A REFIT Revolution
“We believe fitness isn’t just for the fit … it’s for the willing.” By Sharon Holeman
What started as three friends teaching fitness classes at a church in Waco, Texas has turned into a REFIT Revolution! In 2009 Angela Beeler, Catherine Ballas, and Emily Field posted some original choreography on YouTube to help draw people to their classes. Rather than quick-fix results, the trio chose to focus on the joy of the journey – building a community of friends where everyone belongs regardless of their current circumstance. They wanted a place where people would feel acceptance and know when they walked in the door that “you belong here.”
The response to their teachings was astounding. By 2013 they had received enough encouragement and requests from fitness instructors wanting to teach their routines that they launched the REFIT Instructor Program. It combines dance moves to positive music and has been transformational to a great number of people. One of those is Baton Rouge’s Erika Bittner.
Erika was first introduced to REFIT through a friend at church. That invitation led Erika on a journey she was not expecting. “I never did anything related to dance, but as God brought REFIT into my life, a new love and passion surprised me,” she said. After two years of taking classes, Erika became a certified instructor.
“Physical health was a chore for a long time in my life,” she said. “I went to the gym because it was something I had to do. REFIT has changed my life because I enjoy the workout – but it is so much more. It’s a community of real people who do not judge. They encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves. And that gives me so much joy!”
Erika has multiple stories of how she has seen God working in the lives of those who become part of the REFIT community. She recalls with amazement a college friend who reached out to her to learn more about the classes. Her friend attended, and afterward approached Erika with tears in her eyes. The class had given her joy amid an overwhelming season in her life.
“The moment my friend shared her situation with me I knew God was in the details,” Erika said. “Nothing is too big or small for God. He wants us to trust and follow His lead! When we are in tune with the Holy Spirit and do the things we love, big things happen for His glory!”
Despite being a busy wife, dog mom, music teacher, and travel enthusiast, Erika makes time for REFIT. “Not only has REFIT transformed my physical self, but I have gained a new sense of confidence and fabulous community,” she said.
Classes are 55 minutes each, with fun choreography to songs that are positive or neutral. Attendees come to dance, sweat, smile, and laugh. “There is a release of stress,” Erika explains. “Nobody is distracted by cell phones, social media, kids, family, or work. It is a place for people to let go of the burdens of life and worship through dance. I see a huge difference in my attitude and mindset when I am doing REFIT. It is tough to minister to others if we do not take care of ourselves, and I find REFIT provides a place for self-care and stress relief.”
Erika ends each class with a pinky prayer “because we are too sweaty to hold hands!” The group sometimes shares a devotional or does a small activity. “This time really allows us to grow deeper and walk through life together, which is so powerful!” Erika said.
Erika teaches REFIT at The Chapel in the Oaks, along with instructors Morgan Barkas and Jessica Wright. While classes are on a brief hiatus during August, everyone is invited to brunch at The Crown at The Royal Standard on Highland Road on Saturday, August 25 at 10 a.m. Come meet some of the REFIT family!
Fall classes at The Chapel will kick off on Saturday, September 15 at 9 a.m. All classes at this location are donation-based, and everyone is welcome. Follow Erika and her crew on Facebook (I fit you fit REFIT) and Instagram (@ifityoufitrefit).
Other classes in Baton Rouge are held at Elite Gymnastics, Calloway’s Gym, Southern Oaks, and Women’s Center for Wellness. See refitrev.com for more information.
Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator, and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles-12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.