Faith and fitness - New York News

Faith and fitness

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Drop by Peachtree Presbyterian on Sunday morning, and you're going to see a typical church: the choir, the congregation, and Senior Pastor Victor Pentz up in the pulpit. But drop by The Gym here, and you'll see the same pastor, sweating it out in a workout class.

“One of the reasons I love this is because when I was a kid, I hated church. Because I always had to wear what I call my 'itchy pants' and all of us boys had to sit still. We couldn't move a muscle," said Pentz

Here, you move a lot of muscles. The Gym at Peachtree Presbyterian offers about 50 fitness classes a week, personal trainers, an indoor cushioned track, basketball courts and a weight room.

Reverend Pentz says sweating together pulls people together, “So, we have an accountability to each other, to meet here at 5:30 p.m., to go to that spinning class. Or, to meet here at 8 o'clock in the morning to go to that particular weight lifting class."

Adam Braund is not a member of Peachtree Presbyterian, but he's faithful about getting his workout in.

“I got a membership here about two years ago, and I've been coming here probably three times a week since then.," said Braund. He says, “I sit a ton, whether it's sitting in my car, or sitting at work. So, hopefully, the time I spend here helps to offset that time that I'm sitting."

That's the challenge: most Americans sit all day, and it shows.

More than half of U.S. adults are overweight, a third obese. And, with money tight, people can't afford the average $55 a month membership. So, faith communities are getting in the game, making fitness more affordable, and more accessible.

Valentina Lee, who works with Peachtree Presbyterian's kids' basketball program, found The Gym when she was in college.

“Most churches they force you to be a part of the church, in order to be a part of anything at the church But here, I think it's awesome that they work with everyone" said Lee.

Rev. Pentz says if he went around and knocked on doors in the Buckhead community around the church, you may not find many members. But, he says, “When we open the doors down here about 3 o'clock, they're down here wearing their t-shirts and their gym clothes, and they're sweating and running around."

No itchy pants, no sitting still. Rev. Pentz says, “I think God looks down and goes, "Yeah, that's what my house should be like."

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