I’m not a great dancer, but I’ve always wished that I could move my body the way that beautiful music moves my soul. When I hear Strauss, I wish I could Waltz. When I hear jazz, I wish I could swing dance. I want to do in my body what the music does to my soul. I stand in the tension between the openness of my spirit and the limitations of my body, and I realize more than ever the important work of a good dance partner.
The work of a fitness trainer is not so different. Fitness trainers are professionals who help people unite spiritual intentions to physical actions when the intentions require physical adaptation. A trainer helps prepare the body for how the spirit dares to move. A pilgrimage like the Camino de Santiago in Spain is another example of this dynamic: a spiritual intention finds expression in the physical movement of the body across hundreds of miles of land.
Fitness includes athletes, but it also includes the mother of a large family who doesn’t have the time or energy to play organized sports and the 85 year old man who wants to build bone and muscle strength in his legs so that he can walk again. These are the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age…and nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts of the followers of Christ1. What is more human than a child who wants to be able to chop wood like his father some day, a man recovering from knee surgery wants to be able to dance with his wife again, and a grandfather who wants to be able to play with his kids? This is the privileged and noble work of the fitness trainer.
This article is meant to serve only as an entry point into a deeper exploration of the theology of fitness, which makes sense only in the light of a fully developed Christian anthropology. We have a tremendous opportunity to witness to the redemptive work of even the most ordinary of human actions in our lives and the lives of others when they are done in faith, hope and love. It’s then that we touch the mystery. Animated by one spirit, we will find as many ways to express this mystery in our bodies as there are people, but it always be the same great mystery: God dwells in these earthen vessels.
Read the full article here written by Luke Burgis, founder of the fitness community activprayer. He discusses the importance of trainers in the modern world, their role in shaping Christian lives and culture, and the nature of fitness in the light of an adequate Christian anthropology.
1 Gaudium Et Spes par. 1