Personal Trainers and Preachers by Joy Roxborough

30I enrolled in an exercise boot camp recently and, oh boy, is it tough! Sometimes, the only thing that keeps me going is the sure knowledge that it is going to end before the evening is out, and that by the end of the eight weeks I’m going to have some biceps and triceps and whatever else to bare in my summer gear, assuming (of course) that the summer holds out. And, as my muscles ache after what feels like the millionth press up, squat or arm press, I find myself thinking that the particular manoeuvre could quite easily be used by torturers to victimise their captives.

But, I have to say, we’re only two weeks in and already I have been seeing – and feeling – the positive results, and have been more than happy to go out in a vest top to soak up those vitamin D-inducing rays of sunshine that we have been so blessed with in recent days. Yes, I do like the end result, though not necessarily the process. I will certainly complete the eight weeks, but I have to confess that I have not been sticking strictly to the recommended dietary guidelines (no sweeteners, no dairy; unfortunately, I’m on a honey and sourdough pizza binge at the moment) and I will continue to slack off, go more slowly or stop altogether, whenever our trainer has her back turned on me during sessions.

I do fully appreciate the sessions, honestly. But sometimes I wonder how our hardworking trainer must feel when she’s all pumped and energetic, and she watches us dragging ourselves through our paces, looking as if we’re about to faint from exhaustion – such a lacklustre regiment if ever there was one.

It all got me thinking that in some ways personal trainers are a bit like preachers, in that both essentially tell us the same thing week in, week out, but because we often neglect to actually do what they say, we sometimes find ourselves struggling to get the results we long for. I wonder if they get fed up with what can quite easily come across as lack of commitment on our part, and if they ever feel as though they are wasting their time on us. Moses certainly felt exasperated at times with the people he had to deal with – and rightly so. After all, isn’t that all any good leader wants: to see those they are leading achieve their highest potential, whether it’s spiritual growth or good health and a fine physique?

But I think it would help leaders to be assured that their work is vital, if they realised their flock or regiment (or whatever) is, for the most part, doing their best, with their limitations, and their hearts are largely in the right place. Why else would they come back, week after week? And none of it is a waste of time. In the case of church, people will always need to hear the same message repeatedly, but packaged differently, because, just like the Israelites, as soon as they hit hard times they are quick to forget God’s proven faithfulness. In the case of exercise boot camp, the discipline of doing the routines together at a set time on a set day is the difference between doing it, even in a lacklustre way, and not doing it at all.

It does, however, get to a stage where congregations and boot campers in the trenches have to take seriously the injunctions of their instructors. They have to realise that the road to hell—whether that is a burning pit or flabby abs—is paved with good intentions. The taste of sugar on your tongue or the discomfort of pushing through, whether with Bible reading and prayer, or that final set of presses, lasts only a moment. Keep the end results in view, and move forward.

That being said, maybe now is as good a time as any to join a local exercise boot camp and shape up for summer. If you’re in the Wolverhampton area, you’re welcome to sign up with the regiment that meets several times a week at the Heritage Centre on Clifford Street. You’ll get individual dietary advice and help to achieve your personal goal, whether that’s weight loss or, as in my case, weight gain, and generally you’ll finish the boot camp feeling more energised, toned and perhaps inspired to apply the same disciplines to your spiritual growth goals.

For further information, contact our wonderful Sergeant Major, Candeece Harvey, on 01902 714051 or 07492 112250.

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