When the weather is warm and sunny, I love to swim outdoors. As a teenager, I was involved three days a week with the YMCA Flying Sharks, a junior life-saving team. My late uncle Don Allen was a career Navy deep sea diver, sometimes finding lost Caribbean treasure. When I first tried learning to swim at the UBC outdoor pool, it was so cold that I felt frozen stiff. It was only when I went to the warm Okanagan Lake that my swimming breakthrough came. I know that summer is coming to a close when outdoor swimming comes to an end.
During the summer, most gyms and weight rooms are missing many regular participants. September is the ‘Back to the Gym’ time, ‘Back to School’ time, ‘Back to Church’ time. September is the time when our life rhythms reconnect. We all need times away, times of refreshing, time of letting go. We also need times of reconnecting, of gathering, of pressing in. Sometimes in the summer, we can relax and feast too much. Back to the Gym helps us refocus, restart and recalibrate our lives.
My wife Janice encouraged me to start going to the gym in 1999 after I was a passenger in a rear-end car accident. I naively thought that I would become physically fit and healthy almost overnight. Instead restoring my health has been a gradual process. When I have striven and pushed too hard, the result has been injury and setback. God has been teaching me that I need to be more patient with myself and my weight room renewal. There is no quick fix. My exercise plans often suffer from good intentions. So many weight room friends start with the best intentions, but give in to frustration and disappointment. It takes too long to become healthy! Before you know it, they disappear and slip back into their old patterns of inactivity.
My encouragement this September for those reading this article is to not give up when you go back to the gym. Your health is worth it. Your life is worth it. You are worth it. By your regularly working out, you will see gradual benefits that initially elude you. Anything worth doing is worth fighting for. Your health matters, not only to yourself, but to your spouse, your children, and your friends. When you invest in your health, you open doors to your future. When you invest in your health, your knees will thank you, your back will thank you, your neck will thank you. Excessive sitting is one of the greatest curses of our post-modern culture. What will it take this September to get back to the gym? What is holding us back in doing the right thing? Why are we often our own worst enemies when it comes to our health? Overeating, oversitting, and overdrinking are too often eating us alive.
God wants us to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. He wants us to be physically fit, emotionally fit and spiritually fit. Worship is meant to be a stretching experience where we encounter God with our whole person, all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Why am I passionate about both worship and calisthenics? Because both are about being healthy, both are about making a difference, both are about investing in one’s future. I invite you to go back to the gym, for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal. Make an investment that will pay lasting dividends. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.