Samir Becic, four-time No.1 Fitness Trainer in the world, and the Health Fitness Revolution team did research and found the Fittest Female Pastors in America. With this article, we want to alert other spiritual leaders to be more physically fit and active in order the represent their faith and beliefs in the best light for the 21st century.
Thanks to these powerful women who are leading by example in terms of healthy lifestyle and physical fitness, and being women of faith, the spiritual component elevates the experience to the next level. We hope that these women will be an inspiration to other women – and also men – in terms of living a healthy lifestyle.
“About 60 to 70 percent of known illnesses can be managed, controlled or completely avoided with spiritual awareness, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, and mental and social balance,” Becic said.
We first researched all the available data on religious/spiritual female leaders online and narrowed it down to 100. Then, we did more extensive research to narrow it down 50, and then finally 13. We used a combination of interviews, internet, library, industry literature, and Samir’s knowledge of over 33 years in athletics coupled with his experience as a four-time No. 1 Fitness Trainer in the world.
“Spiritual awareness is one of the key components of healthy lifestyle that impacts the whole body and rejuvenates the spirit,” Becic said. “Physical fitness and healthy nutrition allows that spirit to flourish to new dimensions and many people experience a closer relationship to God.”
There is an alarming crisis looming in the pews of churches across America. In fact, statistics suggest that the church today may indeed be in worse condition than the general population. A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%. Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese.
“The churches of today hold a strong influence on the general opinion of mainstream America,” Becic said. “Followers look for daily guidance from pastors and heads of ministries on the best way to live their lives and raise their families. It is enormously important to provide the churches with the correct knowledge on fitness and proper nutrition so they can influence and better their members’ lives.”
However, the pastors we have chosen in our list below are not only great examples to their followers, they are also showing them they care by offering them a great role model, and some even offer great programs for their constituents. One of the key criteria for this list is that they promote healthy lifestyle to their congregation and followers. Pastors like the ones we have chosen, are, in our opinion, the definition of fitness, nutrition and spiritual balance.
This list is in alphabetical order.
Lisa Bevere, Messenger International
- Wrote the book You Are Not What You Weigh: End Your War With Food and Discover Your True Value
- Teaches women how to identify and maintain an ideal weight, discover riveting truths from God’s Word that will deliver them from the lies of the world, trade their self-consciousness for a deeper consciousness of God, and break free from the destructive cycle of dieting
- While working with a personal trainer in 2008, Lisa discovered her body fat percentage was high.
- Lisa says her trainer said she was “skinny fat.” Lisa didn’t need to lose weight; she needed to gain strength.
- Asserts many Christians are skinny fat, not physically but spiritually.
- Says Christians need to raise the level of our passion, prayers and intelligence. “We are an army whose prayers ascend from earth to heaven as a mighty roar. It is high time we echo the lion’s roar.”
Nadia Bolz-Weber, 43, House for All Sinners and Saints, Denver, CO
- Competitive weightlifter
- Walks her Great Dane
- Does CrossFit workouts
- Works out at the gym 4 days a week
- Goes to bed at 8:30 pm and wakes up at 4:30 am to exercise
Dr. Juanita Bynum, 56, Juanita Bynum Ministries, Norcross, GA
- Bynum, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, has reportedly shed 30 pounds and is well on her way to reaching her goal weight of 135 pounds.
- has attributed her weight loss to healthier eating, Bikram yoga, weight training, spin class. treadmill walking, and other exercises
- Is gearing up to release her first ever weight loss book
- “All that I had gone through, I felt like it was an opportunity to recreate myself,” she said of her new healthy lifestyle in an interview.
Shirley Caesar, 76, Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church, Raleigh, NC
- points to the importance of diet and lifestyle to prevent chronic illnesses
- partnered with Akea to create the Shirley Caesar Wellness Initiative
- they created the BluePrint JumpStart, an 8-week program of healthy eating and small lifestyle changes
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, 62, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA
- Teaches the importance of exercising and eating right
- Loves to workout
- Promotes “Let’s Move!” a program that helps children fight against obesity by promoting physical fitness and living a healthy lifestyle
Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, 60, Episcopal Church, New York, NY
- Has been active her whole life. Was a competitive swimmer and played water polo in college.
- Was interviewed by Runner’s World and says she runs 3 to 7 days a week
- Has completed several marathons since her first in 1979
- In Nevada she runs hills and enjoys running in the woods
- Wrote the foreword to the book All Shall Be Well: An approach to Wellness, a book that explores the theology of wellness and identity, core values, creativity and passion, renewal, emotional health, spiritual practices, balance, transformation, and fitness.
- Elected as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church
Laura Lentz, Hillsong Church, New York, NY
- Whole family works out
- Her Instagram shows many active activities that they do as a family
- Her husband, Pastor Carl Lentz has always been in shape and recently did two rounds of a fitness challenge and posted the great results on Instagram
- When they play the game “heads up” as a family, the losers have to do burpees
- Does outdoor bootcamps
- Does Pilates
- Drinks healthy smoothies post-workout
- Bikes around NYC with her family
Heather Lindsey, The Gathering Oasis Church, Atlanta, GA
- Heather knows what it takes to stay healthy and fit after working as a TV show host in the entertainment industry.
- In 2012 she founded The Pinky Promise, an organization that promotes honoring God with your life & body.
- She penned a book “The Perfect Recipe”, which she calls an invitation for women who desire to get closer to Christ, eat healthier and feel better.
- Is a vegetarian and follows a healthy, nutritious diet which helps her maintain her vibrant and youthful looks.
- Heather also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in America and Top 10 Religious Leaders in America
Joyce Meyer, 71, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Charismatic Christianity, Fenton, MO
- One of her favorite exercises is squats and lunges
- Has a personal trainer 2-3 times a week
- Gets adequate amounts of sleep
- Drinks plenty of water daily
- Makes healthy eating choices and takes daily vitamins
- Is fully aware of how physical fitness and healthy lifestyle impacts her body and rejuvenates her spirit.
- Tries to exercise while on the road and traveling.
- “We need to do the best with what God has given us. God cares about your internal spirit, and looking nice is a reflection of a happy, healthy internal state.”
- “I believe that we can overcome certain illnesses by doing simple things like eating right, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising.”
Victoria Osteen, 53, Lakewood Church, Non-denominational Christianity, Houston, TX
- Works out 3-4 times a week
- Receives personal training 2 times a week
- In her work outs incorporates the use of treadmill, bicycle, elliptical and strength training
- Has had an active lifestyle background. Her parents liked to take walks and lived in an active neighborhood. Worked out with her husband at the gym before they were married. Spent a lot of time at the gym.
- Eats healthy foods, and also teaches her kids about healthy eating habits as well.
- Also her Husband Joel Osteen is one the fittest Pastors in the nation. “Health runs in the family.”
Holly Wagner, Oasis Church, Los Angeles, CA
- Created GodChicks through her ministry and seeks to blow the lid off the boxes that women have sometimes put themselves in and encourages women to be the amazing, world-changing champions they were made to be.
- Cancer survivor
- Some of her books give practical tips of health and scriptural perspective on healing.
Kay Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
- She and husband Rick Warren (who lost 65 pounds) eat healthy, fresh and natural foods
- Avoids sweets
- Exercises regularly
- Worked with the ‘Rwanda Health Care’ Initiative and trained three thousand church members to teach 23 thousand homes in Rwanda about HIV prevention, basic hygiene and home health.
- She is an adamant promoter of HIV prevention
- Is a two-time cancer survivor
- Has been open about her battle with depression
- She has been through many physical and emotional difficulties and still exercises and believes in healthy lifestyle- which is why she deserves to be on this list.
Paula White, 48, New Destiny Christian Center, Non-denominational Christianity, Apopka, FL
- Believes in eating the right nutrients in moderation
- Works out daily
- Gets sufficient amount of sleep each night
- Wrote a book titled The 10 Commandments of Health and Wellness, co-written with celebrity fitness trainer Dodd Romero