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Donna Richardson Joyner works out Healthy Church Challenge participants

The effort that Lisa Patterson Tillman put into her workout session with fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner at Streets Ministries was evidenced by the beads of sweat that trickled down her face.

The effort that Lisa Patterson Tillman put into her workout session with internationally renowned fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner last Saturday (March 24) at Streets Ministries was evidenced by the beads of sweat that trickled down her face.  

Internationally known fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner works out with more than 100 participants of The Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss program last Saturday (March 24) at Streets Ministries. For two hours, she worked with them on their calisthenics to the rhythmic beat of gospel music and Djembe African drum beats. (Photo by Wiley Henry)

Tillman, a member of Cummings Street Baptist Church, was one of 100 participants of the Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss program who worked out to gospel music for two hours. Drummer boys from Watoto De Africa, a performing arts program for underprivileged children, added Djembe African drum beats just to keep everyone on their toes.

“We’re going to declare victory in our health today,” Joyner told the group before she and Karra Williams Reown, director of Joyner’s Body Gospel workout program, led them in rigorous exercises and dance-like moves. “We have the power in us to create good health. This is personal warfare. We got to shake some things.”

She did just that. And participants of all shapes and sizes – men, women and children of all ages – did their best to shake off lethargy, complacency and any sedentary lifestyles that might keep them physically unfit. Instead, they moved with relative ease as Joyner weaved in and out of the group formation to rally them to work harder on their calisthenics.

“The time is now. We can’t be prisoners of our own health,” Joyner said.

It didn’t take much to convince Tillman that her health is important. “I’m looking forward to being pumped up, prayed up and powered to stay fit, eat right and exercise daily,” the 46-year-old said following the workout.

The Yancey family – Johnny, Marcquinne and their son Nygel – came to work out as a collective body. They worked up a sweat as well during the session and felt energized afterward and motivated to stay the course.

“I’m extremely motivated and excited,” said 50-year-old Marcquinne Yancey, noting the commitment the children gave to the workout session and Joyner’s attention to them. “Mrs. Donna stayed close to them and put them out front.”

Johnny Yancey, 56, said the session was very inspirational. “The two leaders, Donna and Karra, not only targeted older and middle-age people, but also the younger people as far as their mental health, spiritual health and physical health.”

“It’s going to be good for me and my friends and church members,” said Nygel, 15, who attends Spirit of Life Church with his family. “It was a great experience.”

Nygel’s friend, 14-year-old Brian Triplett, said the workout was a great way to get active. He also said more people should participate. “We should spread the word about it and get more people to come.”

Demeka Roddy, a member of Boulevard Church of Christ, said she is going to share the enthusiasm that she felt for Joyner’s workout session with everybody. “It was very inspiring and definitely very vigorous,” the 36 year old said. “I feel motivated to keep going.”

Vickie James kicked up her feet and moved her body to the rhythm of the beat despite some health challenges that could have prevented her from participating. Nevertheless, she gave it a go and never regretted it.

“For the past year, I’ve been participating in a weight loss program. But I haven’t been able to lose weight because of challenges with my breathing,” said James, a member of Faith Temple Ministries.

“Today, I see myself moving…not the regimented exercises…but it shows me that I can do it,” she said. “And I love the fact that it is God-oriented, because He empowers us to do everything.”

The Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss program has more than 1,000 participants from 49 churches. The church, Joyner pointed out, should stress health and wellness as it does an unencumbered spiritual journey.

“When you make kingdom choices, you get kingdom results,” she said.

Joyner will return for the Obesity Summit on June 16. The event is free and open to the public. The finale is June 17 at the Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival in Douglass Park, where winners of the Challenge will be announced.  

The church that has the greatest percentage of weight loss will win a $5,000 gift certificate to a sporting goods store and nutritional counseling. The individual who loses the most weight will receive a $500 gift certificate to a sporting goods store as well.

Along with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the Challenge is sponsored by Baptist Memorial Health Care, News Channel 3, Hallelujah 95.7 FM, The New Tri-State Defender, and the Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival.

Up next

Next week, Donna Richardson Joyner will post encouraging tips on The Healthy Church Challenge Facebook page to keep you motivated, inspired and focused on getting healthy. To learn more about The Healthy Church Challenge and follow Joyner’s healthy tips, visit Facebook.com/The HealthyChurchChallenge.

Joyner will also return for a second appearance at the Healthy Church Challenge’s June 16 Obesity Summit at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. The event is free and open to the public.  



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