TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A new exercise program offered in Tyler is ditching traditional workouts for one that merges fitness and faith to push the body and spirit.
Gerneshia Benton works out at the Live Fitness gym before heading to her job each day. "I believe every day should start with Jesus. He wakes us up in the morning and he puts us down to sleep at night, making sure that we're safe."
Before the very first sit-up, participants in the 'Get Centered' group read a scripture written on a dry-erase board.
Paul Hildreth, who runs the gym, wants to help his clients achieve both fitness and faith goals. "Starting their day off right, where it makes them feel that they can actually achieve their day. It doesn't matter what they're going through."
He says his own faith journey led him to create a workout program providing something extra. "If they know they can come in and get a light workout, they can feel good about themselves. It's wrapped with scripture that makes them feel good through whatever they're going through. well, then it's a win-win."
Clergy of various denominations lead a short devotional, weaving-in topics to motivate, challenge, and inspire. Then, the group reflects on requests and special prayer intentions.
The exercise routine kicks into high gear with a mix of rowing, wall balls, and push ups, all while Christian music plays in the background.
Participants have a variety of skill levels, from Marines recruits to working moms and retirees. Some want to shed weight, while others are looking to stay in shape.
Blake Sinclair says there's no judgement in the gym and fellowship with friends is an added bonus.
"Finding my faith has really changed my outlook on everything -- my relationships at home, relationships with friends, my relationships with the people I work for and work with. It's all-inclusive, man."
The program is helping cut stress for police officer Ronnie Clayborne. He says the program is helping grow his relationship with God.
"It's not a big thing in the younger generation. But myself, personally, i've grown more in faith here. I get a lot of spiritual feeding here and it makes me feel good just to be here."
Cross-training involves goal-setting and a positive outlook to overcome hurdles in personal wellness. Hildreth says it's the same for life's struggles. "As they say, the spiritual walk is one step at time. Well, so is the fitness walk. It's not overnight. It's one step at a time and the more you come, the better you get."
'Get Centered' is always looking for more clergy and ministers to take part.
A portion of the proceeds go to Saint Paul's Foundation and other East Texas charities.
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