My Ministry: Fitness classes winning souls for Jesus

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Some of the FoxFit attendees on the Wahroonga Adventist School grounds.

For Arnold Greenfield, running fitness classes is a way of introducing people to Jesus.

“For me, it’s like building the Kingdom of God through fitness,” Arnold says. “You may have had a terrible weekend or be drained at work but you can come to this space and it’s encouraging and uplifting. It’s building community and building God’s Kingdom.”

“FoxFit” is a ministry coordinated by Mr Greenfield in partnership with recent Fox Valley Community Church pastor and Wahroonga Adventist School (NSW) chaplain Landry Patii, who run sessions at the school grounds every Monday evening at 6:30pm. Designed as a group fitness class, it attracts people from all walks of life: nursing students, young professionals, high-school students and people from the wider community.

“It’s like circuit training but with crossfit movements,” Mr Greenfield says. “We’re never doing same thing every week. It’s mostly functional movements like squatting, putting things over your head—things you would use in your daily life. And it’s done at high speed, to get your heart-rate high.”

Thanks to the team-building nature of each session, the workouts are accessible to a wide range of age groups and flexible to small or large numbers. At its peak, FoxFit was attracting between 30-40 people each week, but following restrictions and COVID-19 the ministry is just starting to pick up again.

“Big groups we split in half and have two different workouts going. One group would be completing reps of 6 different exercises—400 air squats, 400 crunches etc.—and working as a team. We get them to hit the mark of all reps or rounds and set the time for other group, like a competition,” he says.

Mr Greenfield encourages anyone to come regardless of their fitness level, attributing people’s enjoyment to the positive community atmosphere.

“People think they’re not fit enough to come, or that people will judge; that they have to get fitter to come. But you don’t have to get fit at all. Just come as you are. The fitness level that you think you’re at is usually much lower than the level you can push to. It’s an encouraging thing. We want people to come to FoxFit and, with support, believe they can do something great. It’s not just a fitness thing.

With FoxFit being an activity where church-goers can easily bring their friends along, the intention was always to make FoxFit more than just an exercise group.

“So often, we apply the great commission in the wrong order,” Mr Patii explains. “We’ve been teaching people to change their behaviour before we connect with them. This mindset is calibrated to ‘behave in order to belong’ is not biblical at all. Jesus met [people] in their space, He had a relational conversation with them. FoxFit is exactly that. God has blessed Arnold and I with the passion of health and fitness to meet and build relationships with [people]—make them feel home and safe foremost.”

“It was easy to bring people there and run it,” adds Mr Greenfield, “but it was always hard to make it more spiritual and to bring Jesus into it. “Two girls started coming from the nursing res—Bec and Freya—who weren’t strong Adventists. They started connecting with church thanks to the ministry, and they opened it up to the res and built a massive bridge for us.”

“God has blessed you with passions, talents and gifts. The question is, what are you doing about it? I suggest that you use it to serve God and build community. Trust the giver and He will wrap your ministry with purpose and identity,” encourages Mr Patii.

If you’re interested in attending FoxFit, you can join their Facebook group.