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Churches offer fitness classes to its congregation, community
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Kelli Pirkle, a fitness instructor at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, tells Joyce Anne Skinner how to use the workout equipment Wednesday in the church’s Family Life Center. Skinner recently purchased a gym membership from the church and was touring the facility. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Exercise classes at area churches

New Year, New You at First Baptist Church

When: Jan. 4-28

Where: 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

How much: $45 for members, $65 for nonmembers


First Presbyterian Church’s yoga classes

When: noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays

Where: 800 S. Enota Drive NE, Gainesville

How much: $30-$50 monthly


Flowery Branch UMC’s low-impact Zumba

When: 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays

Where: 5212 Spring St., Flowery Branch

How much: $3 per class


Chances are, you know someone who always vows to get fit or be more healthy in the New Year.

This promise may or may not stick through January, but if you find yourself in the same camp of wanting to work off your holiday feasts, then an option other than a gym membership is available. And it could be a Godsend — literally — for your waistline.

Several churches in Hall County offer exercise classes to its congregants as well as community members. And First Baptist Church is planning to kick off the fitness-related New Year’s resolutions on the right foot, starting Monday.

The class, titled “New Year, New You!” will meet every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Family Life Center, at 751 Green St. NW, in Gainesville. From Jan. 4-28, participants can wake up bright and early to meet instructors and fellow classmates at 5:45 a.m. sharp in the upstairs studio for a workout.

“It’s really all work at your own level,” said Kelli Pirkle, one of the fitness instructors at the Family Life Center. “It’s for anyone. We have people in their mid-20s to late 60s.”

For those who can’t pull themselves out of bed that early or are already at work at that time, they have the option to meet in the downstairs studio at 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays for the same fitness regime.

Every class will include cardio workouts, but the schedule will not be mundane. Three coordinating exercise styles will be switched occasionally to add variety to the workouts.

To start, Monday’s class will be boot-camp style. But Pirkle advised not letting those scary words dissuade resolution-makers.

“Where you are, is where you are, and that’s perfect with us,” she said. “Do what you can do.”

Tuesdays will be set aside for strength building. Each class member will have shorter repetition sets, but heavier weights to help build muscle.

Thursdays will be reserved for a full-body workout with higher repetitions. And Thursdays will include strength building, too.

And while participants will feel the muscle strain, the classes are not meant to strain their spirit.

“It’s a really low-key, low-pressure atmosphere,” Pirkle said.

If you plan on taking the class, the center does have guidelines.

Since the center is part of the church, “modest is hottest” is the motto regarding the gym’s dress code.

To register for the class, visit or pay by cash or check at the Family Life Center. The class costs $45 for members, and $65 for nonmembers.

But First Baptist Church isn’t the only religious facility in town offering an exercise class.

First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville offers two yoga classes throughout the year.

Gentle Restorative Yoga meets from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays in SH503. General yoga classes meet at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in SH503. Monthly fees for once a week are $35 and twice a week $50.

Yoga instructor Judy Holcomb has been teaching the class at the church for  2 1/2 years. She said the class started as a way to bring in community members and congregants from other churches into First Presbyterian.

“It turned out to be a wonderful thing because it did just that,” she said.

The two yoga classes also have evolved into a ministry of sorts.

“For some of the people who come to my classes, it isn’t just an exercise class,” she said, noting some of her class members are dealing with significant health issues. “It is an enormous support group. It’s got a camaraderie.”

And the results are evident.

“They feel comfortable,” she said. “They feel good about themselves. They see progress in what they are doing. And it’s a nice big picture.”

And Holcomb believes that picture may grow. She said plans are in the works to add another gentle restorative yoga class to the mix later this month.

Continuing its exercise classes for the new year are Flowery Branch United Methodist Church. It offers low-impact Zumba at 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5212 Spring St., in Flowery Branch.

For the past year, the $3 per class has benefited the Family Promise organization.

But not every class may help you stay fit. Therefore, seek out a class that meets your criteria.

“Finding a gym is like finding a hairstylist, you have to find one that matches you and knows your style,” Pirkle said.

J.K. Devine contributed to this story.