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GodFit helps build physical, spiritual strength

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Inspiration recently spurred fitness trainer John Hayden to flex his creative muscles when he heard his pastor, the Rev. Dan Houze, encourage people to “use your platform to encourage others.”

Columbus’ Hayden, a trainer and fitness coach at Tipton Lakes Athletic Club, is doing precisely that.

With Houze’s help, he launched a training program at Terrace Lake Community Church and the athletic club. He calls it GodFit, with the catchphrase, “Fit for Christ. Fit for Life.”

“I think it’s a huge area frequently ignored,” Hayden said, referring to the blending of Christian faith and fitness locally. “Unfortunately, obesity statistics and unhealthy options have not stayed outside the church doors.”

He and Houze agree that’s partly because churches build plenty of activities and events around food, including too much and the wrong kind. Hayden noted that Jesus reminded followers in Scripture that their bodies were a temple.

The 22-member class works simply. There are three spiritual devotions and three workouts participants complete on their own. Plus, a weekly group devotion and training session unfolds on Sunday evenings at the athletic club. The spiritual side of the class centers on six areas: solitude, meditation, prayer, simplicity, study and reflection.

Some class members want to lose weight or find new ways to exercise. Others are looking for a more spiritually structured life. Some already are fit; some are not yet.

The physical workouts center on strength, endurance and metabolic acceleration. The six-week time frame for the program “is a very good timetable to establish change and see results, but it’s still short enough so the commitment to the program isn’t intimidating,” Hayden said.

Hayden has been around exercise long enough to learn one lesson well.

“Once people taste success, it’s addictive,” he said.

Houze knows the value of physical intensity.

“Working out in a disciplined way has added to my emotional health,” said Houze, who has exercised with a personal trainer’s help for more than a year. “I’m 57 with a lot going on and a lot of stress, and I can’t imagine doing all that I do without this (fitness) in my life.

“I think an exercise program always adds to one’s mental health, which adds to one’s spiritual health. Working out is not just about the physical.”

He said he sees solitude as perhaps the bedrock spiritual discipline that other disciplines hinge upon in a world wired for sound.

“It took me a long time to learn solitude,” Houze said, adding that he had become accustomed to plenty of “white noise” around him.

He added that silence matters because “we know from Elijah that, often, God is going to whisper to us.”

Houze is familiar with plenty of Christians who have made resolutions to get healthier or be more spiritual but seen their goals fall flat.

“I think sometimes what we lack are spiritual disciplines,” Houze said. “I think when Christians get that, they will see more impact in everything else in their life. And with this, that was John’s


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