December 29, 2015 // Local

SoulCore strengthens faith and improves health

Ruth Beier, center, leads a SoulCore class in a friend’s barn. The workout includes praying the rosary with strengthening, stretching and isometric exercises.

By Kay Cozad 

FORT WAYNE — SoulCore, a new movement spreading across southwest Fort Wayne, is strengthening faith and improving health for many. The program, according to its website,, is a “contemporary core workout that pairs exercise with the prayers of the rosary. A sensory experience that combines candlelight, music, reflections and movement to nourish body, mind and soul and encourage deeper meditation on the mysteries and virtues of the rosary.”

Initially conceived by Colleen Scariano, parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Carmel, after several devastating losses in her life, SoulCore was designed to lead participants to a deeper devotion to the rosary while connecting to the mind and body through exercise. In her deep grief, Scariano found solace in praying the rosary while she ran. But after a friend reminded her to build core strength as well, she was soon collaborating with longtime friend Deanne Miller, who has a background in fitness and a devotion to Mary, and SoulCore was born.

SoulCore sessions last one hour and the class leader guides participants through the mysteries of the rosary matching each prayer with an exercise pose or posture. Those involved are quick to say though that SoulCore is not yoga and no yoga poses or Sanskrit are used in the workout that involves strengthening, stretching and isometric exercises.

The session begins with recitation of the Apostles’ Creed with simple stretching. Pushups work the arms while praying the Our Father and each Hail Mary is recited for a variety of poses including core strengthening. According to SoulCore’s website, “Each mystery begins with a Scripture verse and a reflection, offering a time of rest. The end result is a feeling of relaxation, strength and renewal — of body, mind and soul.”

On the southwest side of Fort Wayne, a couple of friends, Ruth Beier and Patty Edwards, both parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, have taken the training to facilitate SoulCore classes, which includes consecration to Mary, and have found immense benefits both spiritually and physically.

Ruth Beier, like SoulCore founder Scariano, prayed the rosary while walking. After discovering SoulCore through a post on Facebook, she thought, “This is genius. You focus better when you’re moving. … It’s multitasking at its best!”

After purchasing the DVD and exercising her way through the rosary she felt called to share the program and began giving DVDs away. Eventually she attended the leader’s training and began offering classes in earnest in June, first in a barn space donated by a friend and currently, as the weather cools, at St. Joseph Church in Fort Wayne in the Adult Learning Center, Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. and Fridays from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Participants are asked to bring a mat and hand weights are optional. No rosary is needed. The program is intended for everyone with no restrictions on age, religion, gender or race.

Beier feels she is improving physically through the SoulCore workouts. And she admits, as she meditates on the mysteries and virtues of the rosary, she is better able to “surrender her life to God,” in everyday situations. “There’s always something going on,” Beier says. “It (Soulcore) is helping me put everything in perspective as I stay centered on Christ and Our Lady.”

Patty Edwards attended one of Beier’s classes and “knew after going to the first class, I loved it.” She trained as a leader and eventually offered her classes in September every Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. with the approval of pastor Father Jim Shafer at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.

The benefits, Edwards says, are twofold. “I minister to others through the rosary, and students and myself receive the benefits of exercise. It has impacted my faith greatly. I am so hungry and excited to learn more about the Blessed Mother.”

All are welcome to Edwards’ classes where she adapts each participant’s workout to his or her own level of fitness. “In my class I have a student that sits in a chair or stands supported by the chair for stability and moves it — whatever works for her body. I have asked elder people to attend and simply come, sit and pray the rosary. No movement would be needed at all,” she says, adding, “I am very passionate about teaching and love the response I get from those in class.”

Beier and Edwards have hopes of inspiring parishes across the diocese to join the movement that is focused on deepening devotion to Jesus and Mary through the praying of the rosary. They would also like students and staff at Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger high schools to have the opportunity to experience SoulCore’s benefits.

The SoulCore classes are donation based, so there is no fee. And the workout can be as rigorous as each participant wants it to be. “Do what’s comfortable for you,” says Beier, adding, “The rosary is the most important part. The exercise is the icing on the cake.”

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