Y’ALL….I am home from my VERY FIRST workshop…DaniCombs1

And I am just OVERWHELMED with SO many things…

And most importantly…
The Holy Spirit!!

That feeling you get when you finally figure out what God is calling you to do.

When you realize you are about to make that big leap to follow His lead.

When you suddenly see how a whole bunch of things that happened the past few weeks, months, year all make COMPLETE SENSE.

Y’all….there ain’t nothin like it!

I am so filled with the Spirit and joy and excitement and nervousness after my Body & Soul workshop this weekend.

My 4 year old learned this phrase in Sunday school: “Listen and obey.”

It’s become a new favorite catchphrase around here.

I gotta tell ya…

When we shut our mouths, our thoughts, our pride, and our self-doubt up…

and we stand up against the enemy…

and open up our ears to really HEAR when God is telling us “GO”…

And then we actually DO the thing…

It’s crazy awesome.


God CAN use you…and He WILL use you.

We just gotta listen.

And we definitely gotta obey.

Those are my new peeps right there y’all.

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I am beyond blessed to be a part of this tremendous ministry.

And I can NOT WAIT to get started this Fall!!!

Dani Combs | Boot Camp Instructor | Woodbridge, Virginia

Do you feel God calling you?  Join our team of instructors.  Go to www.bodyandsoul.org and click on start a class or become an instructor, and join us at the December workshop.

Group photo taken by Dayna Wergedal.  www.daynastudios.com

Do you think of the movie “Mighty Ducks” about the kid’s hockey team, or do you remember the animated superhero mouse from years ago, “Mighty Mouse?”  And what does the word “mighty” even mean? Merriam-Webster.com defines “mighty” as “having or showing great strength or power: very great.” The fictitious hockey team and the flying mouse might meet that definition, but I’d like to focus on that power in real life.

There is a song called “Mighty” that is sung by Christian artist Beckah Shae. I just choreographed it for Dance Blast and it has a great beat and catchy tune, so it is running through my mind right now with a vision of fun Dance Blast swing moves. (don’t worry if you are not a dancer—in our cardio/strength classes it is a squat song!) But the most important thing about this song is its focus on God as the mighty one! The lyrics say: “Mighty all the time, his power never ceases to amaze me. He’s everlasting… He’s better than a superhero ‘cuz he ain’t limited in power… he’s mighty all the time.”

Powerful, mighty, great, everlasting. These words all describe God. Psalm 147:5 says “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limits.”  He is as mighty in power as a summer thunderstorm with lightning shooting across the night sky and thunder so loud it seems to shake the ground, and yet he understands what we are going through with a compassion and understanding that has no limits.


Maybe you are going through something difficult right now and you need to be reminded of God’s mighty strength and limitless power in your life. Well, there’s no need to wait, here’s what you can do:

Begin now to:

  • Consider how God’s power can power you up—when we are weak, he is strong. If you need more “power”—physically or spiritually, God will be your power source. Get in touch with a church or community that can show you how to “plug in” to God’s power. Find a moms’ group or Bible study at a church near you where people can spiritually and tangibly encourage you.
  • Ask God to help you be “mighty” (showing great strength or power) to face challenges that come your way. Listen to Beckah’s song “Mighty” and plan to come to her concert at McLean Bible Church on Friday, August 5th! Tickets are only $10.75. Click here for ticket information.
  • Think about the idea of trusting a God who has “no limits.” That means that nothing is impossible for him. He is worthy of your trust! Our Body & Soul fall session is called “Limitless.” Find a class near you where you can be strengthened in faith & fitness. bodyandsoul.org


Be encouraged.  There is a mighty God who offers you limitless hope, today and every day!


Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President of Body & Soul Fitness. Join her at Mclean Bible Church at 7pm on August 5th, 2016 for a celebration of 35 years of Ministry and a special Concert by Beckah Shae. Tickets available here. 



Photograph by Vladimir Kudinov courtesy of Unsplash.com, text added by Rebecca Gilbert – joyartanddesign.com


Life can be so crazy these days! There is tension on a global scale, nationally, locally, and even in our own homes, at times! How can we stay focused and encouraged in the middle of it all? How can we avoid anxiety, stress, and discouragement?

Let Christian artist Beckah Shae encourage your heart today! In Body & Soul classes, we work out to many of her songs, including one with a retro feel called “I’ll Be Alright.” We need that reminder when the going gets tough. We will be alright. We can get through all that is going on with the strength and love of God.

So put your feet up, catch your breath, and click here to listen to Beckah’s recent conversation with me. In this brief 12-minute interview, you will be inspired as Beckah highlights:

  • her own challenges in the gym and what motivates her to work harder
  • a recent sprained ankle and the frustrations that accompanied her injury
  • how we all can stay strong amidst life’s setbacks
  • how the “Champion” cd came about
  • what inspires each song she writes
  • what you can expect at a Beckah Shae concert
  • how she stays focused on the “Champion and Perfecter” of her faith
  • how Jesus finished strongimage003

And feel free to follow up the podcast by listening to some of Beckah’s songs on YouTube: Champion,” “I’ll Be Alright,” and “Jericho.”

By the way, you can hear Beckah LIVE in concert on Friday, August 5th at McLean Bible Church. Tickets are only $10.75 each, includes $0.75 for shipping. Click here for more information on the concert and our whole Body & Soul 35th anniversary celebration that weekend! It’s going to be a lot of fun and very encouraging! We’ll be all right, all right!

Hilda Labrada Gore is the Director of Communications and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, and westonaprice.org).


Most every year for the past eight years, I have attended a Christian Wellness week sponsored by First Place 4 Health. Five years ago, my time there was a pivot point for my future. Early in the week, my blood tests results returned, the nurse called with bad news and the negative report shook me to the core—my blood sugar was dangerously high. Honestly, I took the news hard. I called my husband and he prayed with me and encouraged me to do whatever it took to get well. Then I cried to some of my friends at the conference. They were doing their best to encourage me with the “you can do all things with Christ” kind of cheerleading and sincere prayers. Vicki, my personal trainer there, a wonderful Body & Soul instructor, is a friend who knows humor is often a great motivator for me tried a little levity: “You work out hard, you are at every physical exercise session. There is a thinner healthier Pam inside– she is just bubble-wrapped!”

I went to bed and prayed something like, Lord, you know how depressed I am. If there were any chocolate bon-bons here I would eat the entire box, so it’s a good thing I got this news here! Father, I have been encouraging women to live healthier in my books and talks yet something is going very wrong in my body. I am such a failure. Maybe you should just take me home to be with you. Okay, that is stinkin’ thinkin’. So I need some help here. Your Word says,In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, NASB) I need some safety in my thinking and in my body, so minister to me as I sleep. When I wake up tomorrow morning, please provide an answer so I might go forward and live long and strong for you.”

Cell service was sketchy at the retreat center, so I hadn’t been receiving calls or text messages, including a daily text one of my audience members sent that included some quotes from some of my own books. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and God was faithful to send slumber but at 5 am my phone vibrated and I picked it up to read this text message:

Get up! God has set His alarm clock, and it is time to overcome every weight, every infirmity, every sickness, every bondage that has tried to strangle the physical, emotional, and spiritual life out of you. It doesn’t matter how long you have been bound, stop hitting the snooze button and GET UP!- Ron Parsley, World Harvest

So guess what I did? I GOT UP!

And I thought,

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Something needs to change! What is it, God?

I took my concerns to prayer that morning in my devotional time with God. As I thought about my life, I prayed:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NIV)

I knew I needed a little more motivation than the good advice on my refrigerator magnets:

Something is better than nothing. Do the something you can do.

Your life will change when you change

I have been selecting a word for the year since I was 19 and it serves to refocus and readjust my life to keep me on track. My husband, Bill and I pow-wowed and we selected the same word for our year: STRONG. We decided every choice and decision would be run through the grid of “Will this make me stronger? Our marriage stronger? Our health stronger? Our business stronger? Our ministry strong? Our family stronger?

We selected a theme verse for the year:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

This was a perfect verse because it had the goal: Be strong and courageous, but it also dealt with my emotions, “don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.” And because I travel so much for my speaking, I loved that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” reminder.

The word strong here means to grow to be strong– so God says it is a process! Courageous is also verb meaning to make strong, bold and victorious. The word discourage is a pretty encompassing emotional word and God was saying, “don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear—Pam don’t let this “shatter” you!” The answer of HOW to overcome these negative emotions is in the context of this verse:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7–9 (NIV)

The path to strength and victory seemed clear in verse 7, “obey ALL the law (the Word), don’t get distracted (go left or right).So I hung my heart on the word STRONG. It became my word for that year, and I selected Joshua 1:9 as my verse for the year to focus my heart. My friend, Mary, a Body and Soul instructor gave me a t-shirt emblazoned with “Stay Strong” on the front, so I adopted that as my theme for the year. I also printed out all the verses about being strong and staying strong and that is where I spent my devotional time over the course of the next few months. Bill and I took a photo of us and a set strong pix weights verse 50of weights laid out to spell the word, “STRONG” and we made a poster of it. I downloaded songs with that had strong in the title or lyrics. (I eventually adopted Mandisa’s song, Stronger, as my personal anthem). I tried to spend time with people that were strong physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially in order to learn from them. And God made me strong enough to:

  • Call a new doctor, nutritionist, and trainer—and work the plan they laid out.
  • Believe God would cover the price of medical tests and doctor appointments other items that I felt I needed to stay strong
  • Give me the willpower to apply the wisdom that doctor gave
  • Be honest with friends and family so they could pray and tangibly support me.
  • Add strength training to my ongoing aerobic exercise regime
  • Trust that if I slept the proper hours per night, I could still get done the work God needed to me to do
  • Reward myself with healthy things like fun workouts, kitchen equipment, new exercise wear, or an occasional spa day instead of some sugary treat.

No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.

before after strongSo what were the results of meditating on the word STRONG and studying how God makes one strong? I got strong! I shed over 50 pounds; I went from walking to running; I could lift more weights, my core improved and my backaches disappeared. I moved from health risk to health strength. And my faith increased as I strongly believe (then and now) that God can accomplish what seems very impossible – in every area of life.

However, this is not a one-time journey for me. It is an “everyday-for-the-rest-of-my- life-battle” that I must win.

And you must win your battle to wellness too. In my new book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success In Keeping It All Together, I share how to help YOU get and stay strong by choosing your word, verse, theme, and plan for YOUR year.

Each day, even now, I begin my day, “Lord, give me strength!” Because I have two choices: STRONG or dead, I choose strong! You can choose to be stronger too!

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe and smarter than think you are.

Pam Farrel is the real deal.  She loves to encourage women in their faith and Choose Joy in life.  She, along with her husband Bill, is an international speaker and best-selling author of over 38 books including: Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Red Hot Monogamy; Love, Honor and Forgive; The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make, The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, The First Five Years, and 10 Secrets to Live Strong, Smart and Savvy.  For more information, check out  www.love-wise.com.

Body & Soul Fitness often leads the exercise component for First Place 4 Health’s wellness weeks.  For more information on attending a wellness week go to www.firstplace4health.com.  To learn more about our upcoming 35th anniversary celebration and concert or to find a Body & Soul class near you please go to www.bodyandsoul.org.

Step into a Body & Soul class, and prepare to be transported into a stress-free zone for the next hour, far away from the worries of the world. One student quoted that Body & Soul is music to her soul – one of the many wonderful things about Body & Soul is the music that we use in our classes – it certainly makes it the unique and incredible programme that it is.

Recently, for the first time, Body & Soul introduced the African song “Tomurumbidza” into Dance Blast. What a blast ladies had across the globe as they worked out in true African dance style to this fantastic up-beat track by Tembalami. Bringing different colours, cultures and creeds together in faith and fitness is what makes Body & Soul so special.


You will be blown away when you learn more about the artist behind the music. Tembalami, one of five children, was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, and started singing in church at the age of 11. Music became his passion and at 19 years old, Tembalami cut his first studio recording as part of a gospel group called The Burning Bush. Soon after, he started a choir called ZimPraise with his best friend and five other musicians. Zimpraise today is the most popular gospel choir in the nation. In 2011, Tembalami launched his first solo album “Brighter Day” and the track “Tomurumbidza” was an instant hit on Youtube, exceeding half a million views and this opened doors to the international market. His second album, featuring artist Bayete, went straight to number one on the charts in Zimbabwe and Kenya. But Tembalami does not rejoice in the success, as much as he rejoices in the message behind the music. He sees the songs as a way of expressing his love for God and His people and he firmly believes that music can not only heal and inspire, but also change lives.

This belief motivates his music and his work outside the studio. He has a vision to inspire, build, motivate, teach and lead our generation from hopelessness to triumph, by modelling a Jesus-centred lifestyle. He currently runs a programme in many high schools in Zimbabwe to equip the the students for servant leadership. He uses music as an entry point but ultimately his goal is to train the children to lead youth groups within their schools. He assists the underprivileged schools by donating his music, teaching materials, and sourcing sound systems. He has done much to influence the youth of Zimbabwe!image

Tembalami has been generous with Body & Soul, as well. He has allowed us to use his music, copyright-free. And Body & Soul has supported his work, by donating two speakers for use in Tembalami’s youth group projects. What a joy it has been for Body & Soul to partner with an artist with a heart like Tembalami’s.


Kate Lawton lives in Zimbabwe and is Body & Soul’s Regional Director for Africa.




Pics provided by Tembalami and Kate Lawton.

I love nostalgia. I enjoy thinking back on sweet and joyful times that make me smile. Let’s walk down a Body & Soul memory lane for a few minutes…

macMy husband Roy and I remember when we kept track of each Body & Soul student and instructor by creating their own 3×5 card with their personal information on it—which only included their home address and phone number. There were no cell phones, so no cell phone numbers. There was no such thing as email, so no email address. No facebook, so no facebook messenger! We thought we had taken a BIG step into the future when we got our first Body & Soul computer—a Mac 512 with a 9 inch screen. Do you remember such a world?

AlbumsNan McCullough and I remember the first Body & Soul class. Nan knew I was teaching “aerobics” for the local Recreation Department and she invited me to lead some exercises for the “body” part of “body & soul day”—a lady’s event for our church. It was an instant hit, so we moved the “class” to Nan’s basement and she invited all of her neighbors to join us. We had so much fun dancing to Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, and the Imperials. Do you remember those names from the early years of contemporary Christian music?

Our first international classes were in Nairobi, Kenya—25 years ago! Cortina-OrrCortina Orr was teaching Body & Soul while her husband attended Dallas Seminary, and when they got the call from God to go to Africa, she took Body & Soul with her. We still have classes at Nairobi Baptist Church today!

One more—do you remember when TobyMac and Michael Tait sang together in a group called DC Talk? Now Toby is mentoring young artists including his son Tru and Hollyn (which we will be using in Body & Soul this fall!) Michael is the lead singer of the Newsboys and recently made an appearance in the two God’s Not Dead movies. RetroClassWe have exercised to their music in Body & Soul since their first CDs were out—or maybe that was “albums”—it certainly was way before iTunes! Ah, how the world has changed.

No matter how long you have been a part of Body & Soul, you have probably have both laughed and cried with your fellow class members as you have “done life together” in Body & Soul. There’s something about sweating together that is bonding—am I right? It’s work to stay fit, and the accountability and caring in our classes is truly amazing. But the spiritual encouragement is the very best part. When our physical strength is waning and life’s challenges try to overcome us, the message of God’s hope and Christ’s love for us helps us to carry on. Let’s all determine to stay connected, together experiencing faith & fitness in Body & Soul.

For a bit of retro fun, we want to encourage you to join us at our 35th Anniversary Workshop and Celebration this summer. Please consider this a personal invitation to experience nostalgia with us at our retro workout Thursday evening August 4 at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA. Oh, yes, it will be cardio routines and music that we have used through the years! You are also invited to join us at other fitness sessions, and our Friday night Celebration on August 5th followed by a fantastic Concert with one of our Body & Soul artists, Beckah Shae. To register go to: Body & Soul Manager Online

See you there for a walk down a very special memory lane, as well as a vision for the future, as Body & Soul moves on to touch more lives with faith & fitness!

And we would love to hear your memories, too! What is your favorite song that we have exercised to in Body & Soul? Who is your favorite Christian artist of all time? What is the most special memory you have of your class? Leave a comment and tell us about it! We are so glad to have you as part of our Body & Soul family!

Jeannie Blocher is the President and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! That pretty much describes the Heath household during the summer months– especially the crazy part! This summer you can lead your family on a summer vacation filled with healthy fresh ideas for food, fun and fellowship with this SUMMER acrostic:

S – Sleep:

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and recover from the wear and tear of everyday living. There are two age groups that need an abundance of sleep – newborns and teenagers! Yes, there is a reason your teen wants to sleep until noon; he really needs the sleep to release the growth hormone. Last summer my 14-year-old grew before my eyes! When you sleep, your body recharges. Research has shown that a lack of sleep contributes to weight gain. One study indicated that people consume 10 to 15 percent more calories when they are tired. Other consequences to sleep loss are a higher accident rate on the job and more auto accidents. In addition, “I’m too tired” is often the excuse for avoiding intimacy with our husbands and spending time with our children. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. God knows the value of rest. He even made it a commandment!

U – Umbrella:

I know it’ s not a verb, but I’ ll make it work. Protecting our families from the dangers of the sun is a top priority this summer. Use a full spectrum sunscreen and reapply often. Protecting our families, especially our children, from too much TV and video games is also a priority. The television and video games is a tempting babysitter—use parental discretion, set time limits (one hour of TV for one hour of outside activity) and check on them often.

M – Make plans to do nothing:

One thing I especially like about summer is the flexible schedule we have at the Heath house. Some mornings, Rob (my husband and super dad) will ask: “What are you going to do today” and we love to answer, “Whatever we want!” Spend some days this summer without an agenda. Busyness and over-commitment are taking a toll on the American family. When we overcommit our lives, we leave no space for joy in our lives. Be still and know that I am God… (Ps. 46:10) might be a good family memory verse for this summer.

M – Make a memory and make it now:pexels-photo-61129

Don’ t wait another year to take the wonderful long awaited family vacation. Sue Shellenbarger, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal says we are people who live in the “tomorrow trap”–people who essentially are so overcommitted that they take refuge in visions of a relaxed life somewhere down the road. Many of us say that our God and our families are important to us, but we don’t live as though they are. Be intentional with your time this summer and choose to do at least one thing that will involve all the members of your family. I know this is almost an impossible task in light of the busyness of life, but it will be well worth the effort.

E – Eat well:

Summer seasonal foods are bountiful, especially wonderful fresh fruits and veggies. Blueberries are one of the best brain foods in the world and at this time of year are relatively inexpensive. Caring for our bodies is an act of stewardship and worship that glorifies God. In Romans 12:1 Paul asked believers to present their bodies to God as ” living sacrifices” every day. A healthy body demonstrates gratitude for what God has done for us and that we are available for service to him.

R – Renew:

All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (Psalm 66:4 ESV) Enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of our world. Take advantage of the opportunities to renew your mind with study and contemplation on the Word of God. Renew and refresh your relationship with the Lord and others. Experience meeting God in different ways this summer. He is everywhere, just around the bend in the road and right in the middle of the sunset.

Spend your vacation and spend it well – ENJOY!

Vicki Heath

Vicki Heath is the National Director for First Place 4 Health and author of “Don’t Quit Get Fit” and her latest book, “The Wellness Journey of a Lifetime.”  www.firstplace4health.com  Vicki is also a Body & Soul instructor and leader.

Pictures by Pexels.com.  Sources are Unsplash and Juan Salamanca.

weight-loss-850601_1920The scale – what emotions do you feel when you hear that word? Let’s face it we all have a love/hate relationship with the scale. We love it when the number drops, and hate it when the number goes up. Do you know the number one reason women don’t go to the doctor? You guessed it – they don’t want to step on the scale! I’ve often stood on the doctor’s scale backwards so that I couldn’t see the number when they took my weight and told the nurse to keep it to herself.


Too often we let this number dictate how we feel about ourselves. Many factors go into the number on the scale and weight can fluctuate by up to as much as 5 pounds in any given day. So why do we give this number so much power and allow it to validate us?  Do the perfect airbrushed images in magazines make us believe we should all look like they do? No wrinkles, acne, cellulite, or imperfections allowed.


The scale shouldn’t define us, God should. So let’s look at what his word says about us.  Psalm 139:14-16 (MSG) tells us “you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb… body and soul, I am marvelously made…you know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Wow, when we stand on the scale and the number isn’t what we wanted to see and negative thoughts blast into our minds, we need to remember this! God took great care in creating us and he wants us to know “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jer. 31:3 NLT)  It cost God everything to save us, that should tell us how much worth we have to Him.


So then what do we do with the scale? Here are a few tips:


  1. Keep the right perspective. The scale is a tool. That’s all. It’s meant to give you information. That information should motivate you not define you.
  2. Realize there are other tools. If you aren’t seeing the scale move, take your measurements. It’s a great gauge on what’s really happening. Often the scale misrepresents the hard work happening as you exercise. Muscle is built more quickly than fat is released, so the scale might increase during your first couple of weeks when starting an exercise routine.
  3. Don’t weigh yourself every day. Remember, your weight can fluctuate for so many reasons. Plan one day a week at the same time of day to weigh in. You can make yourself crazy otherwise. I know this all too well.
  4. Ask yourself how your clothes are fitting? This is one of the first signs of weight loss even if the scale isn’t moving.
  5. Lift weights. If you’ve hit a plateau, consider adding strength training or increase your weights if you are already lifting. This simple change can get things moving in the right direction again. And you won’t bulk up. God didn’t give women the testosterone needed to build muscles like men.
  6. Get the right amount of sleep. 7-9 hours a night. Your body needs to rest well to be less stressed. Stress can be a huge factor in weight loss. Reduce the lights, sound, and electronics in your room to give you the most advantageous sleep possible.
  7. Each day spend 15 minutes focusing on God as your loving father. Did you know that this sea-fashion-woman-wateralone releases oxytocin, a chemical our bodies need to reduce inflammation and stress? And imagine your outlook on life after thinking about His love for you for 15 minutes!
  8. Set realistic goals. No one can expect to lose 20 pounds in one week. Strive for 2 pounds a week for long term weight loss.
  9. Quit being so hard on yourself. Reread tips 1-8 and meditate on the Scripture verses above.


Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. You have created me and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to take any negative thoughts captive and replace them with the knowledge that you love me unconditionally and nothing can separate me from your love. Thank you for your faithfulness to walk this journey with me. Help me to do my part and trust you with the results. In Jesus’ name, Amen!


Journal: How often do you “have a date” with the scale and how’s that working for you? What drives your self-image? Who/what do you rely on to build you up? What things can you change to correct negative thoughts?


To find a Body & Soul class near you, please visit www.bodyandsoul.org. Body & Soul is where faith and fitness meet.


Banner photo by somorgado through Pixabay.com, Text added by Mary Ward .  Embedded photos (1) by luxstorm through Pixabay.com, (2) by kaboompics.com through Pexels.com.

STRESS is all around us. It can be caused by our environment, diet, exercise (or lack of) and attitude.

With God’s guidance we are able to control these areas even if it seems impossible. God takes our STRESS and gives us GRACE.

Stress for me looked like:

  • a car accident waiting to happen – wait  – it did happen.
  • a divorce about to take place – no it didn’t happen but we were sooooo close.
  • an enraged bull dog face
  • an empty box of Ho – Hos (if you remember what they were)
  • a husband afraid to come home
  • my kids hiding in their rooms not sure what mood Mom is in

I read in Scripture that I should be able to soar like an eagle – no stress at all. But if I was an eagle I would be tangled in the high wires with feathers going every direction.

But that is not how Scripture describes it or God designed it.

Eagles are mentioned throughout Scripture and each time they are viewed as a magnificent bird with great power, strength, speed and awesome wonder.  Their wings spread out over 90 inches – that is almost 8 FEET!

No wonder they can soar above the storms, at speeds of 30 MPH or even up to 100 mph when they are diving for prey.

The Cycle of STRESS

Stress is a cycle that if never tackled it will be with you forever!

When you notice stress  – immediately say ‘STOP’.

Changing the diet can stop stress. No, not eating chocolate even if stressed spelled backwards is desserts! But eating foods high in B complex, fiber and vegetables.

Stress depletes the stores of B Complex and vitamin C. Now there is no defense for stress and your immune system is in terror fully exposed.

Next – sweet cravings come in like a tsunami – without B and C vitamins your body will go into a wild craving mode for chips or sweets.  This is evidence of no vitamin stores in your body.

Eating those chips or sweets – create a short term hiatus with a long-term depression.

Eat more chips or sweets – short time of bliss – then more stress!

Stress cycle

The only way to stop the cycle of stress is to decide where to get off.

Here are 3 options for getting off the stress cycle:

  1. Change your attitude and altitude.  No one can make you stressed – it is a choice.  If surroundings cannot be changed then change the altitude – let God change your attitude.
  2. Take a high-quality B Complex – make sure it is designed as suggested in the Treasures of Health Nutrition Manual.  This delivers to your cells what they are clamoring for – HELP!
  3. Change the diet – include high fiber (beans, whole grains, legumes, whole – raw fruits and veggies), B vitamin rich foods (whole grains), lots of raw foods, and NO processed foods.
  4. Consider herbs for stress. Ashwagandha and beta-sitosterol.  These are my favorite go to when I have too many ‘must-dos’ on my list for the day. They work quickly with no side effects – except a better ability to cope!

Remember God designed us to recognize stress and then respond accordingly.
When we ignore it  – we pay the price down the road with death and disease.
When we respond and correct it – we come back into balance and life is manageable. ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation.’.Eagle Isaiah41 10



Read the symptoms of stress in the Treasures of Health Nutrition Manual.   



Annette Reeder, holds a B.S. in Nutrition from Huntington College plus a Diploma of Biblical Studies from Liberty University. She has been studying food, nutrition and medical science for over 30 years.

For Body & Soul, at this particular moment in time, it means that God has limitless possibilities for us in the future! We stand at a special juncture in time—we are coming together on August 4-6 for a special time of celebrating the past, present, and future of our faith & fitness ministry.

We will be looking back to smile at (and probably laugh at) some of the things we did in the early years of Body & Soul —the face of fitness has changed. The fitness gear we wear has changed. Our hairstyles have changed.  In 1981 when it all began I was a young Mom of two very active boys. Jackie Sorenson’s Dance Aerobics was the thing. I loved to dance, but I didn’t love the music in the classes in local gyms, so with the help of my sweet husband, Roy and dear friend, Nan we started Body & Soul—and it was an instant hit. The possibilities were Limitless as we got started, and look where we are today—with 6 different program offerings, taught in classes in 22 states and 12 countries, over the course of 35 years of faith & fitness,  we have served close to 80,000 students!


Right now—in the present moment, we are in the midst of a time of great celebration! We are already planning our summer “retro” classes where each instructor will choose music and routines from the sessions they have taught—over the past year, or over many years! We are also opening the registration for our celebration Workshop and Concert with Beckah Shae which will be at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA on August 4-6.  Plan to join us for this special time of fun and fitness!

Click Here to Register 

Click Here to buy Concert Tickets

And where are we headed next? The possibilities are Limitless! At our 35th Anniversary event, I will be passing the baton of leadership, as Amy Stafford becomes the new President of Body & Soul. I will be by her side as the Director of Spiritual Impact. Amy has great ideas for adding the latest fitness trends to our programming. She has vision for growth in the US and abroad, and she has a great heart to serve people of all ages and fitness levels.

But the most important reason that the possibilities are limitless for the future of Body & Soul is because of our spiritual focus. We know that as human beings we have limits. We hit the wall, come to the end of our strength and feel just plain tired. But in Body & Soul we are not limited by our physical strength, we have spiritual strength which comes from our faith—our faith in God and in his Son Jesus Christ. They are the ones who are limitless.  With that in mind. As we celebrate the past, present and future of Body & Soul let’s focus on this thought from Ephesians 6:10: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”



Banner Photo by Claire Thibault from Pexels.com
Mountain photo by Wolfgang Lutz, text added by Rebecca Gilbert

Beckah Shae - I'll Be Alright - YouTube

Beckah-0598 copyFor nearly 10 years, Beckah Shae has been singing bouncy, uplifting and motivating Christian songs. She has made top 10 Billboard Christian CHR radio singles, one of which was even nominated for a Dove award. From “Champion” which was a kick-boxing song a couple of sessions ago, to “I’ll be all right” which is part of our current “Shine On” session., every song is motivating and upbeat.

You would never know it from Beckah’s music, but she was not always in this place of joy and encouragement.  Maybe she knows how to lift others up so well because she has been uplifted herself. Her life story is one of movement from discouragement to joy, and from depression to peace.

Click here to listen

In this brief and candid fifteen-minute interview you will be moved by her story of transformation. You’ll hear about:

–       her troubled childhood (mother married and divorced three times)

–       homelessness and times of hunger

–       her stint in Las Vegas as the singer in a cover band

–       how faith in God sustained her

–       how she ended up in Nashville

–       her unique relationship with her friend, turned husband

–       her weaknesses and joys today

Beckah has a beautiful story and the voice to tell it, whether in song or the spoken word. Once you’ve listened, you may want to hear more. If so, plan on coming out to her concert on Friday, August 5th at McLean Bible in Vienna, Virginia. The concert will be held in conjunction with Body & Soul’s 35thanniversary celebration weekend. You won’t want to miss it!




Update:  Beckah and her husband Jack, just gave birth to their third daughter, Hope, who joins sisters Joy and Grace.  Congratulations and we can’t wait to meet you all in August!



Click Here to buy Concert Tickets

Written by Hilda Gore, Director of Communications for Body & Soul.

Amy head shotWe are all SO EXCITED about the new President Elect of Body & Soul, Amy Stafford, and we want you to get pumped, too! Today’s blog post highlights this smart, beautiful (and fit) woman! Amy has been teaching with Body & Soul for over 15 years and has a long list of titles after her name. She is the Power Strength Program Director, the Director of Fitness Programs, a member of the Cardio Strength Choreography team and the Regional Director for the Southeast U.S. And now, add to that list the title of “President-Elect.” (She will become the President in full this August when she takes the reins at the 35th anniversary workshop and celebration. More on that in a future blog post.) So, read on and get to know Amy and her heart via this brief Q&A.

Amy, you are the most fit person on the planet! Is that why Body & Soul picked you to be its next leader? What’s your story?

[laughing] Oh, no! Only God could have done this. I love anatomy and physiology and kinesiology—all things related to the human body, but I didn’t grow up in a gym. I wasn’t a fitness instructor in college. I played some intramural sports but I wasn’t very good. When I left college, I worked in the field of rehabilitation as a therapist. I think God took my love for the human body and translated it into the fitness realm, one step at a time.

How did you first find out about Body & Soul?

A small group leader at my church brought a Body & Soul videotape to our Bible study one night. And she knew that I was teaching group fitness at a sport club in Williamsburg (where I live now and where I lived then). So she said to me, “This would be great for our church and because you already teach, you should teach it.” And I said “no.” And I said “no” for weeks and weeks and weeks. (She would not give up!) I finally took the video home and watched it. And, honestly, I don’t remember what happened next, but it just seemed to be something that I couldn’t say “no” to anymore.

I scheduled a demonstration class (which is how most classes start) and had 17 ladies show up on a Thursday night! It blew me away to see such interest off the bat. We did a half-hour workout that night and talked about Body & Soul. That launched a two-night-a-week class that’s still going today.

Wow! So, it almost sounds like you had a “Jonah and the whale experience.” I’m guessing you can’t remember exactly what happened because you were inside of a whale until you obeyed what God wanted you to do.

[laughing] I think that’s exactly what happened. Because I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t want to be standing in front of a group. I did not picture myself leading a Christian exercise program. I was perfectly fine doing what I was doing at the sport club. I had a young child at the time and they took care of her while I taught. But one step at a time, God brought me through this process.

You said you had a young child. Tell us a little bit about your family.

My family is fantastic. We are small. There are three of us. My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 25 years. Our daughter, Jordan is 18 and is graduating from high school this year. She wants to study zoology in college and she would love to live in Australia, so we’ll see….

Like I said, our family is small, yet close. We love outdoor recreation: camping, biking, hiking, boating. We love being active, together. Jordan has grown up with Body & Soul, listening to Body & Soul music. Steve is now an ex officio member of the board, which is exciting. It’s a part of who we are.

 That’s fantastic! What was your family’s reaction when you told them that Body & Soul had approached you about leadership?

Steve’s reaction was very quick and very positive. He simply said, “I’m not surprised.” And Jordan got excited and actually said, “I can be anything!” Because at the time, Steve was the president of an engineering firm, and I was being asked to be president, so she saw us each in a “presidential” role and she got excited, saying “I could be a president, too! I could be anything I want to be!”

That’s so beautiful! And it’s so true, right? With God, nothing is impossible and everything is possible!

That’s right!

Tell us what has formed your faith, your relationship with God.

What formed my relationship with God has been generations of believers in my family. I watched them as I grew up, but I didn’t take that faith for myself until I got to college. And God really got a hold of me there, in a new place, in a new environment. I started to understand what it meant to seek Him, to read the Word, and how it could change me from the inside out. Now looking back, I can see that He has really used Body & Soul to make my faith come alive. In college, I believed in Jesus and that He died for you and for me. And with Body & Soul, my faith went from “believing” on one level to “living” it on all levels. Body & Soul afforded me my voice to proclaim my faith.

 What’s your vision for Body & Soul, Amy? What do you hope to see?

It has always been that we would grow. I want to see instructors grow in their faith. I’d love to see more students in our classes, and then for those students also to be growing spiritually, as a result of being touched by Body & Soul.

And what is your vision, in terms of the fitness component of Body & Soul?

My vision is that we would always be innovative, creative, relevant (in terms of fitness trends we see) and safe. I think we are these things now, and I want to keep that as a hallmark of Body & Soul—that we would be the best fitness class out there.

Finally, what is your perspective on leadership as you take on this role of President of Body & Soul?Amy in Africa

I believe leadership comes from a servant’s heart, and we need to stay humble as we serve. I plan on a whole lot of reliance on the Holy Spirit, counting on Him to empower me to lead a team of highly effective and talented fitness professionals who already lead B&S. I want to honor the Lord and serve the leaders of Body & Soul.

And Jeannie, of course, is one of those that I respect so much. She stepped out in faith to do something that was very new to her 35 years ago. So I kind of feel like I am stepping into those really big shoes. I’ve never led something like this before, so I just appreciate her obedience to begin something and, now, to step back a little to allow somebody else to lead. I think God has really honored Body & Soul through Jeannie’s commitment to obedience and her faithfulness to God.

And 35 years is a lot to celebrate! It’s a huge accomplishment! A lot of businesses don’t exist for 35 years, much less ministries. I think it’s a real testament to God’s faithfulness.

Thank you for your time, Amy! We look forward to celebrating those 35 years with you this August! And congratulations on your new position in Body & Soul! We’re really pleased about it!

Thank you very much!


In 1981 I led the first Body & Soul Workout at a ladies retreat at my church. We called it “aerobics” and everyone loved it. My friend Nan invited all of us to continue to work out in her basement—that was the first Body & Soul class. My visionary husband Roy immediately knew that we needed to trademark the name Body & Soul, so he set that in motion. Soon classes spread across the US and the world. Then multiple programs blossomed to meet the fitness needs of many populations. But the special part about Body & Soul was, and still is, the fact that we are more than just a great fitness program. The inspiring Christian music, uplifting words of hope and caring leadership of our certified instructors set us apart. Body & Soul is where faith & fitness meets. Everyone who has ever been involved in our classes over the past 35 years has experienced that. It is a beautiful thing!

Jeannie-AmyAt our Instructor Training Workshop in August we will be joyfully celebrating 35 years of faith & fitness! And there is BIG news concerning that event! Following God’s leading, starting in August, our own Amy Stafford will become the new President of Body & Soul.

I am excited to “pass the baton” of leadership to her to be our new “team captain” as we all continue to run the Body & Soul race together.  I am also excited that I am healthy and committed to continue to run on the team with her as the Director of Spiritual Impact in Body & Soul as well as the Program Director for Dance Blast.  God has guided us every step of the way! Watch this short video to hear the details:

This life is not a quick relay. It’s a marathon, you know it’s true. Instructors and students alike are part of this team called Body & Soul. We are all running this race of life together. In Hebrews it says this: “…let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1b. This is what we do in Body & Soul—we get stronger physically so we can run with physical endurance, and we get stronger spiritually so we can have the mental and emotional perseverance to face whatever comes next. And the music helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus! I am so blessed to be a part of it. And I am blessed to be here to support Amy as she leads us into the next era of Body & Soul. I look forward to seeing what God does as Body & Soul grows and flourishes under her leadership!

Here’s an action item for you—be a part of it! Stay faithful in attending a Body & Soul class near you. If you’ve moved, help us to start a new class in your town. If you haven’t been to class recently, start today. YOU are a part of the Body & Soul story! We hope to see you at our 35th Celebration Workshop August 4-6. Registration for the event will be opening in May. Together let’s celebrate the past, present and future of this special ministry called Body & Soul!

And one more thing—stay tuned to this blog—next week you will hear more about Amy as she shares her story with you!

Jeannie Blocher is the current President (until August!) and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness

When I was asked to write a blog post for our Body and Soul website, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I had just recently started blogging again, and thought that with all of the ideas swarming around in my head for different blog posts I would write in the future, I would have absolutely no problem coming up with something real, raw, and creative, something that would neatly tie right into this ministry that I am so passionate about. Instead, there I sat, with deer-in-the-headlight eyes staring at a blank screen, as if I were a day post-delivery. Isn’t this the way life seems to always go, though?  The irony of it makes me just laugh, out loud, and then whisper to myself “Everything is normal.” Yes!

But, then I realized that the inspiration was inside me the whole time. For days, I had had a song stuck in my head. When I started listening, I realized, “Wow, there are some great lyrics in this song!” And then, a split second later, it hit me, “Wait a minute, this is a Body and Soul song!”

You may be wondering why the wheels in my mind were turning so slowly. Straight up, I am sleep deprived.  Good, sound sleep has been a distant memory for the last 6 months, since my son was born. So anything that I write today that makes any sense is derived from the Only One who could sift through all the static and pull out words that actually go together and make some sort of sense.

And so I begin. The song that was playing in my head is by Building 429. It’s entitled “Go” and it talks about us being God’s hands and feet. And repeatedly says the words “GO!”

As I look around the world in which I live, I see less and less desire for people to actually get up and GO.  We think we don’t really need to, I believe. We now have many different ways to communicate, connect and stay in touch with every and anyone we choose, at every and any time we decide. This, in some ways, disables our willingness to want to actually GO anywhere. Somehow, it seems, the more connected we are virtually, the less connected we become in the physical sense. Around Christmastime last year, a friend of mine decided that her family was not going to send out Christmas cards because “Everyone already sees us all the time on Facebook anyway.”

Hmmm. That didn’t sit well with my soul. Something about that just felt wrong. There is something lost in all the connectedness that we “think” we have. Virtual connection is no substitute for the real thing.

Lauren Bradley strength trainingThe song “GO” is a great reminder that if we don’t physically “get up and go,” who will? This is one reason I get up and GO to church. I get up and GO to my Body & Soul class. I need to get moving, physically, to connect with those around me and to follow God’s will. If we don’t GO to the lost and the hopeless, who will? Social media is useful for some things, but there is still a whole world out there, desperate for us to come out from behind our technological devices, and GO to them to spread the word Jesus spoke, and show the love He has. So, as the song says “I’ll never say, NEVER say, never say NO.”

I’ll leave you with one last thought. Jesus says”Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

He said “GO!” Will you? Do so and you will both be blessed…and be a blessing!

Lauren Bradley is a Body & Soul Instructor from Williamsport, MD.

“Step on a crack, break your mama’s…”

Did you avoid stepping on the sidewalk cracks when you were a kid? I did as a game walking home from school, but I really didn’t think I’d injure my sweet mama if I did so. However, there are activities that we do every day that have the potential to harm our own backs. The medical literature is full of studies that show “low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world…” (Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update, Chapter 6.24 Low Back Pain, World Health Organization). The same report states: “The causes of low back pain are rarely addressed.” Interestingly, the report comments on future research needs that focus on diagnosis with biomarkers for people at risk for back pain as well as treatments that include biomaterials for disc replacement in the spine and stem cell research to restore the discs.

Wait a minute. If “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and not much is said in the medical literature about back pain prevention but rather, focus is on expensive experimental diagnostics and treatments, we should be putting more attention on prevention and caring for our backs. This is especially true the more active we are. Paying attention to proper form with strength training and posture during cardio exercises is KEY to preventing back injury. Further, in activities of daily living, awareness of body posture and mechanics when sitting, standing, lifting, and even sleeping will help us keep our backs healthy.

After my first back injury with lifting improperly in my 20’s, then noting it more when lifting my children in my 30’s, my visit to the physical therapist on back health education truly helped me when I started using the recommendations regularly.

The #1 key to remember with loving your back is: maintain neutral spine position as much as possible.

Top 5 tips for caring for your back:daynastudios--3088

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. This may sound obvious, but it’s worth stating. Center of gravity may change our pelvic tilt causing “lordosis” (hyperextension of our lumbar spine and anterior pelvic tilt). Added weight can cause stress on our back. We should aim to maintain our ideal body weight. (Thank you, Body & Soul, for helping with this!)
  2. Change your positions during the day. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting. Sitting for a long time shortens your hip flexors and leads to anterior pelvic tilt. Prolonged standing can lead to lordosis due to weak abdominal core muscles. Take breaks at work to stand up and stretch from a desk job or sit down and rest in a job with lots of standing or walking.
  3. Avoid repetitive bending at the waist, especially with weights or resistance. Every degree you bend at the waist causes the back muscles to contract, to hold up your torso. Contracting muscles repeatedly or for a long time leads to muscle spasm, strain, and pain. If you exercise regularly, some exercises that may put you at risk for an injury if done repeatedly, with weights, or with improper form are: kettlebell workouts, deadlifts, bent over waist rotations, supine straight leg lifts, leaning forward with the elliptical or treadmill, and full sit-ups.
  4. Check your desk/workspace ergonomics. Lumbar support for your chair, proper height for your arms, looking at your computer with neutral neck position, and using a foot/nursing stool under your desk will de-stress your back.
  5. Side-lying sleeping position is best. A good pillow to keep your head and neck aligned with your body and a pillow between your knees to prevent spinal rotation feels great! If you sleep on your back, putting a small pillow under your knees to reduce lordosis is helpful (like they do at the massage clinics!). The worst position for your back that should be avoided is lying on your stomach which promotes hyperextension and rotation at the neck as well as lordosis of the back and even nerve issues from the arms bent and under the pillow.

So, feel free to step on all of the sidewalk cracks you want to! For a true back pain-free life, follow the above recommendations. And love your back as your mama loves you!

Liz is a Fellow of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a medical doctor for 23 years, formerly with the US Army, currently practicing in the Washington, DC area. In addition, she holds a Master’s of Public Health Degree and Assistant Professorship with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD and certification as a Group Fitness Instructor with the American Council on Exercise.

Just the other day, when my life was feeling particularly frenzied I punched the button on my car CD player and immediately heard the song “Today” by Blanca.  I began to sing along and my day was changed as I sang loudly (to myself) “You’ve got today to forgive and to live, let the light shine in. To begin, start again, you’ve got today. Turn the page, make a change, love will find a way. Don’t hesitate…wake up and give it all to Him.” I felt an instant refocus. Frenzy melted away. I decided to shine – because each today matters.

When you are feeling in a frenzy because of your busy schedule, struggling with a hard decision, concerned with what’s going on in the world, or challenged by something that seems impossible to overcome what do you do? What is your “go-to” to pull your mind out of the darkness of tough stuff into the light?

There are many good choices. Here are three that have helped me on a day by day basis to “keep my shine on.”

  • Seek peace and comfort through music and the message in the lyrics of uplifting songs.  I’m not  talking about distracting yourself by putting on loud, crazy tunes. I am suggesting songs like the ones we use in Body & Soul – positive, uplifting music that encourage our heart and lift our spirit. Music can actually guide us to be able to shine in dark times, and in busy times of distraction and lack of direction. It is amazing how music can calm our spirit and refocus our mind—a much needed thing in today’s frenzied world.
  • Seek out a friend or family member who will listen and give good advice.  Allow them to shine into your life. (and don’t forget to look for opportunities where you can shine the light of love into the lives of others!)
  • Seek wisdom by reading God’s Word. It brings comfort, encouragement and hope! God shines out to us through the Bible, his love letter to us. “The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us.” Psalm 118:27a

This devotional is a gift to you. It starts with a list of the “Shine On!” songs that we are using this session in Body & Soul. You are enjoying them as they power you up for exercise in our classes. Now you can download your favorites and with one click you can take your thoughts captive and begin to shine. And don’t forget to take time to read the encouraging devotional thoughts and Scriptures that we have included for you!


Click here to view the devotional

Here’s also a quick guide to go directly to the lyrics of the songs. When you read what the artists have written, the songs come alive in a new way. Knowing the words helps you sing along so that you, too, can shine on!

Songs Artists
Brighter Hillsong Y&F
Fireblazin’ Capital Kings
Echo Newport
Like a Match TobyMac
World Changers Matthew West
Glow in the Dark Jason Gray
Turn up Your Light V. Rose feat. KJ-52
Go Building 429
Lightning Fireflight
Today Blanca
Jericho Beckah Shae
I’ll Be Alright Beckah Shae
Lift You Up TobyMac
Grace Wins Matthew West
That Was Then, This is Now Josh Wilson
Satellites Capital Kings
God of Brillant Lights Aaron Shust
Psalm 23+ Group 1 Crew
Where the Light Is Dan Bremnes
Be One Natalie Grant
Stars in the Sky Kari Jobe
You will Never Run Rend Collective
Welcome to the New MercyMe
Get Up Blanca
Burn like a Star Rend Collective

Let’s pray for each other that we will be able to shine on this session, one day at a time. Let the music of the session take you there!

Jeannie Blocher is the Founder and President of Body & Soul Fitness

What’s your greatest motivation? Are you a natural-born competitor? Are you striving to keep up with your children or grandchildren? Are you working to fit into that special spring outfit this year? Are you hoping to outrun your DNA? Or are you simply trying to live a more healthy life all the way around? What I’m really asking all of us is this: When you want to quit, what stops you?

I have a competitive streak that’s pretty wide. My motivation originates in the challenge of being a little bit better (healthier, smarter, kinder) than I was yesterday. For this miraculous growth to occur, I must choose to make one good decision at a time. All of us are one decision away from moving in a positive direction or a negative one. I apply this principle to my physical lifestyle as well as my spiritual life, and I’d like you to consider doing the same.

I’m grateful that spring has sprung in the area of the world where I live. The days are a bit longer and a bit warmer, so I’m trading in my long-sleeve hoodie for the cooler, cuter spring top. This motivates me to step up my arm workout. Shallow, I know, but motivation nonetheless. Also as spring arrives I’m reminded of the outdoor activities I love – mountain biking and hiking, so I’d better continue my lower body workouts too. You see, besides being competitive, I’m activity-motivated. There are many active hobbies that I love, and in order to continue with these, my body needs to be healthy and well. In my pursuit of wellness, I have good days and not-so-good days. The good days, where I make wise choices, help me push through the not-so-good days, where I lack the motivation to make wise choices.

For many of us, we are motivated to live a more active lifestyle by participating in group fitness classes – like the classes offered in Body & Soul. I am inspired by the students that come to class, and I believe that they inspire one another. If that sounds like a positive choice to you, be sure to get yourself to the nearest class as soon as possible. You won’t be disappointed – and chances are you’ll inspire the person next to you. It’s a win-win!

So, what’s your motivation? Are you training for an event? Are you hoping to pick up a new, active hobby? Are you fighting a condition that threatens your wellness? Whatever your motivation, keep it in your sights. Do not get distracted by the not-so-good days. Don’t’ get derailed. This focus applies to our spiritual wellness as well as our physical. My greatest motivation spiritually is to know Jesus Christ and glorify Him. I have good days and not-so-good days. On the good days, I’m focused on daynastudios--3153Him, I’m in His Word, and I’m on the lookout for His presence. On the not-so-good days, I’m distracted, but not for long. Just like in my fitness life, I’m on a journey toward wellness and striving to make one positive decision at a time. This means I’m focused on my goal and making one choice that moves me in that direction. Why don’t you join me?

Every time you speak words of encouragement to someone, you are shining a light into their life. Every time you give a hug, you shine love on that person. When you serve others or offer to help them out, your life “shines.” And it’s amazing how the reflection comes back to you when you shine this way.

When I bought glow bracelets for my grandchildren for the 4th of July one year, I had no idea what joy would come back to me as I watched their joy bubble up. They shook them to get the glowing started, shared them with each other, put them on, and giggled about them. It was a time of unbridled joy and chaos.

IMG_2448 IMG_2443 IMG_2440

We all treasure these joy-filled shining times, but the truth is that also in life there are times when we feel like we are wandering in the darkness of sorrow or pain. It’s harder to shine during these times, but with God’s help we can shine in a different way as we trust him through the hard times and the challenging days. The song “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray says it this way:

“… even in the darkest place His love can make you radiate. Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is, keep hoping, keep on shining, and they’ll see His light burning in your heart. … Like a flame, like a burning star, you can shine right where you are. He made you to glow in the dark.”

This new spring session of Body & Soul is called “Shine On” because with God’s help, we can keep on shining no matter what happens in our life. Let the world see how we deal with dark times, challenges, pain and sorrow. Even as we struggle through things, we can glow for God as we hold fast to trust him, as we hope when things seem hopeless, as we pray and wait for answers. Let’s put on those divine glow bracelets as we lift our hands and our hearts to God; he will guide us through the dark. We can all glow brightly as we grow in both physical strength and spiritual strength together in Body & Soul!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone who is in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16:

We can do this. We can shine on!


Jeannie Blocher is the President and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness Ministries.

Do you ever feel like that? The above are lyrics from an old contemporary Christian song called “Asleep in the light.” Ironically, when I first heard this song I was in bed, napping! I was a leader at a teen camp and I was wiped out. When I heard that line, I bolted out of bed as if it had caught fire. I was convicted and embarrassed by the truth in the song lyric. But the artist wasn’t singing about physical exhaustion, actually. He was singing about the lack of power in the Christian life.

Have you ever wondered where the power went? Have you felt like you were running on fumes? I don’t mean times when you were physically wiped out because of all of the demands on your life (though, Lord knows, this happens)! I’m talking about feeling like you are missing a connection with God—that you are somehow not “tapped in,” as if some spiritual spark plug were misfiring. I have been there and felt that.  When I feel this way, there are two steps that I take. I’m hoping these two steps can encourage you, too.

1. I persevere. The Bible says that we walk by faith and not by sight. This means that we don’t always see results or feel “warm fuzzies.” But by faith, we keep taking steps to do what nurtures our faith and encourages our spirits. For me, this means, I keep praying, reading the Bible, loving my family, attending church, and, yes, going to Body & Soul exercise classes! I don’t stop just because I don’t particularly feel like doing these things or because I’m not seeing the results I want. No, I keep going, out of obedience and discipline.
pexels-photo-27633-medium2. I pray and I ask others to do so, on my behalf. In Exodus 17, the Bible tells us that Moses supported his armies by keeping his arms raised high. They did well when his arms were lifted up, but they flagged when he dropped them. Of course Moses got tired after a while. When that happened, Aaron and Hur boosted him and held his arms up high. Aaron was on one side; Hur, on the other. They were totally there for him, literally supporting him. When I get tired, I rely on the Spirit to sustain me and on my friends and family around me to help me keep on keeping on. What I’ve learned is that when I am spent, it is not the time to go into hermit mode or try to go it alone. I need support on many levels, more than ever.

Just in case you are the one feeling spent or discouraged, spiritually or even physically, just now, I leave you with my paraphrase of a portion of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1. (I departed from the text a bit on the last line.)

I hope you can see clearly that God has called you not to a life of despair and discouragement but to a life of hope, filled with good things beyond your wildest imaginations. And when things don’t seem so good, I trust you’ll remember that He has given you His power—yes, that supersonic, amazing, death-shattering power that rose Jesus from the dead. If he can do that, he most certainly can get you up out of bed!

Did you catch all that? Not only can God’s power get us up out of bed, it gives us hope and a reason for doing so! I am praying for us all of us to persevere when we become weary, spiritually or physically. But, most importantly, I’m praying that God’s power and hope permeate our lives in new and strengthening ways this Easter season!




Used with permission: thewallpaper.co

Have You Tasted God’s Love?taste

What is graced with a crown, has seeds to number the Old Testament laws and brings rhythm to your heart?

If you guessed pomegranate – you are correct.

Rich in symbolism while delivering an antidote for life, pomegranates bring the taste of God’s love in three ways:


Because of the pomegranate’s color and shape, it was considered the most beautiful fruit of the land in Israel. It was stitched to hang from the hem of the High priest robe alternating with gold bells; it was carved into the capitals of the pillars that stood outside the doors of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple. It is believed to have 613 seeds in each fruit – the same number as the laws in the Old Testament.

When I researched this there was one food historian who did a study and gathered pomegranates from all over the world, counted their seeds and even though they varied in number they averaged 613. God’s laws were written to show us His love.

Pomegranate fruit_image God’s love was witnessed by the early patriarchs and also by those living in Jesus’ day. This love is exemplified in the pomegranate. Imagine holding a pomegranate in your hand with the crown of the fruit facing you while reading this verse:

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3

God’s love was shown to us when He sent His son Jesus. The pomegranate represents Jesus- Jesus is our High Priest.

The pomegranate will release its seeds when beaten with a wooden stick. Jesus was beaten and placed on a wooden cross.

As the seeds drop from the pomegranate in a deep red color and bring healing to everyone who eats them, Jesus blood was shed for us and brings healing spiritually to everyone who believes.


For us today pomegranates deliver not just beauty and artwork but are a superfood in their own category.

Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice a day can help to protect against three major diseases: heart disease, cancer, and osteoarthritis. Studies show a medium glass of juice contains almost three times as many antioxidants as the same amount of red wine or green tea.pomegranate

The seeds of the pomegranate deliver a rich fiber that balances blood sugar, creates satiety and prevents insulin resistance.

The juice of the seed brings a healthy glow to the skin keeping it youthful and protected at the same time. It is known for correcting eye problems and prevents the buildup of plaque on teeth.

Just as the priest goes into the holy of holies for spiritual cleansing the seed brings a physical cleansing with antioxidants, ellagic acid, fiber and vitamins B (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, folic acid, and biotin), C, E, Beta-carotene, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

This physical cleansing benefit is representative of our spiritual cleansing available to us daily as well. A flavorful taste of God’s love.


pom saladPomegranates are a delicious addition to top your salads; make a salad with roasted butternut squash, spinach, and feta cheese, topped with pomegranate seeds.

Add pomegranate seeds to a salad of walnuts, goat cheese, and spinach, using a light honey-based dressing.

Sprinkle the seeds on your morning oatmeal or cereal.

Stir the seeds into your orange juice or tea for a tangy taste.

Or just eat them as a treat by themselves.

The Taste of God’s Love

God’s love is delivered to us in all of the foods He designed. Discoveries will continue as these foods are studied. But the good news is, we don’t need science to prove God’s love; we can experience it physically every day by enjoying these foods in their whole form.

We can experience God’s love spiritually every day by studying His Word.

And just as His foods bring healing and protection to our body His love brings healing and protection to our heart.

So enjoy some pomegranates today and let your heart experience God’s love right now.


Annette Reeder is a Nutritionist and graduate of Biblical Studies, and as such is a uniquely qualified professional speaker and consultant.  She founded Designed Healthy Living, Design Publishing and now Flavor of Grace Ministry.

Visit the Flavor of Grace website to learn about area conferences and how to best combat physical and spiritual challenges.  .

Hilda Kenya fistsIn the U.S., we often feel a sense of camaraderie and friendship in Body & Soul classes, but did you know that this feeling translates across continents? I went to Kenya last summer to lead a series of nutrition talks, and while I was there, I knew I wanted to check out the area Body & Soul classes. I reached out to some teachers in Nairobi ahead of time, and they told me that I would be welcome to join one of their classes when I was in town. That was great, as far as it went. I just honestly didn’t know what to expect from a Body & Soul class on the other side of the globe.

Already life in Kenya had struck me as drastically different from life in the U.S. I spotted cattle grazing on the median strips. There were tribal people groups who wore colorful clothing like nothing I’d ever seen before. I tasted foods unique to Kenya: chapatti, ugali, and special tea. So I wondered if Body & Soul would feel different, too.

But when I got to the class, it fit me like an old (exercise) shoe. The area instructors bent over backwards to make me feel “karibu” (“welcome.”) They had invited all instructors in the vicinity to come out and teach one giant class together. Students from all of the classes agreed to come on the appointed day and time as well.  I felt so honored and thrilled that they had rearranged their schedules for me!

From the moment I arrived, there were smiles and hugs everywhere. There was a happy “buzz” in the air. Even though I had never met a soul from the classes in Nairobi, there was a sense of ease and family. The class started just like my Body & Soul classes state-side: with prayer. Then we turned up the music (the same motivating Christian music we use in the U.S.) and every instructor gave 110%, as she led from the stage. The students were working hard, too. We were all loving it, and, of course, every single one of us was sweating up a storm.

student dancing arms upAfter class, everyone stayed as I gave a brief nutrition talk. And following that, the instructors and I went out to eat. I felt like everyone was watching me to see what I’d order, since I had just spoken about healthy eating! (By the way, if you are curious about the nutrition talk I gave, just listen to the Wise Traditions podcast that I am hosting! It is available on iTunes and Stitcher and its focus is on our need for whole, real foods—foods that people have eaten traditionally and thrived on for centuries!)

At the end of the night, I felt a pleasant glow, and I realized that it wasn’t just the endorphins from the exercise. It was the sense that Body & Soul has created an environment that surpasses cultural and national barriers. It is the “karibu” welcome that comes from the Spirit that pervades classes here in the U.S. and abroad. Let me know if you’ve experienced this in your Body & Soul class, too! It’s a blessing that you don’t have to go to Kenya to receive!Hilda Kenya hands in the air


Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC Metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast and the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Just Don’t Quit

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. Proverbs 14:29

It takes time for changes to take place in our bodies. Developing patience and proficiency in the area of exercise may be one of the biggest challenges of all, but will be well worth it. One of the most common reasons people give up on exercise is lack of results.   We expect immediate results.

I recall one dear lady in my class in Charleston, SC, who had decided she was going to work diligently at her commitment to exercise. She walked faithfully every day for one week and when she got on the scale, she had “stayed the same.” She immediately began to cry and say, “It’s no use – I am just going to quit. I won’t be back next week.”

We all have had the same experience.   I gently reminded her that the scale cannot measure everything that is going on in her body. It can only measure what she has on—her bones, blood, skin and major organs. Furthermore, it takes time for our bodies to really get in shape, more than just one week! It’s not reasonable to think that weight we put on in one year can all come off in a matter of weeks.

I encouraged her to be patient with herself, gain some understanding about the human body and remain faithful. She did and lost over forty pounds in two sessions! How foolish we are when we forget that success is in the process! I am reminded that it takes time in all four areas in my life: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, for my life to change and I praise God that he is not quick-tempered and impulsive with me!

Prayer: Dear God, grant me this day patience and understanding from your Holy Spirit and keep me from impulsive foolishness!


Vicki Heath is the FP4H National Director.  She and her husband Rob live in Edisto Island, SC.  Vicki is also an Area Director and Fitness Instructor for Body & Soul Fitness.  For more information on First Place 4 Health visit www.firstplace4health.com.

Devotional taken from the First Place 4 Health devotional, Better Together. Available separately or as part of the Better Together Success Pack. To order, visit www.firstplace4health.com, or call 800.727.5223, x1002.

snow_heart_high_resolutionHow’s your heart?

When you read that question – do you think of your physical heart, the organ ‘muscle’ that delivers blood throughout the body; or do you think of the emotional aspect of the heart, the innermost part of your being? After all, it is National Heart Month, so it’s the perfect time to ask this question as we seek to improve our “heart care”.

Let’s begin by focusing on the spiritual/emotional/mental dimensions of the heart and how each dimension is linked to one another. Consider this: what we believe, affects how we think, which affects how we feel, which affects what we do. Proverbs 4:23 says, ”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In order to guard our heart properly, we need to start with the right foundation, which is the Lord.

When we follow these 4’d”s, we strengthen our hearts spiritually:sea-fashion-woman-water

  • Draw near to the Lord, (He has set eternity in the hearts of men)
  • Depend on God (Phil. 4:8 tells us what to think about)
  • Do what the Lord tells us to do (obey God’s word)
  • Die to our own “will” daily (follow the example that Jesus set for us)

Here are some guidelines I recommend for a healthy spiritual heart. In the fitness industry, we call them FITT guidelines:   frequency, intensity, type and time.

F.I.T.T. Guidelines for a PURE HEART

Frequency:  Psalm 73:28 says, “it is good to draw near to the Lord.” Proverbs 3:1 says “do not forget my teaching”. How many of you have seen the movie “The Santa Clause” with Tim Allen? The little guy, Charlie, wants his dad, “Santa”, to remember the North Pole, so he throws him the snow globe and says, “Remember!” We need to “remember” what God tells us in his Word. In order to do that, we need to spend time reading His word.

bigstock-bible-study-5363796Intensity:  Ingest God’s word (read it and take it in), chew it up (think about it), digest it, and apply it to life.

Type:  Time with the Lord can include prayer time (a combination of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (ACTS); reading God’s Word, and a reflection/meditation time.

  How much time am I offering to the Lord? Am I spending time on a daily basis with the Lord, or do I tend to wait until there’s a crisis, and suddenly this becomes important? I love the words a friend of mine who says, “let’s do first things first.”

Turning to the physical aspect of the heart – the muscle! Like any other muscle in the body, it must be worked to get stronger. According to the American Heart Association, “aerobic exercise includes activities that increase your breathing and heart rate.”

Here are a few more benefits as well:

  • Decrease in risk of heart disease and stroke, blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, weight, and resting heart rate.
  • Increase in mood, HDL (good) cholesterol, musculoskeletal system, endurance, energy, and stress management.


F.I.T.T. Guidelines for Developing & Maintaining a STRONG HEART MUSCLE

Frequency: minimum 3 days a week. Increase frequency depending on goals.

Intensity: Exercise at a moderate pace.

Type of Exercise: Exercises that use the major muscle groups: walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, dancing, and cardio classes.

Time: Start with 20 minutes per session. Increase time depending on goals and endurance.

And remember, something is better than nothing.

Here are a few tips to help you get started or to keep you going with your cardiovascular exercise:

images copy

  • Pick an activity you like. If you can’t see anything on the list, pick something you can tole
    rate for 20 minutes. It might be turning on some fun music and dancing around the house. It doesn’t have to make you panting for breath, but it needs to get your heart pumping.
  • Evaluate your season of life, and decide how best to fit in your cardio time. Consider attending a Body & Soul class 2 times a week and then cross train with a 20-minute walk or jog in between.
  • 02-01-headphones_accessoriesIf you need some time “alone”, maybe your choice could be a ride on the stationary bike, or a walk. Put on some headphones with some praise music playing and enjoy some time walking and talking with God. Plus you’ll be meeting your “steps” goal.


We can often lay aside our own health needs as we seek to care for our loved ones. Think of “heart care” the same way the airlines demonstrate an oxygen mask. If you take care of yourself first, you will be able to help others better.c700x420

So, how’s your Heart? Start today to create a F.I.T.T. heart – physically and spiritually.

RachelSoperAs the director for Body & Soul’s Boot Camp program, I am constantly working to fill our classes with new, fun, and love-to-hate-them exercises and formats. I try new combinations of familiar exercises that challenge and stretch us (literally and metaphorically). “What if we did triceps kickbacks while holding a plank!?” I let out a gleeful laugh while I imagine the “fun” we will have when we think our muscles just might give out and go to failure, in true strength-training fashion!

Boot Camp is a Body & Soul program with lots of variety. Each instructor has guidelines, of course, but each class design is unique. A class can have a focus on abdominal work (I recently taught one called “ABSolutely awesome”) or cardio endurance (e.g., “Burpee accumulator”). Just thinking about these classes excites and exhausts me at the same time!

Even as I strive for creativity and excellence in the Boot Camp program, I also continually seek to improve my own physical fitness, But, thankfully, I know that physical perfection is not my end goal. Christ must be the center for all things that we do. To keep perspective, I find myself praying Ephesians 2:10 which says: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” 


 That is why I work out. THAT is why we seek to be healthy and physically fit. This is the purpose behind Body & Soul, as well. We want to care for our physical bodies and our spirits so that we are better able to serve those around us. The idea is to be strong, so that when those things are placed in our path, we will be able to, in fact, do the good works that God created (before now!!) specifically for us to do and accomplish through His power. This way, we won’t miss out on His blessings because our temples are not capable.  images

That, and that alone is the “why” behind the challenging exercises, upbeat music, and goal-setting that we take on as a community. We are not out to conform to the world’s standards or achieve a certain physique as a prize; we want only to be able to use our temples to glorify God.

Now for your homework.  This functional fitness workout below will keep you ready to do God’s good works. Get a deck of cards (Jokers included) and shuffle it well.  Place the deck face down in front of you.  Flip over the top card.  The suit tells you what exercise to do, the number tells you how many reps to do (Ace = 1; Jack = 11; Queen = 12 and King = 13).  If you get a joker, take a 1-2 minute break and get a drink of water.

Homework Assignment

Clubs: Squats with an overhead press.

Functionality:  Even though you lift your kids and groceries with your arms, your legs, gluteal muscles and back are also key players. This exercise strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders.

Spades: Stair Climb with a biceps curl (R&L curls = 1 rep)

Functionality: Stairs are everywhere so using stairs as part of your fitness program will keep your legs conditioned and toned. Partnering stair climbs with bicep curls will strengthen your arms and improve your ability to carry things up the stairs. You’ll get your heart rate up with this one, as well. Go slowly and you’ll feel your core helping to stabilize you.

Hearts: Supine Bridge with Arm Extensions

Functionality: This exercise tones and strengthens your arms, shoulders, back, glutes and legs, as well as targets your core muscles. It also opens up your chest and the front of your hips (muscles that get tight with long hours of sitting and using the computer).

Diamonds: Single Leg Deadlift with Row (Do prescribed reps on EACH leg)

Functionality: This exercise improves your balance and coordination as well as strengthens your upper, mid and lower back, shoulders, glutes and legs. Having a strong back helps reduce aches and pains from living a sedentary life. Strong gluteal muscles help keep your lower back, hips, and knees healthy.

After you do all of the above, let me know. Were the exercises fun? Unique? Challenging? Exhausting? Good! Now come on out to a Boot Camp class where we can laugh, sweat, and pray together, as we pursue strength, not perfection

Don’t you love fresh songs that inspire your body to move and your soul to soar?

I do! Ever since I was a little girl I have loved dancing to music—starting with tap and ballet, then in cotillion, at high school dances, and now in Body & Soul! Music makes me look forward to exercise, when I know that my spirit will be lifted as I lift my knees!

Each new session of Body & Soul brings with it a new group of songs with a new spiritual message and themes to make us think, get moving, and have fun. Isn’t it true that music can add fun to your workout? It also adds intensity when you need motivation. The power-up songs give you that extra burst of musical-adrenalin that you need when you wonder if you can keep going—am I right? Thank goodness for those songs!

Then there are the slower songs–the ones that calm you down, that make you stop and take a deep breath. Yes, we need relaxation as we stretch to end our workout time. Sometimes these are the sweetest times where the message of the music penetrates our hearts and comforts us.

This winter session the theme is Search & Rescue. In the devotional below, you will find the list of all the music and artists we are using in our various programs. Check them out and download the ones you like best. I also encourage you to take time to read the message of hope in each of the short devotional nuggets in this resource. It is worth your time.


Click here to view the devotional

And if you are interested in checking out the lyrics to any of the songs, we have researched safe websites for you to go to. Click on the links in the chart below for easy access.

Songs Artists
Walk on Water Family Force 5
Can’t Live Without You Owl City
Feel It TobyMac
My Heart is Alive Planetshakers
Forget about the World V. Rose
Nothing Is Impossible Planetshakers
Out of my Head Fireflight
Save Your Life Newsboys
Impossible Building 429
Diamonds Hawk Nelson
Move (Keep Walkin) TobyMac
From the Day I Am They
Backseat Driver TobyMac
Prodigal Sidewalk Prophets
Never Say Never Family Force 5
Warrior Steven Curtis Chapman
Breathe In, Breathe Out The Afters
Flawless MercyMe
Rise from the Ashes Group 1 Crew
Same Power Jeremy Camp
You’re Not Alone Owl City
This is my Year Family Force 5
Give In LeCrae w/ Crystal Nicole
Compass Jonathan Thulin
New Lease on Life MercyMe

Sing along, hum the tunes, smile big and experience the joy of movement to great music in Body & Soul this winter. No matter how cold (or mild) the weather is, your heart and spirit will be warmed by the encouragement of the message in these songs!

image“Can I tell you a secret?” Does this question take you back to the school yard where your best friend runs to you at recess to share some sweet morsel of information that’s to be held tightly just between the two of you? Or does it pique your interest because you’re a learner and you want to know and implement the latest health tip so you can get a jump start on your New Year’s resolution? Either way, I’ll share with you my top 3 secrets to a better workout…on two conditions. You must implement these secrets into your fitness program to the best of your ability, and then share them with those you are inspiring to better health. These secrets are too good to keep to yourself!

Assuming you agreed to my conditions, read on.

  1. STAY BALANCED as it relates to muscle compensation and adaptation. We must fight muscle imbalance by keeping our fitness routine varied by muscle group as well as exercise choice. More specifically, we want to train muscles in both directions and be careful not to show favoritism: for every “pull” exercise, balance the workout with a “push” exercise (if pushups are a favorite exercise of yours, balance them out by adding resisted pull-backs or rows to your routine on pushup day). In terms of adaptation, we want to cross-train muscles and movement patterns to avoid physical plateaus and mental boredom. Both of these are detrimental to our fitness goals! Balance can be achieved by participating in two or more programs offered by Body & Soul Fitness. Choose from classes focused on cardiovascular health, core training, weight lifting, flexibility, for example, and mix it up.image
  2. GET UNCOMFORTABLE. This one is one of my favorite secrets (and probably my class’s least favorite). When my class hears me say “don’t get too comfortable” they suddenly pay more attention and reset a proper workout position, miraculously moving in such a way that I can actually see that they are working harder and smarter. As we all know, the path of least resistance is popular because it’s easier. In my experience, easier is rarely better, and it requires effort to take the better path. What I have found is that movement that originates from the strongest position is the more beneficial exercise, though perhaps less comfortable. A good example of this can be felt during a side-lying inner thigh exercise. If it’s executed with a strong body that is propped up by a strong shoulder press (ribs up and away from the floor) and is rolled forward at the hips (not resting back), the inner thigh will work harder and more efficiently. This makes for a better workout – though sinking into the position would be more comfortable! Go ahead. Try it yourself. You will be uncomfortable, but you will get stronger as a result.
  1. BE FLEXIBLE. This one sounds friendlier (and easier) doesn’t it? Don’t skip over this one though. Flexibility plays a huge role in our overall physical health and wellness. It promotes balance between movement, strength and functionality. Without it, dysfunction will show itself in another part of the body. Let me say that again. Without proper flexibility, which requires time and intentionality,
    dysfunction will show itself in a part of the body different than where we are experiencing tightness. IS09AL8EUFor example, when our hip flexors are tight (often the result of too much sitting), our gluteal muscles of the buttocks will be weak. This tight/weak combination shows itself in a variety of dysfunctional movement patterns so stretching the hip flexors is recommended. Do this from a kneeling position with one knee down. Gently lunge forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in the top of the thigh. Flexibility training like this will pay off in better range of motion, muscle growth, less post-exercise soreness, improved functionality, and increased muscle strength. Remember, a flexible muscle is a strong muscle.

So, now it’s time to apply these secrets personally…and then share them with those you are inspiring to better health. Some secrets are sweeter when they’re shared!Friendship and fitness in the park

Welcome 2016! Did you set a health and wellness goal for the New Year? Already feeling like you need some motivation to stick with it? Join us as we kick off the New Year with a 10-day #BodySoulFit2016 Fitness Challenge. Let us help you set the pace. Our challenge will have you reaching your fitness goals in no time. (Or at least getting you closer to achieving them!)  Are you in?Friendship and fitness in the park

For the next 10 days (Jan 6th – 16th) we’ll be posting daily workouts from our Body & Soul Power Strength and Boot Camp programs on our Facebook page. Amy Stafford, our Fitness Director and Power Strength Program Director, and Rachel Soper, our Boot Camp Program Director, along with their program trainers, will encourage you and answer any questions you have as you progress through the challenge. AND you’ll discover a community of support as you join others involved in our challenge too.

Already attending a Body & Soul class? That’s great! You’ll get the added benefit of an additional workout (20 mins) on those days. This challenge is designed to go hand in hand with our classes. You’ll truly be maximizing your workout on those days.

Need modifications? No problem. As we said, our wonderful experts will be right there with you answering all your questions, providing modifications, and cheering you on along the way. We design our programs so that whatever shape you’re in, or whatever fitness goals you have, you will find success and achieve results.

sea-fashion-woman-waterWe believe that fitness is more than just your body. We believe it also includes your soul. So each day we will be posting a “spiritual nugget” that will lift your spirit and remind you that there is more to this life than meets the eye. We are here to help you pursue health, pursue fitness, and pursue faith.

As you work through our fitness challenge, we want to hear how your faith is being strengthened. Please share this with us and don’t forget to use #BodySoulFit2016.

We also want to see you in action. Post a video or picture of yourself using the hashtag #BodySoulFit2016 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and we will enter you to win a prize package* at the end of the challenge. Complete all 10 days of the challenge and you’ll get 10 extra entries. If you win the drawing at the end of the challenge, you’ll be invited to share your success story with us.

images-1Are you ready? Grab a friend and get started today!

*Prize package is only available for the US only. Not living in the US? Join the challenge anyway. You’ll be sticking with your goal and gaining new friends and valuable fitness tips along the way.




Mary Ward is the Director of Marketing at Body & Soul Fitness.

Yes, that’s what we are this winter! We don’t pilot helicopters and pick up soldiers in battle who need rescuing. We don’t run across the beach clutching a red floating device to help a child who is in danger from a rip tide. Instead, we join together in Body & Soul Fitness classes, personally searching for hope and reaching out to rescue fellow students with words of encouragement! Never lose sight of the power of caring! You can help rescue others with a caring touch.

IMG_2367In class, our “uniform” is fitness wear. We power up the endorphins with our physical fitness workout and lift our spirits with the spiritual message in the music we exercise to. We are “armor-plated,” carrying our shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit!

Even so, we all have those days when we feel like we are drowning –in a pile of to-dos, a pile of laundry or a pile of discouragement. If you are personally in need of rescue-encouragement, you can be assured that you will find it in your Body & Soul fitness class.

The themes in the music of our winter session are:
  • The Search –What are you searching for and why?
  • Faith or Fear? – How will you overcome fear with faith?
  • Step out of the Boat – Are you being called to do something new?
  • Trust Deeper – Are you in a hard place right now?
  • God Rescues – He has answers!

IMG_6444Our winter session verse is Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” How does this verse apply to you? Do you need to ask for help in some area of your life? Are you seeking and searching for answers? If so, knock—the door will be opened.

My son commands an Air Force squadron, and the men and women under his care leave their families and the comforts of home to go on search & rescue missions on a regular basis.IMG_6443My grandson who is 12 has already attended Junior Lifeguard Camp and has dreams of being a lifeguard on alert to rescue swimmers in need. Your mission is just as important. Wherever you live around the world, whether you are able to attend a Body & Soul class or not– right where you are, you can search for those in need and be a part of the rescue team that brings them back to hope! Ask, seek, knock. Then watch to see God at work!

Traveling can be exhausting! I flew to California for a nutrition conference last month. Once there, I enjoyed the palm trees, sunshine, and, of course, the lectures I attended, but the trip itself was less than amazing. Shuttle bus fumes, heavy luggage (I know nothing about traveling light), crowds, security—these are all necessary evils while traveling by plane. And a road trip poses challenges of its own. Whatever your mode of transportation, here’s how to keep sane and strong when you’re going over the river and through the woods. Below are my tips on traveling without unraveling.


  1. Be prepared. Yup, the Boy Scouts have it right. Pre-trip prep is key. You want to start your trip on the best foot. Think like a marathoner who keeps a good routine the week of his race, and the night before, too! Do your best to keep a normal schedule of eating, sleeping, and exercise ahead of time. And avoid stressful last-minute packing. I used to stay up to the wee hours of the morning, allowing for only one or two hours of shut-eye before waking for the next day’s flight. I used to tell myself “Oh, you can sleep on the plane” but then I never actually did (even if I had a U-shaped pillow!) To avoid pulling an all-nighter, I now pull my suitcase down from the attic about a week ahead of time and as I fold laundry, I put it in the suitcase instead of my dresser. Before you know it, I’m practically packed, with time to spare!
  1. travelers walkingMove it! On Everest, they say that you start to die the minute you stop moving. Make this your philosophy for living and traveling, too! At the airport, take the stairs in lieu of the moving walkway and escalator. When driving, take pit stops with a purpose. I used to pride myself in going for hours and hours without stopping, with the end goal of arriving at the destination as quickly as possible. Now I know that it’s not good for the body to be in one position for too long, so I make stops, even if it means I get to point B a little later than originally planned. Stops give our bodies a chance to stretch and get the blood circulating again, and the fresh air makes us more alert once we get back behind the wheel. If you have small children in tow, you will need to stop frequently anyway. Embrace it! Make it even more fun by bringing squirt guns, a Frisbee, jump rope or football.

Hilda push up plank

  1. Take a stand! The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. I see a parallel in sitting. Excessive sitting has been linked with all sorts of problems: mental health issues, heart disease and even early death. So the last thing you should do is sit in the waiting area, when sitting is going to be required for the duration of most flights. Stand while waiting, since there is room and time to do so. My dad is over 80 years old and when he visits our home, while most of us are sitting around the living room, he remains on his feet. It keeps him engaged in our conversation and ready to break into a dance should the occasion arise. Did I mention that he is as sharp as a tack? Standing is key to mental and physical wellness. Take this hint and you may just be the last one standing!
  1. working out with strangerStep up. If you want to take your standing to the next level, do some light stretching or even strength training (if you dare.) You might get a few strange looks, but you might also inspire someone to join you!
  1. Pack provisions. At all costs, avoid that I’m-famished-must-eat-now-oh-well-guess-I’ll-settle-for-Charlie’s-chicken-and-hope-for-the-best moment. No time for packing anything besides your suitcase? Grab an apple or orange before you leave the house. If you think ahead, make baggies of nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, what have you. Anything you pack will spare you the expense of airport prices, in addition to nourishing you beyond what a bag of chips can offer.

I hope these tips help you make the most of the time on route to your destination. Once you get there, be fully present. Time with family and friends is one of the best Christmas gifts you can share. Keep that objective in mind. It just might help you manage the trip back home!

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

Growing up in southern California, the holidays consisted of palm trees, sun and Santa’s on surfboards. Jack Frost did nip our noses in the mornings, but by the afternoon we were sunning ourselves on the beach.   I remember one year when I was in elementary school, we looked out the window and it was snowing! The teachers let all of us out to play in it because they knew how special the moment was. It only snowed for 10 minutes, but we were beyond excited!

We all dream of cozy moments during the holidays, but the reality can be far different. IMG_4326Regardless of where we live, we often swap out the “heavenly peace” for battling crowds at
he mall and eating our way through those holiday parties with their abundance of food and yummy drinks. Before we know it the holidays have stolen our joy and increased our waistlines.


So how do we enjoy parties without fear of unwanted weight gain, take pleasure in cozy moments spent with loved ones and fill the season with joy?

Here are a few simple steps for a healthy holiday season:

  1. Breathe. Did you know that simply taking a few deep breaths can turn on oxytocin and turn off cortisol? Cortisol called the “stress hormone,” contributes to waistline weight gain, anxiety, and shallow breathing. Oxytocin turns off this stress hormone, lowers your blood pressure and turns on the body’s “relaxation response.”   Try this, sit comfortably and breathe in through your nose. Concentrate on breathing through the abdomen and not the chest. Hold that breath one or two seconds. Exhale through your mouth until all your breath is completely released. Wait one or two seconds and then repeat the steps. Try five or six deep cleansing breaths. Take one or two minutes each day to breathe deeply. Before you know it, you’ll be cleaning out that cortisol and finding yourself “feeling good.”
  1. Exercise. Don’t skip those 30 minutes of daily exercise. In fact, shopping can give you just what you need for the day. Take a lap around the mall after each purchase. You’ll introduce strength training into your laps as those purchases add up. Author, National Director for First Place 4 Health, and Body & Soul Fitness Instructor Vicki Heath suggests putting your sneakers in your car so that they are available if you find yourself with some extra time before an appointment. Put them on and use that time to get in a walk. Studies show that 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a day equals the 30-minute goal.
  1. Eat smart. Prepare ahead of time for those holiday parties. Eat a healthy meal before heading off to the party. You’ll be full and snack less. If you do snack, cover ¾ of your plate with fruits and vegetables and only leave a small space for those higher calorie temptersfood-restaurant-eat-snack-medium. Choose sparkling water with a strawberry,
    lemon, or lime added for fun, festive sipping. Don’t skip breakfast. Eating in the morning will help control cravings later on. Pack an insulated cooler with healthy snacks to have on hand when you just need a quick bite.
  1. Laugh. How about gathering some friends together this season and watching a holiday comedy like “Elf” or “Scrooged?” We’ve all heard the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out it’s true. Laughter has the ability to relax the whole body, increase your immune system, inspire hope, release those “feel good hormones,” boost your energy, diminish pain, protect the heart, and the best of all it’s free. Laughter connects us and increases happiness and intimacy. Who doesn’t want that? My best friend is a great example of pexels-photo-54204-mediumthis. She is so fun to watch movies with because she laughs so quickly and her laughter is infectious. Before I know it, I’m laughing right along with her at something
    I may not have if I were watching the same movie alone.

These are just a few simple suggestions to help you create healthy, happy holidays. What tips have you found that keep you saying Ho, Ho, Ho?