When my children were little I used to put my love for them in action by singing to them to calm them. Simple tunes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and my favorite—“Jesus loves me, this I know.” As they grew, I would play music while driving around on errands and we would all sing together. A great way to pass the time and bring out the smiles!

These days I sing to, and sing with, my grandkids—and I give the oldest ones iTunes gift cards and help them choose the latest, greatest in Christian songs so they can have the music with them on their devices to listen to any time they wish. And finding music suggestions for them is easy—since we use such great music in Body & Soul!

Love in Action Devtional

Love in Action Devotional

Check out all the latest Body & Soul tunes in the front of the Spring 2017 “Love in Action” devotional booklet and take time to read the words of encouragement and the Scriptures noted in the booklet. It will lift your heart on hard days and help you soar on days when your soul is filled with joy and your eyes are already fixed on God.

This session I hope you will experience love in action though the music we exercise to in Body & Soul. It both powers us up and cools us down, depending on the tempo and style! Our lead song for spring is “Love with Your Life” by Hollyn. She sings, “L-O-V-E rolls off the tongue, but sometimes the word’s just not enough—you gotta dig a little deeper. You gotta love with your life if you want to see a change. Let’s all plan to dig a little deeper to show our love to others by our actions. You will be amazed at the change in others when you make this change in yourself!

Check out the links below for the lyrics to all the songs of our session.

Songs Artists
Love with Your Life Hollyn
Not Forgotten Ryan Stevenson
Burn Baby Burn MercyMe
Real Love Y&F
One Thing Remains Kutless
Where I am Shuree
Show Love Family Force 5
On My Side Citizen Way
Crazy Love Hawk Nelson
Never Stop Urban Rescue
Unite 1GN
You are Loved Heather Williams
My All Beckah Shae
Love Broke Thru TobyMac
Live Like You’re Loved Hawk Nelson
Love is Action Tauren Wells
Loyal Lauren Daigle
Eye of the Storm Ryan Stevenson
Never Been a Moment Micah Taylor
Fierce Jesus Culture
Dare you to Trust My Love Ryan Stevenson
Fallin’ in Love Brit Nicole
Perfect Love Planetshakers
Battles The Afters


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

If there was ever a responsibility that demanded perseverance it is being a mom. I like to say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. The hours are long. The job description is lengthy and ever-changing – from diapers to carpooling to helping with college admission forms. Oh yes, and the starting pay is usually peanut butter and jelly kisses and dandelion bouquets. As the years progress, the hope is that eventually you, mom, will experience positive feedback given by a grateful adult child…at least on one or two occasions.

Motherhood is not for sissies. The task of raising responsible adult children is not easy, but most of the things that have the potential for great reward fall into the “challenging” category. Motherhood is a challenge, an adventure, and it is a gift from God.

Recently I had the privilege of creating a daily devotional for Moms with the hope of joining you on the adventure. Like any good journey there are peaks and valleys – grand successes and times when you feel as if you have failed. I know this because I am a mom. I wrote this book so I could “hold your hand” as you walk through the maze of motherhood, the most important job you will ever have, the job of given to you by God.

Let me share a taste of Mother of the Year – 365 days of encouragement for devoted moms with you. As I thought of First Place, June 5th seemed to be a perfect fit.

June 5


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud

of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders

and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with

perseverance the race marked out for us.

  • Hebrews 12:1

Years ago I decided to train for a 5K. My goal wasn’t impressive; it was to start and finish the race. If you’re a serious runner, you’re probably disappointed in me, but when the training began, I wasn’t even a serious walker…so I decided by goal was a good one.

I can’t report that the run was a delight, but I did enjoy reaching my goal. My success was the result of perseverance. More than once during the run I considered giving up. I wasn’t having fun, wasn’t feeling terrific, and definitely wasn’t winning.

There are times in your child’s life when she’ll feel like giving up. Maybe her schoolwork or her job or other responsibilities are no longer fun. Maybe she isn’t feeling great about showing up every day. Perhaps she’s also realized she simply isn’t winning.

That’s when perseverance comes into play. God wants you and your child to persevere, to run the race he has marked out for you.

Stay Strong

         If you’re on the path God designed for you, run with perseverance and encourage your child to do the same.

That’s just a sample. There are 365 more. But wait! Is that number correct? Yes, because I have actually written 366 (in spite of what the cover says!) After all, those Leap Year babies deserve a day in the devotional too.

Here is my invitation to you. Join me on this 366 day journey. My hope is you will find purpose, guidance, inspiration, and encouragement.

Kendra Smiley is a popular speaker and author, passionate about helping others “Make the Next Right Choice.” The always-active former Illinois Mother of the Year hosts a daily radio show, Live Life Intentionally, heard on over 350 stations. A sought after national and international speaker, she addresses thousands of women each year. Kendra and her husband John, a retired USAFR pilot, live on a farm in central Illinois. They have three married sons and ten grandchildren.

Like most high school students, getting up while it’s still dark outside was not one of my favorite things, but if you’re on a team or a member of a club you sometimes had to get to school really, really early to catch the traveling activity bus. This was often my reality as a high school band member. My parents would drag me out of bed way before the sun came up so I could brush my teeth (half asleep), grab a granola bar, and throw my duffel bag in the car for the weekend trip to a national marching band competition several states away. I didn’t love the early wake-up call, but I did love my traveling competition experiences I had as a high school color guard team member. But what stands out in my mind today, is that it was my parents’ love for me that made these experiences possible. They likely didn’t love marching band, but they loved me and this showed in their willingness to be up and driving through our little town at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Body & Soul’s spring session will focus on the theme “Love in Action”. In our group fitness classes we will dig into scripture verses like 1 John 3:18 which says “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” My parents often told me that they loved me, and they continue to do that today, but they also loved me and continue to love me with their actions. I don’t have to wonder if I am loved, because I experience it. It’s one thing to hear something, but it’s something else to see it. Do you “see” what I’m saying? It’s one thing to hear that you are loved, but it’s something else to actually see and feel that you are loved. My parents’ actions demonstrated their love for me, and in this world that often feels busy and cold, where we may feel disconnected, alone, and unloved, “love in action” could make a huge difference. Let’s look for opportunities to love one another starting today. John 13:34-35 tells us to love one another, and that loving others will identify who we are. I want to be known as someone who loves others, don’t you?

Just last weekend Body & Soul instructors in the northeast region put love into action when we made 300 sandwiches for the Central Union Mission in Washington, DC. It only took a few minutes for each of us to make 4 sandwiches, yet this small project created a ripple effect of love as we came together to serve others and demonstrate Christ’s love. As individuals, we found joy in serving as part of a group, yet the real joy came from knowing that God used our act of love to feed people in our city who might be feeling disconnected and unloved. Who can you show love to today? Join us in a Body & Soul class this spring and put love into action to make a difference in the world.***

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.

During the spring of 2009, nearly a year after my youngest son was born, I crawled out of bed every morning feeling a little bit useless and a lot depressed. Guilt and shame haunted me, and I could not defeat the lies that oppressed me each day. I was overweight, but more than that, I was physically, emotionally, psychological and spiritually unhealthy. I don’t remember how I came to decide that I wanted to change my sedentary lifestyle, but once I decided, I joined Body & Soul Fitness.

After just my first session, I felt muscles becoming stronger and I held my head a bit higher. Between the noticeable changes to my body, and allowing the truth in the session’s music wash over me as I exercised, my mind was being transformed and renewed. I still wasn’t losing weight as I had hoped or expected, so I finally began to work out daily and eat a healthier diet.

After the August break, when I returned to Body & Soul Fitness for the fall session, my instructor, Jana Sutherland, was shocked by my transformation. I was thinner, but mostly I was much stronger and able to move in ways I had not been able to in the spring. Jana encouraged me to audition to be an instructor. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I might be even slightly qualified to do such a thing. I prayerfully considered this wonderful opportunity and applied. I cried tears over learning cues and choreography and editing my audition videos—I was definitely out of my element. I called Jana several times telling her I just couldn’t cut it. Before too long, though, videos were sent, and I was approved. The first time I had to cue a song in class, I was terrified; however, I quickly realized that the wonderful women in my class were my greatest cheerleaders. God has shown me over the years that I am absolutely unqualified to do this work, except for my utter dependence on Him.

Since that fall, I have gained and lost weight, eaten clean and eaten too many ice cream cones. What began for me as a physical battle–a desire to look better in my clothes–was God’s way of leading me toward spiritual health. I am better able to combat lies of the enemy with truth revealed to me through worship & praise of our Father, all the while sweating and jumping and running.

There are times when God says, Go. Move. Do—times when I know in my spirit that it’s time to step out of my norm and do something brave. Often it’s in those times that God shows me my absolute reliance on Him and strengthens my faith to give me confidence to keep up the fight.

As an instructor, I often pray that my students will be brave and strong and free. I pray that we will know our worth in God’s Kingdom–that we understand that we are daughters of the one true King. If we could only grasp how great His love is for us, we would be empower us to put our love in action.


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

You’ve heard us share about the Go Global campaign but why should you support it? These funds are going to support programs across the world. To share the impact of your donation, we are sharing a story from a student who benefits from your generous support of our ministry!

“Body and Soul has been a lifeline for me over the last 15 years. This ministry has helped get through every stage of my life from bereavements, cancer, the exhaustion of having a young family to adjusting to an empty nest and the stress of ageing parents. The smiles of my instructors, the sweet fellowship with the other ladies, the words of the songs and the joy of being able to exercise all work to center my life on Jesus Christ again. Thank you, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without Body and Soul”  – Gail Rea in Harare, Zimbabwe

Our international ministry is so important and we need your help to ensure we are able to keep all of these programs available to our students. We have big goals and hope to see Body & Soul Fitness expand into even more countries across the globe!

Will you consider a gift of $100 today to ensure we are able to support our international ministry and grow our programs to include even more students? Don’t forget to donate by March 31st to be included in the campaign!

Returning customer? Click here to login

Donation to Body & Soul

Suggested Price: $100.00

Category: Tags: , ,

Billing details

Additional information

Your order

Cart Subtotal $0.00
Tax $0.00
Order Total $0.00
  • Pay via PayPal; you can pay with your credit card if you don’t have a PayPal account.


We are excited to announce our Go Global campaign! Body & Soul Fitness is not just located in the United States. We have classes in over 12 countries! Just like our national classes, the international programs represent people from all walks of life. We are thrilled to have an international ministry that is focused on challenging our body and uplifting our soul. We help people to get fit both physically and spiritually.

To continue growing this ministry, we need your help. Our goal is to raise $4,500 by March 31st! Will you make a contribution today? A gift of $100 will provide critical materials and training resources for our instructors across the globe and provide sustaining support for our international programs.

Donate now to help us meet our ambitious goal!


Body & Soul is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ through fitness classes all over the world. Partner with us! Support us by donating today.

You’ve heard of people training to improve their fitness level, training for a marathon, or training for a career. But training for peace?  Really?  How does that work? When you think of experiencing peace, you may think of walking on the beach on a sunny day.  Sure, it’s easy to have peace on these days.  But how do we maintain peace when the clouds roll in? It takes some hard work and intentional training.

Here are some tools I’ve learned and continually need to put into practice. It’s not that I’ve “arrived.” (As Philippians 3:13-14 says, “I do not consider myself YET to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”) But I do have some ideas (with concrete tips) that may help you as you train for PEACE.


Philippians 4:6 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done – and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

Peace begins with connecting with God. Prayer is a two-way conversation with Him. It doesn’t need to be fancy or formulaic. Just bare your heart. Pray about everything. Take all your concerns to Him, and allow time to sit and reflect on His word.

Tip: keep a prayer journal or pray with a friend


Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 Movement strengthens our bodies to be able to endure the cares of life.  Cardio works on our heart and lung capacity; weight training builds the musculoskeletal system, and toning and stretching improves our flexibility. All together it challenges our body and clears our mind—a great way to destress.

Tip: wear a fitness tracker or download an app to your phone to track your movement; join a Body & Soul class or walk in the evenings with a friend


1 Corinthians 14:40 – all things should be done decently and in order.

If you know what you’re aiming for, you’re more likely to hit it. In other words, don’t let your day get away from you, like a galloping horse. Take time to establish goals. Goals will help you set your priorities. Then you can make sure your schedule is filled with what matters most. And don’t forget to allow time in your schedule to transition between activities, so you have moments to breathe!

Tip: look at your calendar and cross off one thing that doesn’t fit with who you are and where you want to be; then review your goals & calendar often.


Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God.

There is truth in the saying: “If you keep the bow always bent, it breaks.”  Take time to relax. We need to slow down physically so our bodies can rest.

Tip: try slow breathing:  breathe in 4 cts, hold 4 cts, release 8 cts; sip decaf herbal teas; go outdoors; take short breaks in your day to slow down


Psalm 119:103 – How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

What movies are you watching? What music do you listen to? What are you eating? Everything you take in affects your body and spirit.

Tip: Pick the closest thing to natural, real food on the restaurant menu. Memorize and meditate on (think of) Scripture verses. Listen to music that gives you hope and inspiration.

I hope these tools are helpful to you as you train. Even if you just choose only one of the letters above (P-E-A-C-E) and take the suggested tip, you will benefit. And, finally, remember that peace begins with God. Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27





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


Are you considering giving something up for Lent?

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is February 28th and Ash Wednesday is March 1st. This marks the beginning of the 40 day period leading up to Easter. Fat Tuesday has turned into a no-holds-barred party of indulging in anything and everything that anyone would like in preparation for deprivation starting the next day—with or without the ashes—and somehow the meaning of this special time has been lost—but it doesn’t have to be.

When I was a little girl, my best friend would eat fish on Friday during Lent. I never really understood what the fish was all about (and I never asked) but I thought it was a cool idea, so I tried to do it, too. The funny thing was that I liked fish, and my Mom cooked fish often, so eating it on Friday was not really a big deal for me. I certainly didn’t get the idea that I was “giving up” anything. But I never forgot this ritual that my friend followed, and as I matured in age and in faith, I grew to think seriously about what I might want to “give up” during a season when I wanted to meditate on what Christ gave up for me when he died on the cross in my place. In recent years I have particularly chosen to give up something that I enjoyed often enough that I would think about it often. I determined that each time I wanted the item that I have given up, I would intentionally stop and pray and fix my eyes on Jesus, lifting up a prayer of thankfulness for his grace.

The most effective thing I have ever given up was “Starbucks” because each time I would drive past the Starbucks stores that exist on practically every corner, I was reminded of the real reason for the Easter season and I sent up those prayers of gratitude constantly.

So whether you’ve given up something for Lent in the past or whether you’ve never given up anything for Lent, I challenge you to do it this year with a new perspective. Start now, no matter how far we are into the season of Lent when you read this.

Here are some “give it up” ideas:

1. Give up an attitude— Is there a bad attitude that creeps into your mind again and again? Make a plan to “give it up” for Lent. For example, each time you are tempted to be ungrateful, say to yourself – no—I’m giving that up for Lent and replace the ungratefulness with a prayer of thanks.

2. Give up a distraction– Is there something that grabs your attention and sucks you in, causing you to waste precious time? Consider what that might be and then when it calls your name say, no—for 40 days I am not going to use my time to do that, I am going to do _____ instead. You could choose to pray, to work on memorizing a passage of Scripture or find someone to encourage. (I promise you that you will get a lot of praying or Bible memory done in the next 40 days—and you might even quit a bad habit in the process! If you’re looking for a place to start, you might consider a prayer journal like this one: 40 Days of Art & Literature: A Prayer Journal)

3. Give up a frustration– Is there something you’ve been trying to do in your own power and it is just not happening? Spend the next 40 days letting God have control—intentionally giving your frustrations to him—then watch him work—and change your heart in the process!

4. Give up some kind of sustenance– Give up something you love to eat or drink, and when you do, remember that every time you think about wanting that item, replace wanting that “sustenance” with wanting the true sustenance of Jesus Christ. He is the bread of life and the living water. If giving up something for 40 days brings you closer to him for 40 days, it is 40 days well spent! (and you just might get healthier in the process!)

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

Don and I were the best of friends! He gave me his high school class ring to remember him by.

When I was in college, one of my best friends had no hair. His name was Don and he wasn’t bald because he was trying to be a rebel. He was bald because it was the result of chemotherapy treatments. He used to work at an ice cream parlor called Farrell’s and one day he bumped his shin against a table and he suddenly found himself in an inordinate amount of pain. Troubled, he went to the doctor to check it out, and, there, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Once treatments began, he lost his hair. But he didn’t lose his spirit.

We took a spring break trip, organized by Cru, a Christian fellowship group we were involved in, down to Daytona Beach. The purpose of the trip was to look for opportunities to share our faith with fellow spring-breakers. It so happened that our week in Daytona was at the same time as some kind of motorcycle convention. I watched in awe as Don would go up to the tattooed, leather-jacket-wearing bikers and initiate conversations with a spiritual bent.

He wasn’t foolish or fearless. There were times when he appeared reluctant to approach someone he didn’t know. I would then teasingly ask him, “Are you a man or a mouse?” He would smile and then go for it. But, honestly, I don’t think it was my words that made him any bolder. Don had a deeper motivation: it was the love of Christ that compelled him to reach out. (II Cor. 5:15).  Back home, in Maryland, it was the same thing. His heart made him volunteer as a Young Life leader at Kennedy High School. He would go there regularly up to connect with teens, attend their school play, or soccer match. He wasn’t explicitly using words to share his faith, but he was supporting them, and befriending them because he was so eager for them to know the power of God’s love, that he himself had experienced.

Eventually, the cancer overtook Don’s body, and no treatments were able to beat it down. But his spirit was never overtaken. Not long before he passed away, our pastor stopped by to visit Don, as was his habit. Don asked him to wait, so that he could finish his devotional time with the Lord before they connected.

Don lived with purpose, motivated by the love of God, which he received and then, in turn, poured out to others. When I hear the song “Live It Out” from this “What’s Next?” Body & Soul session, Don comes to mind. He could’ve spent his time, watching TV in his living room easy chair. He would’ve had every excuse for being there. But he did not choose comfort. He chose instead to “live it out.” He took risks. He challenged himself and relied on God to fulfill His purposes through him. Reminds me of Someone else I know.

Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC Metro Regional Director and the Director of Communications for Body & Soul. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (which focuses on food, farming, and the healing arts), available on iTunes, Stitcher, and even YouTube!


The perfect fitness plan! Ah, yes. We all want to identify it so that we can achieve our physical goals of proper weight, optimum strength and endurance, and the ideal level of flexibility. We want to be our healthiest, and “perfect” sounds pretty enticing, but is it achievable?

We are about 45 days into our 2017 new year’s resolutions. How are you doing? I hope that you’ve impressed yourself with your progress, and that you are seeing results. But how are you doing on the bigger picture of overall wellness? Chances are that, like me, you are still on the road to balance and better overall health.

Let me explain. Wellness includes more than just physical wellbeing. It also includes emotional and spiritual health components. Allow me to ask you again, how are you doing? How is your overall wellness? Are you fitting in bouts of exercise daily? Are getting your daily dose of rest and moments of personal quiet time to allow your mind and body to reset and prepare for today’s responsibilities? Are you able to unplug each day just enough to be present with those around you?

These are tough questions that require honest answers. I struggle daily with getting enough downtime to recover from my daily workload, whether it be physical strain or emotional stress. I have to schedule in moments of quiet, and I make social appointments in order to meet my goal of being present with others away from computers and phones. My exercise plan is high on my priority list, so that gets scheduled as well. Being faithful to my workout means positive progress in every other area of my life. For me, sweat equals therapeutic benefits all around.

So, now that we’ve had a quick physical, emotional, and spiritual status check, let’s talk about the perfect fitness plan so we can move forward with all of our wellness goals. Most importantly, goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. Here are some examples:

  • Specific – I will join my local Body & Soul class for the winter session
  • Measurable – I will maintain a heart rate of at least 125 beats per minute during cardio
  • Action Oriented – I will put my devices aside during meals with family and friends
  • Realistic – I will exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week
  • Time Bound – I will attend all Wednesday night services during Lent.

By now you may be getting the idea behind the perfect fitness plan. It will be one with goals that address various aspects of wellness and…get ready…the most excellent, guaranteed-to-get-results, perfect fitness plan is…THE ONE THAT YOU WILL STICK TO.

Yes, the goals have to be linked to areas that you want to grow in and that you will enjoy reaching for and attaining! What types of exercise bring you inspiration and joy? What active hobbies pique your interest? What makes you happy and brings you spiritual encouragement? For me, Body & Soul is the answer to a lot of those questions! (Check out, or start a class near you and you’ll probably feel the same way!) Regardless, I encourage you to set smart goals today that will inspire you to a life of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. It’s worth it. You are worth it.

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor.  She is a leader in the fitness industry and is available for speaking engagements, interviews, and retreats.  Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

Author Dick Eastman suggests in his book The Hour that Changes the World [1] to divide an hour into twelve, five minute periods. During each period, one prays a different type of prayer presented graphically in a Prayer Wheel.

At first, I could not comprehend praying for an hour. I started with twelve minutes—one minute for each section.

PRAISE: Acknowledge God for who He is. Exalt Him with your words. I name God using the ABCs: Almighty, Beautiful, Counselor, and so on until “Z”.

WAITING: God is always with us; surrender your time and wait with hope. I quiet myself, ready with expectation.

CONFESSION: Ask for forgiveness of sins. Time flies in this section. I ask, “Reveal my offensive ways, oh Lord.”

PRAYING SCRIPTURE: Remind the Lord of the promise His word provides. I recite my memory verses as a prayer. “Lord, I believe I will receive whatever I ask for in prayer.”

WATCHING: Tell God where you find Him: at work in your life, in your family, in the world. I share my awe. “You amaze me.” “You transformed this couch potato into someone who enjoys exercise.”

INTERCESSION: Share with Him about the needs and concerns of others. I start with my husband, my sons, their future wives, extended family, and friends. Then I focus on my leaders, the people I lead and those I serve beside in ministry.

PETITION: Identify the needs for yourself. Once I exhaust my laundry list, I lapse into silence and ask the Lord for His perspective on my needs.

THANKSGIVING: Express appreciation for the blessings in your life. I thank Him for my salvation, marriage, family, health, church, friends and our freedoms.

SINGING: Worship the Lord with song. I wonder what my neighbors thinks of “Hallelujah Helen” when they see me running and singing at the top of my lungs.

MEDITATION: Reflect on a matter more closely. By now a theme has emerged. In the past, I’ve meditated on obedience, discipline, joy, an action step, or even a chapter for a book I’m writing.

LISTENING: Notice and pay attention with a God-centered focus. Finally, I am quiet in my heart, in my mind, and in my soul. I expect His presence when I listen. I am excited. I am ready.

PRAISE: You spent time in the presence of the Lord, King of Kings. Praise Him.

My attitude changed about exercise when I added the Prayer Wheel. When I walked, I changed prompts at two-minute increments. When I started running, I changed at a tenth and now quarter mile. I printed the wheel and carried it with me in a baggie. Now etched in my memory, I pray when I swim, changing prompts at each lap.

When we spend time in prayer while exercising, we enjoy a bonus: physical and spiritual strength at the same time.  Change your attitude; begin with prayer.

This excerpt is from Helen Baratta’s current book project, Restored: Forever Free from Obesity, due out in early 2017.  Helen is the Director of Development for First Place 4 Health and a Body & Soul Instructor. Click here to read her Blessed Big Loser success story.


Picture provided by Pexels.com.

If someone were to ask me what my priorities are, my answers would be fairly altruistic. I would probably rattled off a list that included my faith, my family, my work and my friends. I’d imagine your list would be pretty similar.

Now, what if, instead of asking for your self-reported list of priorities, I looked at where your money goes and where you spend your time. Would the two lists look different? I know mine would.

A pastor at our church shared this idea with our home group one day and suggested that we could gauge our true priorities by following the money and looking at our schedule. I might say that faith is my number one priority but is that where the majority of my money and time go? I would have to say no. The majority of my money goes to rent, food costs, and debt repayment. The majority of my time is spent working or watching TV with my husband. Those are not easy things to admit. I would love to be able to write that we give more than we spend on any other category in our finances and that I spend more time deep in the Word than I do watching the Bachelor. Unfortunately, I can’t say that and I imagine I’m not alone.

Truly looking at your priorities can be a painful process but it is an absolutely necessary one. It helps you refocus and recenter on God and His plan for you. If you want to assess where your priorities lie, consider these ideas:

  1. Identify your priorities – What are those ideal priorities you would like to have? Setting goals for the short-term and long-term can help you develop these priorities as habit. And don’t forget to pray over these! God will direct you in what He wants you to do.
  2. Track it – If you do a monthly budget and/or are a meticulous calendar organizer, this will be pretty easy. The idea is to take an actual look at where your money goes and where your time goes. The first time my husband and I did this, specifically with our finances, I felt like the wind was knocked out of me when I realized we were barely tithing 1% but making all sorts of unnecessary purchases. The goal is not to feel guilty. The goal is to create awareness.
  3. Create a plan – Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t go from not tithing to 10% overnight either. Create a plan for how to refocus your time and resources to fit the priorities you want to achieve. Look at your long-term and short-term goals and decide what steps you can put in place to start moving in that direction.

Your priorities may not be where you want them to be. But that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Once you have recognized where you currently are, you can then start moving toward where you want to be.

Rebecca Huron is the Director of Development and Community Management for Body & Soul Fitness.

About this time in the year we are tempted to give up, throw in the towel, roll over, go back to old habits, or simply said…just quit.  It takes time to lose weight and get healthy and most of us are just impatient. We want results today without much effort on our part.

To say that getting healthy is hard work is an understatement! I have been on this wellness journey most of my adult life. It has been some of the hardest, but most rewarding, work I have ever done. One of the reasons it’s so hard is because it is so daily. Every day I have to focus on tracking my food, settling myself in quiet time and planning out time for exercise. It’s a lot of work. Jesus never said it would be easy to love the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. It requires us to be tenacious in our disciplines.  I love the expanded definition of tenacious: determined or stubborn; tightly held; persistent; able to remember many things; sticky or clinging; not easily disconnected, and the synonyms: stubborn, obstinate, resolute, firm, persistent, insistent, dogged, determined, steadfast andinflexible. That is what it takes for us to not only win the battle against obesity but to live by faith in this day and time.

On February 19, 2014, I woke up with severe pain in my hips and shoulders. I had worked out very hard the day before and figured I had really overdone it. I tried everything that, as a trainer, I would recommend to someone who had these symptoms: rest, Epsom salt baths, anti-inflammatories and massage.  About six weeks later, I went to a sports-injury doctor. He told me I did not have a sports injury; I had something systemic. He referred me to a rheumatologist.  Finally on April 18, 2014, I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica.  I had been in severe pain for almost two months, so I started immediately on high doses of Prednisone to help the inflammation—continuing on this drug for 18 months.

On August 1, of that same year, I received a word from the Lord that He would sustain me, strengthen me and heal me of this disease. I believed Him and still do; I take Him at His word. So what do I do in the meantime? What do I do while I am waiting for the healing to come? How do I function and do the things He has called me to do while in pain? How do I remain tenacious in my commitments? I found the answer in Colossians 1:28 and 29—I go in the strength of Jesus Christ. Paul said it beautifully in these verses: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”  This verse says that Christ will give me energy to carry out the works He has called me to do. He will help me and give me strength I do not have. That is how we persevere through all that life throws at us. We do not give up because the strength and energy of Jesus Christ will sustain us.

I just have to share that today I am free from the disease of polymyalgia rheumatica. I still suffer from osteoarthritis in my knees and wrists, but He is helping me manage that too. He has helped me lose all the weight I gained on the steroids and more. I am so thankful I did not stop believing; I did not give up, throw in the towel, roll over, or just plain give up. I have much more to hope for and He is our hope. Push on. Success will happen if we don’t give up. We do not quit. He is for us.

Vicki Heath, National Director of First Place 4 Health and Body & Soul Area Director in South Carolina.  Vicki is a popular well-known author and speaker focusing on health and wellness.  For more information on First Place 4 Health please visit www.firstplace4health.com.

It is only by God’s grace and strength that I can do anything, including teaching Body & Soul cardio strength and flexibility classes. God reminds me of this lesson, time and time again in my life. And we revisited this truth throughout the last few weeks. My aunt, Darlene Fauble, one of my Dad’s older sisters, has been struggling, fighting for her life. She has lived with a lung condition, sarcoidosis, for most of her life. As we watched Aunt Darlene struggle with health and breathing, she modeled a Christian life for us. She also modeled a healthy lifestyle, on her feet, exercising regularly.  She laughed at the days to come.

Aunt Darlene is in the yellow shirt on the left!

She has never been married and she has no children. We, her nieces and nephews, and our children, are like children and grandchildren to her. She is like another grandmother in our lives. What a blessing to be in strong fellowship with one another!

Unfortunately, this fall, at 70 years old, Aunt Darlene was hospitalized for complications due to her lung condition. While she remained hospitalized for months, she continued to fight for her life. She finally asked for comfort care, and Aunt Darlene rested. The first night, after Aunt Darlene asked for comfort care, my Aunt Penny and I spent the night at her side in the hospital room. I held Aunt Darlene’s hand, combed her hair, and Aunt Penny and I talked and laughed the night away as Aunt Darlene rested. It was a memorable sleepless slumber party with two blessed women, who are filled with faith and love for the Lord our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a prize to have people like this is my life! Thank you, Jesus!

That afternoon, I left the hospital, blessed, but exhausted. After a sleepless night, I taught my Body and Soul cardio strength class, that very night at 7 p.m.  I wore my pink “I Walked the Mighty Mackinac Bridge” t-shirt, because this shirt represents a tradition that my Aunt Darlene and family shared every Labor Day, when we participated in the annual Mackinac Bridgewalk together. This past fall, however, Aunt Darlene was unable to walk over the bridge, but she was able to ride over the bridge with my mom, and they met us for breakfast at Audie’s…near the finish line.

I have no idea how I made it through teaching class that class. And then I realized it was the same thing that sustained  Aunt Darlene through all of her health struggles.  It is God’s grace at work in our lives. It was also the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, so palpable among the amazing students, surrounding me in class. (Praise God for their encouragement! Do they even know how much their spirits encourage one another?)

So, now you can maybe understand why Body and Soul class is not laborious for me. God strengthens me to teach it and through it. It is a time set aside, for me to share expressed joy, frustration, sorrow, to God alone. I don’t know a better time to go to class than when I am exhausted. Praise God! He renews, He strengthens, He lives.

Monday night was class night. Wednesday morning, Aunt Darlene passed away with her little brother, my Dad, at her side. Jesus carried her home to Heaven that early morning. Victory and true rest for Aunt Darlene: it is hers.

Tonight our local Holland and Zeeland instructors gather to go over our Winter Routines. I am grateful for these women of faith, who help hold me accountable for learning new tasks set before us.

Never underestimate with whom you surround yourself. Choose prized people of faith. We need one another as we run the race set before us.Yes, we need to reach out appropriately to those around us who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But don’t forget to invest in people and to surround yourself with those who run the race beside us, in front of us, and behind us.

Keep in mind the words found in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….”

I hope you will find the strength and grace I have found in this, far-beyond-a-fitness class. When you do, invite others who could use this in their lives as well.And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Teresa VanderZwaag teaches Body & Soul Fitness in Zeeland, MI.  For more information on classes check out “Students – find a class.”


Pictures provided by Teresa VanderZwaag and Body & Soul Fitness.

Have you ever heard a song and felt the lyrics were written just for you?

As I was walking on the beach early one morning I had my earphones on and was listening to the music of our new Body & Soul session, “What’s Next?” The song This is Living by Hillsong Young & Free started playing and I heard the words “See the sun now bursting through the clouds, black & white turn to color all around. All is new, in the Savior I am found.” Just then as if perfectly on cue, the sun burst out of the clouds in a display of beauty that took my breath away. I felt like God was sending me a personal message, reminding me that he knew exactly what was next for me, and that his plans for me were as perfect as that sunrise.  It felt like a personal blessing, and brought a smile to my face.  I took out my phone and snapped a picture so I could remember that moment—a moment when music and beauty collided in inspiration that touched my heart personally.

It is my prayer that the music of the songs in this session and the message in the lyrics will lift you up and encourage you each day as you exercise with us in Body & Soul.  We would love to hear if a particular song touches your heart. Share your story with us. That way you can encourage others, as you are encouraged yourself! Listen to the song This is Living  right now:

Check out the complete What’s Next? songlist below in the front of the session devotional, but don’t stop there—take time to read the encouraging thoughts and Scriptures in the devotional. It will give you insights into God’s message in the session.

What’s Next Devotional

One more thing—below you will find links to the lyrics for each song. Read them so you are familiar with them and can hear the message clearer as you exercise. We hope that all these resources will lift you up as God guides you into the next adventures he has for you!

This is Living Hillsong Y&F
Awaken Our Souls Tim Timmons
What I Want Them to Say Newsboys
Bright Side OBB
Revival Citizen Way
Breathe Jonny Diaz
Wild Heart Urban Rescue
Recreate Urban Rescue
Best of Me Jordan Feliz
Live it Out Jordan Feliz
Higher Unspoken
Source of Life Beckah Shae
Pioneer Beckah Shae
What you Want Tenth Avenue North
God is on the Move 7eventh Time Down
Good Day Natalie Grant
Go Get it Mary Mary
Beautiful Life 7eventh Time Down
Live it Well Switchfoot
Guard Your Heart 1 Girl Nation
The God I Know Love & the Outcome
Help me Find It Sidewalk Prophets
Smile 1 Girl Nation
The One 1 Girl Nation
Healer of Souls Switchfoot
Get Hype 1 Girl Nation

Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness.  She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.

The last few days have found me in an unexpected place, doing an unexpected thing. Several weeks ago I didn’t know that I would be spending the holidays at a sweet little beach house in South Carolina, reading Scripture and listening for God’s voice over the sound of chirping birds. A couple weeks ago, I didn’t know that I would be filming video clips that would be viewed during the Christmas holidays, with the purpose of encouraging viewers to stay connected and keep moving over Christmas break. When I checked Facebook yesterday, the first road trip exercise video had been viewed 2,579 times. GOD IS SO FUN!!

I found myself in this place because my family decided to get away for Christmas to get out of our regular routine and spend time together doing something different. The video clips came out of a brainstorming session with Body & Soul Fitness leaders, and this decision is turning out to be a sweet lesson in adventure. Surprise! You see, even though I am a planner, meaning that I like to know the plan and I particularly like to make the plan, I must admit that I am finding great joy in my journey of faith, as I allow God’s plan to unfold before me. I’m enjoying watching what He has next for me, and joining Him on the adventure, recognizing that I didn’t plan it. The surprise of what’s next is more fun that being the planner – and more fun than I would have expected.

This month, Body & Soul’s winter session titled What’s Next? will begin, and you are invited. I hope you will make the decision to join a class near you and begin 2017 focused on faith and fitness. Our session verse is Joshua 24: 14a, 15b, which reads “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” 2017 will be full of choices for all of us, and this verse is a great way to begin the year – a way to set our focus in the right direction. We will consider the choices we can make that will enable us to live deeper and go higher, seeking freedom in the midst of busy, wonderful lives. We will be challenged to trust and wait as we pursue the Lord for answers and direction in the midst of these choices. So, consider yourself cordially invited to join Body & Soul’s winter session and get ready to be pleasantly surprised by God’s plan for you. You will likely find yourself in unexpected places, doing unexpected things, that bring you unexpected joy. Surprise!

Find a class near you at www.bodyandsoul.org

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.

I dare you to read this blog and then leave a comment below. You see, it’s New Year’s, which means it’s time to come up with this year’s resolutions. Did you know that surveys report that more than 40% of us make New Year’s resolutions each year and only 46% of us actually keep them for 6 months? I wonder how many of these people would document their resolutions by writing about them (in the comments below) or by telling someone else so they can be held accountable? That’s what we’re doing here today. We are committing to one another to be held accountable, and to hold one another accountable, to our New Year’s resolutions this year – even if only digitally. I wouldn’t dare to ask something of you that I wouldn’t ask of myself, so here we go…

For the past few years I’ve subscribed to the “one-word resolution”. As you likely know, the thought behind this is to choose one word that encompasses what you’d really like to accomplish or overcome in the coming year. I’m a less-is-more kind of girl, so this method appeals to me. To be honest, I probably subscribe to the one-word resolution movement because it’s simple to come up with and simple to remember for 6 months which, according to the quoted poll, is when my motivation likely expires. I am happy to report that my 2016 resolution word was of great benefit to me. It was the word TRUST – and God provided more lessons on this topic than I can even begin to share with you here. But suffice it to say, I am a work in progress and God did great work in me this year as I took the position of president of Body & Soul Fitness. He asks me to trust Him more and more each day, and never gives up on me. Just this week during a morning devotion time, Sarah Young in “Jesus Calling” wrote about the importance of consistently trusting in God. Not just in the midst of adversity, but also when life is flowing smoothly. As I turn the calendar page from 2016 to 2017, I am eager to join God’s mission and experience what’s next in His perfect plan. I recognize that it won’t always be easy, but I know the plan is good. My job is to consistently trust Him, and trust manifests itself in obedience, and obedience requires COURAGE. My word for 2017 is COURAGE, which is defined by Google as “acting in accordance with one’s beliefs”. I believe in God and in His plan for me, so this year I am going to be courageous, consistently trusting the One who loves me the most, and dare to let Him use me any way He chooses. So, I encourage you to share your one-word resolution here for all to read so we can hold each other accountable and perhaps be part of the 46%. Go ahead, I dare you.


Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.

The nativity scene pictured here has been part of my Christmas since childhood. I have many fond memories that stir my heart as I think of where it was placed in the home where I grew up and the sweet family times we had at this time of year. It was passed down to me and it continues to be the centerpiece of my Christmas decorating and guides my heart through the season.  Let me tell you why— it’s about the heart– my heart and your heart.

The human heart is the source of our life force— it pumps the blood that flows through our veins. When we do cardio exercise in Body & Soul we are strengthening our heart. In fact, the word cardio, short for cardiovascular, means “pertaining to the heart,” and in terms of fitness, it simply means physical exercise that increases the heart rate to a certain point.

But what about our emotional heart— the “heart” we refer to when we talk about loving one another— “I gave my heart,”  “that touched my heart,”—you know what I mean— the “heart” connected to our feelings that goes deeper than the physical organ inside our body.

What does your emotional heart long for at Christmas time? What powers you along as you decorate, cook and wrap presents? What is the heart of Christmas for you? For me, it is about just one thing— one person. The answer is found in the word Christmas itself.

The heart of Christmas is Christ. This holiday is a joyful celebration of the moment he came to earth as a tiny child.  Joy to the World, the Lord is come! For unto us a child is born, a son is given and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace.  He is Emmanuel, God with us.

The lifeblood of Christmas flows from Jesus, born in Bethlehem, in humble circumstances, the Savior of the world who reaches out to all of us and says “Believe.” If you have forgotten how to believe, or don’t even know what you believe about Jesus, I suggest you open a Bible and read the Christmas story in Luke 2. Imagine what Mary and Joseph felt like when they listened to God’s call and followed their heart, ending up in a stable to have their baby. Imagine what the shepherds felt like when the sky was filled with angels and God’s glory was shining around them, and they, too, followed their heart and went to see the baby that was born. Imagine one more thing— what must it have been like for the kings who saw the star and trekked a far distance, following their heart and bringing their special gifts to the Christ-child.

Then, ponder all this in your heart, just like Mary did, and begin to recapture your awe and wonder. Feel belief well up in your heart and then connect your heart to the heart of God in prayer. The heart of Christmas is the Christ child. The message of Christmas is “Believe!” You are a part of the story.

Share your heart of Christmas story with us. We would love to connect our heart with yours.


Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness.  She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.

Acts 20:35 tells us that Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In my experience, I have found this statement to be true. There have been times when I have had the opportunity to give my time or my money or my ideas to a cause bigger than myself, and I must tell you that those times were filled with butterflies-in-the-stomach excitement.

Now that I serve in Body & Soul full-time, I get to have that excited feeling on a regular basis – and I am thrilled! But I am not alone.

There is a lady in my fitness class who has been a faithful student for more than a decade. She tells me that she loves Body & Soul because it’s her sanctuary where she can exercise to upbeat, uplifting music, while hearing God’s word in the music, with women of all ages and backgrounds. She loves it so much that she often pays twice the registration amount, so that for every class she takes, another woman can join her at no cost!

Luke 6:38a “ Give, and it will be given to you. A  good measure,  pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”

You can be a part of blessing others with Body & Soul – here in the states, and also in all of our classes overseas. Donate Now!


Body & Soul is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ through fitness classes all over the world. If you would like to partner with us by making a 2016 tax-deductible contribution before December 31st, please donate now and get excited about helping to provide faith and fitness opportunities worldwide.

I will never forget the day I got my first pair of glasses.I had selected especially beautiful ones with midnight blue frames and silver swirls on the stems. I thought they would complement my grown up-second-grade-feathered-style haircut perfectly. And they did. As I looked approvingly in the oval mirror at the optometrist’s office, I nodded my endorsement as my mom handed over the credit card to seal the deal. But what I didn’t realize at the time I picked out those glasses is that they would change not only the way I looked, but the way I SAW. When I left the doctor’s office and hopped into our station wagon to head home, I suddenly realized that from the car, I could see individual leaves on every tree passing by. The letters on the signs were crisp and clear instead of smeared and blurry. When I got out of the car, I noticed I could see every blade of grass rather than just what looked like a blanket of green felt. The next day at school was equally exhilarating. I no longer had to pull back on my eyes to see the chalkboard or get closer to kids at recess to see who was playing kickball. It was a whole new world I had not even known I had been missing out on!

Thank goodness for Mrs. Weglarz, my second grade teacher, and for eye tests, or I would never have known that there was so much more for me to see. I would have gone on believing that they way I was seeing the world was normal and perfectly acceptable.

Sometimes I think we can go through life that way. Especially those of us who really like routine like I do. We can go on with our days, weeks, months, and years in a comfortable pattern that we learn to rely on. We can think that there is no reason to change and no reason to try anything new unless we are forced to. We can even dig in our heels when God nudges our hearts to try something out of our comfort zone for Him. But what if there is something amazing that God has planned for us and we are actually missing out because the word “change” makes our muscles tense up?

In this season of Advent, we are accustomed to focusing on expectation; expectation of the celebration of Christ’s birth, and the expectation that he will be coming again. As we approach the new session of Body and Soul, we will be exploring the theme of “What’s next?” I would like to suggest that we approach this season with a new attitude–ready for what’s next, whatever it might be. I want to be willing to seek and even expect changes from our God. What He has for me is in my best interest, anyway, and, more importantly, what He has is in the best interest of the kingdom of God.

Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?” We have a good, good Father who loves us more than our parents love us. And he sacrificed his life for our future. All we have to do is receive the gift. That’s it! So when we hear the word “change” let’s remember who our Father is and follow his guidance for us, knowing he may have something in mind for us that is even better than we can even ask for or imagine.

Chriss Prium is a Body & Soul Fitness Instructor and Boot Camp Program Trainer. She currently teaches both boot camp and power strength classes in Byron Center, Michigan at First Reformed Church of Byron Center. She is a wife to Mark and mom to Owen, Grace and Lily.



It’s that time of year. Seasons change and the dreaded coughs, sneezes, and allergies start. Flu and cold season is upon us.

With so much to do, you don’t have time to get sick. So how can you stay healthy? By following a few simple steps you can decrease your chances of getting sick and boost your immune system.

  1. Stay away from sugar.

Did you know that sugar can suppress your immune system by preventing white blood cells from fighting bacteria and viruses? It seems like we are destined for failure with all the holiday parties providing yummy treats full of sugar. A good rule of thumb is less than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar a day for men. Read your labels to discover hidden sugar in your foods. Or simply follow #2.

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Ever wonder why fruits and vegetables are seasonal? Did you know that some of the best salad-791891_1920veggies to eat to fight off colds and flu are found in the fall? Squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin are packed with vitamins and nutrient rich health boosters. God is so cool to provide just what we need at just the right time. Just don’t load those veggies up with brown sugar or marshmallows. Keep it simple. A baked sweet potato, some pumpkin soup could be just what the doctor ordered.

  1. Wash your hands often.

What’s the first thing a doctor does when he walks in the room to see you? Wash his/her hands. Why? Hands are the quickest way to spread germs. And everything we touch carries germs. I’ve long been a proponent of carrying my own pen and not using the ones handed to me. The CDC says “Handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy.” Keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer with you for the times when a sink isn’t near.

  1. Keep exercising.

According to NIH, “Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.” If you aren’t exercising, start now. But don’t over do it. Start with three 10-minute walks a day. Or join an exercise class. Body & Soul has classes all over the country. To find one near you check out www.bodyandsoul.org.

  1. Take time to chill and unwind.

Let’s face it stress is inevitable. We all have it in our lives at some level. Our bodies are not designed to live in a “fight or flight” stage all the time. Doing so weakens us and makes us prone to chronic inflammation, colds, flu, or long term illnesses. Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This scripture packs a punch for us – sit down, relax, meditate. It’s as if God is saying, ‘Stop trying to control everything and let me be your source of strength. Let me help you through your day. But start by sitting with me and being still.’ Give your body the chance to unwind especially during the holidays when schedules get busier than ever.

  1. Get more sleep

Studies show that sleep matters. Lack of sleep depresses the immune systemand increases our chance of getting sick. According to Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, “It is an old wives’ tale that if you don’t sleep well, you will get sick, and there is some experimental data that shows this is true…Sleep loss not only plays a role in whether we come down with a cold or flu. It also influences how we fight illnesses once we come down with them.”Unknown

All of these tips are things we already know. So let’s put them into practice. By following these six practical steps you will be on your way to a healthy, sleep-filled, stress-free holiday season.

Which step seems the easiest to follow? And which one is the hardest? Share any additional tips you’ve found to keep yourself healthy through the holidays?

Mary Ward is Director of Marketing and the Northern Virginia Area Director for Body & Soul.   She has taught Body & Soul classes since 1997 and is certified through American Council on Exercise.

In a blur of rituals and jam-packed schedules, it is easy to lose sight of the joy of Christmas. For most people, the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one mad rush of holiday activities. There are kids’ concerts to be attended, gifts to be purchased, then the trips to see family. All of these are wonderful things and we wouldn’t want to miss out on them, but it can also feel hectic and stressful at a time when you just want to be savoring the season.

This should be a season of anticipation – and what makes the anticipation so exciting is the waiting. It is interesting, because you can’t wait when you don’t even have time to think about what you are waiting for. I challenge you to find the time to anticipate Christmas. Now, this stillness is not something that spontaneously happens. You have to fight for it. You have to carve out ten minutes here, five minutes there, and be intentional about making time for reflection. Recapture the lost art of waiting in anticipation and Advent as a season of reflection! How?

photo courtesy of unsplash.comFind time each day to spend with God.

Sometimes it is hard to be motivated to carve out this time when so much is going on. Try doing something new and fun with your quiet times, like using a coloring book to dwell on scripture or doing a guided advent-specific quiet time. (I am so passionate about how important this is that I have made a scripture coloring book and an Advent Prayer Journal, if you are looking for resources!)

Simplify to make it more special.photo by Kaboompics // Karolina

Look at what you are trying to do in the next four weeks. Is it all really necessary? Focus your energies on the things that really matter to you and your family. Do you need to put all those decorations up? Or would you savor them more if you put up fewer? Do you need to make five different kinds of cookies when one or two would do? Scaling back what you are doing can make you enjoy the things you have chosen to keep all the more.

img_3404Keep exercising.

When you’re fit your mind is sharper and your body has more energy to get through everything else. This is one of the great things about Body & Soul classes – you have other people expecting you to be there, which gives you motivation to get out the door to class, even on your busy days! Plus, keeping that body moving will make the extra eating over the holidays have a smaller impact on you- mind and body!

May you find moments of stillness and wonder, so that you can have an anticipation-filled Christmas season!

Becky Gilbert is Body & Soul’s Graphic Designer and an art blogger at JoyArtandDesign.com. She co-wrote 40 Days of Art and Literature and she is also the author of “Coloring God’s Word” and “Advent: Creative Exercises for a Season of Waiting – a Prayer Journal.”

Do you believe in coincidence? I don’t. But I do believe in God and the fact that He has a hand in our lives. So out of a heart full of thanksgiving I want to post this story to document for everyone the unmistakable hand of our Lord in the founding of Body & Soul. It gives me joy in the retelling, and hopefully you will find yourself on your knees as I was when I wrote this down for the 35th anniversary celebration in August 2016. 

September 22, 1980.

My dad died. God was there to take him home and to plant a message or a seed of an idea. You see, as the hospital staff was passing by giving their condolences to me, some of the hospital staff, in separate conversations from each other, mentioned to me that they might have been able to do more if he had been in better shape. Why would they say that?? My dad rarely exercised because of a heart problem at birth. That was in his record, why would they comment on it after his passing?

But the comment about him stuck with me. So some time later Jeannie and I discussed it and, motivated by that thought, we put the boys in soccer and I returned to the jogging and lifting I’d done since college.

Then one day after my jog I was leaving for work, and God was there again.

I asked Jeannie, what she was going to do about exercise?

“Well, jogging is not really my thing… I’m not sure what I want to do,” she said.

I turned to go and saw a county newspaper on the kitchen table with an advertisement in bold. “Dance Aerobics” it read. “Hey honey, you like to dance, what about this?”

She loved it from her first class. God was there, too. Just a few months later she was asked to become a teacher of Dance Aerobics for the Rec department.

God was there when Nan thought of Jeannie and adding exercise to a women’s event called “Body and Soul Day” at our church.

God was there to get contemporary Christian music albums into her hands, music we did not know existed at the time.

God was there that night she choreographed for the first time in her life, and choreographed 10 songs in one night.

God was there when the event went so well that they begged for more after they returned home.

God was there at the first class in Nan’s basement and when Jeannie gave her testimony for the first time and won a soul for Christ.

God was there with Jeannie in that first class at McLean Presbyterian Church in McLean, VA. where, in the biggest room they had, ladies were crammed in and overflowing to a nearby hallway.

And God was there encouraging Jeannie to train others to lead classes so that class could be split up. Jeannie, who less than a year earlier had never choreographed before was now a trainer teaching choreography. And He was there in the basement of our home encouraging the first 4 then 8 ladies to join in and learn how to lead a class.


And God was there when Jeannie and I talked about “all those classes to fill.” We looked at a puny $135 balance left of the money we had set aside for this and with little hope that we could afford it we called John Vogt at WCTN radio. “How about our Impact Plan,” the rep said. “Three ads a day for a week, only $135.”

God was there keeping Jeannie home with two sick boys so she could answer the 200 plus telephone calls that resulted from the ads. And the classes filled to overflowing.

God was there in the late Spring of 1982 when I went to lunch with a good friend and mentor, Armand Dauplaise. We talked for well over an hour with me discouraged over my job and not sure what I should do next and seeking his advice.

As he paid the check he asked, “What’s your lovely wife doing these days.” And I launched into the incredible story of Body and Soul and the growth from 4 to 8 then 17 classes, all filled to the brim. He put down the bill and we continued to talk for another hour.

“Here you are wondering what you should do and God has put it right in front of you.”

“You need to incorporate, you need some startup money, here.” Armand wrote a check to me, not to a charity, he got no tax deduction, he wrote a check for $8,000 made out to me. God was there.

God was there as Jeannie and I prayed about me going full time in the ministry but worrying about debt on the house. He was there a few weeks later when an out-of-left-field investment paid off 15x the original amount. So much for debt. We stayed in the house, turned the basement into an office and I joined the new ministry full time.

God was there as we found Christian lawyers to do the incorporation and a Christian man, Doug Stites, who owned his own mainframe computer and freely helped us get away from the 3×5 cards scattered on the basement floor.

God was there when I went to grad school in exercise physiology so I could train teachers to pass the certification test. And He blessed that effort with nearly all who took the course I offered passing the first time. And He was there also so I could meet a young grad student, engaged to a musician and lead them to Christ and see her become a Body & Soul teacher and a mom, and him lead worship in our church and later become a band member for Christian artists on tour.

God was there then, by my count over fifteen times, in a string of events that if broken may have resulted in a different path.

And He is here today.

Jeannie and I have walked with Him and watched Him at work since we were teenagers together. We raised our kids with Him at our side seeing His hand in our personal lives over and over. And we have participated with Him in this ministry for 35 years.

God will be in this ministry every day working through any one of us with a heart open enough to listen, to hear, and to reach out in His name.

So for all of us who carry on we have but three tasks, here is the mission: Praise our God. Get to work. Watch Him work.

Roy Blocher
Co-founder and head for all IT development and support
Presented August 2016 at the 35th anniversary celebration of Body & Soul Ministries






One down, two to go…

I finally took my own advice this year and only purchased Halloween candy that I don’t like, so I would give it all away to trick-or-treaters and not eat any of it myself. I can’t begin to tell you how big this is. I love chocolate. I mean, I really love chocolate. Therefore, the jumbo bag of Halloween candy that made it to my house had zero chocolate in it. Only hard candies and sweet tarts. So I’m feeling pretty good about surviving the first of the three holidays that have the potential to derail my healthy lifestyle. One down, two to go. Halloween candy swoops in like a witch flying in on her broom, with Thanksgiving arriving only 24 days later with its creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole covered in mini-marshmallows, and homemade pumpkin pies. Then, just four weeks after the Thanksgiving feast, we find ourselves enjoying family, friends, and the neighborhood cookie exchange…and the office Christmas party. So how do we enjoy the holidays, connect with family and friends, and stay focused on our healthy goals all at the same time? Well, it takes focus and commitment…and a bit of pre-planning. It means we must be intentional with our social calendar and our meal planning. Just like buying Halloween candy – we must approach it with our healthy goals in mind.

Stay on track nutritionally – If you currently subscribe to a healthy eatingsalad-791891_1920 plan (think vegetables, fruits and lean meats), keep the majority of your meals in line with your plan. Look at your social calendar, identify the events that will involve food, have a healthy snack prior to these events, and during the party be sure that you exercise portion control and carefully choose the items that you really want (it must taste as good as it looks). If you’re still developing your healthy eating plan, commit to it today by making wise nutritional choices, so that by the time holidays #2 and #3 get here, you will have developed healthy habits that you are more likely to maintain.

Stay on track physically – If you currently have a healthy habit of exercise-969300_1280movement and physical exercise, congratulations. You’re already a winner! Stay on track physically by making the commitment to continue attending your group fitness classes and even commit to trying a new class as a Christmas gift to yourself. Be a blessing to your friends, and invite them to join you. Continuing your healthy habit may require saying no to a few holiday invitations, so take a moment and consider your social calendar before responding, and be intentional so that your healthy fitness goals don’t get bumped from your schedule. If you struggle with keeping your exercise appointments you make with yourself, find a friend and hold one another accountable so that both of you stay on track.

Stay on track spiritually – If you currently take time to pray and read God’sbible-1031288_1920 word as a regular habit, you are most likely staying on track in many areas of your life because these practices feed us and enable us to achieve more than we can on our own. When we commit to spending time with God, He equips us with knowledge and imparts His perspective upon us, allowing us to stay on the track He has mapped out for us. Staying on track looks a bit different for all of us. For me, it means I am more likely to choose healthy options (good food, regular exercise, kind words, rest) and less likely to dive headfirst into the dessert table or skip my Body & Soul fitness class because I responded yes to too many holiday party invitations. Let God equip you this holiday season during times of prayer and Bible study, and then enjoy the blessings that come from achieving healthy nutritional and physical goals.

The time is now. Eat well. Keep moving. Connect with the Lord. One down, two to go.

President - Amy StaffordAmy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness.  She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.


Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com.

Have you ever been in a circumstance where you knew you should “give” something, but did not have the resources?  Maybe it was a financial commitment, a time commitment, or in this case, the choice to exercise for your health.  As you were faithful to fulfill your commitment, you were amazed to see that God had actually multiplied your resources in ways you could not explain. Maybe it was when you gave of limited time, or limited finances.

Focusing on exercise, as the fall season brings shorter days/longer nights, I am faced with the choice of exercising or hibernating. Honestly, to my body, it feels like it’s midnight when the sky turns pitch black when it’s only 7 p.m. (I personally prefer longer days of sunlight – how about you?) My Body & Soul students laugh with me when I arrive to my 6:30 class feeling like I should be getting ready for bed, rather than starting to teach. (I am assuming that SOMEONE else reading this blog also feels my pain… Yes?)img_3207

So what should we do when we’re tired and energy-depleted? Should we forego exercise? We might think, “How can I spend energy I don’t have?”

I think one of the best ways to increase our energy reserves is to actually MOVE. It’s the concept of GAINING “limitless” energy through GIVING energy (or exercising).

Did you know that as we exercise, our body creates energy? There are studies showing that people who walk more daily steps, end the day with more energy than on days when they walk less.

Exercise gets our blood pumping which improves our circulation as it moves oxygen through the body. The result? We feel revived! We literally get a “second wind.”

Exercise also helps us reduce the effects of stress on our bodies. Stress can ZAP our energy. Our brains tell us not to add one more thing, not even exercise! However, exercise increases our capacity to handle stress, while at the same time improving our sense of well-being. I get to experience this first-hand in my Body & Soul class. If we “JUST DO IT” we can actually INCREASE our energy levels.

10409778_10152198245599912_7116599043377255600_nI had to remind myself of this the other night as Kacee (my dog you met earlier this year J) was asking – no, BEGGING – for her walk! It caused me to do a little self-talk, get up, and take her for a walk, despite how I felt! Of course the fact that Kacee is relentless until we walk, DOES help my motivation level. So if you need extra motivation, you may want to consider getting a dog! Just sayin…

As our B&S pushup song says, “it’s harder than I thought, harder than I thought it’d be.” Yes it is, but it is totally worth it. Once I just do it, I’ll come home from class, or in from a walk, feeling renewed.

I was talking with a very busy friend and ministry leader, last week. She told me that she gets up super early to go for a jog/run because she IS so busy, and EXERCISE is what GIVES her energy to get through the day. She has made the decision to exercise MORE, not LESS in order to have the energy to accomplish what she needs to. This is someone who has pushed through the fatigue of fighting breast cancer.

As I look at how our energy is multiplied, I am also reminded of how this same concept works in our spiritual lives when we dedicate our time to the Lord – to sit with Him, read His word, and pray. We think we don’t have time to do this, but we can actually get MORE done on days that we spend with Him, than on days when we think we just don’t have enough time. God actually multiplies our time.

I encourage you to take action on either of the above—the spiritual or the physical. I’m sure you will be amazed by what you gain when you give!

email TeriTeri Moscatelli is the Director of Operations for Body & Soul Fitness, as well as Northeast Regional Director, ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and ACE Faculty.  She is the wife to Steve, mom to three lovely daughters, two sons-in-laws, and her dog Kacee.


Pictures are courtesy of Teri Moscatelli and pixabay.com.

As the leaves change colors, and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air and entices our taste buds, we all know the season has changed from summer to fall. My advice? Close your eyes, drink in the moment and slow down enough to enjoy autumn. Let the sights and smells and tastes of the change of seasons flow over you and just breathe.

img_2054We just got back from a trip to Colorado where we experienced the bright yellow beauty of aspen trees covering panoramic mountainsides, creating breathtaking views. Day after day, the sun was warm on our faces, the sky was bright blue and we were constantly reminded to “just breathe” since we had traveled from sea level to this mile-high part of the world where there is less oxygen, to be sure.  Quite a change! Thank goodness I was in shape for the change in altitude, as a devoted Body & Soul member—my lungs were primed and ready to adapt. Water was my friend, and I felt like I drank gallons of it.

The reason for our trip? Family! Embracing our “grandparenting season of life,” we went to be with our son and daughter-in-law and then to keep the three grandsons as Mom and Dad headed to Budapest for a special trip. It was a joyfully busy time of carpools to swim team and cross country practices and meets, preparing lunches and getting the older boys off to school on time, then fun time playing with the youngest while the older boys were in school.  I focused on enjoying the “moment” and took time to notice how the boys had grown and changed so much since the last time we kept them for a Mom-and-Dad getaway. This time around, the boys launched right into getting their homework done immediately after school, knowing it had to be done before anything else was going to happen—no questions, no prompting needed. (Do you believe it?)  They also knew they had to practice their musical instruments on a daily basis and I smiled as I noted improvement in their ability. Nice!  We see the change in kids more than we see it in ourselves, I think. Do you agree?

img_2514Change is inevitable. Change is constant. Change is part of the fabric of life. The changing seasons remind us of it. The changes in our kids make it crystal clear.

One more thing about change–If you are someone like me who doesn’t really “love” change, I encourage you to take another deep breath and trust your unchanging God. He will walk with you through each change that happens in your life. He knows the answers to “what’s next” even when you do not have a clue. He has plans for you that are better than you can personally imagine. He is the light in whatever darkness you face. You can count on him. You can trust him. “He’s got this”—as they say in current phraseology.

In the book of James, it says this: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1: 17) God has good and perfect gifts waiting for you. He is a solid rock—unchanging in this world full of changes. Cling to this thought and you will make it through the changing of seasons in your personal life. I can personally attest to this!  And along the way, cling to this–the beautiful change of seasons is a gift from God—don’t miss it. The change you see in your children as they grow is a gift from God, too. Be grateful. And the changes God places in your life can also be a gift if you put them in perspective and trust that He is with you. He never changes.

Jeannie Blocher is the President Emeritus and Director of Spiritual Impact of Body & Soul Fitness.  She is an author and speaker, encouraging people to grow in both faith & fitness.

Photos courtesy of Jeannie Blocher.

As a personal and group fitness trainer, I’ve had the opportunity to rehabilitate joints and retrain muscles with many of my clients and students. I love everything about the human body, so you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to observe surgery in a real orthopedic operating room. It was so cool! I got so wrapped up in the experience, that the surgeon had to ask me to move back a bit when I leaned over too far to get a better look at the patient’s biceps tendon. Did I mention how cool this was?!

The most common complaint I hear from clients is that they are experiencing some degree of low back pain, and studies show that general pain in this area is often caused by muscle imbalance between gluteal muscles and hip flexors. Quick anatomy lesson: gluteals are the muscles of our buttocks (buns, backside, tush, rear, bottom – the list goes on), and the hip flexors are the muscles at the top of the thigh in the front (where our pants wrinkle when we sit too long). The relationship between these two muscle groups must be balanced for them to function properly and allow us to run and jump and lift without pain.

How do we keep these muscle groups balanced?  Build the following three exercises into your fitness regimen. And the result? A healthier back!

Glute Bridge – this exercise targets the gluteal muscles and requires the low back to engage as
well as you lift the hips off the floor. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be lined up with your hips, and your heels should be several inches away from your hips. Keep your arms on the floor by your sides. Squeeze your gluteal muscles as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Your body weight should transfer to your upper back. Push your heels evenly into the floor. Perform 12-15 repetitions, holding each contraction for 4-5 seconds.

Quadruped Arm & Leg Extension (a.k.a. Bird Dog) – this exercise targets the posterior muscles of the back, hips and shoulders. Position yourself on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Your back should be flat and your abdominal muscles contracted. Extend one arm up by the head until the elbow is straight, as you extend the opposite leg parallel to the floor until your knee is straight. Keeping your torso still, release the arm and leg, and extend the other side until both limbs are straight and parallel to the floor. Complete 10 alternating repetitions.

Plank – this exercise targets the abdominals and back muscles, along with many stabilizers of the body. Because this exercise is isometric, meaning that it is performed without joint movement, it is generally safe for most exercising populations. Another wonderful quality of the plank is that it can be modified for exercisers of all levels. The modified plank position begins with your forearms and your knees on the floor. Bring your hips toward the floor until your body is straight (slightly diagonal) from your shoulders to your knees. The full plank position is the progression where your knees are not on the floor and instead, you are high on your toes, with your body parallel to the floor. Build up your endurance until you can hold this position for 15 seconds, performing 5 repetitions.

Don’t get sidelined by back pain! Incorporate these strengthening exercises into your fitness routine to establish better balance between your gluteals and hip flexors. And, of course, you will find beneficial exercises like these, and many others, in a Body & Soul group fitness class near you.

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness.  She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Faculty member, wife of Steven, and mom to Jordan.

Photos courtesy of Amy Stafford, 

What one food:

  • Is grown in almost every state of the US with Washington being the most famous?
  • Was given as pay to teachers?
  • Do Americans eat 120 days per year?
  • Reduces heavy metals in the body?
  • Has an aroma that can lower blood pressure – just by smelling it?

If you guessed apple you are right. With over 7000 varieties of apples this ancient fruit has been shared around the globe as a gift of honor to royalty and a prescription of medicine to the poor.1007161628

Remember when…

I remember traveling with our friends and relatives to the apple orchards in the coolness of an autumn day anxious and ready for fun.  As soon as we found the perfect place in the orchard everyone was busy seeing who could fill their bags with apples first.  While all this activity was going on I would find the best place to do what I do best – test the crop. Well someone had to make sure these were truly good.  Sure enough when my family found me my face and arms were covered with sticky sweet juice.  “The testing is done – these are truly ready for picking.”

Value beyond compare…

We have all been tempted by this sticky sweet fruit but did you also know they are very nutrient dense? Apples have 3 forms of fiber in them; insoluble, soluble and pectin that are higher than almost every other food – especially fruits. This fiber can manage blood sugar, promote fat loss, improve digestion, remove toxins such as heavy metals and mercury and cleanse the liver.

A huge benefit, for those wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, is that apples are highly satisfying to the appetite which allows people to eat less.  Research has shown that pectin, which is in high concentration in apples, slows digestion keeping food in the stomach longer.   The study showed that those who ate fruit with the pectin in it reported having little sense of hunger for 4 hours, while those who drank juice without the fiber and pectin were hungry much sooner.  So, whether you grab an apple as a snack or serve it as a delicious dessert, you’ll be cleansing your body and trimming your waistline at the same time.

Varieties bring goodness…

In my younger years I rarely reached beyond our 4 main apples: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji or Granny Smith. But in the last 10 years my reach now goes to the Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, Winesap and Ginger Gold.  My top two favorites are the Fuji and the Braeburn. I love firm crisp and sweet apples.  Create a sumptuous flavor by combining two or more apples in pies and sauce. After this foodie experiment you will probably agree – store bought sauce and pies don’t add up to the delicious flavor you created.

Savor the flavor…

While apples are in their prime season in the fall with proper planning and cooking techniques we can enjoy the harvest all year long. Keep apples in a cool place away from moisture, heat and light. You may remember older relatives keeping apples in the cellar to last all year.  Since cellars are a rarity today here are other options.

  1. Make your own sauce – so simple – a must try. See Healthy Treasures for delicious apple recipes.
  2. Dehydrate the slices – perfect for lunches, hiking, snacks and can be rehydrated to make pies and other recipes. Dried (dehydrated) apples keep for years if kept in a dry container. See Dehydrators here.
  3. Prepare pies now and freeze. I usually make at least 2 pies per year by slicing the apples, adding in the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, sugar (sucanat) and placing all this in a freezer zip lock bag. Then when I want a pie I just thaw the bag and put directly into a pie shell and bake!

Recipe:  When looking for a healthy alternative to a sweet treat– try slicing an apple and putting it into a bag with freshly ground flax seed and cinnamon. Toss and enjoy.  Now your hormones will join in and bring satisfaction, happiness and a slimmer waistline.

Apples are a God-given gift of satisfaction and delight wrapped in its red, red-orange, yellow, golden or green package. Enjoy and give thanks.

Annette Reeder is known as the “Biblical nutritionist.” She is a well-known author and speaker, focused on the good gifts God gives us. Visit her website flavorofgrace.org.image003-1


Pictures provided by Annette Reeder and Pexels.com.

My son Owen has always been unique. We used to keep a diary of all of the smart and funny things he used to say when he was learning how to talk and when he was in elementary school. We thought he was so clever. Once when he was little, he told us that one of his teachers never seemed very happy, so he decided that every day he would smile at her and try to get her to smile back, because, as he confidently stated, “smiles are contagious.” Despite his sweet nature, when he was a toddler he struggled terribly with anxiety around people. I remember having to tell guests at our home not to make eye contact with him for the first half hour or so until he warmed up to them. Even grandparents’ visits would sometimes cause him to cry and scream and hide behind my husband and me.

Owen is now a sophomore in high school, and a lot has changed. He has matured in many ways, and thankfully no longer screams when visitors come around. But he is still more comfortable at home or with people he’s familiar with.

A few weeks ago, though, he was invited to a youth group event at a church that he doesn’t normally attend. He agreed since he knew the friend who invited him pretty well. But when I brought him to the unfamiliar building, I started to get anxious myself. We didn’t see anyone else there, not even his friend. We double-checked the time and place, and it looked like we were where we were supposed to be. Suddenly, my son noticed some people standing by a small out-building near the church. We wondered if that was where the youth group might be meeting. I asked Owen if he wanted me to go with him and check, but, of course, the thought of his mother walking him into class was more embarrassing than walking into the wrong venue, so he declined politely. He said he would go up to the building and give me a thumbs up if it was the right place. I watched him walk slowly up to the people milling around the door, knowing him so well and knowing how uncomfortable that was for him, and my heart twisted.

fullsizerender-3He marched forward and peeked inside the door. He was gone for a minute and then reappeared in the doorway with a grin and a thumbs up. I breathed a sigh of relief and at that moment I was so overcome with love for him that I actually said out loud in my car, “Oh, I love that boy.” It was such a stirring emotion that it almost startled me. I sent up a brief “Thank you” to my heavenly Father for my son, and almost as quickly, I felt Him saying to me, “That’s how I feel about you.”

Now my son had not done anything amazing in anyone else’s eyes but mine. Because I know him well and I know he did something that was uncomfortable for him, even scary, it made me proud. I think God sees us that way too, and I love that He gave us the opportunity to be parents so that we could see and share some of those emotions.

I had been feeling inadequate lately, as many women do, with all of the demands that are put on us and the many directions in which we are pulled, and in that moment, I felt like God was telling me that he is proud of me. Oftentimes I feel like I need to be doing BIG things for God in order for Him to be proud of me. But in that moment with my son, I realized that God sees me taking steps of obedience that are scary for me, and He is smiling and cheering me on. Like when I take a step to start a Body & Soul class, or a bible study in my neighborhood or inviting a friend to coffee that I don’t know very well because God has put it on my heart to do so. He does not consider what I do as small. Instead, He encourages me with His boundless, limitless love, just as I do with my son.

Psalm 147:5 reminds us when we forget, or feel like our gifts and actions aren’t big enough for God, that “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limits.” God knows what we are good at. God knows what we are scared of. He knows each of us as intimately as a parent knows a child, and he loves us even more because of, and in spite of, those qualities. If you don’t know this love personally, I encourage you to take a moment and ask God to show you that limitless love of His for you in a tangible way. He is always happy to hear from his children — because to Him, you are incredibly unique. And His heart beats for you in an “Oh, how I love that child” kind of way!


Chriss Prium is a Body & Soul Fitness Instructor and Boot Camp Program Trainer.  She currently teaches both boot camp and power strength classes in Byron Center, Michigan at First Reformed Church of Byron Center.  She is a wife to Mark and mom to Owen, Grace and Lily.

It sounds sacrilegious, I know, but bear with me. I’m not suggesting that Jesus was a couch potato, or a slacker when it comes to exercise. In Biblical times, movement was a part of everyone’s lifestyle. There was no Uber or Lyft to get from point A to point B; you basically had to rely on your own two feet. And there were no “desk” jobs that I know of. The work week required…well, work—real physical labor. Jesus was a carpenter. And, yes, carpenters worked with wood, but also with stone, iron, and copper. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus was strong and skilled enough to shape materials into products with purpose. So, no, I’m not saying Jesus was out of shape.

When I’m asking about Jesus’ body, I’m talking about us! You see, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the head of the body and we, His followers, make up the body itself. So I’m posing the question: what kind of shape are we in? Are we ready to use the tools at our disposal for what is needed? How is our energy level? Are we up for making a meal for a sick neighbor, running an errand for a new mom? Are we strong enough to keep up with our kids (or grandkids)?friends

All of the above are important questions, but perhaps the most important one is this: does your faith make a difference in how you approach fitness? Does your shape reflect your faith? Body & Soul’s tagline is “where faith and fitness meet.” But is this true for you? Does your faith intersect with how you care for your body or vice versa? This article that came out recently in U.S. News & World report talks about this very subject. Check it out here: “Finding fitness through faith.” And comment below on how/why/if your faith motivates you to move!


Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC Metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul.