Keeping fit spiritually very important

By Judy Brandon

I’m trying something new, and I really enjoy it. The thing is that I have been trying to exercise and the cardio cycling class at the college fits right into my schedule. The teacher is great, the people in the class are friends, and it’s a real uplifting experience.
I just got to the point where I had to do something. I have made promises to myself to stay fit, and through the years, I have broken them.
It all started several years ago when I attended a health fitness seminar in Dallas with Annie, my oldest daughter. The seminar itself was intended for those in fitness and health education in general. I must admit, though, that there was a distinct difference in me and the others who attended the seminar. I will never forget how that felt.
On that day, Annie and I arrived at the hotel just in time for her conference and suddenly I felt very conspicuous. All around me were people in exercise attire — tights, stylish body suits and high-tech aerobic and athletic shoes. The participants were young, agile, energetic and attractive — and all chatting happily “networking” with people like them from all across the country.
As I looked around, everyone was so winsome, and by body fat appearances, in excellent physical shape. Most of the participants carried plastic water bottles that they sipped on from time to time, and many were dressed in workout wear with the name of their gym, fitness center, or college they represented. They toted athletic bags labeled with their sponsor’s logo. 
As I passed through the hotel foyer, I picked up on their conversations, and they were foreign to me. I heard words like, target heart rate and abdominals. That was quite different from the education conferences I attended where I heard talk on portfolios, assessment, accreditation, diversity issues and accountability.
I noticed another thing. We went below to the registration receiving area for the conference. Of course, I stepped onto the escalator to go downstairs — I was tired. All those other exercise models were taking the stairs for exercise. I was out of breath, and I was riding the escalator down the stairs. They were running up and down the stairs without effort.
I noticed something else. I had my Styrofoam cup of coffee to make sure I got enough caffeine to keep me going. They all were sustained by sipping on their natural mineral water with lemon wedges for added flavor. 
As I looked around at all the participants, I suddenly felt conspicuous in my oversized shirt to make me look smaller. I felt old, slow, and out of shape physically. Those who made their living by showing others how to be physically fit surrounded me. Suddenly, I felt like hiding behind one of the massive columns that supported the high ceiling in the grand foyer.
I came home, committed to make a change because I know that the things they emphasized at that conference are better for my heart and general health. I know that eating right and daily exercise at least would increase my “resting heart rate,” and I heard that was good.
Not only did these young people exercise, they ate healthily and they make wise choices about food every day. I realized again it’s not just a weekend commitment, but a lifetime commitment, and a person must be focused and determined to change their lifestyle to a healthy one.
Then I remembered again what the Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy. He wrote: “Physical training is some value, but godliness has some value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
No one doubts the benefits of physical fitness. Experts tell us physical fitness helps to promote a long and healthy life, and that’s an admirable goal. And I am committed. I will get up and go cardio cycling four mornings a week.
But I also know that spiritual fitness has implications for eternity. I know I would be wise to heed both examples: working toward physical fitness but thinking about Paul’s words to young Timothy as well.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: