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Faithfully fit: Exercising in church

November 2, 2009

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Caryn Scott leads the exercise group at Immanuel Lutheran Church, combining faith and fitness for holistic health.

Caryn Scott leads the exercise group at Immanuel Lutheran Church, combining faith and fitness for holistic health.

Sounds of energetic instruction, upbeat Christian music and toe tapping can be heard from the new Activity Center Gymnasium at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

The laughter and chatter among the participants of a new fitness class are a result of the church’s Health and Wellness Committee’s desire to provide its members with an opportunity to enhance their health.

Caryn Scott, chair of the committee, says members wanted a way to help their members’ health both physically and spiritually.

“We wanted to find a way to serve our church and community’s health,” Scott says. “We thought some would be more comfortable coming into a church for exercise, rather than a gym.”

Scott, a retired physical therapist, leads a fitness class called Faithfully Fit Forever, which meets at 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the church, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway. The eight-week class, which costs $10, consists of 40 minutes of stretching, aerobic exercise and a cool down, followed by a 10-minute health discussion and 10-minute devotion.

“During the education portion, we talk about things like nutrition, balance or cholesterol,” Scott says. “We try to include a variety of things people would like to know about.”

The exercise program began Sept. 21 and currently has about 12 regular participants, primarily over the age of 60. But the class offers exercises for all skill levels — movements that can be done either standing up or sitting down — and aims to encourage people of all ages to participate.

Participants have varied reasons for getting involved, but camaraderie and maintaining their fitness seem to be common motivators.

“I want to keep active,” participant Geri Fordice says. “The more you keep moving, the younger you are.”

Fordice’s husband, Bernard — who turns 89 this week— is another regular class participant.

“I figured I needed it,” Bernard says. “I need to keep myself limber and do anything to help my breathing.”

Another husband-and-wife duo, Andy and JoAnn Siler, regularly attend Faithfully Fit Forever. They agree that the friendly, informal atmosphere encouraged them to attend the class.

“It’s a safe atmosphere,” Andy says. “We already know the leader and most of the participants, so we know we’re not going to be laughed at.”

Another new program offered at Immanuel Lutheran is a class called Yoga for Fitness, led by Mary Pawlowski, a certified level-one yoga instructor. The emphasis for this class is fitness, rather than Eastern philosophy. The church also has plans for a third class beginning in January 2010, Scott says.

Though the class is relatively new, Scott already can see her participants making progress.

“People come early to walk,” Scott says. “They’re taking on more than the class is giving.”

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