Interview on Sports and Healthy lifestyle

CBN Germany Managing Director Andreas Pitti Heerwagen is not only a committed Christian, but also a 7-time Ironman finisher and worked as a personal trainer for many years. In this interview, he tells us why it pays to take care of your body and how he personally encounters God in sports.  

Dear Pitti, in your time as a personal trainer you have helped many people to achieve their athletic goals or to do something for their physical health. What is your personal tip for all those who struggle with sports? 

Pitti: My tip is to find a new routine and first see how it fits into your schedule. You should look at what you can give up in your current life and then replace that with a new, sporty routine. Whenever it fits in: in the morning, in the evening, at noon – that’s kind of the first step, which I’ve also always discussed with people I’ve trained.  

What is the importance of sports for you personally? 

Pitti: In the past, sports had far too much importance, but now it’s more of a compensation for me. I used to get my recognition through it, but now I get it through God. Today, sport is simply fun and is for maintaining health and as a balance.  

What influence does sport have on body, mind and soul? 

Pitti: A big one! Because God has given us a body and we should take care of it. It is his temple in which you live or are allowed to live and you should appreciate and respect it, listen to it, but still take good care of it with sports and good food.  

God has given us a body and we should take care of it.

Why is it important to take care of your body even as a Christian? 

Pitti: Because God has given us this one body. And you have to take care of it. It is always said: In a healthy body lives a healthy spirit and I see that in the same way with Christian values.  

Aren’t the body and sport today often overrated and turned into a kind of substitute religion?  

Pitti: Yes, unfortunately, I also see it that way. You can so quickly fall into this image of “I have to conform to a certain ideal” and then it’s no longer a question of “How do I actually feel in this body? There are so many great bodies that you see in magazines or on social media that make you think that you have to look like that to be accepted. But that’s totally silly. You have to accept yourself, because it’s all about how you see yourself and how you see yourself before God – and everything else is secondary.  

How can a strong body help us? 

Pitti: With a strong body you have more endurance, you can think more clearly, you can also, in my opinion, live out your faith better. What’s hard for me sometimes is that when I see a pastor who’s very overweight preach, it immediately blocks in me and I think, “He’s trying to tell me about life, but he’s not in control of his own life.” But then I realize, “I can see his sin, but he can’t see mine because maybe it’s not so obvious – so who’s better of the two of us now?” Everyone has to deal with their problems and try to overcome them. But I believe that a healthy body basically helps you get through life better.  

What if I don’t enjoy sports or can’t do any because of limitations? 

Pitti: Everyone can exercise – to the best of their ability. It doesn’t have to be competitive sports. Being out in nature, keeping moving, in whatever form, is a good approach. Even if you’re in a wheelchair, for example, and you just drive through nature, that’s much more valuable for your body and mind than just hiding at home in front of the TV. That’s why I would recommend it to everyone: Never hide, but go out, don’t look at what you can’t do, but look for something according to your possibilities.   

Everyone can exercise – to the best of their ability.

How can I overcome my inner critic?  

Pitti: It’s all about the question of why. You need a goal. Does a grandfather want to see his grandchildren live longer? Yes! So he should have the motivation to live his life healthier in old age to get more years with his grandchildren. And he has choices about how he eats, what he drinks, what he does. He certainly wants to be able to actively run around with the kids and play on the playground, lift them, and you can do your part with a healthy lifestyle.  

How can I combine sports and faith? 

Pitti: God should come first, that’s the priority, not athletic goals like it used to be for me. Sports can also be a way to experience God. I feel the same way. When I have athletic breakthroughs, I am grateful to God and praise Him, or when I am totally broken, I can draw strength from my faith. I can still remember an Ironman when I suddenly started singing to Jesus after 160 km and that gave me such energy. Often, sports also give me space to live out my faith. This is a time when I especially feel the togetherness with God. Sports give me – so busy in normal life with the kids and the job – the opportunity to be alone on my bike, with no phone around, and then have that time to pray and be in conversation with God. And that’s great! 

Sports can also be a way to experience God.

How do you personally keep yourself physically and spiritually fit? 

Pitti: Physically, I keep fit with triathlon, so I do running, cycling and swimming in combination with a mix of strength training and back, abdominal, leg and glute exercises. I feel better when I am active in sports. To keep myself spiritually fit, three things are important for me: reading the Bible, and I mean a physical Bible and not on my cell phone, because that distracts me, then asking God about specific things, and then the hard part: waiting for the answer. That has always worked well for me.  

Thank you for the interview! 


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