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Body Gospel: Beachbody Breaks the Seventh Seal by Marketing a “Faith-Based” Workout Program

The infomercial and website for the Body Gospel (www.BodyGospel.com) exercise system looks like something the old Wittenburg Door magazine might have published as a pointed satire of the commercialization of religion. But the Body Gospel “faith-based in-home DVD workout program” is no cunningly devised fable:

Look closely at the list of songs used in Body Gospel, because the next time one of those is sung at your house of worship you may notice several congregants fighting the urge to bust out squats or bicep curls.

Body Gospel was not begotten by some church or ministry but by fitness giant Beachbody, the same company responsible for P90X, Turbo Jam, Hip Hop Abs and many other infomercials. If Body Gospel were merely an aerobics program that happened to use gospel and praise music, it would have been unremarkable. The surprising thing is how blatantly words like “faith,” “spirit,” and “God” are employed to sell this thing:

“At last, you can combine the power of your faith with your desire to lose weight and get fit.”

“You have great workouts, a great meal plan, and the Lord on your side. That is a winning combo.”

“…these people finally found a way to get healthy by uniting their desire to lose weight with a power they knew they could depend on…faith.”

“Her [creator Donna Richardson Joyner’s ] secret is incorporating her breakthrough workouts and healthy nutrition program with the power of faith.”

“I think it’s a cool realization that as I’m glorifying God, I’m getting fit.”

“…they’re everyday people like you who made an incredible journey to improve their physical and spiritual health with Body Gospel.”

“I have lost 59 pounds; 11 inches off my waist. I am a brand new man. I am new born!”

“…the foundation of the workout is God.”

Popular Christian products are also alluded to. The testimonial “With Body Gospel, on those days that I felt alone, He was not walking next to me He was carrying me through those days” recalls the ubiquitous (and trite) Footprints in the Sand poem, and the customer comment “This is not about you. It’s about something much bigger” echoes the opening words of Pastor Rick Warren’s bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life.

Not since Danny Vierra cited Bible verses to sell his Almighty Cleanse colon cleanser has so much religious language been employed to peddle infomercial merchandise.

Even the titles of the individual workout DVDs in this program have “spiritual” connotations:

  • Body Revival
  • Core Revelation
  • Stretch in the Spirit
  • Power & Praise
  • Gospel Glory
  • Strength & Spirit
  • Stepping in the Spirit

Customers also receive membership in the “Fellowship of Fitness” support forum and get the “Feed Your Body, Feed Your Soul Nutrition Guide.” (No word on whether that guide includes the “Whore of Babylon Liquid Diet.”)

Comments

  • 7 Responses to “Body Gospel: Beachbody Breaks the Seventh Seal by Marketing a “Faith-Based” Workout Program”

  • Too depressed now to comment. Must nap and pretend this DVD was part of a dream.

    Comment by Monica Hamburg - Your Dose oF Lunacy on August 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

  • Next they are going to make you do bible squats.

    Comment by Kaitlyn Fultz on August 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm

  • I’m kind of on the fence about this. I could see how someone would want an exercise program that would have an inspirational/spiritual element as a motivating factor. At the same time, it runs the risk of trivializing that set of beliefs.

    Comment by Thomas on August 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

  • If only this was marketed to the same hipster crowd the Buddy Christ figurines from Dogma were, this would be acceptable. But no, someone really has decided to sell a fitness program under the guise of Christianity…

    Comment by Sam on August 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

  • Well, I sometimes do yell ol’ JC’s name when I’m doing that 100th lunge and my thighs are burning like Hades. I guess that’s faith mixed with a workout, right?

    In all seriousness, this is one of the most tasteless things I’ve seen hawked in an infomercial in a long time. I’ve heard of God working in mysterious ways but through a DVD set sold through an infomercial? Ummmkay.

    Comment by Andrea on August 7, 2010 at 2:34 am

  • “Runs the risk?” Are you kidding me?

    The only thing more crass and exploitative of the Christian religion are those various nativity/creche scenes you can buy where licensed cartoon characters like the Peanuts portray the Holy Family.

    There’s a better world out there, Consumers of Crap. Really. Just look.

    Comment by Hellbound Alleee on August 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

  • I have a friend who is a Beach Bodies coach and it seems the company is pretty legit and treats its employees well to boot. I will say Beach Bodies actually does make a decent product (at least the DVD’s are decent). I’ve known a few people who took their DVD’s seriously and have some pretty amazing results. I’ve often wondered why they peddle their goods on infomercials so much…it de-legitamizes their business!

    Comment by Lindsay on August 10, 2010 at 4:33 am

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