Healthy Life, September 2018

Healthy Life, A Refit Revolution

A REFIT Revolution

“We believe fitness isn’t just for the fit … it’s for the willing.”
By Sharon Holeman

Erika leads a class at the Chapel in the Oaks. Photography by Sharon Holeman of Praise First Media, LLC.

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 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.

August 2018, Cooking for LIFE

Cooking for Life

Sloppy Jeauxs

Here’s a recipe that takes just minutes to prepare and is sure to please the entire family.


1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey

1 cup Seasoning Blend (onion, bell pepper, celery)

1 can diced tomatoes

2/3 cup BBQ sauce

½ cup + 1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt

2 tsp. all-purpose flour
Hamburger buns

smoked cheddar cheese

Diced purple Onion


Brown ground beef and seasoning blend. Drain and return to pot. Stir in tomatoes, BBQ sauce, ½ cup water, garlic powder and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 Tbsp. of water and flour. Add to meat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until mixture has thickened.
Toast buns and top with meat mixture, diced onions and cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe submitted by Lori Layman, follow Lori on Facebook at Food Junkie!
Family Life, Learning For Life, May 2018

Work, Play, Read. Repeat

The Main Library is located at Goodwood Blvd. and Lobdell
In the newly built Main branch of the EBRP Libraries, the quiet room and reading rooms are great places to work and read! Or concentrate on a good book!


Work, Play, Read, Repeat

How the EBRP Library Can Enrich Your Life

by Kayla D. Perkins


While libraries are known as a hub for community programming and resources, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library (EBRPL) has made strides to ensure that we go far beyond the old expectations of your grandfather’s library.


For more than 75 years, EBRPL has served the community, and we work to add quality experiences at every age and stage of life. Not only is EBRPL an institution that fosters education and encourages learning and creativity, but we also are committed to providing fun and innovative environments for people to work, play and read.

For the sixth consecutive year, EBRPL was named one of America’s Star Libraries by Library Journal, the only Louisiana library system to be selected for this honor. Overall, in 2017 your EBRPL experienced an active year with almost 300,000 patrons who utilized the Library’s collection of more than 2 million free items! Our collection of digital resources continues to grow, with several major new online additions, including the Gale Small Business Builder for business planning, Lexis Nexis Legal for in-house legal content, Mergent Intellect which is a business research directory, and Kanopy for streaming films and documentaries, including the Great Courses.



Whether you’re a student, a mother, a small business owner or anything in between, the Library’s got something valuable for you. Patrons can find a robust Digital Library at the EBRPL website, full of tools and resources for business, online learning and continued education, scholarly research databases, online tutoring, foreign language learning and more. The Library’s Career Center is located within the Main Library at Goodwood and offers monthly seminars for job searching, résumé writing, mock interviews and one-on-one job coaching.



Your Library is FUN! Every year, we offer thousands of engaging performances, programs and events for all ages, including arts and crafts projects, monthly exhibits, game and movie nights for the whole family, plus after-hours book talks and events for adults. You even can search and research your family tree with free classes and workshops hosted by the Library’s Special Collections genealogy staff.

Rock out with tunes from Freegal or snag your never-ending concert ticket with Qello Concerts for full-length performances and documentaries. We also encourage the discovery of new interests and abilities through science, technology, engineering, art and math-centered (STEM/STEAM) programming for children and teens. The BR Mini Maker Faire® provides families a terrific opportunity to experience new technologies each fall.

The Summer Reading Program for kids, teens and adults (yes, adults can get in on the reading fun, too!) is designed to encourage an enjoyment of reading with incentives and prizes for books completed. Amazing performers and presenters like Harvey Rabbit and Friends, Farmer Minor and Daisy the Reading Pig, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre and many others tour the Library system each summer to delight and entertain youngsters.



Whether you like to use an electronic device, listen to an audiobook or hold a hard copy in your hands, we’ve got a book format to suit you! In the Digital Library we offer ebooks with the Libby app from OverDrive, RBdigital for popular magazines, audiobooks and ebooks, Flipster for top digital magazines and much more. Print copies of daily local, national and some international newspapers are available for in-house browsing and hundreds of print magazine titles may be checked out.


With 14 convenient locations across the parish including the Main Library at Goodwood, EBRPL is open to serve you seven days per week, and 24/7 online at, and in the Digital Library at Get access to computers and Wi-Fi, computer classes, online databases, books and magazines, downloads and e-media, programs, concerts, book talks, game nights, various workshops and storytimes, business tools and seminars, career and technology resources and much more – all free with your Library card!

More space for reading!


Kayla Perkins is the Public Relations Director at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. A native of Baton Rouge, Perkins holds both a Bachelor of Art and a Master of Art in Mass Communication from Southern University. Perkins has worked for the Library for more than six years and is directly responsible for composing, editing and producing the monthly newsletter The Source, which has a distribution of more than 8,000 each month. Perkins also serves as the in-house reporter for “Beyond the Stacks” in the Library’s monthly television show, The Library Road Show.