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Donna Richardson Joyner is what most people would refer to as a fitness guru. But she prefers a term a kid called her a few months back: “a cheerleader for Jesus.”

Even without the pom-poms, it’s a spot-on description of the seriously spirited 50-year-old who grew up in Silver Spring, gained VHS fame as one of the “Buns of Steel” instructors, and eventually found that God had a greater plan for her toning talents.

Her mom, who would watch Joyner’s workouts with the sound off while playing gospel, had urged her for years to make a fitness video with Christian music. Joyner was uneasy about the idea until she led a “workout in worship” at a church in St. Louis, with the organ playing and the choir standing behind her.
“You know how runners get a runner’s high? We got a spiritual high,” says Joyner, who went back to her hotel, cried and settled on a new life’s mission.
It started with her first “Sweating in the Spirit” DVD, featuring her moves and musical performances by gospel artists Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams and Shirley Murdock. She later launched “Body Gospel” through Beach Body (the same company that hawks “P90X” and “Insanity”). In addition to workout DVDs — such as “Core Revelation,” which targets the abs and thighs — the package includes resistance bands and nutrition tips.
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