Are You a Gym-Only Person?

by | Jan 30, 2015 | Health

I read the following proverb in The Message translation of my Bible this morning, and it struck me—as certain Scriptures will to believers within the fitness industry—as possessing an intriguing application, not just to our spiritual selves, but to our physical bodies as well. Take a look:

“Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to GOD than religious performance” (Prov. 21:3, MSG).

My eyes almost immediately, and involuntarily, turned the words “clean living” into “clean eating,” which naturally led me down a mental rabbit trail on which I began to think about how many of us exhibit ritualistic, “religious” behavior with regards to our fitness, just as countless Christians do concerning their faith.

I have no intentions of sermonizing here, but it’s no secret that countless pews are populated by “Sunday Morning Christians,” that is, people who attend church for approximately one hour each week, then live Monday through Saturday without cracking open their Bibles or putting into practice what they read about, sung about and heard about during church.

Sunday Morning Christians clap to the beat during praise and worship, say “Amen” or nod piously in all the right places, bow their heads in reverence when the communion trays are passed around, even drop money into the offering plate. But this is all merely, as Solomon wrote, “religious performance.” While their bodies are present in the house of God, their spirits couldn’t be farther away.

This, what I shall call “Sundays-Only Syndrome,” is no less than tragic because those who are symptomatic are very often downcast, weary, and frankly, weak individuals. (And for the record, I’m sure you would agree that all Christ followers have been Sunday Morning Christians at one time or another—we all fall short!)

Instead of living a life of abundance that Jesus came to give, they feel they are always lacking. Instead of clinging tightly to God’s promises when storm clouds roll in, they latch onto fear and search for answers in all the wrong places. Instead of retreating into silence and praying to Almighty God when an offense takes place or worry fills their minds, they fret and vent, murmur and complain, only exacerbating their troubles.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that Christianity isn’t about religion; it’s about relationship. Along those lines, the late pastor and author Adrian Rogers once said, “Christianity is a love relationship between a child of God and his Maker through the Son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Without an intimate relationship with Jesus that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, our Christian walk will be rendered joyless, anemic and woefully unprotected from the blows of life and the darts of the evil one.

Now, shifting gears from the spiritual to the physical, I’ve observed a similar complacency in the fitness world, one I will refer to as “Gym-Only Syndrome.” Those with this “condition,” so to speak, present with this straightforward set of symptoms:

  • A habit of working out regularly, maybe even five or six days a week (for some, however, the habit is off and on)
  • The discipline to listen to their trainer (if they have one) and diligently follow a training program or attend a specific class
  • Frustration and stagnation in their progress that stems from their not-so-healthy activities outside of the gym, namely poor eating (or, in many cases, an excessive consumption of healthy foods) and a sedentary lifestyle

Like Sunday Morning Christians, Gym-Only People (the other G.O.P.!) have their game faces on throughout their hour or so of training, but their habits outside the gym reflect those of someone who doesn’t prioritize their health.

Here are just a few examples of what Gym-Only People may do:

  • Snack on junk food in between meals (it could be that junk food is their meals)
  • Don’t control their portions and eat double or triple what they should
  • Sit at their desk for hours on end without taking breaks to walk around, stretch or get some sunshine
  • Don’t drink enough water
  • Don’t eat nutrient-dense foods
  • Restrict their calories too much, thereby slowing down their metabolism, which can cause fatigue, irritability, listlessness and mental fogginess

The results of such a Gym-Only lifestyle also correspond with those experienced by Sunday Morning Christians. Instead of growing stronger, they feel weaker. Goals are seldom met. Working out feels robotic and dull. Silver bullets to solve their problems are sought after and tried, but they never work.

Like any other close relationship, be it with Christ, our children or our spouse, our relationship with fitness requires effort and devotion that transcends simply putting in the time. When we love someone, we think about them often, talk to them every day (or nearly every day), think of ways to bring them joy and bless them in some small way, even if it means inconveniencing ourselves. Conversely, when we only go through the motions of love, actions that carry no meaning, we distance ourselves from the object of our affection and begin to stray from it.

If you find yourself deviating from a healthy lifestyle during the 23 hours you’re away from the gym, then it’s likely fitness has become more about “religious performance” than “clean living before God” (Prov. 21:3, MSG). You go to the gym (or studio, or pool, etc.) because you know it’s the right thing to do, but that fact hasn’t made its way from your head down to your heart. You haven’t yet formed a relationship with it. And so, you don’t tend to your body, your temple, the way you should when you’re at home, at work, or wherever the day takes you.

As it turns out, the antidote for Gym-Only Syndrome mirrors the remedy that heals ho-hum, ineffectual Sunday Morning Christians and transforms them into exuberant, unstoppable, victorious all-week ones. There isn’t a 10-step process, a book, a program, or a product that can help you “live clean” around the clock. There is only a sincere, soul-deep desire to become fitter, whether inside or outside, followed by specific actions that, at first, may seem obligatory and unexciting, but after a while, will begin to feel like an integral, indispensable part of your day.

Spiritual examples of such actions could include praying a few minutes each morning, watching a sermon on YouTube during lunch, or reading the Psalms before bed. A few physical examples are eliminating processed junk foods from your diet, introducing more fresh fruits and vegetables, or parking farther from your workplace, local grocery store, etc., to ensure you’re more active throughout the day.

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.” Turn the opposite direction of where you’re facing right now and simply take a step of faith. A step toward relationship, toward intentionality, toward commitment … toward “clean living” in body and soul.

Walk confidently, knowing that the Holy Spirit, whose name in Greek means “an advocate, comforter, helper,” is there to guide and uplift you along the way. Let Him renew your mind and fix your focus on your heavenly Father. Let a desire to please your Maker and glorify your Savior direct you, and watch as everything else falls into place.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt. 6:33, NLT).

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House’s Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness and her latest book, Perfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness. Her popular website can be found at dianaandersontyler.comand she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be reached on Twitter.

For the original article, visit


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." God knew Job's heart and Job knew the heart...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...


Prophecy: A Window of Time Has Opened for Believers to Preach the Truth

I was rejoicing and praising God on Friday, June 24, 2022, for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, knowing that an ungodly decree was overturned and one national curse was broken. I heard by the Holy...
The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

In 1998, God gave me a life-changing vision of hell. I receive many questions about my experience from people all over the world, but one question I'm often asked is, "Who did you see in hell?" There are others who say they've had an experience like mine, and they...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or psychological struggles to symptoms or sicknesses, disabilities or...

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Pin It on Pinterest