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.

BRCLM Image Therese Pittman
Healthy Life, March 2018

Small Changes Make a Big Difference


Changes Make a



by Therese Pittman

Everyone strives for good health, and many struggle to achieve it. The truth is that making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your health. Eat a smart diet, exercise regularly, and find ways to manage stress in your life. Here are some other suggestions to put you on the path to wellness.

Q: Based on your expertise, what are some suggestions for becoming healthier?

A: One small change at a time! A healthy eating lifestyle isn’t about deprivation or guilt. We should enjoy the foods we love in the healthiest way we can. Familiarize yourself with the best organic foods to incorporate into your diet. Replace refined sugars and artificial sweeteners with stevia and monk fruit or other low glycemic alternatives. Substantially reduce or eliminate soft drinks and fast foods. Drink a full glass of lukewarm lemon water first thing every morning and eat a breakfast that includes healthy fats like avocado, raw nuts and organic nut butter which will satiate you for hours.

Q: What common mistakes cause us to have less energy and lose motivation?

A: The one small change at a time applies here too. Don’t be hard on yourself or compare yourself to other people’s fitness levels. Our own negative thoughts get in the way of change, so just  start moving. Even simple standing stretches and deep breathing energizes you. Practicing deep breathing as you walk naturally includes core muscles. To get a greater core workout, walk intentionally — swinging your arms and rotating your torso.

Q: What does it mean to come “in tune” with your body?

A: It is about being more aware of how we carry and support our body. A tucked-pelvis position (whether standing, sitting (like slouching!), or lying down) is what some people become accustomed to and what feels normal. They need to retrain and learn “neutral spine” — a small curve at low back. Natural curves are in the back for a reason. They serve as natural shock absorbers against compressive forces under the pull of gravity. Every muscle in our body has a job and if any are improperly working, then the load is placed somewhere else and in the spine it can travel to the lower back and hips.

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Q: How do you help others with core balance and strength training, and why is this so important? 

A: Posture assessment first to look for any imbalances, post surgeries, or injuries.  This will ensure appropriate exercises to incorporate in their program.   I have several Pilates large and small apparatus as well as balance pads and Power Plate acceleration equipment to help clients increase strength, balance, flexibility, and agility.  Clients practice unique postural correction cues so the exercises can “live” in their bodies.  The essence of the Pilates method is not copying the exercises but meant to correctly practice the mindful movement so you can use it in active daily living effortlessly, not kept in the studio.

Q: Why did you become certified in helping others heal from scoliosis, osteoporosis and breast cancer recovery?

A: I wanted to properly learn about the specialization needs, healing and recovery of clients as circumstances arise. There are a plethora of contraindicated exercises from mat work to small and large Pilates equipment for specialty populations — pregnancy, postnatal, breast cancer surgery, scoliosis and osteoporosis. Several of my clients (and myself) have scoliosis. Practicing proper alignment with strength gained through exercises will help provide pain relief for years to come.

1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 have low bone density and are at risk for fractures.  Bone responds differently to exercise at every age. I wanted to apply current research in teaching effective movements for bone health, which will increase strength and reduce the risk of falls and fractures

Q: How do health and vitality affect our spiritual life? 

A: When you stand better, you breathe better, so you can move better, which makes you function and feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. A healthy diet and lifestyle create a state of well-being. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit! Hence with God’s grace, this vitality can bring physical and spiritual movement into worship.

Therese Pittman

Therese Pittman is the owner of the Pilates Center of Baton Rouge. As a fitness professional, she has a solid understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and postural issues. She works with clients from all walks of life and teaches them to be strong and flexible so they can perform daily functional tasks free from injury risk.

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE


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Healthy Life, July 2017

Chicken Kabobs Recipe from ALLRECIPES.COM


Chicken Kabobs


Chicken Kabobs Ingredients

  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cooking oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces


  • 1. Place chicken in a large re-sealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.
  • Add cilantro, garlic, serrano pepper, oil, salt and nutmeg to bag.
  • Seal and press bag to coat chicken on all sides.
  • Chill for 2-6 hours.
  • On (8) 10-to-12-inch skewers, alternately thread the chicken, pineapple, red pepper, green pepper, leaving a 1-inch space between pieces.
  • Place kabobs on the rack of an uncovered grill or in the oven for 8-10 minutes (until chicken is no longer pink), turning occasionally to brown evenly.
  • Makes 4 (2-skewer) servings.
  • Feel free to be creative by adding your family’s favorite veggies and fruits, including strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, mushrooms, etc.

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Healthy Life, September 2016

A Burden Lifted

With 100-Pound Weight Loss, He Gains New Perspective

by Lisa Tramontana
Pedro before (left) and after (right) his dramatic weight loss.
Pedro before (left) and after (right) his dramatic weight loss.

Pedro White is a changed man. Just a year ago, he was 100 pounds heavier, completely out of shape and depressed about his health. Today, he feels great and has a positive outlook on life.

As a young man, White’s weight was normal, but over the years, his lifestyle and eating habits had caused a slow but steady weight gain. When he was brave enough to finally step on the scale, he saw the number 290 staring back at him, and was shocked. He decided it was time to take control of his life before he ended up with a heart attack or stroke.

A delivery driver for SAIA, White’s job kept him on the road all day long, every day. During his breaks, he often sat in his truck and ate fast food and more sweets than he could count. “Fried chicken, fried fish, cookies, cakes, pies … it was doing me in,” he said. “It got harder to get in and out of the truck. I was having trouble climbing stairs. I was out of breath all the time. I hated feeling that way.”

Pedro holds a pair of his old pants showing just how much weight he has lost.
Pedro holds a pair of his old pants showing just how much weight he has lost.

He was also on medication for his cholesterol and blood pressure, and at only 38, hated the idea of it. “I was too young to be on medicine,” he said. “I just decided I was tired of it,” he said.

His solution was simple. He cut all fried foods and all sugar from his diet. It was a sacrifice, he said, but he started seeing results immediately. He first noticed it when his clothes fit more loosely. Then he felt motivated to start working out. Four months into his diet, he started going to the YMCA to exercise on a regular basis. He preferred the elliptical and did 35-minute cardio workouts every day. “It really kept me motivated,” he said.

His diet was a work in progress. As he lost more weight, he became more interested in eating healthy. He educated himself on simple and complex carbohydrates, learned how to decipher food labels, and started substituting healthy alternatives for the foods he enjoyed.

TIPSThese days, a typical dinner is a grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables and brown rice or roasted potatoes. He has grown to like his new diet and has even started experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes.
“I feel so much better now,” he said. “I feel stronger and healthier. I have more energy. And people tell me that I look like a different person. I know I feel 10 years younger.” The medication is also a thing of the past, he added.

White is most proud of the fact that he was able to lose the weight naturally. “I did it on my own without any pills or cleanses or special products,” he said. “I didn’t sign up for some trendy Hollywood diet. I just made up my mind that I was going to do it, and then I started being smart about what I was eating. It really has changed my life.”

He admits there was a significant fear factor in the back of his mind. “Several of my relatives have diabetes,” he said. “One of my cousins actually lost her eyesight at 35 because of diabetes. I saw what it does to people and I didn’t want to go through that.”

White says his new lifestyle is no longer a sacrifice, and he encourages others to get healthy whether that means losing weight, quitting smoking or starting a fitness routine. “The way I look at it now, if it doesn’t benefit me, I’m not going to do it,” he said. “If it can help me be a better person, I’ll give it a try.”


March 2016

WATER: Back to the Foundation of True Health

Using water to speed up your weight-loss program, ignite your metabolism, and boost your energy levels.

by Ricky Pampo DTR, CSCS Holistic Nutrition/Sports/ Lifestyle Specialist

20160211_121254-2“Don’t you dare stop, you have 10 more reps left to change your life forever! Pain is temporary, success is forever!”

Has anyone ever inspired you with these types of words? Being in the health industry for two decades, I recall using similar challenging and inspirational phrases to get my clients to go beyond their comfort zone.

And here we go again — another year in the books and one in front of us. Have you written out and started your goals for 2016 yet? A better you, more blessings, better health, slimmer waistline, more workouts, better finances, etc. Whatever these goals are, keep them realistic, specific and focused.

Instead of discussing the latest health trends and fad diets, let’s get back to the true foundation of health: water. Water and proper hydration is a vital health topic often neglected and misunderstood. Our bodies are composed of 75 percent water, and to function properly water must be consumed daily. Most health professionals recommend consuming half your body weight in ounces.

According to top water experts, 75 percent of North Americans are chronically dehydrated and with mild dehydration, metabolism is reduced by as much as 3 percent. A lack of water is often the primary cause of daytime fatigue. Severe dehydration has been linked to constipation, depression, obesity, confusion, and mental fogginess.

Whether you need to lose weight or not water is vital for the body’s functions. Here are a few of its roles:glass-of-water

– Assists with digestion, absorption and assimilation of food nutrients

– Aids in excretion of waste from colon and kidneys

– Regulates body temperature

– Assists with distribution of nutrients around the body through the blood, which is 92 percent water

– Helps flush out lactic acid and other metabolic waste from body

In this day and age, proverbial Americans rely on bottled water for their primary hydration needs. When in fact, bottled water is extremely acidic and oxidizing to the body. According to tests conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 25 percent of bottled water tested contained bacteria, arsenic and chemicals that exceeded the FDA’s recommended levels. For this reason, it is extremely important for Americans to consume the right type of water.

The healthiest societies around the world have consumed a special type of water for decades that has super hydrating, highly anti-oxidant and alkalizing properties. The Japanese have led this group of the healthiest countries according to the World Health Organization. Since the 60s, Japanese scientists and medical clinics have implemented special water technology that cleans and ionizes tap water to create “Kangen” water, which means, “return to origin.” According to Dr. Hiromi Shinya, inventor of the colonoscopy, “Kangen water is an alkaline-rich water (pH of 8-9) and is considered the very best drinking water because of its incomparable powers of hydration, detoxification and anti-oxidation.”

So as you begin your wellness journey to achieve the best you, remember to start with the optimal amount of the best type of water. As you return your body to its origin of health through proper hydration, your body will reap the maximum benefits from your workout and nutrition plans.

Fore more information visit and contact Ricky Pampo for free samples.

About Ricky:

Pampo Wellness, Founder. Holistic Fitness Trainer/ Nutritionist /Hydration Specialist. Ultra-runner, Natural Pro Athlete, Chief Karate Instructor LSU Karate Club. “Your Partner in True Health and Wellness”.