March 12, 2024 | Matt Kucinski

A photo of Calvin student Macy Gerig and a group of students with Spin Bikes in foreground.
First-year student Macy Gerig (center) teaches group fitness classes at Calvin University.

As a sophomore in high school, Macy Gerig’s future came into clear focus.

“I was playing soccer year-round, and I got connected and chatted with Emily (the Calvin University women’s soccer coach).”

Gerig visited Calvin’s campus, and that’s all it took.

“I loved the atmosphere, the community feel, that it was close to a city but not right in it, that it was a 3-hour drive from home and was a Christian University,” said Gerig.

A sidelined dream

But during her junior year, a collision seemingly shattered her dream.

“I got hit in September and had a concussion, my second impact concussion from soccer,” said Gerig. “It wiped me out. My cognitive function couldn’t find words, I had eyesight and tracking issues, my balance was awful, I had migraines every day. It wrecked me.”

Gerig was diagnosed with post-traumatic migraine disorder and was told she’d never play contact sports again.

“It [playing soccer] was literally the entire reason I was going to Calvin,” said Gerig. “Yes, I loved the girls and the atmosphere, but it would remind me too much of soccer, and I couldn’t do that, so I looked at other schools.”

In the second semester of her senior year, just months before graduation, her path seemed to be taking her to a school in Indiana. She made a visit and returned home. It was then she had a flashback.

“I was in bed and reminded of a dream from a year prior where I was walking on a path, and I saw an emblem on a building that I walked into, and it was the Calvin emblem. I remember at the time thinking that was my sign, and as I was sitting on my bed that day, the Lord said I literally already told you where you should go.”

Just 10 minutes after Gerig said she had received confirmation from the Lord, she received a call.

“Cassandra, my admissions adviser at Calvin called me and said ‘Macy, we are going to get you here, we will figure out scholarships for you, going to see if you can get a little more.’”

A photo of Calvin student Macy Gerig
Macy Gerig recently published her second book.

A deeper passion emerges

The path Gerig was supposed to take seemed to be coming back into focus and she was discovering that the injury that threatened to sideline her future would actually begin to ignite a deeper purpose and passion.

“A month or two after my second concussion, I started lifting as a way of coping,” said Gerig, “because I couldn’t run because my head would bounce too much. I would nap all day long in the dark with a blanket over my eyes,” said Gerig of that time in her life. But she felt the Lord strengthening her: “When I put worship music on, I felt the Lord’s strength. I’d go to the gym and for that one hour I was normal.”

Gerig would be asked to lead group fitness classes at a local cycling studio. While she had no teaching experience, she took the certification and started down a life-giving path.

“I can’t just teach a class, it’s more than a class for me,” said Gerig. “This is what I want to do. I don’t just want to help people exercise, I want people to think differently, to see how workout and worship should be integrated, to see that they are strengthening and putting perseverance on their bodies so that they can do what the Lord has prepared them to do. That’s how I got through my concussion.”

A few months later Gerig stepped onto Calvin’s campus for her first year and was confronted with the reality of a prior lost dream.

“At first I wasn’t a happy camper, I had to push through the trauma of losing soccer as my suitemates in the dorm were soccer girls,” said Gerig.

But she soon found opportunities to pursue a deeper passion.”

One door shuts, another opens

Dr. Berends, a professor of kinesiology, told me, ‘Macy we will hire you as a group fitness instructor and as a trainer. We’ll get you involved. You’ll be fine and you’ll thrive here,’” said Gerig.

So she started down that path, but a few weeks into teaching fitness classes, she soon realized she wasn’t here to fill a vacant role, she was here to build and create something new. So, she sat down with kinesiology staff and Pastor Mary and shared her vision.

“My dream is combining worship and workout, to use one’s exercise as a way of worship. I said I feel like this is something Calvin needs that goes beyond group fitness. I want people to see that working out is a way to worship and that they can use their bodies as a holy sacrifice to the Lord. If we strengthen and equip our bodies, we can use them for his purpose.”

The leaders told Gerig she could run with it … And so, she did.

In her first semester at Calvin, Gerig has started cycling and women’s strength training classes, hosted a mash up event where community members could try an abbreviated version of a Pilates, yoga, and cycling class to get introduced to each, and she published a 30-day devotional, A Step Forward: 30-Day Challenge to Kick-Start Your Spiritual and Physical Devotion to the Lord, her second published book to date.

While Gerig loves helping people see how they take care of their bodies as an act of worship, she is also committed to helping people find their fit.

“It’s incredible to be able to reach people just like me who came into Calvin without that team or without that club. I love seeing people meet other people, love hearing their stories and seeing them find their place. Everyone needs that.” said Gerig. “I didn’t come to Calvin thinking I was going to make a difference. But the Lord told me, ‘Macy, you are not just fitting in, you are going to create.’”

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