Like many young boys of his generation, Ron Henderson saw Jack LaLanne—the influential body builder, personal trainer and TV host—as a mentor. Known as “The Godfather of Fitness,” LaLanne encouraged people around the world to take better care of their bodies and get into shape.
As a young boy growing up in Fridley, Henderson was small for his age.
“I was a little guy,” he recalled. “I wrestled at 98 lbs when I was in ninth grade. I was little but that was probably, I think, where it got me really interested—it was just watching [LaLanne].”
So Henderson began to work out, not realizing that his newfound activity would eventually lead to notoriety and a successful career.
“I just started working out,” he said. “I wanted to improve where I was physically, because I couldn’t do a whole lot about certain things financially. My parents couldn’t buy me a car … but I could work out. I could improve that. I could have something that I could feel good about.”
The results he gained from being in shape made Henderson feel secure and confident.
But when his parents got divorced and moved to north Minneapolis when Henderson was in high school, the following few years were tough. He began to get into trouble before a good friend helped introduce him to Jesus Christ.
“I (had gone) to church,” Henderson said, “but I’d never heard the salvation plan.”
When Mark, his best friend to this day, invited him to a Christian camp, that ultimately changed the course of Henderson’s life.
“I remember [the pastor] saying, ‘I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender,’” Henderson said. “I remember I couldn’t sing it. All I thought about was how happy those people were. There was just a peace that they had; I wanted it.”
Henderson responded to that invitation and gave his life to Christ.
His life immediately changed, but he still struggled. He would do really well, he said, and then he would fall away.
“I was always trying, and the conviction was there,” he said. “But I stayed in church because I always wanted to make the change.”
Henderson recalled attending a church service where the message was about spiritual battles.
“They were preaching about if you knew in your heart that you really want to be free from something but you couldn’t, they said you probably have some kind of almost like [spiritual battle going on],” he recalled. “‘Come forward for deliverance, for prayer.’ I went forward.”
That commitment helped deliver Henderson from the struggles he had with falling away from the faith.
In his new book “Fitness and Faith: Balancing the Scales,” Henderson writes: “It wasn’t until 2003 that I made a true commitment to the things of God. It was then that I received deliverance from my fleshly ways. I made a permanent decision to give it all to Jesus and in return Jesus gave me His all.”
In the early 1980s, while Henderson was working at a public school as an assistant to the principal, he was getting requests to help people with their workouts. He began to work on a business plan for a fitness company. He also wrote his first book.
With the business plan complete, Henderson put an ad in a local newspaper and was overwhelmed by the number of phone calls he received. People were interested in getting trained, and he soon became one of the main go-to trainers in the Twin Cities.
Since those early days, Henderson has become a successful trainer, speaker and host of several radio and television programs. He currently hosts the “Fitness and Faith,” show on cable television.
He works with a variety of clients—including local celebrities, pastors and others—on weight training, cardio fitness stretching and strengthening exercises.
What makes Henderson unique, however, is his approach to fitness, which includes a focus on having an abundant life as referenced in John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
“I’m hoping to motivate people to take care of what they have,” Henderson said. “People need to be spiritually fit and physically fit. We’re spiritual people, but we’re in a physical world.”
And just as in the physical world we make deposits into our bank account, Henderson wants to make sure people make deposits into their bodies. When something bad happens, “What does your body have for a bank account?” Henderson asks.
Balancing faith and fitness
Henderson recently released his latest book, “Fitness and Faith: Balancing the Scales.” In it, he writes that he was unable to achieve his top physical shape until he took proper care of his spiritual life. He encourages readers with personal stories and Scripture to consider the importance of physical fitness to the spiritual life.
Henderson also tackles what he calls “one of the many lies straight from the devil,” which is the belief that people who work out are too concerned with the flesh.
“The truth is,” he writes, “that people who exercise and are thoughtful about taking care of their bodies are really glorifying God … No matter where you are in your spiritual walk, you need to know that taking care of your body is actually a requirement.”
The book also includes a self analysis form and tips and suggestions about workout plans and fitness regimens.
Since he was a young man, Henderson has been committed to working out. Today, that commitment is still strong, but he has further developed the link between fitness and personal faith—believing that our bodies need important nourishment just as much as our spirits.
It’s that combination of approaches that continues to make Ron Henderson one of the leading fitness experts in the Twin Cities.
Learn more at www.fitnessking.com.