From the outside, DeKalb’s First United Methodist Church seems still and cold on a weekday morning. But on the inside, a small group is warming the church through faith, fitness and fellowship.
“There goes one mile,” Karen Mason exclaimed while marching in place in the church’s heritage room.
Around her, 10 others breathe sighs of relief or smile while they keep pace with an exercise DVD.
Mason, 72, is one of the members of a small exercise group known as Faithfully Fit that meets two mornings a week at First United Methodist, 321 Oak St., DeKalb.
Through Faithfully Fit, participants gain a sense of community as they use exercise to connect with God.
The group started a little more than three years ago after some young retirees decided they wanted to stay fit. First United Methodist has a number of small groups that members feel foster the church community and the Faithfully Fit group was another one members felt would be beneficial.
When it first started, Faithfully Fit attracted about six people who wanted to walk a mile during their 30-minute meeting. Within a few weeks, group members were walking two miles every Tuesday and Friday morning with the help of faith-based workout DVDs.
The video keeps the group constantly moving, whether it’s by walking in place, kicking, shuffling from side-to-side or reaching their arms into the air. The activity also incorporates toning bands and weights. At the same time, inspirational worship music plays to further foster the faith and fitness connection.
“The friendship and the fellowship are really bonuses of it,” Mason said. “We have all gotten to know each other better. That community is what church is about.”
A group of about 15 people who range from their 50’s to their 80’s now gathers for the exercise group. While the group is mostly made up of women, a couple men have joined the mix. There’s no registration involved, or even membership to the church. To start exercising with the group, showing up is the only requirement.
Beyond faith in God, the group demands members have faith in themselves to make it through the two-mile walk.
“There’s that peer pressure element,” member Penny Rosenow said. “You look over and you see someone going and you think ‘I can keep going.’”
Some participants come to the group while in the process of rehabilitating from an injury or surgery. The workout can be modified to fit their needs.
“It’s a great way to start the morning,” Rosenow said.
At the end of their walk, the group forms a circle with one person leading a prayer aloud.
“We just thank God for being able to move our muscles and strengthen our minds, bodies and souls,” Mason said.
Faithfully Fit meets from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday and Friday in the Heritage Room of the First United Methodist Church.
If you go
What: Faithfully Fit
When: 8:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays
Where: Heritage Room, First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb