May 10, 2016

Meet the New President of Body & Soul Fitness

We are all SO EXCITED about the new President Elect of Body & Soul, Amy Stafford, and we want you to get pumped, too! Today’s blog post highlights this smart, beautiful (and fit) woman! Amy has been teaching with Body & Soul for over 15 years and has a long list of titles after her name. She is the Power Strength Program Director, the Director of Fitness Programs, a member of the Cardio Strength Choreography team and the Regional Director for the Southeast U.S. And now, add to that list the title of “President-Elect.” (She will become the President in full this August when she takes the reins at the 35th anniversary workshop and celebration. More on that in a future blog post.) So, read on and get to know Amy and her heart via this brief Q&A.

Amy, you are the most fit person on the planet! Is that why Body & Soul picked you to be its next leader? What’s your story?

[laughing] Oh, no! Only God could have done this. I love anatomy and physiology and kinesiology---all things related to the human body, but I didn’t grow up in a gym. I wasn’t a fitness instructor in college. I played some intramural sports but I wasn’t very good. When I left college, I worked in the field of rehabilitation as a therapist. I think God took my love for the human body and translated it into the fitness realm, one step at a time.

How did you first find out about Body & Soul?

A small group leader at my church brought a Body & Soul videotape to our Bible study one night. And she knew that I was teaching group fitness at a sport club in Williamsburg (where I live now and where I lived then). So she said to me, “This would be great for our church and because you already teach, you should teach it.” And I said “no.” And I said “no” for weeks and weeks and weeks. (She would not give up!) I finally took the video home and watched it. And, honestly, I don’t remember what happened next, but it just seemed to be something that I couldn’t say “no” to anymore.

I scheduled a demonstration class (which is how most classes start) and had 17 ladies show up on a Thursday night! It blew me away to see such interest off the bat. We did a half-hour workout that night and talked about Body & Soul. That launched a two-night-a-week class that’s still going today.

Wow! So, it almost sounds like you had a “Jonah and the whale experience.” I’m guessing you can’t remember exactly what happened because you were inside of a whale until you obeyed what God wanted you to do.

[laughing] I think that’s exactly what happened. Because I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t want to be standing in front of a group. I did not picture myself leading a Christian exercise program. I was perfectly fine doing what I was doing at the sport club. I had a young child at the time and they took care of her while I taught. But one step at a time, God brought me through this process.

You said you had a young child. Tell us a little bit about your family.

My family is fantastic. We are small. There are three of us. My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 25 years. Our daughter, Jordan is 18 and is graduating from high school this year. She wants to study zoology in college and she would love to live in Australia, so we’ll see….

Like I said, our family is small, yet close. We love outdoor recreation: camping, biking, hiking, boating. We love being active, together. Jordan has grown up with Body & Soul, listening to Body & Soul music. Steve is now an ex officio member of the board, which is exciting. It’s a part of who we are.

That’s fantastic! What was your family’s reaction when you told them that Body & Soul had approached you about leadership?

Steve’s reaction was very quick and very positive. He simply said, “I’m not surprised.” And Jordan got excited and actually said, “I can be anything!” Because at the time, Steve was the president of an engineering firm, and I was being asked to be president, so she saw us each in a “presidential” role and she got excited, saying “I could be a president, too! I could be anything I want to be!”

That’s so beautiful! And it’s so true, right? With God, nothing is impossible and everything is possible!

That’s right!

Tell us what has formed your faith, your relationship with God.

What formed my relationship with God has been generations of believers in my family. I watched them as I grew up, but I didn’t take that faith for myself until I got to college. And God really got a hold of me there, in a new place, in a new environment. I started to understand what it meant to seek Him, to read the Word, and how it could change me from the inside out. Now looking back, I can see that He has really used Body & Soul to make my faith come alive. In college, I believed in Jesus and that He died for you and for me. And with Body & Soul, my faith went from “believing” on one level to “living” it on all levels. Body & Soul afforded me my voice to proclaim my faith.

What’s your vision for Body & Soul, Amy? What do you hope to see?

It has always been that we would grow. I want to see instructors grow in their faith. I’d love to see more students in our classes, and then for those students also to be growing spiritually, as a result of being touched by Body & Soul.

And what is your vision, in terms of the fitness component of Body & Soul?

My vision is that we would always be innovative, creative, relevant (in terms of fitness trends we see) and safe. I think we are these things now, and I want to keep that as a hallmark of Body & Soul—that we would be the best fitness class out there.

Finally, what is your perspective on leadership as you take on this role of President of Body & Soul?

I believe leadership comes from a servant’s heart, and we need to stay humble as we serve. I plan on a whole lot of reliance on the Holy Spirit, counting on Him to empower me to lead a team of highly effective and talented fitness professionals who already lead B&S. I want to honor the Lord and serve the leaders of Body & Soul.

And Jeannie, of course, is one of those that I respect so much. She stepped out in faith to do something that was very new to her 35 years ago. So I kind of feel like I am stepping into those really big shoes. I’ve never led something like this before, so I just appreciate her obedience to begin something and, now, to step back a little to allow somebody else to lead. I think God has really honored Body & Soul through Jeannie’s commitment to obedience and her faithfulness to God.

And 35 years is a lot to celebrate! It’s a huge accomplishment! A lot of businesses don’t exist for 35 years, much less ministries. I think it’s a real testament to God’s faithfulness.

Thank you for your time, Amy! We look forward to celebrating those 35 years with you this August! And congratulations on your new position in Body & Soul! We’re really pleased about it!

Thank you very much!