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Franklin Park church makes fitness part of its ministry

| Sunday, May 15, 2016, 8:33 p.m.
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Mary Evers leads her Praise Moves class in stretching and scriptures on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The class is part of the wellness ministry for women at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.

Women of all ages and denominations are invited to learn about exercise equipment and watch fitness demonstrations as part of an upcoming open house of the wellness ministry at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Franklin Park.

Body & Soul team member Wendy Cibula said 50 to 60 people have joined the ministry since it began in March in an unused wing of the church.

Members can sign up for fitness classes taught by certified instructors, or work out on their own on hydraulic exercise equipment six days a week.

First-time users meet with trainers to tailor plans.

Members pay monthly dues of $31, but Cibula said no one is turned away. Guest passes are available.

Cibula said she's been surprised by the level of interest in the program.

“It's kind of neat,” she said. “There's a group of women there (early in the mornings). Ladies are bonding by talking about their kids and recipes.”

Staff member Susan Hall likes the way members encourage each other.

“We have (a woman) who is pregnant and (works out) two to three times per week,” she said. “She shares her pregnancy stages, she asks us questions and we give gentle advice. It is so wonderful.”

Hannah Stalnaker, 29, of Brighton Heights said she appreciates the suggestions she has received from older members as a first-time expectant mother.

And Hall said she is having someone in her 40s who lost 70 pounds mentor a 73-year-old who hopes to lose a lot of weight.

Carolann Marianna, 48, of Cranberry said she was skeptical at first but has grown to love the ministry.

“It's great for your mind and body,” she said. “I like the ladies (who) run (it).

“They're very positive. (After) a hard day at work, you go there and it's almost like a cleanse.”

Volunteer Anne Mallampalli said the ministry tries to be “not just a gym” and that members “take care of each other.”

The Rev. Brian Janssen, church pastor, said there's more to the group than just attracting new members. Heritage Presbyterian has 130 members, about 80 of whom attend services regularly.

“It's about integrating wellness into the life of the church (and telling) the community about the church (and why it matters),” he said of the wellness ministry.

Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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