Going My Own Pace: A Spiritual Lesson at the Gym

Not everyone is at the same place in their faith journey

Becky St. Clair
Going My Own Pace: A Spiritual Lesson at the Gym

Two and a half years ago I was diagnosed with prediabetes. Though my numbers were, for a diabetic, rather low, for a “normal” person they were too high to ignore. And so, my doctor gave me two choices: Medicate or change my lifestyle.

Seeing as how one of my three biggest fears in life is needles, I opted for the latter.

That day in January 2021 was pivotal to my life and health. Since then, I have gone from nearly sedentary and not thinking about what I was eating, to running ten miles a week, listening to podcasts and reading books about nutrition and health, and eating primarily whole foods.

Over the past two years, my choices, focus, and inclinations have improved significantly, and I continue to follow my personal mantra— “do your best at better”—every day. Through this journey, I brought my A1C down to “normal” levels within six months and have kept them down, so I am pretty happy with the results!

Something that has come out of this process is a developing friendship with a fellow runner and healthy eating champion. She gets me to the trails, the gym, and the pool four times a week, she loans me books and offers to try new things with me, shares recipes, and, most importantly, she coaches and encourages me every step (or swim stroke) of the way.

Many of the things we do she’s been doing longer, and she is usually more efficient at them than I am. I used to worry I was holding her back, but she always finds a way to walk with me through the process while also continuing to improve herself so we both benefit.

This is why I fell in love with using the treadmills at the gym. We choose machines next to each other so we can talk, set them for 30 minutes, and off we go.

The difference between the treadmill and when we run in town or on the trails is our speed and endurance. Outside, in order to run together, my friend has to slow her natural pace, meaning she doesn’t push herself, or I have to push harder, meaning I tire faster. On the treadmills, she can go her speed, and I can go mine, and we’re still right there together for the entire half hour.

This reminds me of our spiritual walks. Not everyone is at the same place in their faith journey, and their relationships with God and church will always look different. But if we imagine the paths we’re walking as treadmills at the gym, each of us can choose our own settings, challenge ourselves where we need to, take a break when we must, and focus on different things, but we’re still at the gym together.

And we should all strive to be more like my friend, coaching and encouraging others along the way. The journey is personalized, but the experience is one of community.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 (ESV)

Becky St. Clair

Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copyedits for various church entities around the world.