Of P90X and the Holy Rosary

“To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”*

In this new year, weight loss and physical fitness are high on my list.  But my main goal for 2012 is spiritual:  I want to pray the daily rosary.  And surprisingly, it was an exercise program that brought it about.

My metabolism took a nosedive sometime after forty.  During my last pregnancy my weight reached a record high, and when baby was born the extra pounds didn’t magically disappear.  I could feel my youth slipping into flabby, sedentary middle-age.  I decided to check out P90X—an extreme video exercise program.  Use it for ninety days and you will be thin(ner) and fit(ter).  My sister-in-law did it last year, and she is older than I am.  Why not me?  I began researching it, and was finally sold when I read Danielle Bean’s review on the Faith & Family Magazine blog.  Danielle has eight kids, and is a regular mom—just like me.  If she can do it, I can do it, too!  I made the radical decision to buy P90X and go for it.  I needed to be challenged!

My future paper-weight? I think not!

After making all my P90X plans—I would have to get up early six days each week to fit in the required “hour of power”—I was suddenly reminded that I did not make nearly this much effort toward a prayer life.  My conscience convicted me; I realized that my spiritual life was pretty flabby, too, and needed to be challenged as much at least as my body. God would have to come first, and a quick morning offering would not do.  I knew it had to be the rosary.  This is the story of why.

I have had a love-hate relationship with the rosary since I was became a Catholic twenty years ago.  Perhaps ‘hate’ is too strong; I never truly ‘hated’ the rosary.  I have dismissed it as a useless waste of time, spurned it as unengaging, and  pooh-poohed it as mind-numbingly repetitive.  It just wasn’t my thing, and coming from a Protestant background certainly didn’t help.  I genuinely wanted to be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction, but the rosary?  Not that, surely.

Dutifully, I endured rosaries at funerals, with home school groups, and with old ladies before Mass. I  recited the prayers and tried to meditate on the mysteries, but it always left me unimpressed, and quite frankly, grumpy.  It took so much time, and when I was with a group of people I wanted to talk, not pray—at least not for twenty minutes.  All my cradle Catholic friends seemed to accept it at face value.  Maybe you had to grow up with it to appreciate it, I reasoned.

Yet during all this time, I did honestly try to pray it and like it.  I wanted my children to grow up with the rosary so that they, at least, would esteem it.  So in our family we prayed the rosary—not all the time, and not always all at once, but during Lent we made a special effort and at other times we said a decade or two.  We had a basket full of rosaries, a different color for each child.  We had little rosary books that they loved to thumb through as we prayed.  One son, in particular, always took great delight in his complete knowledge of the mysteries and their assorted fruits.  This pleased me, for their sake.  I was doing what a Catholic mother should, even if I saw no fruits myself.

Then, six years ago, we moved to a rural area.  Once every week or two, I found myself making a half-hour trek to town for groceries. The long drive gave me a wonderful break from the kids and was a perfect time for spiritual refreshment and adult ‘interaction’ via the local Catholic radio station. Or so I thought.

I’m not sure when or how it happened, but God sent me a notice about my drive time: pray the rosary.  I wasn’t too happy about it; after all, this was MY time. I was listening to inspirational, educational Catholic programming.  Wasn’t that enough?  But the message was clear.  And each time I settled deliciously into my seat, snapped my seatbelt into place, and reached for the radio button, God was good enough to put an angel on my shoulder to faithfully whisper “Rosary!” in my ear.  How annoying.  I obeyed, but grudgingly and without goodwill.  Bah, I thought.  Who needs it?

Actually, that might be where I opened myself up. Who needs it?  Just about anybody who’s anybody, apparently.  The list of people who have had undying devotion to the rosary reads like a “Who’s Who” of our Catholic faith.  Of all of these, the one who really convicted me most was Blessed John Paul II—the hero of my faith.  But after all, he was the Pope.  Popes have to pray the rosary, don’t they?  It’s kind of like…their job…isn’t it?  Still, every time I thought of the Holy Father’s love of the rosary, I had to admit that if he felt so strongly about its importance, it was probably something worth my attention.  Holy Father, pray for me, I begged.

Everywhere I turned, I was faced with reminders that so many people whom I admired were people who prayed the rosary with fervor.  And not only did they pray it, but they exhorted everyone else to pray it as well!  What’s with these people?  I wondered.  I don’t get it.  But even if I didn’t get it, I could no longer run from it.  I could no longer pretend that it was meaningless or ineffective.  I suddenly knew that the rosary was important.  I didn’t understand why; I still don’t and perhaps never will.  All I know is that I’m called to pray it.

The cross I must carry.

Which brings me back to P90X.  I have been praying the rosary for a while now, when I’m driving or if I take a long walk—whenever I have quiet time alone, God sends my angel friend to give me the nudge.  But I’ve never made a firm commitment to work at it, daily, as part of my spiritual routine—until now.  If I could commit to P90X, I could commit to saying the rosary.  In fact, it was the least I could do.  A brief warm-up with the Apostle’s Creed, followed by five grueling sets of ten Hail Mary’s, then a cool down with the Hail Holy Queen.  My whole life will be measured in reps, it seems.

My wise uncle recently told me that the secret to exercise is dedication and consistency.  He reflected, “That might be the secret to a lot of other things, too.”  He went on to mention the Hebrew word emunah, which he’d researched for a Bible study.  Emunah is translated as “faithfulness”–acting with firmness towards God’s will–or as he explained it, “a faith that is persistent.”  Dedication.  Consistency.  Persistence.   It looks like working out with P90X and praying the rosary have a lot more in common than I thought.

I look forward to a year of flexing my muscles, both physical and spiritual, in ways I never anticipated.  I’m ready to “Bring it!”   Won’t you join me?

“Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.”*

*Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Apostolic Letter of John Paul II




  • janJanuary 9, 2012 - 7:37 am

    I converted to the Catholic Church when I married my husband 6 years ago. I cannot believe how it has changed my life. I may have already commented, but I pray the rosary now 2x a day. I also pray with it the Chaplet of St. Micheal. It is the most special time for me, also being at my prayer table which my friends, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sorrowful Heart of Mary, Jesus at Gethsemanie, Sacret Heart of Jesus, St. Micheal and the Holy Family and the cross. It has changed me and I hope this change to become deeper every day. I am lucky I am able to quietly spread my love to my customers and my family. My family is harder, as my husband is a pew sitter and my children are Lutheran (Missouri Synod)…but my Grandmother was Catholic and I wonder if she passed this blessing to me as I was her first grandchild and she loved me very much. She loved all of us but I know she loved me too.



  • MargaretJanuary 9, 2012 - 8:15 am

    Way cool. I read The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis DeMond Fort. It’s an excellent source to dive into the rosary. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.ReplyCancel

  • Allen HebertJanuary 9, 2012 - 8:34 am

    I can’t seem to fit both prayer and P90X into my schedule at the same time. I have done two full rounds of P90X over the last two years and each time my spiritual routine suffered because of it. So I have struggled with a similar issue, now I am on the spiritual commitment and thus P90X is not being done. I think I will put spiritual matters first for the foreseeable future (probably until the day I die) and will work to fit a modified p90X workout into my schedule.

    Great article.ReplyCancel

  • lena @ JOYfilledfamily.blogspot.comJanuary 9, 2012 - 10:46 am

    i’d be happy to join you!

    i used a similar plan last year. the journey was challenging but fruitful, spiritually and physically.

    i’ve adopted a new plan for this year. one that is more favorable to my state in life and long term goals.

    dad and i have a saying in our home–pray before you play!

    we apply it to everything we do.

    prayers for a fruitful journey.ReplyCancel

  • MartinaJanuary 9, 2012 - 11:18 am

    I have to admit, I really appreciate your honesty about how difficult it is to follow what appears to be effortless devotions for others. I think your humility about how you struggle with it gives us the eyes to see that obedience isn’t reliant on “feelings” but rather our desire to please God.

    And God is a funny Fella. I love how He used what you thought was “enough” in the car to push you further. He is like a drill master when it comes to wanting the best for us. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this difficulty – you make the journey seem so much more tangible for the rest of us reading who think we’ve got to “have it all together” to be solid Catholics. We all struggle, we’re all sinners, and it’s nice to know that we aren’t alone in struggling with different things our Faith offers. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • EmilyJanuary 10, 2012 - 8:46 am

    Thanks for the New Year’s Resolution kick-start reminder!
    You know, it’s funny – I go through so many swings of being dedicated to a certain task, and then something changes and throws off my whole routine. It’s hard to form new habits and stick to them at the beginning, but once they get going it’s hard to imagine another way of life!
    My rosary time has always been during my drive home from work, but now that I’m on maternity leave I’ve lost that habit. This is one reason I’m looking forward to returning to work in 2 weeks – it forces me to have more time dedicated to prayer during my drive.
    Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ Beaten Copper LampJanuary 11, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    I was just thinking I should try P90x …thanks for making me feel guilty about not praying the rosary too 🙂 But seriously, you pretty much summed up how I feel. The rosary is like the gym – you know it’s good for you, but it feels like boring drudgery and you can’t find the time. Thanks for reminding me of JPII’s letter on the rosary, which is one of the few documents ever to get me fired up about that many Hail Marys.ReplyCancel

  • ArafeaJanuary 11, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    Thank you for this post! The Rosary is a devotion that I’ve always wanted to love, but still don’t. But, I find that using Fr. Benedict Groschel’s CD Rosaries helps me focus and really learn to enjoy praying it. With all things, as I go through different spiritual “phases” I find I am attracted to different kinds of prayer and devotions. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll suddenly discover that you’ve fallen in love with praying it! Yet, until then, I admire your dogged determination to stick to it! You’ve inspiried me to renew my efforts to stick to my spiritual New Year’s resolutions as well! God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • StacyJanuary 12, 2012 - 4:22 pm

    You have to check out The Catholic Workout! I got it for Christmas and love it! I am reviewing it on my blog (no incentives to do so, just love it!)in the next few days!ReplyCancel

  • tanyaJanuary 13, 2012 - 4:34 am

    Your post is so timely. I committed to working out 6 months ago. I rise early, 4:30/5:30 to exercise. But my prayerlife is inconsistent. I need to do something about that. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Leticia AdamsJanuary 13, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Great post!ReplyCancel

  • elaviflesJanuary 25, 2012 - 12:14 am

    Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.ReplyCancel

  • Colleen ScarianoMay 29, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    A friend shared your article with me & I loved your honesty & humor! I wanted to share with you a new movement I co-founded that combines the prayers of the rosary with core exercises (a great 2 for 1 for busy moms!!).. It’s called SoulCore & website is http://www.soulcoreproject.com . It is really taking off and we have been recently featured on many catholic print, radio, web & TV outlets. We’ve also just begun offering classes on college campuses as well as catholic high schools & grade schools. Visit our site to learn more. Blessings!ReplyCancel