Working up a spiritual sweat

Getting in shape is about more than just the body with new Faith and Fitness class


If you pop in to a Made Well fitness class at South Bay Bible Church, you might think you’re attending any regular exercise class. All around you, classmates work up a sweat in their yoga pants and oversized T-shirts as instructor Kelli Schoefer motivates with music and words of encouragement.  But this class offers more than meets the eye. Participants get a workout—one that’s both physical and spiritual.

“If you had us on mute, we’d look like any other fitness or exercise class. We do cardio drumming, kickboxing, resistance training, bar exercises,” said Schoefer of the class, which is held in a tent behind the church.

The class schedule goes down as follows: Schoefer begins with a prayer; then, she sets an intention for the class. Each class is about 50 minutes in length. While students are bumping up their heartrate and isolating their muscles, Schoefer walks around to motivate the class, physically and spiritually; sometimes this might include reading scripture from the Bible, and sometimes it includes pumping up the volume on a song. Schoefer describes herself as “overly peppy” and says her choice in music is energetic and optimistic. During cooldown, Schoefer prays over the individual classmates.

The purpose of these exercise classes is not only to provide a space for participants to get into good physical shape; it’s also about getting them in a good headspace, mentally and spiritually. 

“We’re not just moving our bodies to burn calories; we’re moving as a means of worship,” she said.

For Schoefer, the desire to teach others physical fitness through spiritual fitness came about when she noticed, over a decade ago, that she was fixated on the physical side of exercise. Schoefer was a fitness buff and noticed she was constantly motivated by the numbers on the scale and the way her jeans fit. Then she had an epiphany. She realized that fitness is about more than looking good; it’s about feeling good. She recognized that fitness is about being able to run around and play with your kids and being in good enough physical shape to serve your community.

“The point is not my physical body and what I look like. It’s much bigger than that,” she said of her realization.

Later, a friend told Schoefer about a nonprofit organization called Revelation Wellness, which trains fitness instructors to combine Christian spirituality and exercise regimes. Schoefer trained with the organization and then created her own class, Made Well. Before creating the class, Schoefer held another role with the church, as the director of communications. She also sings for their worship team.

The classes unite two things Schoefer cares deeply about: spirituality and fitness. This is why she affectionately calls herself a “fitness teacher and gospel preacher.”

Anyone of any skill level or age is invited to attend. Also, anyone of any spiritual level can attend, from those that regularly attend church to those that have never been. Whatever participants do in class, Schoefer encourages them to just keep moving.

“We always tell people, ‘If you’re moving, you’re doing it right’,” she said.

For more information about the class, email Schoefer at


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