"There are no rules. All you need is dedication."
These words from Madonna's introduction to Ray Kybartas's "Fitness Is Religion" effectively sum up the philosophy behind this renowned trainer's approach to exercise and health. In this refreshingly different book, we learn that fitness is a life's journey, a deep and soul satisfying process. No amount of discipline, self-denial or good technique can make us healthy. True fitness is the result of a joyful devotion to living a healthy lifestyle, one in which there are no rules, only guidelines-- guidelines we fashion for ourselves. What we need most, as Madonna says, is dedication.
Many people feel a deep-seated discomfort with their bodies. More and more of us work in offices where physical exertion is minimal; as a result, muscles atrophy from disuse and, as Ray Kybartas points out, this disuse is reflected in our physiques, imprinted in our posture, gait, and carriage. Simply put, we live in our minds so much of the time that we often forget the maintenance of our bodies, and this neglect is unquestionably life threatening.
For Kybartas, fitness is a spiritual journey, the goal of which is health-- not beauty or vanity. As he states at the outset of the book: "Fitness is a lifelong pilgrimage. And like religious pilgrims, all who seek health must commit themselves to the journey: Those who do will find lasting results." Beauty is superficial and fleeting, he believes, but health is profound and lasting. Genuine beauty, according to Kybartas, is the result of a larger lifelong commitment. Those of us who undertake the journey will find enduring results. To achieve true beauty, we must look beyond it, and transform ourselves from the inside out.
And Kybartas believes that this beauty is something that everyone can possess, because it is the result of a whole and integrated person-- body, mind, and spirit combined in one. Fitness, and the physical beauty that can result from it, is something you live. It is his belief that if we care for our bodies, we will also nurture our minds and spirits.
Found in "Fitness Is Religion" are the techniques and methods Ray Kybartas has developed over time and has used with his clients, many of whom share with Madonna the desire to maintain peak fitness while following a work schedule that frequently doesn't allow for a fixed routine of exercise.
Beginning with diet ("food is a drug; use it wisely") and the importance of finding just the right balance for each individual, and continuing with the importance of both aerobic and strength training ("no mode of exercise is best, except the one you want to do"), the book takes the reader step by step through the process of considering and evaluating the many alternatives that can lead to improved health and fitness.
With a wide range of practical how-- to material, a helping of scientific theory, and examples of how his clients have adapted sound exercise and dietary principles into their lives, Kybartas provides the basic material from which anyone can fashion a personal fitness program. In this spiritual yet practical guide you will find the path to a healthy wholeness. The key to success is to remember that, as the title states, fitness is a religion, and to achieve it you've got to keep the faith.