Workouts for body and soul

| December 30, 2015 | 0 Comments
Alexandra Kleinhuizen helps her brother Dominic Zebro with a bench press exercise during a workout session of Cross Training, a ministry she launched with her husband, Tyler, to help Catholics grow in faith, virtue and strength. Dave Hrbacek/ The Catholic Spirit

Alexandra Kleinhuizen helps her brother Dominic Zebro with a bench press exercise during a workout session of Cross Training, a ministry she launched with her husband, Tyler, to help Catholics grow in faith, virtue and strength. Dave Hrbacek/ The Catholic Spirit

Couple launches ministry to help Catholics exercise faith muscles

A small group of high school students and young adults gathered for a workout at a sports center in Coon Rapids just days before Christmas.

While thousands of others were scurrying about to prepare for the holidays, these fitness enthusiasts chose to engage in a strenuous exercise session.

They also were there to deepen their faith.

Leading the workout was Alexandra Kleinhuizen, a former University of Minnesota hockey player and member of Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Her husband, Tyler, a former U of M shot put and discus thrower, was sweating alongside the others.

Alexandra patrolled the space inside Adrenalin Sports Center shouting encouragement to those trying to carry out her workout directives.

She spent equal time vocalizing Scripture verses and delivering one-phrase spiritual messages.

As they were pumping iron in one routine, she delivered a sentence from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians in sync with each lift:

“I . . . can . . . do . . . all . . . things . . . through . . . Christ.”

It is this faith-infused exercise program that draws up to 14 people to the center every Monday evening as part of a faith and workout ministry the Kleinhuizens launched in August. They named it Cross Training, with double references to a type of workout and the cross of Christ. Each session starts and ends with prayer, with a brief talk and 45-minute workout in between.

In addition to holding the weekly workout sessions, Alexandra and Tyler have started doing talks at parishes, with plans to work with teens in faith formation and confirmation programs.

From left, Sophia Zebro, her sister Alexandra Kleinhuizen, Tyler Kleinhuizen and Jack Knoblauch pray before a workout session. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

From left, Sophia Zebro, her sister Alexandra Kleinhuizen, Tyler Kleinhuizen and Jack Knoblauch pray before a workout session. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

“It’s almost like a Bible study combined with a workout,” said Alexandra, who graduated from the U of M in 2010 and married Tyler in 2011 at St. Patrick in Oak Grove. “I call it a faith performance session. You’re doing a workout, but it’s not necessarily about the workout.”

Indeed, while participants are pushing and straining to the limits of their physical ability, Alexandra is turning their minds toward the things above.

“Let’s be that saint,” she shouted to the group as they struggled to finish one set of exercises. “Be the lights of this world.”

Then, with some on the brink of exhaustion as they strained to complete endurance exercises, her challenges got more intense.

“Name people you would die for,” she yelled. “Think about them.”

And finally, “Open your hearts and let him [Christ] in.”

Though the workouts are highly rigorous, participants come back week after week.

“It actually builds my faith coming here and working out,” said Joel Downs, who belongs to St. Lawrence and Newman Center in Minneapolis. “Both the coaches are really challenging. They get the best out of me.”

Brad Parent of St. Mark in St. Paul was Tyler’s teammate on the U of M track team, and was asked by Tyler if he wanted to start coming in the fall. Just two months later, he is an enthusiastic backer of the concept and the ministry, to the point of becoming part of it.

“Eventually, I want to run big camps, and they’re going to need people to help run them,” Parent said. “I see the potential for the ministry, and I think it could really grow. . . . I’m really excited about what they’re doing.”

Though the weekly workout groups are for people of all faiths, the target audience is Catholics. Tyler and Alexandra especially hope to engage teens in their faith.

“What we see a lot of times are kids decked out in their sports gear in church, looking as bored as ever,” Alexandra said. “So many of these kids spend multiple hours per day every single day . . . working toward winning a trophy or winning a state championship or section championship or conference championship. We want to orient people toward their eternal goal, and their fitness can go hand and hand with that.”

The Kleinhuizens, who own and operate a business called Evo Ultra Performance, are scheduled to hold camps at Sts. Anne and Joachim in Shakopee, and All Saints in Lakeville, and hope to offer more.

For more information about the ministry, visit EternalChampions.org.

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