Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Good Faith

As Program Coordinator at Grace United Methodist Church in Decatur, Illinois, Penny Butts works on finding new activities and ways to grow the church. "Fit Clubs are really big in our city," says Penny. "So the idea to combine faith and fitness just seemed natural." She adds, "God wants us to worship our bodies. After all, they are our temples."

Penny approached the Board of Directors about having faith-based workouts at church as part of a community outreach program. "Initially, they liked the idea, but had concerns about running a business out of a church," she recalls. "But they set us up as a non-profit organization and got behind it quickly."

It wasn't long before Penny's club, "Grace, Faith, & Fitness" was off and running.

The gospel truth

Participants in Penny's club work out to the inspirational Body Gospel. A typical session begins with a welcome greeting, followed by a short prayer. Then, of course, it turns from salvation to sweat. "Body Gospel is such a unique and uplifting program!" she exclaims. "Everyone is enthusiastic and really enjoys it. People are always smiling as they're working out."

Penny believes that the church environment adds to the comfort level. "People don't have to be intimidated by a gym where everyone is super-fit looking," she reveals. "They can be themselves and not have to worry about being judged."

Penny's group also does a "Biggest Loser" Challenge. "It's basically a 90-day weight loss competition to see who can lose the greatest percentage of body weight," Penny explains. "We find out everyone's weight loss goals and track their progress week by week. Any money won from the competition goes right back into the Fit Club to buy things like exercise equipment or floor mats."

Spreading the word

Penny got the word out on local bulletin boards, doing display ads at the Church, and by utilizing social media. "We're constantly adding friends to our Facebook page," she says. "It's one of the best ways for regulars, as well as prospects to stay connected to us."

Penny also contacted local Television stations and newspapers. "They love to do 'feel good' stories," she explains. "Plus, a church doing a Fit Club to gospel music is completely unique."

And Penny's Fit Club received an added boost from an unlikely source. "The Chicago Tribune found out about our club through a newspaper in Orlando," she says. "They ran a story on the club and the exposure has been awesome!"

Growing by the numbers

Grace, Faith, & Fitness has come a long way since eight people showed up to the first session. "We're averaging about 30 people now, and last night we had 44!" Penny says with enthusiasm. "We're getting repeat customers, as well as new people all the time." She continues, "The church loves it and everyone has been thanking me."

But for Penny, nothing can trump the impact that the club has had on her personally. "So many of the people who are showing up have never even exercised before," she says. "A few obese men came in and just watched for the first 2 sessions. Now they're actively participating and making progress."

Penny goes on, "I'm seeing all different types of people—from those in their late 60's, to people who are 200 pounds overweight. It's incredibly rewarding to be making a difference to so many people!"

Coach's Playbook: Starting a Body Gospel Fit Club.

Present the idea to your church as part of a community outreach program.

Conduct a Biggest Loser contest. It will help people stay accountable to their goals.

Spread the word any way you can. Contact local television and radio stations and put up signs on community bulletin boards.

Utilize social media—friend as many people as you can on Facebook.

Sign up all of your participants for the free membership on WOWY®.

For more information on Team Beachbody click on the link :  HERE

Thursday, February 17, 2011

FRIENDSHIP - you can't live without it

Your most important health decision may be as simple as making a new friend.
Here's why. 
By. Meg Luckens Noonan

Want to be healthier? Ditch the cigarettes and throw a party. Studies show that having an active social life with a circle of good friends is a second only to not smoking in the list of heart-healthy essentials. Not only  that, but close social ties have been shown to help lower blood pressure, protect against dementia, and reduce the risk of depression. Friendship is so powerful, in fact that some researchers have termed it a "behavioral vaccine".

Families are great; you still need friends.
According to a Birgham Young University analysis of nearly 150 studies that examined social relationships and their effects on health, people with close friends live longer than those who are loners- and longer than those who rely only on a spouse or other family member for support.
Friendship appears to be crucial to recovering from illness, as well. For example, in a Harvard study a women with breast cancer, patients without a strong social network were found to have a 66 percent increased risk of death than those with a network of supportive pals.

What is it about friendship that is healing?
Scientists aren't certain, but there is evidence that feeling close to a friend increase levels of progesterone, a hormone that helps reduce stress, a known contributor to heart disease and a suppressor of the immune system.
What's more, in 2009, University of Michigan researchers discovered that in a group of female subjects, progesterone triggered a bonding response that led them to seek out friends in times of difficulty-as opposed to the classic "fight or flight" response to stress. Experts also think that a strong social network encourages people to take better care of themselves and to seek medical treatment earlier for symptoms that may indicate serious problems. Close friends also lift each other's moods, convey a sense of belonging and help build self-esteem.

So just how close is "close"?
"The definition varies from person to person", says Irene Levine, a professor of psychiatry at the NYU school of Medicine and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend.  "In general, with a close friend, there's a sense of loyalty and trust that permits you to be yourself. You don't have to put on airs or pretend to be someone you're not."
Even as online "friending" has exploded, true meaningful friendships appear to be more difficult than ever to cultivate and maintain. A 2006 Duke University study found that Americans have one-third as many close friends as they did 20 years ago. Still, when it comes to providing health benefits, the number of friends you have doesn't seem as crucial as the quality of the friendship. "What's important is to have enough-for-you close friends upon whom you can depend for understanding and support," says Levine says. And, since half of our close friendships turn over every seven years, you have to keep working at making new friends.

Making New Friends in 3 Steps
"Long-term friendships are wonderful and valuable," says Tina B. Tessina, a Southern California psychotherapist and author. "But if you don't make a new connections as you get older, your group of friends may diminish due to death and relocation." Tessina has some tips for cultivating a new friends.
1. Consider what being a friend means to you. Who are your best friends? What qualities do they have? Once you have a clear idea of the kinds of friendships you enjoy,  you can decide to create more of them in your life.
2. Get involved with a group that meets regularly. It can be taking classes, joining a club, volunteering or playing a sport. The people you meet will share your interest, and you'll have something to talk about and enjoy together.
3. When you find someone you think is pleasant, spend a little time talking with him or her during or after your activity. Ask questions about the project you are working on, or share your experiences. If you both enjoy the conversation, offer to meet before or after the session for coffee. From there, you can begin to do more things together, until you've established a pattern of friendship.