They say time flies when you’re having fun.
But for many people, time can be difficult to find in the first place, especially when you want to pray or exercise. That’s when time doesn’t just seem to fly, it kind of flies away.
But what if you could pray and work up a sweat at the same time?
Retired Salvation Army officer Major Bill Millar understands the difficulties people have trying to slot in time for exercise and prayer on the back of a tight daily schedule. He also knows that in hard financial times, the difficulty can be much greater for people who can’t afford to go to the gym.
As a result, Bill has come up with an initiative called ‘Christians with Muscle’ that combines both exercise and prayer meditation. The programme can be done at home within a short period of time, all at one very low cost.
Christians with Muscle is a 15-minute, medically-based exercise routine that has 12 different drills, including abdominal crunches and quadriceps squats. Each drill comes with Bible verses and meditation expressions for participant to focus on while working out. Bill says the exercises can be performed at any time of the day, even while watching television.
He notes that exercise is a good counterattack for type 2 diabetes, which is a real problem in the Pacific region. Maori, Pacific Island and Asian New Zealanders are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as other New Zealanders.
Bill, who has experience as a practising physiotherapist, came up with the idea for the programme in 2010, while spending seven months overseeing The Salvation Army’s work in Tonga. ‘A lot of this thinking came into my head in Tonga where there’s nothing much in the way of gymnasia,’ says Bill. ‘I sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit put the thoughts into my brain and got me going on this project.’
Some of the thoughts Bill had at the time were: ‘Why can’t we have an exercise programme that keeps a person well toned as well as linking those exercises to thinking about their spiritual walk with the Lord?’, and ‘Why do Christians need to go to yoga or tai chi—why don’t they do something on a Christian basis that focuses on Jesus Christ instead?
‘So it started out as an exercise initiative, to give people who can’t afford the money or time to go to a gym the benefit of a programme that they can do at home,’ Bill explains. ‘But now the whole emphasis has changed. It has become a spiritual journey, as people who are doing [the programme] for only 10–12 minutes a day are not only discovering they’ve got a strong, mobile, well-balanced and functional body but also a much healthier and clearer way of thinking.
‘The best way I can think to describe it, is that there’s a synergy between action and thought. Many times, if we think about some-thing it reminds us of a concept—and that’s the whole principle of practicing the presence of God. My body is now a good servant to me instead of me dragging my body around or being a slave to my body. It just functions more effectively; it’s more mobile, with no pain.’
There has been a positive response already for Christians with Muscle, particularly in the upper North Island where Bill is based (he lives in Whangarei). ‘[The programme] has resonance with people who are on a Christian journey,’ he says. ‘I’ve done presentations around local churches and there’s been very positive feedback with people wanting to get into it.’
There has also been interest from chaplains working at the local Ngawha prison who are very interested in Bill teaching the programme to inmates there. Bill’s live presentations, which take around 45 minutes, include the exercises, an outline of conditions to be avoided, as well as an elaboration of the spiritual explanations of the programme.
The only cost to Christians with Muscle for participants is $22, which covers a DVD, packaging and a colour instructional booklet. No further equipment is needed!
People embarking on this exercise programme who have been previously inactive are advised to discuss their plans with their doctor.
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