Willard takes REFIT

Stacey Hartley • Jun 24, 2019 at 12:00 PM

WILLARD — REFIT Revolution’s Angela Beeler, Catherine Ballas and Emily Field of Waco, Texas, came to the Christian Alliance Church on Thursday and were met by a mass of fans. 

“ACE” may have taken over Deb Schaffer’s REFIT class, but the class definitely took over REFIT, as the famous founders came to guest-teach.

Nearly 70 people showed up for the dance-fitness event — one that Schaffer described as “kind of like Zumba … but it’s also not.” Not all were locals, as adults and children from Norwalk, Bellevue, Plymouth and Mount Vernon, among other places, were in attendance.

Jill Carroll, along with her 8-year-old daughter, Alivia, 9,  came from Mount Vernon to visit a sibling.

“My sister lives in Willard, and Apple Valley’s was closed anyway with the weather … so we figured why not?”

With Alivia in tow, Carroll seemed to have no qualms about coming from another town, saying “another big reason we’re comfortable coming here (Christian Alliance Church) is that even though (we’re) not from here, we still belong, and that’s this (Willard REFIT) community.”

Valentina Stephens, of Plymouth, has been coming to Willard’s REFIT three times a week since December, and attributed losing 115 pounds to Schaffer.

“Deb is just great,” said Stephens, referring to the head instructor who’s known for focusing on the heart “as the least exercised muscle” and its relation to making “everyone feel included.” 

For 15-year-old Jordan Hartley-Harris of Bellevue, feeling included was something she said worried her about trying the class.

“At first I was very nervous, but everybody was smiling and really friendly,” she said.

Hartley-Harris said she stopped being so nervous about midway through the first song — One Direction’s “Best song ever.”

“Once I saw that everyone else wasn’t hung up on (trying to) hit all the steps perfectly, I stopped worrying and just kind of let loose.”

“Don’t be afraid to try it,” said the soon-to-be sophomore at Bellevue High School. “No one is there to judge you. They’re there to get a work-out in, just like you.”

Another out-of-towner was Mary Schloemer of Norwalk, who joked, “I took a whole day (of work) off … I was not going to miss out on this.”

A little nearer to Willard was Debbie Reeder, a minister from a different church who brought her friend Rhonda Holbrook.

“I’ve been coming here for two years,” Reeder said. “I’ve brought my daughters, my grandkids, and now this one over here,” gesturing to Holbrook.

“Yeah, she invited me about a year ago, and I love it,” Holbrook said. “I mean, it’s a family-friendly place and you can tell. For everyone here, it’s not just about weight loss; it’s about feeling good.”

Following the last dance of the evening, the class sat together in a circle for what Schaffer called “hard work, then heart work.”

The night’s lecture touched on bumblebees’ having the ability to lift their bodies into flight despite their near transparent and paper-thin wings. A feat that Janet Cok said many believe that goes against the laws of physics, yet is rooted in faith. “Bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly, but God lifts (you) up.

The message: All of us can do so much more than we think. 

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