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PrayFit, a perfect package of fitness and faith

I reviewed PrayFit out of curiosity. How is it celebrities recommend a fitness book that focuses on Jesus? (Not your usual Hollywood stuff, for sure.)

It didn’t take long to see why PrayFit is buzz-worthy! I and became a fan and interviewed the author, Jimmy Pena, to glean more about the PrayFit concept.

Fitness guru Jimmy Pena
(Photo: Pure Publicity).

In PrayFit, which is a guide to a healthy body and stronger faith in 28 days

and includes devotions, exercises, tips and meal plans, author and fitness guru, Jimmy Pena, shares his wisdom about fitness, food and faith. Jimmy Page, MS and Jim Stoppani, PHD, complete the package making PrayFit an easy-read manual on growing in faith and fitness in 28 days.

Don’t get me wrong. Although PrayFit provides a challenging 28-day workout plan (which, by the way, involves zero equipment, so no excuses anyone), the spiritual component is not deep theology. The devotional nuggets and prayers are simple, but nonetheless biblical. And, like the meal-plans and food tips, readings are bite-sized and easy to read.

PrayFit provides intense workouts, thorough food info and inspiriting spiritual content. I recommend it for just about anyone. (Makes a great gift –especially for friends interested in improving their health and needing to draw closer to Jesus.)

Jimmy Pena received his master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1998. He then published his thesis summary in the renowned journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. Jimmy served as the fitness director for Muscle & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness Hers magazines and since 1999, he has authored and edited thousands of articles on training and fitness, making him arguably the nation’s most published training expert.

In 2006, Jimmy designed the women’s training programs for LL Cool J’s New York Times Best-Seller, “Platinum Workout” (Rodale Books 2006), and in 2007 contributed to Mario Lopez’s best-selling “Knockout Fitness” (Rodale Books 2008).

In 2010, Jimmy was the co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Extra Lean” and in January 2011 published “PRAYFIT: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and Stronger Faith” (available at , on Amazon, and in bookstores everywhere).

Follow up tips and info are also provided via . Good stuff.

What follows is my interview with Jimmy Pena – Author of PrayFit.

Cover artwork for PrayFit DVD
(Photo: Pure Publicity).

Janey DeMeo — I love that PrayFit challenges me to go further in my workout than I’d normally choose — while also inspiring me to go deeper with God. What gave you the idea for this unique combination?

Jimmy Pena –Well, from a fitness standpoint, I teach people that the body will only change according to the level at which it is stressed. Our bodies are pretty resilient and they adapt so well to what we put them through. For that reason, we have to continually ask more of ourselves day in and day out. I think the same thing goes for our faith. Spending good time with the Lord each day, seeking His guidance, going deeper into His word…that’s how we stay healthy on the inside.

Quick Story. Late one night, sitting in my office at M&F, I was editing an article that needed to get out the door asap, when I heard a noise from across the indoor atrium. It was Joe Weider — the founder of bodybuilding and fitness — leaving his office for the night. At the time, Joe was in need of a walker as well as a nurse to get around. As he walked out of his office, I watched him as he made his way down the hall and directly in front of a bronze statue of himself from his younger prime; arms folded, chest puffed, chin high. Captured in time, a bronze Joe Weider, now merely a backdrop of a struggling reality.

In one rare moment, I was an eye-witness to two bookends of the same man. The sight caused me to sit back in my chair. Right then the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “It’s not about the body.” I thought to myself, ‘What’s a Christian fitness expert to do with such a realization’? And it confirmed what C.S Lewis said, “You don’t have souls, you are souls. You have bodies.” And that’s when the concept of PrayFit was born in my heart.

Janey — As well as being a brilliant fitness coach, PrayFit shows that you walk close to the Lord How does your faith impact your desire to help others get in shape?

Jimmy — Well, all I know is that I love the Lord, and I am so thankful He’s in my heart. I’ve said before that it doesn’t necessarily take faith to be healthy, but if we have faith, we should strive to be. The message of PrayFit has been formed and molded into some simple concepts, most important being that we believe that while life is not about the body, our health is a means of praise. That we’re called to take care of the body that carries the soul and that there are plenty of biblical references and examples that point to and require a response in the area of physical fitness and proper eating. We believe that many areas of life require a sacrifice. Is our money required for heaven? No.

But we’re told to be good stewards of it. Same thing goes for our bodies. Required for heaven? Nah. But we’re called to take care of them because they’re not ours to neglect. After all, that’s what a steward is anyway; someone put in charge of something that’s not their own. It’s not about a six-pack, but something so fearfully and wonderfully made deserves better attention and upkeep. Things like lower blood pressure and sensible weight loss can be seen simply as bi-products of obedience.

Janey — One of the things I love about PrayFit is it’s gimmick-free. The exercises don’t even require equipment. I’m often in Haiti or other third-world countries where there’s little opportunity to exercise. Do you have any special tips for me in this situation so I don’t get back home stiff and out of shape?

Jimmy — So glad you asked. We wrote PrayFit with bodyweight as the resistance because anybody and everybody can experience a solid workout in very little time, without costly equipment and in the privacy of their home or hotel room. Few people realize how effective a bodyweight workout can be, but if you’re at home and you have only 10 minutes before work or if you’re in a hotel room, the simple bodyweight approach is so effective. The best thing? It’s all relative.

My best effort, your best effort, for anyone reading this article, is that we all have a threshold. Someone who can only do 5 push-ups or bodyweight squats or someone capable of 500, it doesn’t matter. Your best is your best, is your best… And each individual will see results. So while you’re in Haiti doing God’s work, you can Stayfit with PrayFit.

Janey –I like that: STAYFIT with PRAYFIT. Yay!


With all the talk about the dangers of obesity, are Americans finally catching on? Are they becoming more health conscious or are they still caught in the deadly cycle of unhealthy food and little exercise?

Jimmy — We’re great at identifying the dangers, risks and haunting statistics, but obesity is still something we see yet don’t yet feel. For that reason, it’s our opinion that the believer needs to lead the way. Whether you’re Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Non-denominational or otherwise, we believe that the believer should be the example. In 5, 10, 50 years, when this country puts statistics together to summarize the state of health in our nation, may there be one group that led the way to a healthier America…the Christians.

Janey — Southern California is known for health-conscious, outdoorsy living — especially San Diego where people take any excuse to hit the beaches. Could you envision some of the PrayFit exercises being modified to use at a beach or in another outdoor context?

Jimmy — That’s the cool thing about this first book. All of the exercises can be done outdoors, which is where I choose to do most of my exercise. The beach is perfect for PrayFit, and what better place to spend a few minutes reading and getting motivated? I love San Diego. Hopefully we get invited by churches and groups to come and share PrayFit. My bags are packed.

Janey — Well, we’d love to have you in San Diego anytime so let’s get working on that. I love that PrayFit is a concept and provides a website for people to stay in the know in growing in fitness and in Jesus. Tell me what kind of impact you hope PrayFit will have–both the book and the website together.

Jimmy — It’s our hope that continues to grow as a place where believers can meet and gain inspiration and motivation to live healthier lives. And we’re so blessed to have our message in print. I hope this book finds its way into homes and churches across the country. Basically, we hope for health. I’ll answer your question using a recent entry into my journal:

“I hope all is well with you, and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” –3 John 1:2


If you missed it like I did, read the verse again. Yep, that’s it. In one verse, God has woven permission for a healthy concern of the body. Never at the expense of what’s most important, but when was the last time you and I hoped the same for someone? Oh, we often ask how the kids are, how the job is going, and the progress of one’s golf game — but what about their health? Not the casual, “So how you been?” or “How you doin’?” but rather a real longing to see your friends and family as healthy on the outside as they are on the inside.

Truth is, we may be as timid to ask as we are to be asked. But either way, it’s okay. Because we have both permission and an obligation to hope for health.

And that’s the purpose of PrayFit. You and I were made to live in abundant health, and PrayFit was made to help.

Janey — Thanks so much for your time Jimmy. Keep up the good work. And get out here to San Diego and throughout Southern California. We need you.

For more in for more information, please go to:


Janey DeMeo is founder and director of Orphans First. She is also an author

and speaker. Her husband, Louis, is a church-planter, mentor and pastor. They were formerly missionaries to France for 22 years and also worked in third-world countries. They are now based in Southern California where they continue their ministry mentoring people to walk closer to Jesus. They both taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College.

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