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Program teaches believers to exercise body, faith for others

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Fitness instructor John Hayden, pictured Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, is the creator of GodFit, a program that combines exercise and spirituality.
Fitness instructor John Hayden, pictured Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, is the creator of GodFit, a program that combines exercise and spirituality.

Submitted / Fitness instructor John Hayden speaks during a session of GodFit.
Submitted / Fitness instructor John Hayden speaks during a session of GodFit.

John Hayden would love to see Christians build enough muscle to lift a few burdens from others’ shoulders.

That’s part of his evolving idea behind GodFit, a six-week program of physical and spiritual exercises meant to encourage believers to use their strength and well-being in service to others.

“I believe when there are more followers engaged in wellness, there will be more opportunities presented for us to serve,” said Hayden, Tipton Lakes Athletic Club trainer and fitness coach.

He is also a member of Columbus’ Terrace Lake Community Church, 4260 W. County Road 200S.

In order to to encourage more Christians toward wellness, Hayden is expanding the program he launched at Terrace Lake last year with the Rev. Dan Houze, his pastor.

Faith Lutheran and New Hope Christian will begin GodFit in January, The Bridge Christian radio station staff will begin in April and First Christian Church in October. Ogilville Christian Church and Community Church of Columbus have hosted the programColumbus’ Ryan and Kim Coy completed GodFit, and have continued using a manual of exercises, Scripture and readings since then.

Kim Coy, in fact, used GodFit to drop the last eight pounds of her post-pregnancy weight and also lose nearly 8 percent body fat.

“It really kept me accountable,” she said of the group-style process that allowed people to encourage others for their three-times-per-week workouts.

“And I had to make a real commitment just to do it,” she said. “It probably would have been really easy for me to use just having the baby as an excuse.”

In the opening segment of the manual, Houze highlights the importance of growing as a Christian. In the Greek translation of a Bible passage from the Gospel according to Paul, Houze points out that the word means “cutting our way forward.”

“It requires effort and commitment on our part to do the work of ‘cutting,’” writes Houze, who still works out regularly.

Ryan Coy mentioned that he benefited perhaps most from GodFit’s inclusion of solitude among its six areas of emphasis. The idea: to listen daily for God’s inner guidance and direction.

Toward that end, Ryan said he often does his work commuting with the stereo off in his car.

“Too often, when we pray, we’re the ones doing all the talking instead of taking time to listen,” Ryan said.

He’s kept service in mind, too, just as the leaders have directed.

Not long ago, for instance, his small group helped build a porch and painted at Brown County’s New Song Mission for children.

Hayden loves to hear such stories.

“Taking the approach of ‘How can my fitness level help others?’ changes the purpose of not only your workouts, but also your heart,” he said.

Granted, Ryan Coy and Hayden each acknowledge that even unfit people can be of great service. But they also see how a healthier life opens additional options of assisting others, too.

The Coys both said their faith has been enhanced through GodFit.

Hayden’s faith, too, has been galvenized.

“God has confirmed this is where he wants me to serve,” he said. “The success of the individuals has also confirmed the concept (of GodFit).”

Part of the program’s success lies in removing traditional barriers to exercise, as Hayden sees it — lack of knowledge, injury and lack and support or accountability. He figures that can open the door to more believers reaching out in a variety of ways.

“I think many more Christians would serve more if they simply felt better.”

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