Fitness classes inspiring transformation
By DAWNE LEIKER
For Amber Cunningham, fitness isn't just physical -- it's a fusion of body, mind and spirit.
In fact, that philosophy is expressed in the name of the business Cunningham created a little more than a year ago.
Inspire, Body Mind Spirit offers personal training, bootcamps, group fitness classes, pre- and post-natal fitness, sports conditioning, youth programs and corporate fitness challenge programs.
During a Saturday morning bootcamp in December, inspirational music set the tone for an intense workout in the gym of Celebration Community Church, rented by Cunningham.
More than 20 participants responded to Cunningham's encouragement to push themselves to be "1-percent better today than yesterday," straining against resistance bands and tossing medicine balls into the air.
Inspire opened in November 2011, with a following of 17 individuals. Classes have grown, mainly through word-of-mouth, reaching as many as 98 participants during its busiest week.
The business started with "a dream in my heart," Cunningham said. Facing a difficult time in her life, Cunningham prayed more than a year for God to do his will in her life. After a 3.5 Day Mentorship with Todd Durkin in San Diego in October 2011, Cunningham began to get a sense of what might be possible in her life.
"We wrote down our dreams and our visions and our goals for our life," Cunningham said. "And I remember him asking one question: 'What is the one thing that's holding you back?'
"And I knew that I had to quit my job and take this leap of faith and go after this dream that God had placed on my heart."
After coming back from San Diego, Cunningham, who had worked as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for 10 years at HaysMed's Center for Health Improvement, discussed her thoughts and concerns for opening a fitness business with her husband. He suggested the gym of the Celebration Celebration Community Church as a possible location.
Cunningham conferred with Kyle Ermoian, senior pastor of the church, and Brant Rice, Edge pastor. With their encouragement, she determined she would move forward with her dream.
"That was a Tuesday and by Friday, I had given my two-week notice at my job," Cunningham said. "It was very fast.
"God opened doors that I never thought were possible and he brought the right people along in my path, and it was all meant to be."
Inspire opened two weeks later, incorporating positive messages, devotions and prayer into each workout. No memberships are required for the classes, with most participants purchasing 10-class punch cards for $35.
Cunningham said she has seen lives changed throughout the first year of her business.
"We share our stories," she said. "We share our struggles.
"I've gotten so many people to open up here because they trust us and they see that we're not perfect. ... We have struggles, too."
To Jan Schmidt of Ellis, the year she has spent with Inspire has brought a new dimension to her life.
Struggling with weight gain after giving birth to three children in four years, Schmidt said she also battled depression. She attended her first Inspire class in January 2012.
"I couldn't do anything we did here today," she said with obvious emotion. "It was bad.
"Then I kept coming. It was so different than any other workout I had come to because it's feeding my spirit, too."
Schmidt said she has come to realize the emotional and spiritual baggage she was bearing. Cunningham's classes, which feature nutritional and spiritual challenges as well, are helping Schmidt to lose, not just the 35 pounds she shed in the first four months, but the other baggage as well.
"I'm really amazed at the transformation, not only of my body, but my spirit," she said. "I have so much joy.
"I just love this place so much."
Anna Herl, Hays, works alongside Cunningham at Inspire. Herl, who teaches several fitness classes each week said she has received encouragement along the way from Cunningham.
"Amber has been such an inspiration in all areas," Herl said. "It is so much about the holistic approach of training the body and the mind and spirit.
"People come in and you can see on their faces that pushups and squats are not going to fix what's going on. It's something deeper than that."