Hilda Kenya hands in the airWhen I was a kid, I spent most every day of summer vacation at our community pool, Gateway. Those were lazy, endless summer afternoons, poolside. While the sun beat down on us, we played card games (“Spit” and “Pounce”), we had handstand competitions, and we spent all of our allowance at the snack bar on popsicles, sodas, and fries. My best friend, Gabriella, was on the swim team. There were 8 kids in her family and every single one of them was on the swim team. They wore red, white, and blue patriotic Speedo swimsuits. I admired them so much (both the suits and the kids in them) that I wanted to be on the team, too. Gabriella urged me to go for it. So, one summer, when I was about 9 years old, I made the decision to try out.

The day of the swim team try-outs came and I was nervous. I had every right to be. I was only a fair swimmer, to be honest. The coach told us that the first lap had to be freestyle. I took a deep breath and plunged in the water. I really wasn’t too far from the wall when I started struggling. I couldn’t keep up my freestyle stroke. I was having trouble catching my breath, but I didn’t want to switch to breaststroke (my most comfortable stroke) because freestyle was required. So I started drowning. Seriously. I started gulping water and sinking to the bottom. A lifeguard had to jump in and save me. The next thing I knew I was lying on a cot, covered with a blanket. All talk of my joining the swim team ended on that day. My story probably went down in Gateway history lore: the day the kid almost drowned trying out for the swim team.

What was driving me to try out for a sport I couldn’t handle? Gabriella’s strong influence in my life, no doubt, was one factor. But another was a heartfelt desire to be part of a team. A team means belonging. A team is a family. A team works together to achieve goals. A team can do things together that individuals cannot accomplish on their own.

I think this is one reason I like group fitness classes. Straight up: on my own, I am unmotivated to stick to an exercise routine. (And I’m a teacher!) But with friends at my side, I feel motivated to work and push myself. In every B&S class I’ve ever been in, there’s an energy, a camaraderie that occurs when we work out side by side. We are a team, together improving our strength, encouraging one another, connecting, and, yes, sweating. And we are all the better for it in the end.

How about you? What team are you a part of, and how does it make you feel? I’m more suited for this group fitness kind of team. It’s a team that pushes me to be stronger, better. A team that keeps me coming back again and again. A team that works out on dry land.


Music—I think we will all agree it’s a powerful force in our lives.
More than a rush of adrenaline, You will sustain me until the end, You are the only one. When You speak, dreams and reality collide. Your Word rewrites my destiny. My life finds a new beginning ‘cause You are my energy.”  I don’t know about you, but my life is crazy busy and I often find myself in need of energy. This song could be my conversation with God—he is my source of energy, for sure!
Above is an excerpt from one of my favorite songs from this fall session. It’s called Energy by Hillsong Young & Free. It’s just one of the many fantastic songs that are a part of our Live Life Big session.

Check out the songlist below and click on the song title to access the lyrics. (We have links for lyrics for all of the songs, except for Nothing in this World by Shuree. If you can find them on a safe site, with no inappropriate ads, please comment and share the link.)

Songs Artists
Do Life Big Jamie Grace
Nothing in This World Shuree
This is our Time Planetshakers
Set Me on Fire Thousand Foot Krutch
Move Audio Adrenaline
World Changers Audio Adrenaline
VIP Manic Drive
Time Stands Still Family Force 5
Same God Sanctus Real
I Will Follow Jeremy Camp
Energy Hillsong Y&F
Different Drum Blanca
Sunshine Superchick
All Eyes on You OBB
Shout it Out Lincoln Brewster
Day One Matthew West
Echo Blanca
Who I Am Blanca
Keep Goin Group 1 Crew
Lay it Down Sanctus Real
One Word at a Time Sanctus Real
Magnetic Satellites & Sirens
More of You Colton Dixon
Have Everything David Dunn
Shoulders For King & Country

It is our prayer that you will be encouraged and inspired by this music and message as you live life BIG this fall!

Jeannie Blocher is the President and Founder of Body & Soul Fitness. She loves to teach, dance, write, and walk on the beach!

I know. We exercise diligently and push our bodies to the limit in order to be lean, strong, and fit. Today we get up early to work out to beat the heat and then rush home from work to get some much needed family time. Tomorrow we work all day at the office, rush home to prepare dinner, and then leave the family to enjoy it while we attend our Body & Soul evening group fitness class down the street. And to support our exercise work ethic, we choose the “lighter fare” on girls’ night while our friends eat their way through the appetizers menu, saying “it’s my cheat day” (again). Don’t be discouraged, friends. Stand firm on your commitment to toning those muscles and making the wisest choices for yourself, keeping in mind that life is short and movement, rest, and dietary freedom are gifts to us – available for our choosing.

Now, about that weak/tight muscle relationship. Every muscle is opposed by another muscle in the body, usually on alternate sides of the joint. When one muscle is extremely tight, its counterpart often becomes weak and lengthened to accommodate the tight muscle. When we sit a lot, for example, our hip flexors become tight and short, while our gluteals become weak and lengthened. Then we go to the gym right after work and do exercises that keep them tight – like squats and reverse sit ups – and top off our workout with stair-climbing (repeated active hip flexion). Finally we spend 15 seconds stretching before we head home (sitting) to have dinner leftovers with any family member that is willing to join us at the table (sitting). hip-muscles
Am I alone here? I hope not, because this was my story before learning – the hard way – that flexibility requires training just like strengthening requires training. I found myself focused on weight training and strength gains, while giving little thought to the relief my working muscles needed following a power-packed workout. This unbalanced focus eventually sent me seeking answers and pain relief from numerous health and wellness practitioners. I joyfully report that I am more balanced, generally pain-free, and enlightened by what I’ve learned about the muscle balance relationship.

Here’s what’s happening –

  • Our hip flexors tighten up from too much sitting and progressive overload during our workouts.
  • The tightness of the hip flexors causes the gluteal muscles to lengthen to accommodate.
  • Because they are being stretched, the gluteal muscles become weak (from lack of contraction).

So what, you say? Here’s what happens when our gluteals are weak –

  • Our hips and lower back are less stable
  • Our ability to stand from a seated position is negatively affected
  • Our ability to climb stairs and walk uphill is negatively affected
  • Our balance is compromised
  • Our pelvis is less stable

The solution? Find a fitness program that encourages you to focus on muscle pairs during your strength training and your flexibility training sessions. In other words, for every flexion exercise, perform an extension exercise. Balance your squat routine by adding resisted straight leg raises to the back. The straight leg raises lengthen the hip flexor and contract the gluteals. This approach balances your workout and can be found in a Body & Soul class near you. Body & Soul provides comprehensive, creative, safe workouts in a positive and encouraging environment.

So be encouraged, friends, and keep pushing yourself to new levels of fitness – just remember to keep everything in balance because too much of a good thing might lead to a bad thing. And who wants to live “unbalanced”??