Michigan native writes book on spirituality and fitness

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
Alec Penix, center, topples Jenga blocks with his girlfriend, Jessica Filoramo, and mother, Linda Searles, in a dome in downtown Detroit last week.

Alec Penix is a celebrity fitness trainer spreading the gospel about incorporating spirituality into one's workout.

Originally from Chelsea, the North Hollywood, California, trainer has written his first book, "Seven Sundays: A Faith, Fitness, and Food Plan for Lasting Spiritual and Physical Change," released earlier this month.

The book is described as a 43-day devotional that focuses on both training the body and becoming more spiritually aware.

Penix, in town for the holidays, has worked with various celebrities, including Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas, “Dancing with the Stars” dancers Derek and Julianne Hough, and actor Michael Pena, among others.

And then there’s love.

“It’s always been on my heart to love everyone regardless of religion, race and political views,” said Penix, 32. “I want people to connect to my story because there’s one thing I know we all share and that’s pain and struggle.

"So, if you can, put aside the religious aspect and see me as a human just like everyone else. It’s in that space where I think connection and transformation occurs.”

His story includes being bullied as a child, hitting rock bottom during a trip to Mexico and, finally, redemption.

Penix, who graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in dietetics and earned a personal trainer certificate, said he was bullied in school because of a learning disability.

“My peers would call me names ... or they would say that they thought I was stupid,” he said. “As you can imagine, this was a pretty traumatic time in my life. But I was always a positive kid, so I was able to direct this pain toward working out and sports, and that eventually led to exercise being a tool to shape my body.”

He said he felt unworthy and was filled with self-doubt most of his life.

“Until one day it all changed for me,” he said. “That day is when I encountered God. This is when my spiritual awakening commenced, and because of this new-found faith, I was able to break free from this old identity and into a new belief system.”

It was while visiting Mexico that he said he hit rock bottom and cried out for spiritual help.

“Everything that I dealt with growing up became too much for me to handle,” he said. “I tell everyone it was my first time praying out loud as I was lying in bed feeling terrible. I cried out to God for help. ... People think I’m crazy when I tell them that story. … They think I heard a voice because I was hungover. But I thank God for that moment because it changed my life.”

Penix’s book joins a genre of books geared toward combining sit-ups and prayer.

He said he wants to express to people that “exercise isn’t just a tool to shape the body, but a tool to shape your mind. That we can use our faith to serve as a foundation in our lives to sustain you through the ups and downs of your journey. I always ask people what is your why? My why was God, and to help other people to become the best version of themselves.”

In a nutshell, he said the book advises, in the spiritual realm, to pray, meditate, serve and read. On the physical plane, “move your body in an active way a little every day.”

Nutritionally, he advises people to eat a balanced diet of protein, fats and carbs.

“No more crash diets in 2019,” he said.

The hardback book, “Seven Sundays,” can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and at his website,