Question: where or what is your church?
Some people are religious and others have their own non-religious beliefs, I’m not here to discredit or discount either side. I think in todays world, it’s important for us to have something to believe in and to have our own church no matter if it presents itself in the way of a brick and mortar building or not.
I had a conversation with my mom and aunt last week about religion vs. spirituality and it reminded me that a while ago I was listening to a radio show called OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook. On Tuesday, January 7th Tom had guests on talking about the Boutique Fitness craze going on right now. The guests spoke about how classes like Soul Cycle, Core Power and Cross Fit have become places of soul searching, spiritual togetherness and community. They spoke about how group fitness classes, especially ones that create a sense of family or community, can function as a form of church.
Now I know that group fitness classes aren’t for everyone and that not everyone wants to compete against someone else to see who is the best cycler or can lift the most but you have to wonder why these types of classes have grown so popular? I can only think that it’s the connection to something, the connection to other people and the connection to ourselves all curled into one experience. But I think its something bigger than that too. Group fitness classes make you feel like you’re not the only one on a journey and they give you a sense of personal accountability – especially because they can get a little expensive.
Soul Cycle’s About Us page says it best I think – “SoulCycle doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls.” Let’s talk about that… empowering yourself with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls. How awesome is that? In a world where there are so many people breaking other people down, couldn’t we all use some empowerment and strength? Couldn’t we all stand to surround ourselves with people that make us want to be better?
When I started on my weight loss journey I attached myself to Zumba. it was something I did in college as my extra curricular credits and loved it. I also took African Dance Class which has a lot of similar movements but is much more of a whole-body experience. If you haven’t tried either of these, I’d highly recommend them. Zumba, however, turned into a love and my main source of fitness after college when started going to see Zumba Judy. Judy was super upbeat and fun and she encouraged everyone do do their best. She pushed the FITNESS aspect of the dancing… not just flailing around like a crazy person like past instructors I had.
I went two or three times a week like clockwork and it became like a second home to me. But what was it that was so drawing about it? The community! But also, the fact that every class I went to I got stronger, felt more fit, was able to move more and move longer. I found who I was through dance. I might not have been the best dancer, but I learned that I could push myself to work harder. I left feeling enriched, enlightened and confident. Zumba was my church. It was my connection to other people and my connection to my self – to a higher feeling and a different mindset.
As time went on, I got into running and decided to train for my first half marathon and now my second. A common theme in the running community is Sunday Runday and while I might not always do my long runs on Sunday (sometimes Saturday) that for me is church. It’s a time for reflection, quieting my mind, talking to myself, making plans, making decisions and relieving stress. It’s usually early in the morning and sets the tone for the day or the weekend. It’s quiet, there aren’t many people on the road and I feel at peace – even if my legs are creating inner turmoil and telling me to stop. SHUT UP LEGS!
Sometimes I have music to enjoy, sometimes I watch tv shows – like Aerial America – while I’m on the dreadmill, and sometimes I just enjoy what mother nature provides for our visual/auditory pleasure. I’ve found there is quite a lovely harmony when your feet, breath and nature mix together for one soundtrack of solitude. Occasionally I have friends to run with and that sense of community (no matter how small it is), working toward a goal together, chatting about anything under the stars… it’s energizing and relaxing at the same time.
I’ve found my spirituality in fitness, weight loss, running and getting to know myself and this body that is my temple a little better. I’ve found my church in group fitness classes, fitness-minded friends, and in solitary sports like running. And also snowmobiling… but I won’t talk about that four letter word because I know some people are kinda touchy about it right now 😉
So what or where is your church? Is it a brick and mortar church? Is it your local pool? Is it driving down your favorite country road?