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Faith and Fitness

ONE Million Starts with ONE


ONE Million Starts with ONE

In this world of follows and likes on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and however many more social media platforms we have it is so easy to get caught up in numbers.  Believe me I have fallen into that trap many times myself. 

I often times wonder what our life would be like if we went back to the days before social media.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think social media is all bad and I certainly use it to share my story and encourage others, but I also know it’s a source of wounding.  It’s a source of comparison and envy. 

Sometimes I feel wounded after habitually glancing at Instagram when I subconsciously grab the phone without thinking about it and mindlessly scroll down the page. 

My thoughts run to why does he have so many followers and I can’t get past 230?   Why was he able to find an amazing and beautiful wife and I am still in my singleness searching for my life’s partner and dealing with the challenges of loneliness and the dating world?  Wow, that dude has some serious biceps and abs on him.  What do I have to do to look like him?  Wound after psychological wound.

That’s not good for any of us.  It has created an atmosphere of lack, scarcity and victim hood.  All very negative emotions instead of being grateful for the gift of life we have.   

There is one number that is truly important to me and that is the number ONE.  First of all, I am here on this earth to live for an audience of ONE.  That ONE for me is Jesus.  If I am living each and every day according to His plan and not my own, I know my life will be fulfilling and full of love, joy and inner peace.   It’s the audience of ONE that I crave not the number of followers I have on Instagram.


The other reason that the number ONE is important to me is that I want to be a conduit of transformed lives ONE person at a time.   Yes, I have a huge vision of impacting ONE millions men’s lives through my Spiritual Warriors Unite community, but to me it’s all about that ONE person.   That ONE person I can reach through my blog, my podcast, my Bible and Barbells ministry, my Faith and Fitness class at Redeemer Lutheran Church, my Spiritual Warriors Unite monthly gathering at The Body. 

I got a phone call the other day from a twenty-five year old man who is seeking out mentorship from me.   If I can make a difference in this ONE man’s life, then I am doing what God has called me to do.  I am not going to worry about the numbers.  That I will leave up to God.  My job is to dream big.  To be more visible so more people can know our amazing and wonderful invisible God.   But my main focus is to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for that ONE man who will be sitting across from me. 

I will continue to have the dream and vision to impact ONE million men’s lives through my fitness ministry, but my main concern is that ONE person God has put in front of me today.   The rest is up to Him. 

What if we all just focused on the ONE?  The ONE interaction we have at the grocery store.  The ONE interaction we have at the gym?  The ONE interaction we have at the park.  We never know how God is going to use us.   We never know when those divine opportunities are going to happen, but when we live with openness and powerful energy and in our strength, God will align the moments at the right time so we can have a positive influence on ONE.


My message is let’s dream big.  Let’s take risks.  Let’s change the world with love.  But let’s not lose sight that it starts with ONE.  It starts with living for an audience of ONE and impacting ONE person’s life at a time. 

I am on a mission to build a movement of men who are willing to go on this journey with me of becoming a Spiritual Warrior.  My vision is to impact one million men’s lives through this tribe of Spiritual Warriors.  The journey to one million men starts with one.  Will you be that one who is willing to take a chance on yourself so you can live the life of your dreams?  So you can live a life of purpose feeling fully alive. 

The first step to being part of this community is to sign up for my Spiritual Warriors Unite Newsletter and becoming a part of our Spiritual Warriors Unite Facebook group.

One thing we must never forget that what is done for ourselves will quickly be forgotten, but what we do for others will be remembered for eternity.  The choice is yours.

Troy Ismir, MS

Speaker, Author, Podcaster and Spiritual Warrior Coach

Spiritual Warriors Unite Podcast




Personal Internal Commitment


Personal Internal Commitment

As I walked into the tattoo parlor totally out of my comfort zone and quite honestly a little freaked out I heard a voice coming from above.   “Come up here.”  Is that you God?  Are you trying to tell me something?  As it turns out it was just the owner upstairs where they do all of the tattooing.  There wasn’t anyone on the main floor and they have video cameras to see when someone enters the building.  It wasn’t the voice of God, just the tattoo guy.

As I walked through those front doors completely out of my element and comfort zone, my first initial thought was I can’t believe I am doing this.  I can’t believe I am going to follow through on something that scares the living daylights out of me and something that is exciting. 

My second thought was, is this how people feel when they walk into a gym?  Do they feel out of their element and completely out of their comfort zone?  A little scared and a little excited.


In the past I had never really been a big fan of tattoos.  I was never against them, it just didn’t seem like it was something that I would ever do.  But I am not that same person.  That person that plays it safe and cares what people think.  I am not that person that looks for external validation any more. 


The reason I got this tattoo is that it represents that I am willing to take a chance on myself.  It’s a personal internal commitment to myself that I will live my life boldly and with courage.  It’s a commitment to myself that I am willing to get out of my comfort zone so I can make a difference in the world that I am called to make.  That I am willing to show up big and not shrink back. 

I want to share with you the story behind the tattoo.   When my coach, Kimberly Dawson from Revolution Business and Life Design first told me that I should brand myself as a Spiritual Warrior I pushed back with everything I had.  I resisted it with all of my being.   I didn’t feel like a Spiritual Warrior.  I was so used to playing small that being a Spiritual Warrior sounded too big for me.  I didn’t feel like I could step into that role.  Quite honestly it scared me.  What will people think of me if I call myself a Spiritual Warrior?  Will they think I am weird?  Or think who does this guy think he is?

I fell into the usual trap of caring what people think about me.  Of wanting to be liked.  Of being the Christian nice guy.   And as Dr. Phil would always ask, “How’s that working out for you?”  Well the answer to that over the years is not very good. 


For me to make the personal internal commitment of having Spiritual Warrior tattooed on my arm shows me how far I have come on my journey of becoming and believing I am a Spiritual Warrior.  So what is a Spiritual Warrior anyways?  A Spiritual Warrior is someone who goes on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment for a transcendent cause greater than oneself.  Quite simply a Spiritual Warrior is someone who is willing to live our lives for others rather than for ourselves. 


I think the key word here is journey.   It’s a lifelong endeavor.  It’s about who we are becoming and the character we build along the way.   We never fully arrive and that’s OK.  We just keep moving forward.  We keep getting back in the arena.  We learn from our many failures, dust ourselves off and get back in the game.  That is the journey I am on of being a Spiritual Warrior.

For me, the ultimate Spiritual Warrior is Jesus.  That is what the three nails on my arm represents.  The sacrifice that Jesus made for me on the cross.   Each nail has a significant meaning for me. 

The first nail represents mystery.  It’s embracing the mystery of our great and wonderful God.  It represents being joyful in the unknown.   It is believing that God has a great plan for my life and living each and every day like it were my last. 

The second nail represents surrender.   To show up fully present in the world knowing that I am enough.  That I will be vulnerable and courageous in the pursuit of my purpose and mission.   That I am willing to be more visible to show people the light in a dark world so more people can experience the invisible power of God. 

The third nail represents forgiveness.  We all have a story.  We all have scars.   This nail calls for me to live a life of compassion and service.    To know that there are hurting people in this world and to be a source of healing. 

As you can see, this is not just a tattoo.  This is the story that God is writing of my life.  As I look back on how far I have come since I gave my life to Christ I am blown away.  There have be many challenges along the way, but there has been so much personal and spiritual growth.   I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Moving forward my personal internal commitment is to continue on this journey of being a Spiritual Warrior.   To create a life of abundance.  To live a life full of joy, vulnerability and compassion.   The scripture that most resonates with me is John 10:10.  “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 


I am on a mission to build a movement of men who are willing to go on this journey with me of becoming a Spiritual Warrior.   My vision is to impact 1,000,000 men’s lives through this tribe of Spiritual Warriors.   The journey to 1,000,000 men starts with one.  Will you be that one who is willing to take a chance on yourself so you can live the life of your dreams?    So you can live a life of purpose feeling fully alive. 

The first step to being part of this community is to sign up for my Spiritual Warrior’s Unite Newsletter and becoming part of our Spiritual Warriors Unite Facebook group. 

One thing we must never forget that what is done for ourselves will quickly be forgotten, but what we do for others will be remembered for eternity.   The choice is yours. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Speaker, Author and Spiritual Warrior Coach



The Making of a Leader


The Making of a Leader

I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Steve Hoke on my Spiritual Warriors Unite podcast the other day.  There were so many great nuggets of information that I will be summarizing in this blog post.  To listen to the entire interview go here.

Steve is a leader development and strategic life coach.  His passion is helping front line men and women fall in love with Jesus so they can live a spirit filled life and operate in spiritual authority. 

The heart of effective leadership is character and integrity.   Steve recommends the book The Leadership Challenge written by Kouzes and Posner.   According to Kouzes and Posner the following are the five skills or practices of highly effective leaders.


Be able to challenge the process:   Great leaders are not yes people.  They are willing to ask the hard questions and press against the existing status quo.

Inspiring a shared vision:  They lead by vision and inspiration.

Equip and release others to do their work:  They are great delegators.

Model the way:  They are goal oriented, but humble.  It’s not about them.

Encourage the heart:   They pay attention to the heart and the well-being of their people. 


The biggest thing that has made a difference in Steve’s personal life is meeting with two to three men on a regular basis.   They ask each other the following questions:

  • What has God been doing in your life?

  • What are you learning?

  • Where are you struggling?

  • How can we help?

  • How can we pray for you?

Without being asked hard questions we don’t grow and transform.


God gave all of us a hand full of spiritual gifts.  Spiritual gifts are where the power of God rises up in us.   It’s important to discover your spiritual gifts so you can cooperate with God in the areas where you are most powerful.  A resource that Steve recommends to discovering your gifts is Leadership Grip


Model the focused life by following the leader, Jesus.  Fall in love with Jesus and follow him.  Commit yourself to putting into practice everything you learn from Jesus.

Find a godly mentor and spend time with him. 

Leaders read.  Absorb as much knowledge as possible and ask the Holy Spirit how to apply it. 

To get in touch with Steve you can send him an e-mail at or call him at 909-319-8003.  Steve loves to meet with anyone who wants to go deeper with Jesus. 


I am on a mission to build a movement of men who are willing to go on this journey with me of becoming a Spiritual Warrior.   My vision is to impact 1,000,000 men’s lives through this tribe of Spiritual Warriors.   The journey to 1,000,000 men starts with one.  Will you be that one who is willing to take a chance on yourself so you can live the life of your dreams?    So you can live a life of purpose feeling fully alive. 

The first step to being part of this community is to sign up for my Spiritual Warrior’s Unite Newsletter and becoming part of our Spiritual Warriors Unite Facebook group. 

One thing we must never forget that what is done for ourselves will quickly be forgotten, but what we do for others will be remembered for eternity.   The choice is yours. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Speaker, Author and Spiritual Warrior Coach


Does Life Really Have to be so Hard?


Does Life Really Have to be so Hard?


Does life really have to be so “hard?”  Does it always have to be a struggle?  It seems in my own personal and professional life I have become really good at making things hard.   I have always been hard on myself.  I have always demanded perfectionism of myself and when I don’t live up to my own expectations I beat myself up mentally and yes sometimes even physically.  Damn, that’s a hard way to live life, no pun intended. 


My dear friend and coach recently pointed out to me that I use the word “hard” quite a bit in my vocabulary.  That was completely unbeknownst to me.  In fact, she was brazen enough to say I got real whiny when I started talking about how hard things are.  Believe me, nobody wants to be called whiny.  But that is exactly why I have a coach in my life, so I can be shown my blind spots.  So I can better understand my own places of resistance and move beyond them.  To become the best version of myself. 

challenge yourself.jpg

The new possibility that was proposed to me was to take the word hard out of my vocabulary and replace it with challenging.   I have always been good at striving, at trying harder to force things to happen.  It’s has been a big part of my life that has made me successful, but the unfortunate piece of this it has come at a cost of peace, joy and happiness.  Not an ideal way to live life.  It sure takes the fun out of life.   What I am being shown is that I don’t have to struggle to serve God. 

The new way of thinking is to challenge myself.  Of course, there are going to be challenges in life.  That is what makes life interesting.  If we are never challenged we would be bored out of our mind. 

That is the main reason I left the pharmaceutical industry is because I wasn’t being challenged.  I was bored.  When something is challenging it tests our ability, determination and willingness to push pass the quit.   It’s a completely different connotation than “why is everything so hard?”


When we challenge ourselves it becomes about building our character and making ourselves a better person.  One way I love to do that personally is through physical fitness and adventure challenges. 


Last Saturday I participated in a 110 mile gravel bike race in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I had no idea how challenging it was going to be.   

We started the race in a torrential downpour with the temperature hovering right around 45 degrees or so.  I was completely soaked 5 miles into the race with another 105 miles to go.     Frozen toes and frozen fingers were the theme for the day. 

It challenged me mentally more than anything.  Yes, of course there was physical fatigue, but the whole point was to challenge myself and the weather conditions just added to that.   I am proud to say that after about nine hours on the bike I crossed the finish line.  I know I am a better person and cyclist because I rose to the challenge. 


I want to invite you to find ways that you can challenge yourself.  Not to make your life harder, but to make your life better and more adventurous.   If we aren’t challenging ourselves on a regular basis we become comfortable, complacent and quite honestly bored with our life and the saddest thing of all is we aren’t growing as a person. 

What is that challenge for you?  It doesn’t have to be physical, but I think as men we are hard-wired to need physical challenges in our lives.  That is how God created us.  We aren’t meant to sit on the couch and watch TV.  We aren’t meant to be spectators in life. 

Go out and challenge yourself so you can become a better person.  Develop stronger character along the way and inspire others to join in the fun. 

My next challenge is the Tour de Steamboat which is a 116 mile road ride in the beautiful country of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  I am going to get the hard out of my vocabulary and embrace the challenge.  I am a work in progress in this area of my life.    I am going to enjoy the challenges that come my way in life and know that I don’t always have to struggle and make things hard.  Maybe sometimes life can just be fun and easy.  Isn’t that a novel thought?


If you are looking for new ways to challenge yourself physically, mentally and spiritually and need some guidance, coaching, wisdom and expertise, I specialize in helping men reclaim their inner warrior to become the ultimate spiritual warrior.  Do NOT go on this journey alone.  I will be with you every step of the way as you transform your life and become the man you always wanted to be.   Please reach out to me at and be challenged to reclaim your inner warrior. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach


What if I had Gym Church when I was Twenty-One?


What if I had Gym Church when I was Twenty-One?

As I sit down to write this I want you to know I have zero regrets in my life as this is the journey that God has me on and I am learning to love and embrace my story.   There is also no sense of blame for anything that has happened in my life as I have learned that not all things are good, but all things work out for good because our God is good. 

That being said, I wonder how the trajectory of my life would have been different if someone would have started a gym church at the gym I used to go to in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Would I have made different choices in my life?  Would I have become a passionate follower of Jesus in my life at 21 instead of at 41?  Would it have saved me twenty years in the wilderness?  

Bodybuilding, Sports, Women and Alcohol

I will never know the answer to those questions and I am totally at peace with that.  What I can do is take my story and share with other young men that may be living the life that I was at twenty-one full of self-indulgences that consumed my life.   My life was consumed by bodybuilding, sports, women and alcohol.    It was a shallow and meaningless existence.    I lived for myself and myself alone. 

I went to church on a weekly basis as I was required to do.  Often times I was hung-over.  It was a check the box experience.   Sometimes I heard the words of the pastor, but often times I was day dreaming about playing sports or thinking about what I did the previous evening. 

This I know now, my heart wasn’t receptive to the words I was hearing, and in fact I think it made me even more rebellious.   I didn’t get it.  I don’t think I wanted to get it.  I had no interest in changing my lifestyle.  To me church was about image.  It was about presenting myself in a way that I thought I should look; dressed nice and putting on a fake smile with lots of mints to cover up my alcohol breath. 

Learning about the Transforming Power of Jesus

As soon as I left high school, I left the church.  Sure I dabbled for years, but never settled into a church home until I was in my 40’s when a tragic divorce brought me to my knees.  It was there that I learned the transforming power of Jesus.  It was there that I learned that it was all about having a personal relationship with God. 

I also remember some mornings as an adult on a Sunday I would be going to church and feel completely broken and lost sitting in the back row with streams of tears running down my face wanting to share my story with someone, but not being able to.  I tried to put on a happy face when someone asked me how things were going.   I would say I am good when deep down inside my soul was screaming for help

I will be forever grateful for what that particular church and pastor did in my life.  It changed me. It changed who I am.  It set me on a path of being a passionate Jesus follower.   The pastor spoke the breath of life back into me that I will be eternally grateful for.

What if there would have been a Gym Church when I was 21?

But that leads me to the question, what if there would have been a gym church at the local gym that I spent hours and hours at being my own god trying to look a certain way for the admiration for others?  What if someone would have invited me to a non-threatening community where we simply shared our stories, our brokenness and our search for meaning in our lives?  What if at age 21 I would have learned that it was about following Jesus that gives us the transforming power to live the life that we are called to live.  A life of freedom, purpose and joy. 

That never happened.  But I have the opportunity to change that for other young men who are in the same position now that I was when in I was 21 years old.

I got a phone call from someone the other day asking me to help this young man that she knows.  She shared with me that this man is in his mid-twenties and is completely lost.   He is living a self-indulgent life of partying and women.   She is aware of the work that I am doing of the integration of faith and fitness and thought I could have some influence with this young man.   He hasn’t reached out to me yet, but prayerfully he will. 

I will invite him to gym church if he does reach out to me.   Our gym church is a community of men that meets at a small, local community gym in Fort Collins, Colorado.   In our gym church we share our story.  We are vulnerable.  Often times there are tears and a lot of times there is laughter through the tears.   We talk about Jesus and what he has done in our lives.  We talk about our battles with our addictions, struggles of loneliness and despair. 

We form new friendships.  We form new accountability partners.  But mainly we show up as our authentic selves knowing that we are loved for who we are.  No false pretenses.  No concern for perfection or image, just men showing up to be seen and heard in a loving and safe environment.  To me, this is church. 

This is Church

We just had “church” yesterday.  We call it Spiritual Warriors Unite.  We met in a circle and not in a row.   This is church.  We had a dynamic conversation on how Jesus is telling his story through our story and how we should never be ashamed of the scars we have accumulated in our lives.

In fact our story is shared through our scars and we are expected to share our story.   There are 7.2 billion people on this planet and we all have a unique and wonderful story to tell.   Life is all about relationships and in order to build relationships we have to be vulnerable and courageous in sharing our story.  This breaks down walls and barriers to open up the possibility of having an authentic conversation about Jesus, not religion.

What if there would have been a gym church like what we have formed in Fort Collins when I was 21?  I will never know the answer to that question, but I get to see other people’s lives transformed no matter the age by being part of our gym church.  

A New Possibility for Church

I would like to invite a new possibility of a way of seeing church.  Church isn’t just a place to go to check the box for our Christian duty.  It’s a place where we come alive and our dreams, purpose and passion are born and realized.  It’s a place where we can be authentic, vulnerable and share our story.   It’s where we are seen and heard.  It’s where deep community is formed.  It’s where we go to become who God created us to be so we can go out and change the world.   This is gym church.  This is church.

I hope and pray I can connect with this young man I mentioned earlier that is struggling in his life.  I see him in me at that age.   I pray that through my story his story can be written on a different trajectory than mine with many years of hopelessness and lack of joy because I wasn’t a passionate follower of Jesus.  I want to show him a better way.  Not an easier way, but a better way. 

My vision is to create a church that resonates and transforms people’s lives through authentic community, story, creativity, passion and most importantly show people that Jesus is the ultimate warrior and when we allow him to be the focal point of our life we will never turn back to our old ways.  We will become a new person living a life that makes us feel fully alive. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior


From It's too Hard to Unlimited Possibilities


From It's too Hard to Unlimited Possibilities

Our physical health is so easy to take for granted.  We have done a very poor job as a society of taking care of our health.   We have done an even worse job in the fitness industry of helping people get physically fit and healthy. 

The fitness industry has made it all about appearance.  We have made it all about weight loss, the way we look on the outside.   Most people give up on making a physical transformation after trying time and time again to get healthy and changing their body composition. 

What I have learned on my journey is that making any change in our life can be hard.   The struggle is real.  I don’t know one single person who has it all together physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Physical Challenges Lead to a Transformed Life

Since I started my fitness ministry full time a little over a year ago, I have realized how important it is to have physical challenges in our life.  I have seen in my life and in my clients life how challenging ourselves physically opens up the door to personal and spiritual growth.  When we challenge ourselves physically beyond what we think we are capable of it leads to a life transformed. 


The struggle is where the growth is.   When we are willing to push our limitations physically, we find out who we truly are.   Are we that guy that is sitting on the couch watching our life go by or are we that guy who embraces physical challenges to get mentally stronger and add depth to our spirituality?

When we go beyond the limitations we place on ourselves physically and the resistance we put up to make changes, the possibilities are endless. 

Is it hard, yes!  Will there be some struggle, yes!  But when we accomplish something that is physically hard we feel so good about ourselves.  It creates a confidence in us that we can do bigger and better things. 

Stepping in to who God is Calling us to Be

The whole point of challenging ourselves physically is so we can have the inner strength and fortitude to step into who God is calling us to be.   So we aren’t living lives that don’t make us feel fully alive. 

One of my clients in particular who completely lost his inner warrior, both physically and mentally, has transformed his life.  It all started with the physical.  He is now doing things physically he never thought possible.  But that’s not the point.  The point is he is now living for a transcendent cause greater than himself.  That is the true mark of a spiritual warrior.  He is following through on dreams he has been sitting on for the past ten years. 

After reclaiming his inner warrior by challenging himself physically he has found a new zeal for life.  After living a life of complacency for the past ten years, he is ready to kick some ass again. 

What about you?  Are you ready to push yourself physically again?  Are you ready to get off the couch and into the arena?   Are you ready to change your mentality from it’s too hard to having a mindset that the struggle is where the growth is?   When we do something that’s hard is when we find out what we are truly made of. 

Have Faith in Ourselves through Faith in God

When we have faith in ourselves through faith in God is when we breakthrough our limitations.    Get out of your comfort zone.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Set a challenging fitness goal for yourself and see not only a physical transformation, but most importantly a life changing spiritual transformation.  You will bust through barriers you never thought possible.    Never settle for the status quo. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior