The prayer of St. Teresa of Avila in smaller circles I’m told is also known as The Rhymer Fitness Prayer:
“Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours; Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ is to look out on a hurting world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.”
In the spring of 2006, I had what I thought was going to be a routine phone conversation with the youth minister of my church. However, I remember this particular call because it was the third time he had lamented to me about wanting to “really do something out-of-the-box this summer”.
Knowing that all youth leaders proclaim a burning need to make their mark with something new and interesting, I simply listened and quietly laughed to myself. Then it hit me. I had something out of the box. Way out!
I described to him my idea for a fitness program that integrates prayer, scripture reading and sharing stations – with the basics of resistance training, cardio fitness, and mobility. It would be spiritual education coupled with exercise. It would be a not-so-average way to engage your average teenager.
He told me that I’d found exactly what he’d been searching for – and Sunday Morning Xtreme (SMX) was born.
Here is how SMX works: Ten cones are placed evenly around the baseline of a gym floor (or other open space); each cone represents a different exercise station, alternating between spiritual and physical activities. The physical exercise cover the conditioning basics: squats, push-ups, lunges, one-arm rows and military presses. The spiritual exercises cover the Christian basics: prayer, Bible reading and discussion/fellowship.
To start, organize your youth into groups of two to four people. Each group picks a cone and spends two minutes completing their assigned activity. At the end of the two-minute cycle, a whistle blows signaling a move to the next cone. A touch of creativity and extra fun can be added by calling out different ways to move between stations including sprints, giant skips and bear crawls. Once every group arrives at a new cone the clock starts again. This process continues until each group has visited every cone at least once.
Each week you can create a different faith theme. A couple of sample themes include “The Power Of Forgiveness” and “Changing Into The Person God Has Called You To Be”. Encourage your youth group to keep a journal to track their physical progress in terms of reps and sets. In this journal they should also make notes about their thoughts relating to the Bible passages read and the discussions they have within their small group.
XTREME EXPERIENCES AND SURPRISES
Locally, I’ve observed how the youth love SMX. Many amazing surprises have come out of each SMX experience.
From the beginning, we welcomed all fitness levels and made sure that those youth with advanced physical skills and training helped those who were beginners. This brought the “athletic” and the “not-so-athletic” together in interesting ways. Friendships certainly developed through SMX that otherwise would not have formed.
Those who were new to exercise and a fitness workout were asked to come and participate with a positive attitude toward learning. When patient interaction and a good attitude are encouraged among everyone then a special dynamic is created within the youth group. SMX is an engaging resource that gives youth leaders the ability to motivate all of their members, both their athletes and those who have never used weights.
For more information go to SMXfitness.com. You can watch video clips from youth ministers and youth that use SMX. There is also a resource page for churches who don’t have a gym or are concerned about equipment needs or lack of space.