Pietra (meaning “rock” in Italian) is a word that reminds us of the importance of a solid foundation when building anything that is to have strength, stability, and longevity. At Pietra Fitness, our “whole person” workouts are built upon this concept. We utilize physical exercise to promote core strength as a solid physical foundation for the rest of the body. For the soul, our workouts include prayer and meditations built upon the strongest of foundations: the rock of Christ and His Church. This powerful combination truly benefits the entire human person – restoring harmony and wholeness to both body and soul.
Pietra Fitness exists to help people increase their faith, health, and well-being through Catholic prayer and spirituality and the physical practice of stretching and strengthening postures. You can improve your health, wellness, and happiness by strengthening your mental, physical, and spiritual foundations. We have worked hard to develop a program with a solid foundation in each of these areas so that, with God’s grace, you can rejuvenate, refresh, and restore your whole person – mind, body, and soul. It is our goal to help you achieve your optimal health regardless of age, physical limitations, and state of health.
UPON THIS ROCK…
The wise man built his house on a rock.
- The body is a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit – a house of God. St. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you….” (1 Cor. 6:19a)
- God is the architect of the human body, as well as of the soul (CCC 362-366). Therefore, He is the sole designer of and authority on human form and function. As stewards of these amazing gifts, we must each strive to care for both our body and our soul. “Therefore glorify God in your body.”(1 Cor. 6: 20b)
- Many forms of exercise – some of them ancient – have provided effective ways to strengthen the body, heal illness, and promote longevity. We recognize the good and true wherever it is found, and do well to utilize physical movements that are helpful.
- We must take great care to point out, however, that a good source for exercise is not necessarily a reliable source for spiritual truth. The source may be unhelpful at best – and dangerous at worst. Because the human person is both body and soul, we dare not take lightly the implications of following guidance not rooted in and centered on Christ. “…no town or house divided against itself will stand.” (Mt. 12:25) The soul, being greater than the body, should be properly formed and direct how the body exercises because what the body does affects the soul.
- It is easy to test the effectiveness of various physical exercises, but is it possible to identify a true authority for spiritual truth? Yes! Christ himself established the Church as the specific and ultimate spiritual authority on earth. He said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16: 18-19)
- “Pietra” means “rock” in Italian. Pietra Fitness was created as a way to renew both soul and body by building each on a strong foundation of love and truth. We utilize tried-and-true physical exercises to develop core strength, providing a solid foundation for the rest of the body. To nourish the soul, we incorporate scripture and meditations completely consistent with the teachings of the Church that Jesus founded on the rock of St. Peter. We believe this powerful combination truly benefits the whole human person – body and soul, in unity and integrity.
Our Chaplain is Fr. Ezra Sullivan, O.P. He is a Dominican of the St. Joseph (Eastern) Province of the United States. He has an STL degree from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, and has published a number of works on moral theology, bioethics, and Catholic history. He has extensively researched Yoga issues. Currently he works and conducts research in Rome. We are very blessed to have him on board. Fr. Ezra re-consecrated Pietra Fitness to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 2013.
St. Peter the Apostle is the foremost patron saint for Pietra Fitness. His intercession has played a key role since the very beginning when the name ‘Pietra’ (meaning ‘rock’) was chosen. He is the rock of the Church, and we are confident that his intercession will keep Pietra Fitness firmly grounded on the strongest of foundations: Christ himself.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
St. Peter, Rock of the Church, Pray For Us!
Along our journey, we’ve discovered many more Patron Saints! We are grateful for their prayers, teachings, and examples. In your own journey to wellness and inspiration, we invite you to look to them as well.
Holy Mary, Our Blessed Mother, may we, like you, have the strength to respond to God with our whole being: “Let it be done to me according to Thy word.”
St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, of workers, and patron against doubt and hesitation, pray that through the work of Pietra Fitness, many hearts and souls will find in Christ the peace they seek.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, you saw Christ in all people but followed the call to serve Him in India. Inspire us with your universal love and respect for all God’s children, especially those of cultural and faith backgrounds different than our own.
St. Teresa of Avila, you regularly practiced daily meditation, and through your fidelity and generosity God raised you up to be a guide in the ways of prayer and contemplation. As we each seek to grow in our relationship with Christ through our daily mental prayer, please pray for us as we try to persevere with the struggles we encounter. .
St. Gabriel the Archangel, holy messenger whose name means “strength of God,” open our hearts to the message God has for each of us, and strengthen us in the Lord.
St. Michael the Archangel, defender of heaven and prince of the heavenly hosts, protect us from evil. Pray that everything we do will be done solely for the glory and honor of God.
St. Raphael the Archangel, patron saint of healing, teach us to “be of good courage,” and, if it is his holy will, may God heal us of physical infirmities and spiritual vexations.
St. Benedict, thank you for teaching us the beauty of combining prayer and work (ora et labora). Pray that we give glory to God with both our strength and our love.
St. Dominic, you understood the beauty and power of bodily prayer. Pray that our movements and our prayers may be unified, to love and glorify God with our entire being.
St. Francis, having heard the call to rebuild the church, you worked to restore both the physical structure of a church building and the faith of the people. Pray for us, that through God’s grace, Pietra Fitness will restore people in body and soul.
St. Hildegard, you understood the beauty of combining music with prayer. May the music we choose lift hearts in prayer and glorify God Most High.
The Pietra Fitness logo represents a cathedral stained glass window traditionally known as a “rose window.” Many of the world’s great cathedrals feature rose windows intricately patterned with geometry rich in Christian symbolism. Rose windows are often dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Mystical Rose.
The Pietra Fitness rose window has a trefoil (three overlapping circles) to represent the Holy Trinity. Brilliant shades of blue and the fleur de leis motif around the edges are to honor our Blessed Mother. Blue, a color associated with Heaven, has long represented Mary, and the fleurs de lis (simplified lily flowers) remind us of her purity. A series of ten geometric designs fill the window to symbolize God’s law. Our window is also dedicated to Our Lady, because she carried within her the Light of the World. May the Pietra Fitness rose window always remind us that God made each of us, body and soul, to be a temple for His glory – a beautiful cathedral dedicated to Him alone.
San Damiano Crucifix
The San Damiano Crucifix was chosen to be the Crucifix that will be present in every Pietra Fitness Class. It is an icon, a sacred work of art rich with meaning. It is the crucifix of conversion. Saint Francis of Assisi prayed repeatedly before this Crucifix, and one day while praying, the Holy Spirit gave St. Francis a mission:
“Go and repair My House which, as you can see, is falling into ruin.”
St. Francis of Assisi is a Pietra Fitness patron because he answered God’s call to rebuild the church. We believe that God is still asking His people to rebuild the church, including our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Having a San Damiano Crucifix in every class reminds us of this call. We are inspired by the humility and simplicity of St. Francis. We hope that his prayers will guide us and assist us as we share his important message of returning to God and obedience to the Church.
Karen grew up being involved in acrobats and cheerleading, naturally developing an appreciation for exercises that stretch and strengthen. She enjoyed good health until, after delivering her fourth child, she started having back pain so severe that it was difficult to walk. Doctor’s tried everything from steroids and muscle relaxers to pain pills and a cortisone shot that caused an adverse reaction to her heart – leading to tachycardia and anxiety. When doctors felt they couldn’t do much more for her, a friend suggested a yoga video that was devoid of spirituality. Karen (who had previously avoided yoga because of her concerns with the spiritual philosophies) tried the video and was shocked to see that most of the poses were the same ones she had done in acrobatics. She began slowly, starting each session with a prayer. Each day, she did only small portions of the video until she started to see and feel an improvement in her back pain and in her strength. She also felt stronger spiritually because she incorporated prayer into her exercise. As she progressed, she continued doing stretches until she was feeling better than she did before her back went out. She says, “I feel like I did when I was in high school!” Karen kept feeling the Lord’s call to share what she was doing and create a stretching and strengthening program that was compatible with her Catholic faith – a program which would truly benefit Christians in both body and soul. She was torn. Developing a program of her own would necessitate training in the physical postures, but she was well aware that any yoga certification program would also include exposure to non-Christian spiritual practices and training in the philosophies behind them. Through much discernment with her spiritual director and with the blessings of a good priest, Karen decided to get her yoga certification. She maintained close spiritual direction throughout her training to assist her in careful discernment and in holding true the teachings of the Catholic Church. During her training, she was able to take a close look at the ways yoga is heavily influenced by the New Age movement and how yoga philosophies conflict with Christian teachings. She has since utilized this knowledge in the development of a program that specifically leaves out practices that are contrary to the faith.