When Fitness Is More than Physical

September 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

When 75-year old Phyllis signed up for a recent program we put on through the local gym, I was not sure what to do.

For the past six weeks, another trainer and I prepared a group of thirteen participants in a program called Peak Performance. The idea to climb Colorado’s 14,229’ Mt. Shavano included a program designed to help people get in shape to reach the summit.

We did two local hikes so we could assess the group. We included specific and targeted exercises to help the group reach their goal. Still, my major concern was Phyllis. I had mixed feelings; appreciating her tenacity and willingness to set such a large goal for herself and yet feeling that she was in over her head.

I half-jokingly say that I love the mountains because they are “stress therapy” for me and combine all the elements that I enjoy–-fitness, challenge, and God’s creation. We are each motivated to get in shape or to stay in shape for different reasons. The beauty is that we have many options to choose from. Yet, as I was talking with another trainer we agreed that training our physical bodies is only part of the fitness equation.

Everyone I work with has something more going on that drives them, troubles them, or infringes on their life in some way. In other words, we are far more complex than just the physical. We are spiritual and emotional beings as well. If something is out of balance in one area, it will impact the others.  So, like with Phyllis, I find myself working to encourage, inspire, and sometimes counsel people as much as develop specific programs for them.

What is your reason for working out? Is it to relieve stress, lose weight, look good, take care of God’s temple, have more energy, or work toward a goal? Maybe it combines all of these. Clearly, those who have goals fare better than those who do not.

While Phyllis did not make the summit, she did manage to reach 13,400’–-not bad for someone her age. Other participants included a woman with a pacemaker, a brother and sister who had just gone through a kidney transplant, and a 25-year year old who stopped smoking two weeks prior. We managed to see ten of the thirteen participants reach the summit, including my 24-year-old son who celebrated his birthday on top!

We can manufacture excuses not to get in shape or we can use our limitations or weaknesses to motivate us to reach a goal. I am inspired by those who don’t make excuses—trying to explain away why they won’t get in shape or stay in shape.

If you are overweight, under motivated, or lack direction, ask yourself what else is going on in your life that might be holding you back. Remind yourself that you can do all things through Christ who gives your strength. Keep your eyes fixed on a goal, whether it is climbing a mountain, running a local race, or losing fifteen pounds. Remind yourself that God wants you to be successful and will give you the strength to persevere. But God does not force you to get out of bed early, sacrifice a second helping, or establish your goals.

About Don S. Otis

Don S. Otis is a personal trainer, the author of five books, including Staying Fit after 40. He stays active by running, climbing, mountain biking, and lifting weights. Don is the founder of Veritas Communications, a Christian publicity and marketing agency based in Canon City, CO.

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