Why I was afraid of the gym

About three months ago I had one of the craziest ideas I have ever had in my life…  I had this idea that I was going to start getting in shape.  I’m not exactly sure what made this ludicrous thought cross my mind, but somehow it did.  It could have been the fact that all of my shirts looked stressed out when I wore them but who really knows.  I mean, who doesn’t enjoy eating a meal at McDonalds and chasing it down with a tube of cake icing?  Don’t act like you wouldn’t enjoy that…

So I decided it was time to put down the fast food and pick up the calorie counter.  It was time to say goodbye to Coke and say hi to water.  The first few days felt something like a break up.  I was thinking about them all day.  Wondering if they were doing well.  When I saw them in public I missed them and wished we were together again.  I thought about the times we spent together on long weekends, holidays, etc… It was tough but honestly I was kind of glad I was doing it.  I didn’t mind watching what I ate so long as I didn’t have to go to the gym…

One morning I was getting ready for work (which means deciding what shorts, t-shirt, and hat to wear) and my lovely wife made a suggestion to me.  She said, “If you really want to lose weight fast you should start going to the gym with me.” When she did it was like one of those moments in movies where the camera zooms in on the character’s face and everything pauses as they critically think about the question they were just asked.

Me?  Go to the gym?  No chance.  The only gyms I ever went to were Pokemon gyms to battle with imaginary pocket monsters.  (That last sentence probably disqualifies me from being an adult.)  I immediately responded with a very compassionate and thankful “no.” I thought I was incredibly clear but somehow Andrea didn’t hear “no,” she heard, “ask me over and over again until I go.” As I write this I am realizing this was my wife’s way of telling me we couldn’t afford to buy bigger shirts so head to the gym… 

Now I was in a real conundrum.  Do I go to the gym and face my fear of voluntary activity and sweating?  Do I continue saying no and surrender to a new normal of being asked by my wife to go to the gym every day until death do us part?  This was a no-brainer for me.  The gym couldn’t possibly be worse than being asked the same question every day by my bride…

You may be wondering what about the gym bothered me so much.  The answer is really simple.  I didn’t want to go to the gym because I knew everyone there had the physique of an Olympian and I have the physique of a slightly taller Umpa Lumpa. R.I.P. Gene Wilder.  Who wants to go to a gym and be the guy lifting the colored weights… You know which ones I am talking about.  The ones under your bed that you bought to go with the lose weight quick pyramid scam you signed up for.

I will never forget walking in for the first time.  I remember looking all around and seeing a bunch of people who looked like me.  There were some who were in the height of physical shape.  They would be lifting weights making them seem as if they were as light as a feather.  Then there were some who made lifting weights look as difficult as a Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to scratch the top of his foot.

What also surprised me was how encouraging everyone was.  Every time I would come I would meet someone new and they would say “you are doing great,” “you look great man,” “I can tell a difference already.” Now, I knew they were lying, but I certainly didn’t mind it.

I think many people have the same fear about walking into a church that I had about going into a gym.  “I’m sure every one there is better than me.”  “They probably will look at me and wonder why I am even there.” At The Movement Church this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reason we need to gather as a church is because we aren’t perfect, and we do have struggles, weaknesses, and inconsistencies in our heart.  Here is the good news; every person who attends a church has sinful struggles.  So you would fit right in.

At TMC we believe in giving grace space.  Grace is what saves us from ourselves but it is also what enables us to change and move forward.  We are all from different backgrounds, have different life experiences, and learn differently.  We believe because of that we need to give grace space to work in the lives of people.  Some people change quickly, and some change slower, some go all in, and some appear to barely jump in.  We believe that regardless of where we are, if we give grace space it will change us into the image of the God we serve 

At The Movement Church we believe in truth and grace.  The truth is you aren’t perfect.  You are right about your sin, you are right about your difficulties, but the whole truth is grace is stronger.  We call sin sin because we believe when we do we can truly call grace grace.  We also call sinners welcome because our church is full of sinners that are saved by grace

We believe the reason we come to church is to go and grow.  What that means is we come together to become more like God so we can go and pursue the purposes He has given us.  In essence we are a place for imperfect people who are chasing after perfection.  When we say perfection we mean Jesus.

I know some may be hesitant to walk into a church.  I understand that.  I don’t know if you will enjoy the preaching, worship, or other aspects of The Movement Church.  We think you will but who knows.  What I do know is you will be welcomed.  

When I walked into the gym I was shocked to see so many people like me striving to be in better shape.  When you walk into TMC it will be the same- just a bunch of people striving to be more like Jesus, and we have room for you.  The only difference between the gym and us is we smell better and don’t charge a monthly fee.


Daniel Johnson

Lead Pastor, The Movement Church