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“What are you thankful for?” 

It’s not a question most people would expect to hear in the middle of their functional fitness workout routine. But, TotalFit at The Ridge Church in Ridgecrest, is far from a traditional training program. 

Trent Holbert’s journey to the role of lead pastor of The Ridge Church was, itself, unconventional. The Kentucky native, church planter, certified personal trainer and podcast host had just moved his family to Ridgecrest, seeking to find ways to be of service in the community. 

He attended a service at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, as it was known at the time, and learned that an aging congregation had prayed for a young person to lead the 83-year-old church. Leaders of the church believed that Holbert and his family were the answer to years of prayers. 

With the church flourishing, Holbert and his wife Mandy continued to consider programs that could benefit the community. The Baptist minister’s belief that God’s plan for humans reaches beyond spirituality into physical, mental and emotional well-being led him to become a holistic health coach. 

“My mindset is holistic ministry,” he said. “I view holistic health through a Biblical perspective. Most churches don’t teach nutrition, and how to be stewards of our bodies through healthy practices. We teach being good stewards of Earth, through using only compostable paper products and no chemicals in our cleaning products. We’re very environmentally conscious and we’re also conscious of the health of our bodies.”

That approach of ministry dovetailed perfectly when Trent discovered TotalFit, which describes itself as “an international sports fitness movement” that brings together people of all fitness levels for whole life training to achieve new results by training the body, mind and spirit.

Trent, who hosts a podcast called Fit For the Kingdom, heard from a stranger in Tennessee.

“He’d heard about me, and what I was doing with Holbert Fitness and planting this church,” Trent said. “He’d heard about TotalFit, and thought what I was doing on an individual basis aligned with what they were doing on a global basis.”

The pastor connected with TotalFit, which was focusing on establishing its gyms in under-served areas of the world. 

“I started traveling the world helping them by teaching nutrition and recovery as they’ve been working on getting gyms opened in places like Beijing and Jinan in China, and all over the world,” said Trent, who also visited Chiang Mai, Thailand and plans to help establish a TotalFit in Egypt in December. “I got back to Black Mountain and I had a deep conviction. Since I’ve been here, I’ve wanted to model holistic health through our church, but I was never certain how to do that. Then it occurred to me that the movement I was helping around the world was the perfect fit in Black Mountain.”

The Ridge renovated its fellowship hall, the room in which the church was established, and created a gym. It is only the second TotalFit facility in the United States. 

“We have a fully equipped functional fitness gym,” Trent said. “We rubberized the flooring, brought in squat racks, 1,600 pounds of bumper plates, bars, kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, battle ropes. It’s completely equipped.”

TotalFit at The Ridge offers six classes a week, three 6 a.m. hour-long sessions are led by Mandy, a certified trainer and three 7 p.m. classes are led by Drew Wheeler. 

“Because it’s functional fitness, we’re able to scale the workouts to every physical capability,” Trent said.

Newcomers are introduced to the TotalFit model through an hour-long orientation.

The workout routine weaves in a unique approach to training the mind and spirit. The trainer introduces a theme and models proper technique for specific exercises. The class begins with a Look Back (warm-up), Look Up (workout) and Look Forward (cool down). 

As participants begin the Look Back, they are asked “what are you thankful for?”

“We believe in starting out on a positive note,” Trent told a group on Nov. 14. “You never know what people might have experienced before coming here, so that question can really help change the perspective for that person.”

At various times throughout the class, attendees are asked questions ranging from “what’s stressing you out?” to “Is there a need we can help with?” 

“At that point what we’re doing is building community,” Trent said.

Nick and Sarah Zuerlein attend The Ridge Church and have been attending the TotalFit classes since they began. Nick attends the 6 a.m. class and Sarah works out in the evenings. 

“Since college, I’ve never had a consistent fitness routine and I don’t do well without accountability,” Nick said. “I found it was a lot easier to show up if I was committed. You go through a lot of pain getting back in shape, and I didn’t want to go through all of that if I was going to quit three weeks later.”

The structure of the workout has pushed him to exercise his mind as well. 

“I’ll admit it’s hard to come up with gratitude at 6 in the morning,” he said. “I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m., it’s cold, I’m sore and I’m about to put my body through more. It definitely challenges you to actually think about something. A lot of people go into their workout thinking they know it’s going to hurt, but they’re just going to push through and not think about it. This really pushes you to focus on more than just the physical aspect.”

Sarah appreciates the feeling of being pushed more during her workout. 

“It’s been great for me, because it’s like talking to a good friend,” she said. “Some stuff feels really good get out there, and sharing it can really help.”

The classes are $40 per month or $10 per class. 

“None of that goes to the church,” Trent said. “We use whatever money we make to pay utilities, our instructors and the rest goes back into TotalFit’s global initiative. I’m going to be focusing on helping communities in North America that would like to establish these gyms.”

Supporting the TotalFit movement is just the latest commitment for the busy pastor, who views encouraging overall health as part of his calling. 

“When Jesus walked this earth, he healed people emotionally, spiritually and physically,” he said. “That’s all part of my approach as a holistic minister.”

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