Photo: Eli Meir Kaplan

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Myra Anderson
The Wellness Evangelist
Five days a week, Myra Anderson drives her Mitsubishi Mirage to churches around Charlottesville, Virginia, and turns their fellowship halls into workout studios, leading participants ages 7 to 81 in cardio classes set to Christian chart toppers. As devout about fitness as she is about faith, Anderson calls her class Temple Fit (“Temple stronger, serve Him longer” is her motto, a nod to First Corinthians); it’s the flagship offering of her roving one-woman gym, Inspire Fitness. Anderson accepts only pay-as-you-wish donations; the workouts are bookended by prayers, hugs, and high fives. Before joining Anderson’s class, three-quarters of her clients had never set foot in a gym. Now former pew potatoes report trimmer waistlines, better moods, and lower blood pressure. Anderson’s own fitness journey started two and a half years ago, when she found herself in the ER for shoulder pain and the physician suggested weight loss surgery. She was diabetic, weighed close to 400 pounds, and hadn’t worked out in more than a decade. A few days later, she tried a Jazzercise class; within a year, she’d earned certifications for teaching group fitness and personal training. Since 2014, Anderson has lost 151 pounds; today she no longer needs diabetes medication. Her goal is to help clients make similar changes: “They say looking at me gives them hope for themselves.”