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Christian Living

Health

Shopping for a Christian Fitness Club

CBN.com - The Time Is Now

Holiday binge. New Year purge! The tradition lives on. Health clubs are well aware of this annual tradition. They know it is a season to add to their membership. However, many are not well prepared or committed to helping people effectively use their facility. People line up to pay for new memberships. It is the annual penance for a year of “sinful” indulgence. Somehow, parting with their money at the health club sales office makes them leave with a sensation of confidence that this year will be different.

Being together with family and others during the holidays and the upcoming New Year gives you a special opportunity to live for God with your body. Christians especially should know that it isn’t necessary to wait for the New Year to have a fresh start on the road to wellness. God says in the Bible that His mercies are new every morning. Start today. Then live every day as a healthy celebration to God.

Fitness facilities and Christian organizations should be ready for the increased interest in fitness during the holiday. Now is the time to look for a club, Christian based fitness program, and personal trainer that embraces the idea that God is able to restore health. Look for a trainer that is ready to help you overcome the annual cycle of self abuse. A Christian trainer will help you learn to be a good steward of your body.

Islands of Health in a Sea of Christianity

They are out there – You can find Christian medical, health, and fitness professionals actively and unapologetically taking a Christian approach to the work they do. Unfortunately, they often operate as fragmented islands. They sometimes independently reinvent the wheel. In the future, improved networking will create standardized objectives and practices of Christian professionals and make it easier for the public to find and choose these professionals and their services.

“There he [Elijah] went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” “Yet I [God] reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:9-10, 18 NIV

God showed Elijah there were in fact 7000 other faithful servants he was not aware of, none of whom probably knew about Elijah, or each other. Similarly, many wellness professionals assume they are unique in their ministry, because there is no major grouping or network that introduces them to each other.

Faith & Fitness magazine, and the International Christian Health and Fitness Alliance (ICHFA) seek to change that. We are working to help provide a network and voice to the thousands of Christian health and fitness professionals we know are out there, who daily use their talent and passion to serve the Lord. We are connecting with them and encouraging them to identify themselves as pros that can provide a specifically Christian encounter to those clients who seek such an experience. Until then, those people who want a club or trainer that offer elements of Christian faith will have to intentionally look and ask specific questions.

Simultaneously, there are many Christian professionals who have never considered using their passion and talent in Christian ministry. Maybe the idea never occurred to them? Maybe they did not recognize the need? Maybe they were never asked to help? Maybe the thought of ‘coming out of the closet’ and revealing their faith position is intimidating? Maybe they question the financial feasibility of using their time and talent this way?

A third group of wellness professionals are desperately seeking a passionate return for their efforts. They seek that elusive satisfaction of achieving their purpose, that missing ingredient that transforms a job into a joy. These people need their Christian peers to speak up and introduce them to Christ. It may simply take an invitation to participate, to open their eyes to the fulfilling joy of serving Christ through time, talent and treasure.

The Harvest Is Plentiful but the Workers Are Few

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

Christian fitness professionals are out there, but there are not enough of them and they are not well identified. Fitness and wellness provides a perfect environment for incorporating Christian faith truths and instruction. There are good men and women professionals committed to using their passion for wellness to tell the world that the fullness of health and wellness is found in the Bible. When people seek healing and answers, they are more open to hear the gospel and welcome the hope of Jesus. Fitness professionals are there to offer it. They are there to educate, encourage and empower people.

A secularized fitness world appeals to man’s cosmetic need for glitter - to look good, often at the price of health. Christians are called to look at a human’s body, soul, and spirit and meet all three. The fitness industry’s failure to provide gold instead of glitter, and take a comprehensive approach to the human need for self-esteem, health, and hope is creating an urgent need for a Christian response.

Many healing ministries respond to those in already in a crisis – showing up to pray for healing and to offer encouragement. Youth ministries have realized games are a great icebreaker with non-Christian teens. Women’s ministries review ways to create and enhance family life, and men’s ministries have found competitive activities a strategic way to hold the macho attention. In many ways, a quality health and fitness component to any or all of these ministries, led by qualified leaders will be an asset to a Christian organization at the consultation, design, and implementation levels.

The Missing Puzzle Piece

With all the information available, people realize they still do not have the truth, and so they keep searching. In fact, as the failures mount with yet another expensive potion with an outrageous promise, the search for the illusive restoration from deterioration (age, looks, and health) becomes more frantic!

“I am the way the Truth and the life” John 14:6

Christian health and fitness professionals have a unique platform for offering Christian value to life. The desperate search for the solution to health and wellness issues creates an opportunity for fitness professionals to share the eternal hope, healing, and strength that Jesus offers. Delivering the Word on the platter of traditional health and fitness methods, means an audience that may never visit a church, can still be reached in a very non-traditional way and those clients who are Christians can be encouraged and strengthened in their walk.

The message of stewardship of the body is not as often discussed. Since health issues are impacted by personal choices, emotional state, and spiritual maturity; an effective wellness team should incorporate a Pastor or spiritual leader, a medical professional, a counselor or therapist a nutritionist/fitness professional, and maybe a safety professional. Separately, each has a unique contribution to make. As a cohesive team, great strides can be made in the teaching, modeling, and mastering of stewardship of the body.

Group Exercise

Christian health and fitness professional, need to be proactive about networking with other professionals. Networking strengthens, encourages, and opens up new and exciting opportunities for ministry. Being zealous without direction will lead to ineffective use of energy and talent. After all, we are all parts of the same body – and the parts relate to the whole, and needs to be attached to the body for sustenance and continuity.

The fitness industry has capitalized on this concept. In fact, there are quite a few prestigious organizations for health and fitness professionals such as IDEA and IHRSA, and Christians do benefit from memberships to those organizations. However, they do not support, endorse, nor distribute information or resources specific to furthering the Kingdom.

To this end, Christian professionals independently use the trial and error method to adapt secular resources to a Christian environment, or, in some instances, create their own materials. Some of these adaptations or materials if shared with other Christian Health professionals would be a great way to begin a library of ready-made resources, and maybe an additional income for the author.

How many Christian wellness professionals do you know? How many of those wish they could be involved or are currently involved in a fitness ministry? Please let us know of fitness professionals in your community that either identify or celebrate their Christian faith or those who are Christian and need encouragement to live it out more each day.

Drawn to the Flame

Churches have traditionally acted as community centers, providing many social opportunities and services to their members and local residents. More and more churches are incorporating health and fitness programs into their healing, women’s or youth ministries as part of a new and viable outreach and in-reach. Church organized health fairs, exercise classes, or rehabilitation assistance are proving to be an innovative way to reach out to a resistant community and provide a fun fellowship option.

For example, Heritage Baptist, a very small church in Tampa, FL has group exercise classes, health screenings and are in process of creating an equipment filled, fitness facility. The Germantown Baptist Church in Tennessee has a large fitness center and regularly hosts wellness seminars, CPR training and base-line health assessment tests. Some of these wellness programs have been used as effective fund-raisers, or as an incentive to those who are not Christian to participate in a Christian environment.

Stewardship of the body is an urgent message. Christian wellness professionals are the messengers. People will actively seek this help in the new year. Christian health professionals and organization, are you ready to meet this need? Who are you? Where are you? What are your challenges? What solutions/resources have you found or created? Come together and give the world Jesus - the answer they seek!

Christian health professionals/organizations who want to start a new or enhance an existing wellness or fitness program can contact ICHFA for assistance, and qualify for free membership.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2004 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle.

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