Is the fitness craze for Christians?

fitnesscrazeforchristiansFitness is a huge topic right now. Obviously, since I get at least 10 fitness-related spam emails each morning and my twitter feed is consistently bombarded with stories of fitness makeovers, medical studies on weight loss and the latest diet tips. Some newly discovered fitness miracle is advertised on the cover of every magazine in the grocery store check out line.

What caught my eye today? A story of a 64-year-old grandmother winning fitness competitions in string bikinis against women half her age. Boasting a rock-hard body with six-pack abs, chiseled legs and sculpted arms, Ruby Carter-Pikes has won numerous awards and received the praise of her peers for her youthfully fit appearance. The world places a high value on youth, with the health and fitness industry generating $14M annually and the weight loss industry generating over $44M each year.

This fitness craze has permeated Christian circles as well, not just secular society. And medical studies have shown the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, but when does healthy living cross into unhealthy obsession? As children of God, should our interactions with fitness look different from the world? What is healthy and what is too far? What does it mean to live in moderation, as Scripture says? As women surrounded by a society that worships youthful beauty, how should we react?

What do you think? Can fitness impact our witness – either for good or bad?

4 thoughts on “Is the fitness craze for Christians?

  1. I Timothy 4:8-10
    “…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

    Paul puts physical fitness into proper perspective in this passage. Being healthy is of some value and falls under our responsibility to be good stewards, but training in godliness is of ultimate value because it holds promise not just here on earth but also “for the life to come.” Our toiling and striving should be toward godliness over all else if our hope is set on Christ alone.

    Making an effort to take care of ourselves shows honor to God by honoring ourselves as creations of God made in His image. But, just as anything else, this can easily turn into an idol when we start worshipping Creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25). When our lives reflect that fitness is more worthy of honor than godliness, we bring glory to ourselves instead of Jesus. Let’s let our striving and toiling be towards godliness at the expense of all else, because nothing else will matter in the life to come!

  2. I think some of our husbands hope it is for us! 😉

    Bowing to a worldly perspective isn’t good nor putting too much emphasis on our looks and physical bodies. While some of us go to the extreme of worshipping physical fitness, some of us go to the extreme of ignoring it.

    I’m the first time mom of a 2 month old and have struggled with this lately – struggled with how to think about fitness and health. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my way of self-soothing is to eat. Which is not healthy. Stressed? Happy? Sad? Give me a cookie! What made me realize that though isn’t some super spiritial insight that I’m going to the frig instead of God, but that my pants were too tight! And while I dislike being uncomfortable, I HATE being the size that I am. I’m aware of it when I sit down. When I look in a mirror. When I see other people who are the size that I want to be. When I see people the size that I fear that I’ll be.

    I don’t have any great answers. Fitness and health and beauty do have a place in our lives. A place. Not nothing. Not everything. But where the great balance is to be found, I don’t have that answer yet.

  3. Pretty astute observations, is this not one more expression of our worship of the creature rather than the creator. I practice many healthy habits but I do not do anything to an extreme, I am not a competing athlete so there is little use in that. I do try to maintain my temple well, better at times and not so good at others.

  4. Thanks for posting this article, and posing these questions. I have been wondering a lot lately about this. I am recently born again out of the new age movement, where it seems that fitness, diet and natural health are the main emphasis. I am challenged now to find that narrow way where fitness and health food can exist in my life without being idolatry.

    You asked what affect fitness might have on witnessing, and I also wonder the same thing. I realized that if a non-believer were to come into my house- or into my kitchen- and see a ton of strange health/super foods, it might put off the idea that I believe that salvation can come through something OTHER than Christ. I try not to talk about my workout habits and dietary preferences in discussions with other believers, because I recognize that those things are not essential to godly living. Those things, if too strongly emphasized, could be a stumbling block.

    So, I feel that health and fitness are important to maintain our temples, but there can be a way for Christians to keep it in proper perspective. We can work out without idolizing our form, and can eat healthy while still realizing that ultimately our lives are in God’s hands. I have been working to become more disciplined to keep my focus on the Cross while I am running or going for a walk. I listen to sermons while I watch muted workout videos. When I see that I’ve come out of balance and my emphasis is misplaced, I stop the fitness stuff, fast and pray to lay my idols down at the feet of Jesus.

    God Bless

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