parts
  • Enjoy a hobby (I’ve taken up crocheting!)

Finally, let the Lord’s presence RESONATE with you throughout your day.  Take time to really meditate and focus on Him.  Meet with Him and allow Him to encourage you!

I hope and pray that these tools help you as you strive to focus on God’s goodness and faithfulness to us today.  One of the purposes of experiencing worrisome trials is to help one another, so I’m giving you tips that I’m learning to rely on.  Let me know how they work for you in the comments below.  And please share some of your tips as well!

email TeriTeri Moscatelli is the Director of Operations for Body & Soul and teaches Body & Soul classes in Bowie, MD. In addition, Teri is a popular speaker and leads fitness demonstrations at women’s retreats and events.  For more information contact info@bodyandsoul.org.

It’s hot today where I live. I mean, it’s 98° (I’m writing this before I’ve had breakfast!) and the heat index is 113°, with humidity of 62%. It’s not surprising that we’re under a heat advisory by the US National Weather Service. I’m a summer-lovin’ girl, but that’s hot, even for me. Now I’m not complaining, but to meet my exercise goals during the dog days of summer, is going to require a bit of creativity…and perhaps air conditioning. I want to stay active, stay hydrated, and stay away from my local urgent care with a heat-induced illness, and I want these for you as well. With these 3 parameters in mind, I’m heading straight for my Body & Soul group fitness class at every opportunity, but on the days of the week when Body & Soul isn’t offered locally (in the comfortable air-conditioning of my church), I must be creative. First, I must decide if I’m exercising outside or inside. If it’s outside, I’d better head out early in the morning, before the temperature involves 3 digits! If it’s inside, I need to choose exercises that fit into my available (air-conditioned) space. Keep reading for 4 C.O.O.L. exercises for summer:

CROSS MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS – Hold a plank position (think pushup) with your hands below your shoulders. These can be on the floor, leaning forward toward a sturdy table or chair, or even facing a wall. Bring one knee at a time toward the opposite hand, alternating at a comfortable speed. Perform 20 repetitions (or climb for 45 seconds). Remember to keep your abdominal muscles contracted as you climb the mountain!





OBLIQUE CRUNCHES WITH SINGLE-ARM REACH – Stand with one leg slightly out to the side (toe down) same arm reaching overhead. Bring the knee up and out to the side, as you pull the elbow out and down toward the raised knee and curling at the ribcage. Then return to your starting position. Perform 20 repetitions on each side (or 45 seconds), with a brief rest in between.

OUT & IN SQUATS – Step out to one side and squat, step into a narrow position and squat; then step out to the other side and squat. Continue this pattern for 45 seconds (or until you have completed 20 squats). Remember to keep your body weight in your heels by pushing your hips back, as if descending to sit in a chair.

LUNGES (3-directional) – Step forward into a lunge with your right leg, performing a bicep curl at the same time. Push back into a standing position and release your arms. Step out into a side lunge with your right leg, bringing your arms into a T position. Push back into a standing position and release your arms. Step back into a lunge with your right leg, reaching both arms straight up at the same time. Finally, press into your front heel to return to a standing position and drop your arms down by your sides. Perform 10 repetitions on each side (or 45 seconds), with 20 seconds of rest in between.

This workout works great outside and inside, because it doesn’t require equipment, much time on the ground, or much space. It can be based on time or repetitions – it depends if you like to set a timer or prefer counting. Either way, perform each exercise for the specified amount of time or reps, and rest between each exercise for 20 seconds. Run through these 4 COOL exercises 3-4 times for a well-rounded workout, remembering to stay hydrated by drinking COOL water throughout the dog days of summer, and stay away from your local urgent care office (though they WILL have air conditioning!).



Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

Sitting on my kitchen counter is a tray of rocks. Rocks, you say? Yep, but they aren’t just any rocks. They are smoothed shaped rocks with no hard edges, all placed among jeweled glass.  On each rock is written a particular word…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Several years ago, the women of a bible study I was in, each made a set as a reminder of what we had just studied.  

I wasn’t sure what I would do with mine when I got home. They sat in a bag until I decided that I needed them in a place where I would see them daily. I needed the constant reminder of what my life was supposed to live out if I was living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, there seems to be an increasing need to present our public lives as perfect, well-put together with perfect children, homes, families, marriages, jobs and might I add to this list physiques?! It’s easy to “look” like we know how to love, live in joy and peace, exude patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Like we’ve got this life thing figured out.

I actually find a strange comfort in seeing someone post a reality of life – a hard day with the kids, an out of control pet, or a funny mishap of some kind. The video of the mom throwing a temper-tantrum in the store while the child looks on in shock and awe just slays me.  Haven’t we all secretly wanted to do something similar when life doesn’t respond the way we want it to and we can’t figure out what to do?

What concerns me is that with perfectionism comes pressure, comparison, anxiety, depression, discontentedness, and ultimately a lack of authenticity with each other. Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Disciplines, and well-known Christian theologian said, “the fruit of the Spirit is not push, drive, climb, grasp and trample. Life is more than a climb to the top of the heap.”  

Authenticity means to conform to an original so as to reproduce essential features; made or done the same way as an original; is sincere with no pretensions.

Hmm…sincere with no pretensions, made in the same way as the original (God), reproducing essential features of the original.  So then, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are the fruits of the Spirit that I’m challenged to live out each day. I’m challenged to love when I’m not feeling loving, challenged to joy when I’m not joyful, challenged to peace when I’m filled with anxiety, challenged to patience when I’m impatient.  You get the picture.  I can’t possibly do this on my own. And the Lord knew that. He made provision for this when He left the Holy Spirit here to empower me and you. Romans 5:3-5; 8:9; John 14:16-17 He also gave me friends who challenge and “sharpen” me to live authentically. 

As a young mom, I attended a nationally known fitness class. While the class offered a good fitness program it was missing something. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a Body & Soul Fitness class with her.  After class, I knew immediately what was missing from the other program. Relationship. I had attended this other program for two years and didn’t really know anything about the others in the class except their names and their kid’s names. It was a quick in and out, a quick “hello” and “goodbye.”

An example of the personal attention provided at Body & Soul Fitness.

After only one Body & Soul class though I knew more about these women than I had ever known about the others. This class offered authenticity, comradery, fellowship. It was a place where these women could be real with their daily struggles and know that they wouldn’t be judged, but rather prayed for. No one cared about what each other wore or looked like, how much weight we each needed to lose, or whether or not our houses were clean. I was hooked because what I was really looking for, what I really needed was a group of women that I could live life with – struggles and all – authenticity.

Life will never be perfect. None of us will ever perfectly exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. But we can trust in the One who loves us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3) and who despite our imperfections, still works in us. Yielded to the Spirit’s control, His fruit appears, as I live as authentically as possible, surrounded by friends who are doing the same. As we do this, He will be faithful to smooth our rough edges and shine through us.

Is there a particular fruit of the Spirit that you have been working on?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mary Ward serves as the Marketing Director, Northern Virginia Area Director, and Group Fitness Instructor for Body & Soul Fitness.  She currently teaches classes at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA and at the nZone Gym in Chantilly, VA.  Mary also sits on the Board of Directors for First Place 4 Health, a sister ministry B&S partners with. She is a speaker and presenter at women’s conferences and retreats.


These days I am watching my baby boy trying to learn to walk. He is mostly still cruising around furniture, holding on to the edges of things, stretching to find another handhold to support him as he crosses the room. Watching him as he strains against the limits of his abilities, pushes to expand his muscle control, his balance, his confidence, reminds me that there are limits to our freedom.

He is not yet free to walk across a room, a freedom I take for granted. And even when he is bold enough to try, that freedom is risky, usually ending in a cute plop down onto his bum in two or three steps. But he will get there. He is putting in the time and the work to gain the freedom to walk.

I want to be aware of the freedoms I have, to remember what they cost to gain.

As a young and healthy woman, I think of the freedom that living a healthy lifestyle gives me. By nourishing my body with good whole foods and strengthening it with exercise, I am free to hike up to a beautiful waterfall with my family and stand in wonder, as I did on vacation last week. This freedom wasn’t free – it required self-control and time.

Those who are recovering from injuries know that the freedom of regained mobility and strength are hard fought through sweat and pain.

Those who defend our freedoms as a country in the armed forces know that all of our freedoms in the USA require the sacrifice of time, safety, and life.

As a Christian, I think of the sacrifice of my Lord Jesus, who gave his life that I might be free from sin that enslaves in destructive habits and from death that comes for us all.

What freedom do you need in your life?

“It is for freedom that Christ set us free”, it says in Galatians 5.

We were made to be free, but we have to fight for it. I’ve got my fight over those 15 more pounds of pregnancy weight I need to lose. What is it for you? Whatever it is in our lives that is weighing us down is not meant to win. We were made to conquer it – with sweat, with pain, with self-control, with time, with patience, with trying again and again and again. We can be free, though we will need helping hands from others, just as they need our helping hands.

What freedom can you help others to gain by encouraging and assisting them?

Our path to freedom cannot be traveled alone. We will need the strength of Christ, who can do all things and we will need the encouragement of others. Let’s do the work together, because freedom, once gained, is something to celebrate.


Becky Gilbert is Body & Soul’s Graphic Designer, Artist, and Blogger at JoyArtandDesign.com where she shares her art, writing, and thoughts on life. She co-wrote two devotionals and  40 Days of Art and Literature: A Prayer Journal and Advent: Creative Exercises for a Season of Waiting: A Prayer Journal. She also illustrated Coloring God’s Word: A Devotional Coloring Book for Adults.

Do you have certain things you say that just roll off the tongue because you’ve said them so many times? Like answering “fine” when someone asks “how are you?”, or when you respond with a quick “God bless you” when someone nearby sneezes? These automatic replies come naturally due to repetition, and I often say them without really thinking about it. I may or may not actually be fine, and I may indeed want God to bless my neighbor who has a cold or allergies, but it’s the reply that comes out more often than not simply because it’s a repetitive and acceptable response.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Zimbabwe, Africa, where I had the opportunity to serve Body & Soul Fitness at Africa’s 25th anniversary of ministry there. It was a time of reconnecting with long-distance friends, making new friends, participating in fitness classes, and seeing beautiful sites vastly different than the ones in my neighborhood.

I often tell others that I’m grateful that God is everywhere. I’m grateful that He can watch over my loved ones no matter how far away from me they live, and I’m thankful that He takes care of my daughter when she’s away at college where I can’t just pop in if she needs me.

Experiencing the fellowship and the classes in Africa reminded me that God is truly everywhere. He is present in the classes I teach in the US, and He is certainly present in Body & Soul classes in Africa and all over the planet. God is being praised in cardio classes and strength classes around the world, and class members are connecting and supporting one another through prayer and fellowship as fitness classes are taking place.

I found myself feeling at home in a faraway land because the same ministry that happens here in the US is happening in Africa and elsewhere, as the same God is being pursued and praised. Each of us may have different interests, varied talents and gifts, live in separate parts of this great big world, and even look and sound different, but we are created by the same God who loves us and gives us opportunities to honor Him as we serve and fellowship with one another. I see this in my US classes and I’ve seen this in international classes, and this brings me great joy!

Therefore, I will continue to tell others (and remind myself) that God is indeed everywhere, no matter how far we travel from our homes. I hope this encourages you as it has encouraged me. To me, it makes this world feel a little bit smaller, making friends old and new not seem so far away.

I miss my African friends today, but I know God is watching over them and caring for them on the other side of the planet – and I am grateful! And if you sneeze near me, I will respond with a heartfelt and sincere “God bless you”.

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.


Confession time:  I love our “Show Love” interval song in this spring’s Body & Soul Fitness session. I love the out-out-in-in ladder run movement and I actually love to hurt through those squat jumps. I know…it’s nuts but there you have it, I really do like them. They make us strong and what doesn’t kill us has to make us stronger, amen? Well, we are all definitely stronger than when we first started this session and for that I am grateful. Here’s the thing though, as instructors, we love making you physically stronger but at Body & Soul , that’s not all we are about. We want you to be stronger spiritually, as well. Sometimes God grows us individually but in His infinite wisdom He also lets us grow corporately…as one big family (like the lyrics in the “Show Love” song says).

I think that’s one of the things that is so unique about Body & Soul. You all really do become family to us.

Each class has its own personality and uniqueness. I have taught my class for almost twelve years and I have seen it ebb and flow with the influence of different students and different seasons of my own life. My class has loved my own little family through becoming a family of 4 and then 5. They filled up my fridge every time I had a baby and showered me with gifts of love and wisdom through all the transitions. They have mothered me and shown me what it looks like to be a good momma and for that I am forever grateful. We celebrate life’s joyful moments together, as a family.

But it’s not only the mountaintop experiences that we share. My ladies drew up alongside my family as we had to walk through the death of my
mother-in-law and they surrounded me with astounding love and tenderness as I grieved her loss. They filled my fridge again but more than that they filled an empty place in my heart that was so broken that I could not imagine it not hurting, but they were and continue to be salve to my soul.

Through the ups and downs of life, my students have been like sisters, mothers, aunt, cousins, friends, saints and the hands and feet of Jesus to me. And what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that I am not the only one who has felt the sisterhood of Body & Soul. I have seen all of you do the very same for your own classes. This sisterhood is not unique to my class. It is, however, unique to this global ministry to which God so graciously invited all of us. What is certain is that when God’s girls are gathered together, be it in Sherwood, Arkansas or around the world, He shows up and loves though this special sisterhood. We are sisters. We are Body & Soul. We are all invited to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this unique and wonderful ministry.

Sisters, let’s celebrate with the Psalmist who wrote “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when [sisters] dwell in unity.” Psalm 133:1. That’s you, ladies. May God grant us many more years together as family…one big family.


Tracie Durham is a Cardio Strength Trainer for South Central. She is a former attorney, full-time home schooling mother of three kids (Abbie, Aubrie and Charlie), wife of a Fire Chief (Phillip) and unabashed fan-girl of “all the words” and mostly importantly…of Jesus. Tracie teaches Body & Soul Fitness at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship serving Sherwood & North Little Rock, AR.

Now that Memorial Day is behind us, signaling the official start of summer, it’s time to slow down, enjoy the new season, and wear white. Wait. Is that still a rule in our independent-thinking fashion society? Regardless of your fashion convictions, summer is the time to consider your seasonal workout plans, whether or not you’re wearing white slacks and shoes. Summer is no time to take a break when it comes to your exercise regimen.

For me, I love summer for many reasons: bright and sunny warm days, porch swings, tomato pie, long days, family time, fresh fruits and vegetables, freckles, large and colorful beach towels, fewer rules, and the overall change of pace. As a teenager, I failed to embrace all that summer had to offer because I was too busy complaining that I missed my friends and that I was bored (which got me a longer chore list from my mother, who was happy to have cheap live-in labor for the summer).

At Body & Soul Fitness, we’re thinking some of the same things. You see, this summer we’re changing the pace and breaking free from the rules and offering classes all around the country that will include portions of our multiple programs all in a single class. In other words, we are embracing the season and mixing up our programming with our “Super Summer Sampler” classes.

If you haven’t tried Body & Soul, or if it’s been awhile, now’s the time. If you’re a current student, this is your sign that you mustn’t take the summer off. You are going to have the opportunity to experience a variety of programming within a single class. For example, you might have weight lifting, cardio dance moves, and high-energy tabata boot camp exercises all in one awesome workout. And you know what else? Every summer class you experience may look different, so there’s going to be no boredom this summer – and our instructors don’t hand out chore lists anyway!

So, go ahead and schedule your laid-back summer around your workouts with Body & Soul! We’ll see you in a summer class filled with high energy cardio and strength. White shoes optional.


Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor.  She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email amy@bodyandsoul.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.


Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com





This saying is pretty much my life’s philosophy. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” I know at first blush it probably seems very strange. It’s the opposite of most inspirational quotes and logos. And it’s definitely a 180 degree take on the more positive original quote: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

But the saying has stuck with me, and maybe it’s because I first heard these words spoken by a pastor at my church. But why in the world would a pastor recommend that we do something poorly? Somehow this doesn’t quite seem like it is in keeping with our call to excellence as believers, does it?

Against all odds and initial impressions, I have found a sense of freedom and daring in this quote, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” It has stuck with me over the years because it has reminded me that what I do doesn’t have to be perfect. I can try anything from silly things—like attempting a forward flip into a pool or a reaching for a certain high note while singing along with the radio—to the more serious—serving on a mission trip to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 or launching a nutrition podcast last year when I had never even listened to a podcast before.

The list of things I’ve dared to attempt is longer than this, of course. And some of my attempts have fallen short of the end goal, but that’s okay. Truthfully, that’s part of the empowering beauty of the quote. I have learned (and continue to learn) to let go of a spirit of perfectionism that I grew up with. Perfectionism can stop and stifle me. It probably does the same to you. It tells us “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t” and there’s always some reason why that follows (e.g. “you’ve never tried it before,” or “you tried before and failed,” or “what would people think?”) But notice that those “reasons” are actually very poor. They are accusatory and defeating. And they are essentially excuses for inaction.

If I had only attempted what I could get “right,” I might have

  • only had one child (because I wouldn’t be able to perfectly divide my attention between my current four)
  • moved out of the city (because it is risky and dangerous and dirty)
  • never become a worship leader (because my voice sounds NOTHING like Lauren Daigle’s)
  • never led an exercise “demo” class (out of fear that no one would show up)
  • never picked up a microphone to become a podcaster (because I didn’t know how to post a show on iTunes)

None of the fears and concerns (in parentheses, to minimize their importance) stopped me from proceeding with what I thought was worth doing.  And I am thankful. Why don’t you make a list of your own just now—highlighting things you’ve attempted, though you weren’t sure you could perfectly pull them off? And then look ahead to what might be next. Don’t let perfectionism trip you up or prevent you from doing the next right thing. My hope is that my list and your own will inspire you to go ahead with something new this week, this month and this year, even if you’re uncertain of the outcome. Comment on this post and let me know what you’re going to try because it’s worth doing!

And if my motto doesn’t grab you, hold onto this Scripture verse, which I see as quite related to all of the above. “Little children, let us not love with word or in tongue, but with action and in truth.” I John 3:18 Notice that the word “perfect” does not appear in that verse. But the word “action” does.


Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul Fitness and teaches classes in Washington, DC. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast. For more encouragement from Hilda, go to holistichilda.com.

Throughout our lives, God weaves a tapestry using people and circumstances that don’t make sense to us until we reflect on our lives. It is then we look back and say, “Thank you, Lord, for being my Master, Creator, Provider, Tapestry Weaver and Father.”

In the ‘70’s, I lived in a cul-de-sac, with LOTS of kids. This meant a perfect, almost traffic-free, place to get physical: playing sports in the street while diving for silver dollars in our cool, 68 degree pool in the backyard. The foundation of my tapestry was being stitched together through having fun staying active in childhood.

We moved to Washington, DC the summer of 1981 because my dad worked for the government. No one in our family was ever in the military, however, my mom was a nurse and the Lord blessed her with a position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). God was beginning to connect the tapestry of the West coast and East coast through mom’s job at WRAMC to direct my life for His purpose.

In the ‘80’s, I volunteered at Walter Reed and was motivated by medical students who lived the Army core values of LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honesty, Integrity, Personal Courage to consider joining the military. The other motivation for entering military service they gave me was telling me there was an army hospital in Hawaii! I started jogging, doing the “20-Minute Workout” (remember this ‘80’s exercise show?), and practicing the army physical fitness test. And I n 1989, I entered the military medical school in Bethesda, MD. God’s tapestry for me took on the colors of red, white, and blue and Army green!

In the summer of 1990, I elected to go to US Army Airborne school. Exercising in camouflage uniforms in the Georgia heat let me experience a bit of “the REAL army.” Cammo tapestry now.

Throughout the 90’s and 2000’s, although the physical fitness tests were not my favorites, this verse pushed me: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,” Colossians 3:23. This was also my mom’s life verse.

Before she passed away, her last sage advice to me was: “Spend more time with your kids.” With my husband deployed to Iraq and three kids at home, I took my mom’s advice and in 2006 I left active duty but continued part-time as a civilian physician at Walter Reed. Upon my husbands return, he told me about a program called Body & Soul that he had heard about on the radio in Iraq. At the same time, my pastor, Steve Reynolds, had lost 70 lbs. using the BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) as a “health manual” and he wanted to start a health ministry. He invited two ladies, Mary Ward and Lynne Brents, to our church to do a demo of a Body & Soul Fitness class. Coincidence? I say “divine intervention.” After the demo I went to the Body & Soul website and hit the button “So you want to be an instructor?” God was beginning to weave royal blue, THE Body & Soul color, into the tapestry.

The training I’ve received as a Body & Soul instructor has given me tools I use to counsel my military and retired patients on how to start-up and step-up their health journeys. Body & Soul Boot Camp has taught me that when running or interval training gets hard, repeating scripture helps: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14. In my boot camp class, I weave in my army thread by having the students run with Army cadences for the Lord’s Army: “Saw a FIT lady walking down the street…”

Just a few days ago, as we celebrated Memorial Day, I honored the memories and sacrifice of our military and my loving, compassionate, altruistic, mother, Nerissa Berbano who influenced my service. Thank you, mom and the military, for allowing the Lord to use you to weave my tapestry—for His glory!  Red, white, blue, green, camo, royal blue – what a beautiful tapestry!

Liz Berbano is a Boot Camp Trainer and Assistant Area Director with Body & Soul Fitness. She teaches Body & Soul classes at Capital Baptist Church in Annandale and is a part-time physician at Walter Reed. Liz is also a wife to Darren and mom to Josh, Nerissa, and David. In addition to B&S classes, Liz loves to run with Team Toby Mac in the Country Music Marathon each year to support New Hope Academy in Nashville, TN. She loves working with youth, Christian music, and serving God in all that she does.

I love springtime! New life springs up from the earth. Rains come and the earth turns green.

As a new thing this Spring, my husband and I have started exploring our local Farmer’s Market. Each Saturday we get up and head to 19th street near the oceanfront in Virgina Beach to talk with all the local farmers who bring their best goods to sell. We take our insulated bags and buy amazing organic vegetables, delicious hummus, and pasture-raised eggs—and we are, of course, invited to the farm to meet the animals (We’re thinking about doing that when the grandchildren visit this summer.)

As an added bonus, last week there was a new vendor— J.R’s Micro Greens, as the business card says “organically packed full of vitamins and minerals; grown and harvested locally.” Now, micro greens are new for me this year. Previously, I’ve bought them in the grocery store, and they have been a fantastic, power-packed addition to any salad or dish. In case you have not heard of this new way of eating vegetables— they are small sprouted seedlings carrying all the superior nutrition of the plant in a tiny package. I can’t wait to serve them to the grandkids when they visit. They will eat a small amount of salad (not a big plateful like me) and micro greens are perfect. In fact, they are so cute (the greens) that I think the kids will be excited to eat this new food!

So what’s new for you this spring?

It’s the time of graduations, weddings, and recitals, and we all know that these are not endings, they are beginnings!

Graduates are looking forward to the next season of life, seeking just the right job—and probably chilling out a little before jumping in. If you have a new graduate in the family, I encourage you to be there for them showing love in action as they walk through this time of transition.

photo by Anne Edgar Photography Weddings—for each couple it’s a new beginning with the love of their life, setting up a new place to live, dreaming of a joyful future together, and figuring out how to do married life here and now, loving one another deeply from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22) If you are anticipating a family wedding, amidst the planning, stop and think how you will put your love into action to support the new couple.

And if your kids are the ones on stage at recitals, you can show them love by being there to cheer them on, bring flowers or just give a hug—and then help them transition to summer where they may want to continue to practice their instrument or do something new like attend a concert or ballet to keep their interest focused on the arts.

Be creative as you seek to show love in action in all these new things this spring. And don’t forget to eat your micro greens and stay healthy in the process!

Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President Emeritus of Body & Soul Fitness. She is an ACE certified fitness professional and faculty member, and currently serves as the Director of Spiritual Impact for Body & Soul. She is the author of Make Today Your Best Day Ever and Encouragement for the Body and the Soul, and speaks to women’s groups inspiring them to grow in faith & fitness.

When I hear the words “Love in Action,” I can’t help but think of my friend Stephanie. I met her nine years ago on a preschool field trip to the zoo. I was pregnant with my 3rd child at the time and suffering from debilitating morning sickness, depression and anxiety. But she didn’t know any of that. As we toted the kids past the monkey house, I stifled my gagging as she asked me how many kids I had. I told her two, because it was early in my pregnancy and I had suffered a previous miscarriage and wasn’t yet sharing my “blessed” news. We made small talk a bit more and then she paused and asked, “are you going to have any more?” For some reason I couldn’t keep my secret any longer as I was sleep deprived, tired, and on the verge of tears. I told her about my miscarriage, the resulting pain, and the fact that I was again pregnant and struggling because I was so sick. She looked at me with eyes FILLED with compassion as she shared how she too had suffered not one but TWO miscarriages and suffered also from severe morning sickness when she was pregnant and I will never forget her words and she put her hand on her heart and said, “You have my heart.”

We left the zoo and I didn’t hear from Stephanie for a couple of days. Then my phone rang. “How are you today?” she asked. “Are you sleeping any better?” I tearfully said that things were still the same and she said, “ok. I’ll be over in a minute.” She came to my door not ten minutes later with a jug of homemade chicken soup in hand and asked if she could come in. I had on my bathrobe and glasses and had only met this woman two days before, but in she came. We talked for a while as I told her my story and she told me hers. She listened non judgmentally in my living room as my kitchen was still full of breakfast dishes and morning mess. I was embarrassed. She was not.

The next day she called again. “How’s today?” she asked. My reply was the same and so was hers. She came over again and proceeded to sweep my kitchen floor and put the breakfast dishes away.

The next day she called again. “What’s going on today?” I told her I had a doctors appointment and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get myself there between vomiting and sleep deprivation. “Time?” she asked, and then showed up at my door with a bottle of 7-UP, a bowl and walked me to the passenger side of her van and drove me to the doctor.

Another day she sent me a card that was blank on the front and when I opened it, it said that she couldn’t find an “isn’t-pregnancy-sickness-awful-card” so she had to make her own. 😉

Another day she took me to her house and made me an entire box of mac and cheese because it was the only thing that sounded good to me while her kids played with my kids.

Another day she brought my kids to school because I couldn’t. Another day she did my laundry.

Steph with my little Lily

The days continued and so did the things that Stephanie did for me. Finally the days came when I began to get better and I could see more clearly. I have never had anyone love me like that before, especially someone I barely knew. She and I formed a bond through that time that will never be broken. She showed me how to love not just with words, but with actions too.

I have been in many situations since where I have walked with people who are suffering and every time I think, “what would Stephanie do?” She showed me how to love well and with actions. I have followed her example many times since and swept floors and made food and done laundry for others, remembering how she taught me. Another thing I learned from Stephanie was that she never said, “if you need anything, let me know.” This is something we have all said, and with the best of intentions, but sometimes puts the burden on the person suffering to have to ask. What Stephanie did, was just SOMETHING. She checked in, she cared, and she thought of something she could do. And she did it.

I John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Stephanie didn’t die for me — Christ already did that. But she definitely gave up some of her life for me during that difficult season, and for that I will always be grateful, and I will always know the definition of love.

Chriss Pruim teaches Body & Soul Boot Camp and Power Strength programs in Byron Center, Michigan.  She is also a Boot Camp trainer, and wife to Mark and mom to Owen, Grace, and Lily.

In my part of the world spring has sprung! The temperature is rising, the days are longer, and the flowers and trees are blooming, which is a nice way to say that the warmer air is filled with pollen. Even with the yellow tint I see when I go outside, I am loving the opportunity to take my fitness plan outdoors. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. In honor of this designation, I want to share with you some of my go-to outdoor exercises and encourage you to head outside. The top two advantages I see, is that I can use whatever props are available (steps, benches, picnic tables, retaining walls around landscaping, etc.) and I don’t have to get down in the grass, where much of the pollen can be found. As with any general workout session, I want to include some cardio/continuous movement, strength training, and flexibility. This gives me a well-rounded workout. Check out the photos below and join me for a spring workout today!

Be sure to take your water bottle along with you and drink often during your workout. Walk at a brisk pace or jog for at least 20 minutes, and vary the grade if possible by going up and down hills.

Strengthen your lower body with step ups and lunges. Use an available step or bench that is at a safe height for you and perform 2 sets of 15-20 repetitions per side, or until you feel fatigue and then switch legs.

Strengthen your upper body with 2-3 sets of pushups and dips. Using a table or bench will keep you off the ground and may keep you from sneezing so much. Each set should be 8-12 repetitions.

Strengthen your core with abdominal planks, in a full position on your toes or modified position on your knees. Either way, keep the elbows aligned beneath your shoulders and maintain a horizontal position through your trunk. Hold in that strong pose for 20 seconds, 3-5 times.

Flexibility is vital to overall physical health and wellness, and should always be a portion of your workout session. Stretches can be held for any length of time, with the general accepted recommendation of 30 seconds each. Perform hamstring stretches and calf stretches as shown in the pictures below, and stretch each muscle group 2-3 times to complete today’s outdoor workout.

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.

We have all been there…the squat set that you do when you just don’t think you can do one more round…the leaps you do when your legs feel like noodles…the push up you can’t wait to finish because you just aren’t sure you have even one more in those arms of yours. Yes, it’s familiar territory but what about when it’s not your body that is tired but your spirit? What do we do then? Where do we go and how do we recharge when we feel dry and weary?

I don’t exactly have an answer for this question. I have lots of thoughts about it, cliches that might work, and some Facebook memes that would apply but that doesn’t exactly get to the heart of the issue. Exhaustion is a real thing, we all encounter it…but how do we overcome it?

Lately I have been surrounded by those who are exhausted. Mommas who are weary from battles with or for their children…friends who have waited too long for things to happen only to have to wait in anxiousness even longer…sisters who are tired and ready to step back and let other, younger women take the lead…young sisters who are carrying the weight of sick parents and young children all at the same time. Life can feel so heavy and sometimes that heaviness can feel like an insurmountable burden.

So where do we go to get refreshed? Jesus, right? Jesus is always the answer in church, Sunday School and Body & Soul. So yes, Jesus. But what about Him do we need when we feel overwhelmed, burdened, and tired? Jesus is all of the fruits of the Spirits rolled up into one: He is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Faith and Self-Control. He has those in abundance and quite frankly, I would love to always land on love and joy. But sometimes I need something else…sometimes I need the Suffering Servant who shows me in the Garden that I can pray until I sweat blood on behalf of the suffering I see around me. I need to know that the Jesus who went into the desert to fast and pray for 40 days sees me and sees you in the desert and He knows the temptations that are coming our way and He stands with us in the temptation and the suffering. We do not suffer alone. We are not left to our own devices. He will make a way in the desert. He will bring water out of the rocks we find ourselves hemmed in by and He will provide for our thirst right out of the rock if need be.

So whatever it is you are facing…those things that feel impossible, press on sisters. You do not go alone. Jesus is with you even in the driest of places. He will make a way in the desert. He will refresh your very soul. Press into Him and be renewed. His love will put you back in action.



Tracie Durham is a Cardio Strength Trainer for South Central. She is a former attorney, full-time home schooling mother of three kids (Abbie, Aubrie and Charlie), wife of a Fire Chief (Phillip) and unabashed fan-girl of “all the words” and mostly importantly…of Jesus. Tracie teaches Body & Soul Fitness at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship serving Sherwood & North Little Rock, AR.

Photos courtesy of pexels.com.