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Hastings church merges fitness, faith

Jo Johnson, treasurer, and Rev. Chad Kirchoff of Shepherd of the Valley ReDO Fitness are pictured inside the massive new fitness ministry facility the church is installing. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)

One Hastings church is taking a new approach to outreach. Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church is creating a state-of-the-art fitness center within its facility where people can gather, work out for free and learn about the Christian faith all at the same time.

“We’re training the body, the mind and the soul,” said Rev. Chad Kirchoff.

ReDO Fitness, a ministry of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), isn’t just part of the church, it is the church, Kirchoff said.

“We’re not a conventional fitness center or church,” he said.

While the church still holds traditional services and special services like weddings, baptisms and funerals, it will also work to help people develop their physical health using the fitness center while also offering them opportunities to learn on their own time about faith in a safe, comfortable space.

The goal is to provide a needed service while also reaching out as a church to new people.

“It’s a community of believers who are intentionally doing life together, working out together, worshiping together, communing together, and serving together,” Kirchoff wrote on the ReDO Fitness blog. “You can walk into ReDO and lift weights, run on the treadmill, attend a small group, or participate in worship. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, lives will be changed for the kingdom — body, mind, soul, and spirit!”

The project is something that Kirchoff said he is excited to lead. He’s always had a love for people, he said, and a desire to help them. He had worked for a time in the fitness industry.

“My mom taught me from a young age to be active and eat healthy,” he said.

But he learned that he couldn’t continue doing that work in a secular environment and eventually joined the ministry.

ReDO Fitness, he said, is the answer to what he sees as a definite need in the community.

“I see a lot of hurt, a lot of people who want to be part of something,” he said.

To help those people, Kirchoff needed to look beyond traditional religious traditions.

“It’s not another sermon that people need,” he said. “It’s a safe home.”

His hope, he said, is that he can show people enough love for long enough that they decide to become a part of the effort themselves.

The facility

Shepherd of the Valley is still finishing the installation process for its new fitness facility. The whole basement level of the church has been redesigned to accommodate the new equipment and spaces.

With funding from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, the church is installing just about every type of fitness equipment a person could want, including treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, strength trainers, free weights, pilates and yoga equipment and more. The facility has also dramatically improved airflow to keep the space always fresh.

“We spared no expense,” Kirchoff said.

There are newly built changing rooms and spaces are planned for anything from confirmation classes to casual conversations.

The equipment itself uses integrated smart technology. There is wifi available and an app that can help fitness users with their goals. The treadmills each have monitors that connect to world mapping and geolocation technology, so people can, for example, walk or run the road to Jordan, or the streets of Jerusalem. The treadmill changes its angle depending on the real topography of the area.

“You actually are there,” Kirchoff said. “... You can hear it, feel it, walk it.”

All of it will be free for anyone to use during certain hours, with no strings attached, he said. Kirchoff will staff the facility himself, teaching people how to use the equipment, helping them with their fitness goals, talking with them and listening to them.

“I want you to come,” he said.

The church hopes to see the fitness center ministry up and running in early October. To learn more, contact the church at 651-437-7010.