Gym owner helps clients change their lives physically and spiritually
[Ed.'s Note: Today begins a two-part series about the most popular new year's resolution — physical fitness. The article below covers how one gym is seeking more than physical change.]
It's a new year and many people will make a resolution to get physically fit in 2013, but what about strengthening the mind, body and soul with just one workout?
That’s the concept Billy Weatherall developed for Christ Fit Gym, a non-profit organization in Bossier City that’s spreading the word of God through physical fitness. Weatherall, founder and owner, said it’s essential to be strong physically, but to be spiritually strong too.
“It’s important to get in shape, but if you don’t have the Lord you don’t have anything,” he said.
Christ Fit Gym’s mission is based on 1 Timothy 4:8, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Weatherall, a certified International Sports Sciences Association trainer and drill sergeant in the Army Reserves, started the gym six years ago as a home-based operation in his garage and has since turned it into an alternative workout destination.
Instead of monthly membership fees, Christ Fit Gym operates from donations.
“I didn’t want to put a price tag on the gospel so it’s completely free,” he said. “You don’t have to pay anything to use the gym, but you do have to sign a waiver.”
Christ Fit Gym offers a variety of services for men and women, including boot camp classes, Zumba, personal training, and an after-school program for local youth. They also utilize eight acres of land for outdoor sports and workouts.
“It’s good for the kids, especially during the summer, to just get out there and play,” he said.
His decision to open the gym six years ago came not as a new year’s resolution, but one that would save his life and change it for the better. Weatherall, a 2000 graduate of Airline High School, joined the military the day after graduation and served six years active duty in the Army.
Three deployments later, he decided it was time to move on. However, Weatherall said hit rock bottom and was to the point where he contemplated suicide.
That’s where his road to Christianity began.
“I was never a believer,” Weatherall said. “I was probably seconds away from taking my own life that night, but I cried out to the Lord instead.”
He began operating a free gym out of his home to reconnect with another group of men with similar interests – like he had in the military.
“I wanted the camaraderie with the guys,” he said. “Guys are naturally competitive and we use each other to encourage and lift each other up. I just needed that bond back again.”
Weatherall said he went back to school and earned his bachelor’s degree and started a job in the oil and gas industry. However, the guys would still get together every day at his house to workout.
After five years, Weatherall said there came a time when the Lord spoke to him again and told him to focus on his gym.
“In the back of my mind, there was no way I was leaving a six figure job to run a gym that wasn’t going to pay me any money,” he said.
Weatherall said it took a sign from God to tell him it was the right thing for him to do. Three days later, he was laid off and out of work.
“For about a year, I was unemployed and the Lord still kept speaking to me,” he said. “I just didn’t see any money in this.”
But, Weatherall threw in the towel and decided it was time to expand his home-based gym. Following the Lord’s advice, he said, and focusing on the gym has given him much satisfaction in life.
“This is what the Lord wants me to do,” Weatherall said. “No doubt about it.”
Christ Fit Gym is non-denominational and Weatherall said users don’t even have to be a Christian to utilize the facilities, classes and gym experience.
“The workouts are awesome and we have a very good training program,” he said. “It has really turned into sometime very, very special.”
There are Bible devotions daily and Weatherall said they also handout free Bibles.
“Anything to glorify the Lord because this place is all about him,” he said.
Weatherall said they make some money from selling health supplements and personal training sessions, but their primary source of funds comes from donations. He hopes to one day have enough funds to expand and include more classes and gym space.
“I never saw it getting to this point or becoming this big, but the Lord has used me and this facility to glorify this name,” he said. “This gym is touched by the hand of the Lord.”
Christ Fit Gym is located at 1658 Benton Road Suite 600 in Bossier City. For more information, call 573-3666, check out their Facebook page or visit their website at www.christfitgym.org