Exercise + the Theology of the Body

the theology of the body health

This past August, my husband Mike and I made a commitment to make exercise part of our weekly routine. I have always loved to exercise and was a marathon runner, but I had slowly let my exercise routine fall wayside. Yet when I received a diagnosis of secondary infertility, I knew I needed to make exercise a priority again.

It feels so good to be taking care of our bodies in this way, and the benefits are plentiful! I wake up earlier with more energy, and have more productive days! I am more motivated to improve other areas of my life, too. Only a few days into exercising regularly, I realized that I was praying more. I had the energy and desire to spend more time with God in prayer.

We are Both Body and Soul

We are both body and soul, and we must do our part to make sure that both are healthy. The health of one can often affect the health of the other. Our bodies are a gift, made in the image of our Creator. One way we can glorify God is through keeping our bodies healthy through exercise.

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We Glorify God in Our Suffering, Too

I want to express that if you are physically unable to exercise, do not feel badly about yourself or that you are not glorifying God through your body. In fact, you are glorifying Him even more in your suffering. Christ is close to us in our health, and close to us in our illnesses and disabilities.

What My Patients Taught Me

During my time as a critical care nurse, I encountered many people who were unable to exercise, and I know that not everyone is able to participate in the gift of exercise. After seeing patients who were not able to exercise, and thinking of the times that I have personally been sick, it has helped me to appreciate when I am physically able to exercise. Health is a gift that we cannot take for granted.

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Catholic Exercise Trainers

There are two beautiful ladies, Camille San Souci and Shalini Blubaugh, who have created their own fitness regimens. They incorporate Catholic teaching within their programs to motivate and connect how the physical is linked to the spiritual.

I’ve conducted little “interviews” with each that more fully expresses the beauty of these women and the programs that they’ve created.

Shalini Blubaugh and ZYIA Active

Hi, Shalini! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Minnesota but now live in Denver, Colorado with my husband, Matt, our seven month old little girl, Callan, and our pup, Sully. I graduated from the University of MN – Twin Cities in 2012, served with NET Ministries, and went on to law school at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

I’ve always had a passion for health and fitness. I graduated from law school in 2017 and just knew that it wasn’t for me. So I went back to my roots, my passion for health and fitness!

I was a health coach for about two years and decided that it was time to be certified as a personal trainer. I still wanted to be active in all things health and fitness as I studied to be certified, though, and that’s when ZYIA fell into my lap. Total God thing! I couldn’t be more happy to be exactly where I’m at!

What is the name of your program and its mission?

ZYIA Active is an active lifestyle brand. Our mission is to inspire and uplift by making activity a fun and essential part of life. Who doesn’t feel great about a workout when you’re in the right clothes? No tugging, no pinching, no adjusting. And who doesn’t feel more confident overall when they’re comfy and yet still put together?

From pieces for us ladies, to our dudes, to our littles, we’ve got you covered.

Why do you personally love exercising?

I truly believe that when we care for ourselves, we are best able to love and serve and care for those that God places in our lives. We are His vessels—His hands and feet! I want to take care of me so that I am best able to care for them, whoever “they” are! Exercise just makes sense from this lens.

Why do you love training?

There is something so beautiful about encouraging another to do better and be better, one day at a time. Sometimes it takes someone else believing in us before we are able to believe in ourselves and the goals for our health that we have. Seeing women not only reach goals, but also begin to see themselves as He sees them—beautiful, beloved and worthy—leaves me speechless. We do what we do not to become more beautiful, beloved and worthy, but because we already are!

Why is it important for women, specifically Catholic woman, to exercise? 

Ultimately, because we are temples of His. We are body and soul. When one part thrives, the whole thrives. When one part suffers, the whole suffers. Exercise is a natural progression of all of that. We are better, more able, more healthy all around when we take care of our bodies. I think it’s also so important for us as Catholic women to set a good tone for our own kids, particularly our girls. I want to see myself as He sees me. So that I may pass that vision on to my own daughter. We are little churches! We house Him! What a gift.

Camille San Souci and More Than Sweat

Hi, Camille! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hey friends! My name is Camille San Souci, and in my job as a certified fitness trainer, I teach group classes, train personal clients and have online wellness programs with my specialty being prenatal/postnatal fitness.

While training is my career, I am a wife and a Mama first. My husband Nick and I live in Montana with our four kiddos, Lilia, Evangeline, Raphael, and Ignatius.

What is the name of your program and its mission?

The name of my online health and fitness program is “More Than Sweat” because I believe that exercise is so much more than just sweat, more than just the physical.

I designed and created More Than Sweat to give people all of the physical tools necessary for living a healthy lifestyle: an app-based exercise program, nutrition guidance, deep core education, and accountability!

I am probably not the typical trainer on the block, de-emphasizing physical appearance. My ultimate goal for you as your trainer is not the perfect body composition, but rather wellness from the inside out. I want your heart to be literally and figuratively well.

To me, that is when the magic really happens, when we will be doing health and fitness the most closely to the way that God intended. Our bodies will be healthy, but it will also be well with our souls.

Why do you personally love exercising?

Sweat has been a part of my life since I was a kid with a variety of sports which turned into a true passion for general exercise because I have personally found it to holistically improve my quality of life. Sure, the physical, of course, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual.

Why do you love training?

Ultimately my love for exercising led me into training; I wanted other women to experience the same benefits I was. Exercise is a catalyst for overall well being on so many levels, and I consider it a true honor and blessing to encourage women in that journey.

Why is it important for women, specifically Catholic woman, to exercise? 

I believe as Catholic women, we are called to exercise. Not so that we can fit into those skinny jeans, but so that we are fully equipped and ready to fulfill the vocation to which we are called. Be it the single life, married life or religious life, exercise enables us to do that to the best of our ability. We will be less hindered by physical limitations and more grounded in our mental and emotional health so that we can spiritually serve in the way that God has individually called each of us.

Made in His Likeness

What are your favorite ways to exercise? The gym or at home? With a program or trainer? Does exercising come naturally to you, or do you struggle to find the time and energy?

Share with the Blessed Is She community in the comments below!

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Claire Couche is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She is a wife, mother, and blogger. She graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville where she studied history and theology. She later received her B.S.N. and worked as an oncology nurse. Combining her love of the faith, the medical field, and ethical fashion, Claire is the creator of Moscati Scrubs, an ethical medical scrubs company inspired by the life and miracles of Saint Giuseppe Moscati. You can learn more about Claire here and about Moscati Scrubs here.

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