EBENSBURG – SoulCore takes the rosary path to physical movement and spiritual fitness.
In the gymnasium of Holy Name School, women of different ages and body shapes do 45-minute workouts.
SoulCore combines basic strengthening, stretching and functional movements with the prayers of the Rosary – combined with music, scripture and reflections – to encourage deeper meditation on the mysteries and virtues of the Rosary.
On yoga mats and seated chairs, participants exercise according to their abilities. Jill Zimmerman, Certified Instructor, reminds them to “honor their bodies.”
She said, “SoulCore is not yoga and it’s not just for women. It is a prayer experience.
Zimmerman said she prayed the Rosary diligently, but made a mistake when “motherhood came.”
“I’ve become a busy mom,” the Ebensburg native said. “I stopped reciting the Rosary for 20 years.
“On Instagram I found ‘Many Hail Marys’ at once.” They pray the Rosary every day at 7:45 a.m.,” Zimmerman said. “If I hadn’t found that, I wouldn’t have taken SoulCore classes.”
Zimmerman credits her pastor, Father Brian L. Warchola of Holy Name Catholic Church, for helping her through the certification process.
Warchola introduced two parishes into this program.
“I found SoulCore in a catalog,” he said. “I liked the idea of incorporating prayer and physical fitness.”
Just like Valerie Orris, originally from Johnstown. Orris describes herself as a 79-year-old and said the exercises were “enjoyable without being intrusive”.
Orris said she likes to stay active. But Orris couldn’t imagine SoulCore in his mind.
“You don’t usually associate the rosary with push-ups,” she said. “I wanted to see how it worked.”
A “time to reflect”
Warchola had the same mindset. After studying the program, he said, he contacted a SoulCore instructor in Pittsburgh.
“In my old parish (St. Michael), 30 people attended the first class,” he said.
Warchola hopes curiosity will inspire people to come see SoulCore.
“Try something new,” he said. “Any time you can pray, it’s a good thing.”
Sarah Zearing, from Ebensburg, said she attends class for companionship and prayer.
“SoulCore gives me time to reflect,” she said, “to take a break from life.”
Orris said at his age, it’s a blessing to go to Ebensburg and hold a plank position.
“Sometimes it’s difficult,” she says. “But I will hold this board for God.”
LaToya Bicko is a freelance writer from Johnstown.