Samir Becic, a volunteer that leads fitness classes at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, and an internationally known personal fitness trainer and leader of Health Fitness Revolution, a movement dedicated to helping Americans become healthy, is currently gearing up to take on 100 churches throughout the country to let Christians know that living healthier can help them stay in tune with their spiritual life.
Becic plans to begin his initiative in 2014 by educating church leaders who, in turn, can educate their members. He also hopes his program will prompt churches to facilitate organized sports, and implement educational seminars and support groups.
"My main message to churches is to live like Jesus," said Becic, to The Christian Post. "Two thousand years ago, we didn't have access to processed food so Jesus only ate organic. Jesus was active; He was kind and always helping people. All those components that Jesus had 2,000 years ago are prefect examples of how to live a healthy lifestyle in the 21st century. Spiritual balance, social interaction, kindness, happiness, physical activity and organic food -- that is my main message."
In addition to helping churches, Becic also wants to take on schools and tackle the overweight issue within American children. But his current effort is to help the evangelical community, where obesity is becoming a major health risk.
"We want to focus on the Christian community because they have the highest obesity rate of any community in the U.S., and we believe that our bodies truly are our temples. When you are healthy, you're able to be more focused on God, I believe that with my heart and soul. That's a key component to a healthy lifestyle," said Becic.
According to a 2006 Purdue University study, evangelicals are considered the heaviest of all religious groups. The study found that Baptists lead the group, with a 30 percent obesity rate, compared to Jews at one percent and Buddhists and Hindus at less than 0.7 percent.
Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study that tracked more than 3,000 people for 18 years, revealed that those who attend church or a bible study on a weekly basis are 50 percent more likely to be obese. On a larger scale, nearly one-half of the American population will be obese by 2030, reports a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
To prevent obesity from becoming an uncontrollable epidemic, Becic says the solution must begin with church leaders. He says not enough pastors are leading the way with healthy lifestyles. However, he commended pastor Rick Warren who recently made headlines with his new book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, in which Warren encourages Christians to begin living a fulfilling yet healthy life.
"We need more pastors like that who can spread the message of having a healthy body and healthy mind," said Becic.
Becic, who came to the U.S. from Bosnia in 2000, earned his prominent reputation in the fitness industry after being involved with martial arts and training for Bally Total Fitness. He has nabbed the number one title as best fitness trainer on a slew of international, national and state level lists, and reaches over one million Texans each week through his health and fitness advice given on a KSBJ 89.3 FM, a local Houston radio program.
His work with Lakewood was another opportunity that came by way of his high recognition within the fitness industry and one that he hopes more churches across America can give him.
"As a pastor, Joel Osteen is fit and I was attracted to the idea of helping, especially since the Christian community is the most obese. I'm here to stop that," said Becic.