By all accounts, the marriage and business (initially known as Max Fitness Club) shared by Steve and Bonnie Pfiester was hugely successful. Unfortunately, that could not have been
farther from the truth.
“While we had a pretty good marriage for quite a while, neglect allowed issues to pile up,” Bonnie said. And soon, the couple separated.
Those marital issues transferred into their business lives and seemed impossible to straighten out, but God had other plans as always.
In mid-December 2013, Steve was the victim of an accidental firearm discharge that went through both his legs. And, as only God can orchestrate, at the same time, Bonnie needed to have surgery for what was thought to be a tumor on her ovary. However, in the middle of the procedure, doctors realized the tumor was actually attached to her appendix. After her major surgery, the estranged husband and wife ended up in the same hospital room together, where an authentic conversation could not be avoided.
“Quite frankly, I think God put us in ‘time out’ in that hospital room,” Bonnie said.
“Bonnie was out of it for days,” Steve said. “But the whole time I was writing down messages that I believe God gave to me. I thought, ‘If God can save us, He can save anybody.’ And then he gave me Isaiah 43:19.”
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
This message resonated with the couple who, before God making Himself known in their presence, didn’t even know if they were going to go home from the hospital together as their marriage had become so strained.
“It was obvious to me that God was doing something in that place,” Bonnie said. “We couldn’t deny what He was stirring in us. To see Steve seeking the Lord, when he’d been away from Him for so long, made me realize he couldn’t be right with God and not be right with me.”
As God began to heal their marriage, they also realized they needed to rebrand their business to reflect the grace God had extended to them as a couple.
Lift Vero has only been in existence for two years and is based on the Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 scripture. “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
“We knew we wanted to ‘lift up’ our clientele on bad days,” Bonnie said. “And, it has evolved into a fitness fellowship where we’ve created an atmosphere that if someone is struggling, we can stop and pray with that person, or just love on them. If someone wants to have a Bible study at lunch, great! We’ll accommodate them.”
“Just like with our marriage, God took a broken-down gym that was struggling and made it into something new, but within the same four walls,” Steve said. “You always think you need a new start when rebranding a business, but instead, God wanted us to become ‘new people,’ but within the same town and building.”
“As leaders in the community, people need to understand we are still humans who fail and don’t have our act together,” Bonnie added. “But we have a great God who has grace for us and then teaches us to have grace for each other and our members. I would hate for people to join our gym and expect us to be ‘Super Christians’ because we are still very much a work in progress.”
Bonnie has written about the couple’s struggles within her pfitblog.com, and they are asked often to talk to couples and have enjoyed the opportunity to share their testimony for groups and marriage conferences. In fact, they will be speaking at an upcoming global marriage summit “A Marriage that Wins,” a free online event scheduled on March 29. Learn more at 2B1lifemarriagesummit.com.
“How our marriage looked before, compared to how it looks now … the glass is still half FULL, but with gratitude and grace,” Steve explained. “I used to be the type of husband who wanted people to see and take notice of how I doted on my wife. Now, I need people to know it doesn’t come from within me; it comes because God loves us so much, He wants us to share that love with others.”
The Pfiester’s share their love of Christ and share their resources within the community.
“We want to be better stewards of money and people,” Bonnie said. “But need to be sensitive to where the Holy Spirit leads. When the Women’s Refuge contacted us about being chairs of their annual Love 5k run/walk, it was a ‘no brainer.’ This event fell into line with our business model as well as our personal life. We feel it is our responsibility to take every opportunity to minister to Seekers, helping them become better people in every area of life – physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
The Pfiesters bring a refreshingly honest and relatable approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle through “pfitness, pfood and pfaith. Steve and Bonnie are the first to share their own struggles, workouts, recipes and experiences to help others. If you are looking for genuine and applicable motivation, you will get it daily if you follow the Pfiesters.
To reach your fullest, healthiest potential – and stay there, visit liftvero.com.