He knows where his real strength comes from — and it’s way beyond the squats and presses and other exercises that he embraces religiously.

Dustin O’Neal said it comes from his devotion to Jesus. That explains why he is now enrolled in St. Peter’s Lutheran’s new program, Life|Fitness, which blends physical, spiritual and nutritional elements into a holistic health overview.

The next slate of classes, with most priced at $15 each for six weeks, begins Sunday and runs through July at the church, 719 Fifth St. in Columbus.

Life|Fitness began in February with a $5,000 year-long grant from a national Christian ministry. The program, emphasizing the strength of fellowship and relationships as much as anything, features classes that open with prayer and close with devotional Christian thoughts.

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“What I like most is that it’s all Christ-centered,” said O’Neal, 28, in strength and cardio classes and basketball and co-ed volleyball with people of all ages and fitness levels.

Classes are open to anyone, whether they attend a church or not. The current selection includes Zumba, mat Pilates, a Christian alternative to yoga, strength/cardio and senior strength and stretching.

Dustin Weber, a St. Peter’s member who is a trained fitness instructor and conditioning coach, leads the initiative that attracted 92 people for its first 12 classes.

“The main goal for us is seeing the impact that God has on individual people during the classes,” Weber said. “Obviously, we want to increase participation, but we want to stay focused on each individual.”

Fifty-year-old Molly Humes, who works in St. Peter’s office, had not worked out in a number of years when, at the urging of younger friends, she joined a Zumba class and a strength/cardio one. As a longtime smoker who was overweight, she thought she might be in over her head.

“I couldn’t even run down the hall when we started,” Humes said. “I was not exactly the most fit person in the world.”

But she dropped her smoking habit during Lent and has successfully remained nicotine-free, thanks to prayer and chewing gum.

“At the end of your class time, when you’re really exhausted and they read that day’s devotional, you just feel that God has been honored,” Humes said.

She added that she has learned to lean on God for perseverance to push through discomfort and classes.

“For me, it sometimes can be a little painful,” Humes said. “But I am gaining.”

That includes added emotional well-being. She lost her daughter in 2014, and the classes are helping her continue to look forward to God’s future guidance, direction and goodness.

“I know that God has so much more for me,” she said.

Weber said he understands that Christian churches often have been better known for food fellowships and Sunday morning doughnuts more than fitness.

“Those (food fellowship) things aren’t always necessarily bad,” Weber said. “But we also want people to realize that our bodies are God’s temple, and that we’re learning to take care of that.”

Weber said he understands that making time for a workout or taking a class often requires deliberately slowing one’s pace.

“I think a lot of it in today’s society is that with so many people’s crazy schedule, physical fitness often just gets kind of pushed to the side,” Weber said. “So, we’re just trying to encourage people to consciously think about it.

“We want people’s physical fitness just one part of how they glorify God. And ideally, we want the fitness to be a byproduct of people glorifying God and serving Christ.”

Class schedule

Week of May 29 through week of July 3. All classes at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 719 Fifth St. in Columbus.

Zumba with Leah (women only):

  • 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays.
  • 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Strength/Cardio:

  • 9 to 10 a.m. Mondays.
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
  • 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
  • 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays.
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays.
  • 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays.
  • 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Mat Pilates:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays.
  • 8 to 9 a.m. Thursdays.

Christian Alternative to Yoga:

  • 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Senior Strength and Stretch:

  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

Strength/Cardio:

  • 9 to 10 a.m. Mondays.
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
  • 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
  • 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays.
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Information: stpeters.org, then click on Life|Fitness.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.