Sweat stung our eyes. Our arms shook as we attempted one more push-up. Our legs were jello after the lunge set. As the class ended and we carried our weights to our cars, a student turned to me and said the most unlikely thing. “This is the highlight of my Saturday.”

Seriously?! We had just completed an early morning rigorous Power Strength class. We hit every major muscle group, pretty much non-stop. We pushed our bodies to the limit. “And this was the highlight of your Saturday?” I wanted to ask.

On the drive home, it dawned on me why the student felt as she did. Body & Soul offers an excellent work out, it’s true. But it also gives much more than that. Its spiritual component is unique—strengthening every person inside and out.

It’s not just the music, though the music is motivating and uplifting. It’s the camaraderie, the friendships, the laughter, the connection. In some fitness classes, you arrive, you exercise, and you leave without even talking to a single person. Body & Soul is not like that. It’s the opposite actually.

Class after class, you see many of the same faces and you get to know each other on a deep level. We pray. But it’s not like some syrupy or surface-y prayer. We genuinely open our hearts as we pray for issues close to home—hurting friends, a sick nephew—and for those on the other side of the globe—natural disasters and political refugees.

The next thing you know, you can’t imagine missing a class, not just because you want to stay strong physically, but also because you just want to see your friend and find out how her family is doing. Or share a worry that you want to get off your chest.

Without a doubt, a Body & Soul class helps our bodies get in shape, but in very tangible ways it shapes our soul as well. It puts our stresses and difficulties into perspective. (The endorphins kicking in help with this, too!) The songs, the prayers, the friendship—they renew our hope and remind us that we are loved.

If you are a person who can’t possibly imagine that exercising in the early morning could become the highlight of your day, awesome. I dare you to come to a Body and Soul class. I triple dog dare you. You will see that inconceivable notion become your reality.

If you’re already in a class, the triple dog dare is for you, too! Add one more class per week. I promise it’ll re-shape you, inside and out.

When you see the title of the fall fitness session of Body & Soul what do you think? Are you excited to dream about how you can live life bigger, have more impact, and make a difference? Or…are you exhausted trying to manage the size of your life as it is right now, not wanting anything bigger to challenge you?

Personally I can relate to both of these responses. This summer as I have been working with our Body & Soul teams to create the choreography,  and plan this session for you, I have been juggling some BIG things—this new website for example. I am no techie wiz,  but I value the BIG impact that can come from reaching out to YOU and your friends through the internet. So—I needed to step out in faith to do my part to live life BIG—website wise. I am a writer,  but I have never before written a “blog post,” so, here I am trying “the next big thing” for me—blogging.  I am thanking God for a great web development team that is designing the site and giving me blog tips. Whew! One thing I’ve learned is that a BIG life is a life of teamwork and a life of trusting others and trusting God. Actually that is a BIG thing that I have been learning my whole life—this is just the next step!

So what about you? Whether you feel like person #1 or person #2 above—(or like me—a little bit of both) I truly believe that the music and message of this session will encourage your heart and guide you in your thinking and in your prayer life.

Start now to think about the 5 themes of the session:

  • Living Life BIG means something different for each of us. What is the next BIG thing in your life? How are you going to approach it?
  • Slow Down— sometimes living life BIG means paring down some things in your life to make room for “the best” instead of settling for “the good.” Seriously–how can we have a bigger life when we are stressed out? Let’s learn to lessen the stress and make room for a BIGGER life!
  • Love, Serve and Give— this is the recipe for a BIG life— when you focus on others and not on yourself you can make a positive difference in your world. That’s when life really becomes BIGGER!
  • The Source of a BIG life—that’s where the “soul” part of Body & Soul comes into play. God is the source. He is the only reason we can do any of the BIG things we want to do, and he is the reason we can stop doing the things we don’t want to do.
  • The secret to a BIG life –  Well, it’s a secret I want to share, not a secret I want to keep. I wrote about it in the session booklet “Encouragement and Wisdom for the journey.” Check it out!   (make this a link to the devo—should we link it to the page on theme 5 or directly to the gospel in the back of it? ).

So, new blog friends (am I allowed to say that?) —how am I doing on my first ever blog post? Did something I say hit home? Do these topics matter to you?  What would you like to tell me? I’m listening!

twins in sunglassesI was stretched to my limit. I needed help to be more flexible! I needed creativity and wisdom in pursuing a greater level of “fitness.” What exactly am I talking about?

Actually I am not talking about physical fitness, stretching exercises or Pilates. I am talking about a time when I kept both sets of twin grandkids. (yes, two 2 year olds and two 4 year olds.) It’s a good thing that I am physically strong (thank you, Body & Soul.) I can push a quad stroller –(yes, they make them,) leap across the room in a single bound (super grandmom?) to break up a “misunderstanding,” and run after all 4 little ones at the nearby playground. (not necessarily running in the same direction!) But I needed more than that—I needed spiritual fitness—wisdom beyond my mind’s ability, and creativity and flexibility to lovingly deal with whatever might happen next with these adorable, unpredictable little ones!

I am so glad that I’m doing “spiritual strength training” in Body & Soul! In our classes we actually encourage people to pursue “spiritual fitness.” I’m not talking about checking off a to-do list for being spiritual.  Spiritual fitness is a process, a pursuit. In our classes you hear spiritual messages in the music. You hear encouraging spiritual “nuggets” and verses from the Bible shared by your instructor. Listen. Consider. Talk to your fellow students. Ask questions. Have a cup of coffee with your instructor and ask her about her story.  All this is a pursuit of spiritual fitness.

One thing I can tell you about spiritual fitness is this–from personal experience I know that when my soul gets “fitter” I experience more peace, less stress. When I am growing in spiritual fitness I feel stronger mentally and emotionally so I can face the challenges of the day—whether it is active little ones or something much harder than that.  And just like physical fitness, spiritual fitness is a daily, ongoing process. We get weaker spiritually when we don’t focus on it. This is a fact about spiritual fitness.

surrounded by the kidsIn Proverbs 19 verse 8 it says this: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.” For me, spiritual fitness involves constant pursuit of wisdom.  The more “wisdom” I get, the more my soul prospers and the more “spiritually fit” I feel.

What makes you feel more “spiritually fit?” What do you pursue that helps your soul prosper?  Let’s learn from each other as we all pursue spiritual fitness together. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.