The words Shaped by Faith are prominently fixed on a wall inside a renovated 4,000-square-foot space inside Church Alive at 325 Carter Road.
It’s where Theresa Rowe will continue her fitness ministry starting Monday.
Since 2006, she had been at Owensboro Christian Church as its fitness director. She taught her last class there on Friday.
“I knew in March of this year that I was leaving OCC,” Rowe said. “I prayed about it, and I clearly heard Him say, ‘You’re released from your assignment here.’ … I prayed and asked Him, ‘Where are you bringing me?’ because I had no idea.”
Rowe had been attending Church Alive for awhile but didn’t know that it had any kind of space to accommodate an exercise class.
Rowe said she confided over dinner one night to Church Alive pastors that “God was leading me out” of OCC as its fitness director.
“They immediately said, ‘You’re more than welcome to use what we have,’ ” Rowe said.
FITNESS AND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Rowe, 58, was a fitness instructor before she was a Christian.
According to Rowe, she began teaching exercise classes around age 20, but it would take a divorce and moving back to Owensboro from Omaha, Nebraska, before she would become a believer.
She attributed her coming to Christ more than 30 years ago to a woman who was in one of her early fitness classes.
“She asked me after class, ‘Can I pray for you?’ and I thought that was bizarre; I wasn’t really practicing being a Christian then; I wasn’t going to church, and I kind of dismissed her and turned her down for prayer.”
Rowe added that the woman then showed up at her home that same afternoon. And even though Rowe thought the woman’s persistence was “weird,” she allowed the woman to pray for her.
Rowe said she felt a “warmth” and that a health issue she was having at the time was alleviated that night.
“The next day I went to my fitness class and without even thinking I said, ‘Does anybody want to pray or have prayer requests?’ ”
From there, Rowe began building what would become Shaped by Faith — a faith-based fitness class that combines exercise with Gospel teachings.
She started her ministry in 1990 at the Owensboro YMCA. She was the group fitness director there for 16 years.
“That’s when I asked the Lord into my life,” she said. “… I had never read the Bible, and I started reading the Bible.”
And as Rowe grew in her faith, she brought it to her classes.
“As I read the Word, I said I need to put this into practice, and I didn’t know how to do that,” she said. “So I started incorporating scriptures, prayers and the faith aspect of what I was learning as a new Christian into my classes. And ladies were responding to it.”
Now 31 years into her ministry, Rowe teaches 10 classes a week that range from “Pilates for the Soul” to “Strength Training for the Seasoned Soul.”
The classes do have cost options — $5 per class, a 10-class punch card for $32 and an unlimited 9:45 a.m. strength class for $24 a month.
Childcare is also offered — $2 for the first child, $1 for each additional child or $48 for unlimited childcare and unlimited morning classes. For more information about the classes, contact Rowe at 270-929-8251, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit shapedbyfaith.com.
For Rowe, she calls her life a “journey” and that “God still has a lot of things to teach me.”
Rowe, whose Shaped by Faith column appears in the Messenger-Inquirer, credits God for changing her life for the better and bringing her ministry to a place that serves people both physically and spiritually.
“It’s unbelievable how far I’ve come because it’s not something I would have ever imagined,” Rowe said. “I would call it a warrior in training — someone who is training to do what God has called them to do and allowing Him to lead you each step of the way.”