A celebrity fitness expert believes that Christians should not neglect their physical wellness to only concentrate on their spiritual health.
In the new book, Prayfit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Strong Faith in 28 Days, clinical exercise physiologist Jimmy Peña encourages Christians to adopt a whole person fitness program that creates healthy life habits, stronger body and mind, and deeper spiritual faith.
"In 1 Timothy 4, the Bible says, 'for physical training has some value but training in godliness has value now and in the life to come,'" Peña highlighted in an interview with The Christian Post. "The first part of the verse says 'have limited value.' I think what happens is that as believers we skip over that first half of the verse and we concentrate solely on the second half."
Peña – whose client roster includes Mario Lopez, Tyler Perry, LL Cool J – combines in the book exercises and a fitness plan with daily devotionals that include Scripture. There is even space for readers to jot down personal thoughts and progress.
The Christian fitness expert emphasizes that the program is designed to strengthen the body and mind all while growing each individual's faith and spirit.
"When I realized that life is not about the body, it kind of confirmed to me at that moment what C.S. Lewis said, 'you don't have to have a soul, you are the soul, you have a body,'" he recalled.
Even before writing the book, Peña would spend time in personal devotion with God before working out. The book came about due to his concern for Americans after reading the shocking statistic that the United States is facing an obesity epidemic.
"I think we stopped paying attention to our health… [but] if we lose body fat, we lower our blood pressure and we get our health in check, [then] those things are byproducts of obedience," said Peña. "I think those things are just byproduct of praise."
Some people are discouraged to lose weight due to slow metabolisms or body type. But Peña encourages people to instead look at their situation as a compliment from God.
"God believes that we can handle what He is allowing us to endure. So if we look at it that way, this is a compliment, this is not a disadvantage," he said. "It's not about living someone else's life. It's about living the life you've been given. It's learning what suits your own body. It's learning what exercises you enjoy. What activities you enjoy. It's learning and gravitating towards those things to change your life."
Although training in godliness is the most important thing to do as a Christian, the fitness expert emphasizes that it doesn't mean that Christians have to devalue the body that God has given them.
"I really believe that it is very important to take care of the body that carries the soul," said Peña. "It doesn't take faith in Jesus to be fit, but if we have faith in Jesus we should strive to be fit. If we have faith, we should at least try to be healthy."
Members of Saddleback Church in southern California are currently on a 52-week, church-wide fitness plan to get parishioners physically healthier. Founding pastor Rick Warren has pledged to lose 90 pounds through the yearlong Daniel Plan.