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Men's Health

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

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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

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Rise Up to the Murph Challenge

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Rise Up to the Murph Challenge

When was the last time you got out of your comfort zone?  When was the last time you pushed your physical limits beyond what you thought you were capable of?  When was the last time you have felt fully alive?

In this day and age it’s easy for us to get soft.  We have 200 channels on the TV to choose from.  We have fast food restaurants on every corner.   We have phones that keep us connected to the world 24/7.

I don’t know about you, but I am about over it.  

As part of my fitness ministry I challenge men and women to get out of their comfort zone.  To push beyond what they think they are capable of.  To choose a goal that both scares the living daylights out of them and excites them at the same time. 

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As part of my spiritual warrior training I have learned to embrace physical and mental suffering as part of a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth that makes me feel fully alive.

I believe when we don’t challenge ourselves physically we get lost in quiet desperation and complacency.  We need to rise up, take on physical challenges for the greater purpose of bettering ourselves so we can make a bigger impact with humanity.

So are you ready to reclaim your inner warrior?  Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself in a position of being uncomfortable and risking “failure”?

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I have just the challenge for you.  It’s called the Murph Challenge in honor of LT Michael P Murphy who was a United States Navy SEAL officer who lost his life in the War in Afghanistan.   If you haven’t seen the movie the Lone Survivor, I highly recommend you watch it as soon as you can.  If you aren’t inspired after watching that movie you better do a pulse check. 

The Murph Challenge is more than just a workout, it is a tradition that helps push us, humble us, and dedicate a bit of pain and sweat to honor a man, LT Michael P Murphy, who gave everything he had. 

The Murph Challenge consists of:

·         1 mile run

·         100 pull-ups

·         200 push-ups

·         300 squats

·         1 mile run

In a 20 pound vest or Body Armor

You will be challenged to push your limits physically, mentally and spiritually.   What a better way to reclaim your inner warrior and get out of your comfort zone. 

Let’s rise up and honor this fallen soldier and everyone who has sacrificed their life for our freedom.  This is the least we can do. 

Start training today.  I don’t care if you can’t do one pull-up right now.  It’s all about the spirit of competition and bettering ourselves.  It’s amazing what we can do in two months when we are committed. 

If you live in Fort Collins, Colorado we will be an official host site at The Body.   Please contact me at troy@troyismir.com if you want to sign up.    The official Murph Challenge will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27th. 

If you live outside of the Northern Colorado area, I want to encourage you to find another gym in your area or just do it on your own. 

Let’s bust through the status quo and train ourselves like the warriors we are.  Say good-bye to being soft and complacent.  Let’s better ourselves for the betterment of humanity.

My mission is to build a social movement of men who are reclaiming their inner warrior through fitness challenges and physical adventure for the betterment of humanity. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

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Life Change Happens at the Dinner Table

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Life Change Happens at the Dinner Table

In 2017, former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy identified the most common threat to public health that he had witnessed:  not heart disease, diabetes, or cancer-but loneliness.  Isolation and lack of social connections, he wrote in Harvard Business Review, “are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.  Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.” 

Men are even more affected by this loneliness epidemic which is most often accompanied with the feelings of depression and despair. 

In my own personal life I have felt that feeling of quiet desperation.   That feeling of extreme loneliness and isolation.  It is a hopeless feeling that can lead to a path of soul killing destruction. 

Thankfully, God brought two men into my life at just the right time to help me get out of that state of quiet desperation. 

One of the main reasons that men often times live in quiet desperation is they are reluctant to show vulnerability or ask for support.  Men are less likely to seek out other men when they are struggling because they feel like it is a sign of weakness. 

In reality, asking for help is one of the most courageous things we can do.  Being vulnerable is coming from a place of strength not weakness. 

One of the biggest problems I have realized since starting my men’s ministry is that men don’t have a place where we can show up and be vulnerable.    Men do want to be transparent and share their darkest truths, but we haven’t done a great job in creating those environments. 

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As warriors we are looking for something different.    We want camaraderie and shared purpose.  We want to be shoulder to shoulder in shared experiences.  When we are shoulder to shoulder sharing something challenging or purposeful is when we develop trust and a level of openness that we as men aren’t used to. 

I lead a men’s discipleship group called Bible and Barbells out of the gym I train out of called The Body which stands for The Body of Christ.  It’s a Christian gym where I am fortunate enough to do ministry out of.  We study a Christian devotional for the first thirty minutes followed by thirty minutes of a strength training circuit. 

I have seen so much life change and relationship building through this ministry.  It has been quite astounding.  I hear men pour out their struggles around their battle with pornography, relationship struggles, feelings of inadequacy, career crisis, struggles with anger and other challenges we as men face. 

This is an environment where men care share, be vulnerable and recognize we are not alone.   It’s through this practice of being vulnerable where we draw strength to be the spiritual leaders in our families, communities and churches.    Without this shared community of strong Christian men I know we would continue to live lives of quiet desperation, depression and isolation. 

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I led my first Spiritual Warriors Unite Men’s Retreat a few weeks ago.  It was a powerful weekend where a group of men got away to reclaim our inner warrior.  Life has a way of beating us up and from time to time we need to get away and have some good quality bro time along with time to connect with God. 

One of my biggest take-aways from the weekend was that life change happens at the dinner table.  After we got finished eating we would sit around after each meal and we shared what was on our heart.  We all learned from each other. 

We tackled questions like, what does it mean to be a man in this day and age and how can we be stronger spiritual leaders?  We shared great inspirational books we have read and we all went around the table discussing what our morning rituals look like. 

I know I left the retreat a better man than when I first arrived.   There is something powerful when a group of godly men get together and share our hearts.   When we are transparent and vulnerable and willing to learn from one another. 

It is sad to me that so many men are living in quiet desperation.  Trust me, I get it, I used to be one of them.   My vision for my ministry is to help men get out of quiet desperation by being in community together.  Where we build a faith and fitness community that inspires men to be stronger spiritual leaders. 

I believe it starts with men having the courage to be vulnerable.  Finding a community of godly men who are willing to share their darkest truths and not just talk about sports.  Of course that can be a part of it, but there is so much more to life.

As men we are called to be spiritual leaders.  There is no way we can be the spiritual leaders we are called to be when we are living in isolation.  We all need a group of men where we can share our darkest truths around the dinner table.  Life change happens around the dinner table. 

I want to challenge you to be a man, reach out for support.  Get out of your quiet desperation.  It’s up to you to take action.   Find at least one friend you can be transparent with.   Find a group of godly men who will support you on your journey of becoming more like Jesus, the ultimate warrior. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

 

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Spiritual Warrior Manifesto

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Spiritual Warrior Manifesto

I believe every man wants to live out his true purpose and live a life of significance.  I believe every man wants to step into his power and be the person he was created to be. 

Playing small and shrinking back is such a common theme among men in our world today.  We have been settling for mediocrity and the status quo. 

 “There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”-Nelson Mandela

As Spiritual Warriors we are called to rise up and push our limits of physical fitness, mental toughness and spiritual growth for the betterment of humanity. 

Many men are tolerating life and living in quiet desperation.  Boredom is a dangerous place for a man.  It is our enemy.  Life has a way of taking our sense of adventure away.  Our attachment to comfort and security is what limits most men from living powerful and passionate lives. 

Spiritual Warriors defy the status quo.   We train ourselves to be warriors because God may have an impossible mission he wants to do through us.  Spiritual Warriors are deeply dependent on God and embrace risk with courage. 

Many men fall into a life of self-centeredness, isolation and addiction.  A man’s addictions are the result of refusing our strengths.   Our addictions result from not living out our mission. 

Spiritual Warriors are called to live out our purpose and mission.  By aligning every part of our life towards our mission we will feel fully alive and free. 

Spiritual Warriors nourish our bodies with healthy food so we can have an abundance of energy and optimal health. 

We train physically so we can be strong and full of vitality. 

We strengthen our mind so we can overcome fear to make an impact in our world. 

We grow spiritually so we can be a source of light in a world that is full of darkness. 

Spiritual Warriors are called to live a life of freedom, simplicity and adventure.   We are called to be in community and live a life of service.   A quality of a true Spiritual Warrior is that we are in service to a purpose greater than ourselves. 

My mission is to build a social movement of men who are becoming Spiritual Warriors through fitness and physical adventure for the betterment of humanity.  

My vision is to be revolutionary in impacting men’s lives with fitness as the platform for growing spiritually. 

I invite you to go on this journey with me.   To be a part of our community of Spiritual Warriors.    Imagine the possibilities for yourself, your family, your community and the world when you step into being the man you were created to be and become a Spiritual Warrior!

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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Fit Dad Fit Kids

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Fit Dad Fit Kids

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One of my earliest memories of exercising with my kids is when they were two and one years old.  I traded in my road bike for a Burley bike trailer and attached it to my mountain bike.  I would sneak in a bike ride with my two kids in tow with their heads bouncing around like bobble heads.  Thank goodness I didn’t cause any permanent damage to their cervical spine. 

I have always included my kids in my exercise program.  I believe one of the most important things we can teach our children is how to be physically active and eat healthy.   I was the dad who wanted to know what my kids were doing in physical education class more than in math class, because if we don’t have our health, what do we have?  I have always felt that it was my personal responsibility to be a role model for my kids in this area.   

Here are three things I did to instill the value of health and fitness into my kids’ lives. 

MAKE IT ABOUT EDUCATION

I have always been a big believer that we should teach our children why it is important to exercise and eat healthy.   Educate them on why sodas aren’t good for our health or why eating too much sugar will catch up to us in the long run.   I then allowed them to make their own choices as they got older.  I never said they can’t have those things, I simply provided healthier options and allowed them to choose.  Now that my kids are twenty-two and twenty-one years old, I am proud to say they both love to eat healthy and to exercise. 

MAKE EXERCISE FUN

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Exercise and physical activity should be fun.  I have been in the health and fitness business for over twenty-five years and one of the things I have loved about being in this profession was taking my kids to the gym with me.   My kids learned from a very young age that taking care of our bodies doesn’t have to be drudgery.  It’s fun to move and to be physically active.    To this day I hike, play golf, lift weights and ride bike with my kids every chance I get even though they are young adults now and leading their own lives. 

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MAKE MEALS TOGETHER

Ah yes, the lost art of cooking and eating dinner together.   Some of my greatest memories are cooking together with my kids.  It’s simple, fun and creates team work.   From choosing the recipe, going to the grocery store, meal prep and ultimately spending time in the kitchen together followed by quality time at the dinner table. 

 

 

 

 

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Its Father’s Day this Sunday.  As a father who strongly believes in health and fitness, I want to encourage you to make health and fitness a priority with your children.  I have been blessed with two beautiful children that are as passionate about health and fitness as I am.   One of the greatest Father’s Days gifts we can give to ourselves and our families is sharing in health and well-being.  Fit dads create fit kids. 

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