Classes condition body and soul

February 06, 2002

Classes condition body and soul


SMITHSBURG - For Deb Youngbar and her students, worship is a workout.

A Body & Soul Ministries instructor, Youngbar teaches high- and low-impact aerobics to the beat of contemporary Christian music twice weekly at Smithsburg Valley Baptist Church on Bikle Road.

"I've always loved to dance," said Youngbar, 43, of Boonsboro. "It's worshipful to me."

She begins her classes with a prayer before leading a series of exercises choreographed to such Christian songs as "I Give You My Heart" by Innervision and "Keep on Shining" by Natalie Grant. The music for each seasonal aerobics session ties into a Christian theme, Youngbar said.

"Live What I Believe" is the theme for the current winter session she teaches at 8 a.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Tuesdays in the sanctuary at the Smithsburg church run by her husband, the Rev. Allen Youngbar.


Started in 1981, Body & Soul is a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry that provides aerobic and strength-training exercise while also promoting emotional and spiritual well-being, according to information from the organization.

The ministry has hundreds of instructors throughout the world, Youngbar said.

Enrollment in her all-female classes has doubled within the last few months, she said. Women of all ages and ability levels are participating at their own pace.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Youngbar said, "People seem to want something more in their lives. They realize life is short."

The Body & Soul exercise program has filled such a need for some women, Youngbar said. The classes provide support and camaraderie, and a spiritual and physical outlet, she said.

"We live hectic lives. I see (the class) as a time when we can really listen to the music, focus and exercise," Youngbar said. "This isn't about how you look. It's more focused on inner beauty and taking steps to take care of yourself."

The title song in the winter session's musical sequence - "Live What I Believe" by Russ Lee - sets the tone for the aerobics class.

"These are the days for the children of faith to stand up and be counted. Now is the time for the light in us to shine on whoever's around it," Lee sings. "I'm gonna live what I believe. I'm gonna walk that line. If it costs me everything, I'm gonna stand for what is right."

The music is meaningful and uplifting, Youngbar said.

Her students especially like the cool-down song, "Run to You," during which they lift their hands to God in time to the smooth rhythm, she said.

Youngbar, who teaches a Christ-centered health program called "First Place," decided to get serious about fitness five years ago, she said.

She signed up for a Body & Soul class and soon offered to fill an instructor's position at First Christian Church in Hagerstown, she said. Youngbar had little aerobics experience but a deep appreciation for music and dance, she said.

She must attend instructors' workshops to learn the choreography for each aerobics session. Within two years, Youngbar earned her certification from the American Council on Exercise. Body & Soul Ministry encourages its instructors to gain the certification so they can more fully explain to students how specific exercises benefit their bodies, she said.

For more information about Body & Soul, contact Youngbar at 301-432-4824.

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