Fitness with a Flair

Instructors leading the class

Healthy Living

Shoulder rolls, hip swivels, and wrist twirls are some of the fun moves in the Foundation Fitness class happening in Valleydale Church’s gym on Mondays and Thursdays. The class, taught by Gina Howell and Kathy Raymond, combines exercise, fellowship, and lots of fun. Ladies (most of whom are not members of Valleydale) meet to keep their bodies fit in a God-centered atmosphere. Long-time member Anne May says the exercise is challenging and fun, but she enjoys the love and friendships she has for all the ladies in the class.

Gina Howell and Kathy Raymond
Foundation Fitness is taught by Gina Howell and Kathy Raymond each Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. at Valleydale Church.

The class starts with news updates, a devotional thought, maybe a joke or recipe, and special prayer requests. Fellowship is as important as exercise. Support for participants’ community projects is also optional. “If you walked into a random class, you may experience welcoming, joy, care, prayer,” says Marsha Cremer. Following the brief jam session, the playlist begins with stretching in a chair utilizing flex bands and hand weights. Then it’s on your feet to thematic tunes from artists such as The Beach Boys, the Beatles, Amy Grant, and Toby Mac. Whether secular or Christian, the “feel good” lyrics provide inspiration while doing grapevines, side-steps, and plies. A variety of dance moves, seasonal themes, and playlists offer plenty of diversity to keep participants coming back. “There is no format like ours,” says Raymond. 

Fitness with a Flair InstructorsAlthough Howell and Raymond are certified Zumba instructors, Howell says their moves are a “spaghetti” combination of salsa, ballet, modern dance, cumbia, and country. Howell started the class ten years ago under two conditions: 1) that it was open to any woman from any denomination, and 2) there would be no charge. “God is the reason we are doing this,” says Howell as Raymond shakes her head in affirmation. Raymond joined Howell to co-teach five years into the class. 

The name of the class, Foundation Fitness, is taken from I Corinthians 3:11 and is based on being grounded not only in the body but at the foot of the cross. “The group has grown and changed in demographics over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the care the women have for each other,” says Denise Willey. “We pray for one another.” No guys are allowed in this ladies-only class. The age range of current participants is 50-86, but any age is welcome. Even if you aren’t a dancer or in shape, that is no deterrent. There are no divas! See what it’s all about Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Contact for more information.

-Karen O. Allen

Author of Confronting Cancer with Faith


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Healthy Living

Community Partner Logo 22 FINAL 1Brought to you by: Community Partner COMPACT,

Did you know that the younger the brain when drugs are first tried, the greater the risk from moving from drug use to drug addiction? According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 15% of high school students have misused prescription drugs in the past year. When used as prescribed, prescription drugs are highly effective in managing pain and treating diseases. When not taken as prescribed, they can be deadly and lead to lifelong addiction. 

The 3 Most Misused Prescription Drugs

  1. Opioids such as morphine and hydrocodone are prescribed for pain relief.
  2. Central nervous depressants, such as valium and Xanax, work by slowing brain function and causing feelings of drowsiness and calmness.
  3. Stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, cause increased alertness, attention and energy. 

Each class of drug has its own appeal which leads to the potential misuse then to possible lifelong addiction. At Compact, our goal is to arm you with this information so you can ask your physician the appropriate questions when or if your teen is prescribed one of these potentially addictive drugs. 

What are the most common ways teens have access to these potentially dangerous drugs? Social media provides easy access through many apps that are believed to be untraceable. Innocent emojis and code words make it difficult for parents to recognize that their children are having talks right in their presence. 

Do you know what’s in your medicine cabinet? Does your teen know what’s in there? Where do you store your medicine and your old medicine? Home is the main source for teens to get these prescription drugs.

The DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, October 29. Drop off locations will be set up for individuals to turn in any unused, unwanted, or out-of-date medications. For more information on this topic and for prescription drop box locations, visit us on Facebook @Compact2020 or call 205-605-1827. †

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Healthy Living

Growing up, Dr. Lisa Franklin always had an interest in math and science. “I’ve always been interested in how the human body works,” Dr. Franklin says. After graduating from Jacksonville State University, this interest led her to attend medical school at the University of South Alabama. A native of Alexandria, Ala., she has lived in the state her entire life except for her four years of residency at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta.

Lisa Franklin
Dr. Lisa Franklin has been married to her husband Robert for 29 years. They have two daughters.

Dr. Franklin joined the Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C. (HWWC) nine years ago. One aspect of her job that she especially enjoys is getting to know her patients. “I love being a part of people’s lives as they grow into a family,” she says. One of her favorite parts of being a doctor is “getting to be involved in a patient’s care from having babies and watching their children grow up.”

Dr. Franklin doesn’t just serve patients in the Cullman and Birmingham HWWC offices. She has been on medical mission trips to Malawi, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic! She strives to help women make the best choices for their personal health.

For more than 30 years, Henderson & Walton Women’s Center has been specializing in women’s health care in the Birmingham and surrounding areas. All the OB/GYN physicians, including Dr. Franklin, are board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. For patient convenience, HWWC sees patients in Birmingham, Alabaster, Chelsea, Cullman, Rainbow City/Gadsden, Jasper and Tuscaloosa. To learn more about Dr. Franklin and the team of physicians and staff at Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C., visit or call 205-930-1800.

-Melissa Armstrong


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Healthy Living

What is distracted driving? Anything that takes your attention away from the task of driving safely is distracted driving. You cannot drive safely unless driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in has the potential of being a distraction and increases your risk of crashing. 

Community Partner Logo 20 Years 150x150Texting and Driving. Cell phones are a great invention that makes it easy to stay connected. However, we need to stay disconnected while driving. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. One out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Answering a text while driving takes your attention away from the road for about five seconds. If you are traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field! Don’t let a text be the last thing you do. Put away your cell phone while driving. Your life is worth it. 

Passengers as Distractions. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, passengers are one of the most reported causes of distractions. With young children being four times as distracting as adults and infants being eight times more distracting, you need to train yourself to be considerate of everyone’s safety. As a driver, if you are experiencing a distraction, safely pull over to address the distraction. Do not attempt to deal with it while the car is in motion.

Other Distractions. Eating, reading, watching a video, or even adjusting the radio can all be very dangerous distractions while driving. When we drive, we should focus all our attention on the task at hand. When we divide our attention, we put everyone’s life in danger. Imagine having to live with the thought of harming someone else because you chose to drive distracted. 

We can all do our part in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving. For more tips from Compact, visit or Facebook @Compact2020. †

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Healthy Living

There are many pharmacy options in and around Birmingham. What makes Mills Pharmacy different? “We simply strive to treat our customers like people we genuinely care about. In a business where most of the volume is dominated by publicly traded companies who are concerned with stock prices, that sets us apart,” says Josh Hardin, PharmD, one of three local owners of Mills Pharmacy, now serving families in 13 communities in Central Alabama.

Mills Pharmacy Owners Behind Counter
Mills Pharmacy owners Joe Jones, Josh Hardin and Beetina Long (L to R) each have deep ties to the Birmingham area and are passionate about making an impact in the community.

Robert Mills opened the first Mills Pharmacy location (previously named Robert’s Discount Pharmacy) in 2002. In 2020, he retired, and three long time members of his team took the helm- Joe Jones, Beetina Long, and Josh Hardin. “It was a challenging circumstance, as we purchased the business on March 16, which was the last day before the COVID pandemic began,” Joe Jones, PharmD, says, adding, “Despite the challenge, our fantastic teams at our 13 locations have gone above and beyond to serve our longtime and new customers in Central Alabama.”

The owners have a combined 40 years of experience in the Mills Pharmacy family. Long has worked on the operations side of the business for 15 years and has seen the pharmacy continually grow and serve more customers.  “In 2007, I moved to Birmingham and started working with Mills Pharmacy in Bluff Park. At that time, we began opening the 2nd location,” Long explains. Both Jones and Hardin have many years of experience serving families as pharmacists at multiple Mills locations.

Inside Mills Pharmacy at Bluff Park
Not only is Mills Pharmacy a great place to get your medication, but several locations- like this one in Bluff Park- also have beautiful gift shops.

The owners place high priority on serving every customer well. “Customers can expect to pick up their medication in a timely manner from friendly people who care about their health outcomes. They can anticipate receiving attention from a pharmacist when they have questions about their condition or their medication,” Hardin says, adding, “And they can also expect our staff to be interested in them as people, not as numbers or dollar signs.”

The Mills Pharmacy mission statement is one that the team strives to live by daily. “We will improve patient wellness and health by problem-solving, listening, and providing the best care possible. We will be accessible, honest, and respectful. We will be visible, active members of the communities in which we serve. We will have a positive impact on every customer we encounter.”

Visit the Mills Pharmacy family at one of 13 locations in Bluff Park, Brookwood, Corner, Eutaw, Gardendale, Leeds, McCalla, Midfield, Parkway, Pinson, Pleasant Grove, and Woodlawn. Any location can help you with SmartPack: personalized packaging for prescriptions, free daily COVID-19 testing and vaccines, compounding, affordable generics, unique gifts, and more. To learn more about Mills Pharmacy and to find the nearest location to you, visit

-Melissa Armstrong 

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Mills Pharmacy’s newest location is in Bluff Park next door to Piggly Wiggly.
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Here’s to your Health

People often ask me how they can take control of their health in order to walk in freedom to what God has called them to do. I put together some practical ways to show you what taking ownership looks like in your health.

Here are a couple of symptoms of NOT taking ownership:
• Saying that our health is a priority, but our bank account, schedule, and focus prove otherwise.

• Not being able to do the things that God has called us to fully.

• Making excuses on how all of the external things in our life have determined our health, rather than OUR CHOICES.

• Not having PREDICTABILITY and CONTROL in our results and progress.

• Waiting until everything is “perfect” to start making changes. (There is no perfect season.)

• Doing a bunch of “diet” research on the first page of google because we feel guilty about how we ate over the weekend.

• ONLY getting free tips and tricks from people on social media.

• Thinking that just because we don’t have any health issues we don’t really need to be proactive.

Here are some examples of taking full ownership of your health:
• We are able to FULLY do what God has called us to do in every season.

• Our bank account and schedule clearly reflect that we make our health a priority. Anyone could take a look without even knowing us and see that clearly. (Where our treasure is there our heart will be also).

• We feel in full control of our progress and results because we have proven frameworks that work long term. There is no more confusion and discouragement.

• We take imperfect action and slowly progress toward our goals even through tough seasons.

• We lead our family and set a good example in our health. Our family feels at peace and doesn’t have to worry about us.

WE GET HELP. Instead of trying to do our own research and go in alone, we allow someone we trust to give us a proven system AND keep us accountable to that system.

We are PROACTIVE, instead of being reactive. When things come up, we look to what we want our health to look like in the future and structure our actions to help us get there.

We don’t just focus on “Getting by” in our health. We are intentional; at being excellent and using our health as one of the greatest assets we have. Take some time to reflect today. Which one of these areas do you need to change to start taking full ownership in the way you steward your body?

— Ashton Tate, Founder, Glory to Glory Fitness, 615-488-8203

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Here’s to your Health

For Dan Hudson, M.D., being a doctor runs in the family. “I was inspired to become a doctor by watching my father who was a urologist at Carraway Methodist Medical Center,” Dr. Hudson shares. In addition to his father’s influence, his brother eventually joined their father’s practice, and his sister is married to a physician. Dr. Hudson has three daughters who are all working in the medical field, too!

Dr. Dan Hudson
Dr. Dan Hudson married his wife, Tracy, 34 years ago and they have three daughters: one is currently a CRNA and two are soon to be CRNAs. 

Dr. Hudson is a native of Birmingham and earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He returned to Birmingham and completed his residency training at Carraway Methodist Medical Center. He has served with the Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C. (HWWC) as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist since 1998. “One of the physicians asked me to join the team and it has been an enjoyable experience working with such dedicated physicians for the last 24 years,” Dr. Hudson says. 

Connecting with patients is just one aspect of being a physician that Dr. Hudson enjoys. “I always hope to be a positive influence in my patient’s lives,” he says, adding, “My faith is important in establishing a trusting, loving relationship with my patients. If I can exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit in my interactions with patients, they are drawn to that.” He also enjoys the surgical aspect of being an OBGYN. “I really enjoy performing robotic surgery.” Dr. Hudson sees patients four days a week at the Birmingham location. On Thursdays, he can be found at the Gadsden or Cullman offices. 

For more than 40 years, Henderson & Walton Women’s Center has been specializing in women’s health care. All the OB/GYN physicians, including Dr. Hudson, are board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. For patient convenience, HWWC sees patients in Birmingham, Alabaster, Chelsea, Cullman, Rainbow City/Gadsden, Jasper, and Tuscaloosa. To learn more about Dr. Hudson and the team of physicians and staff at Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C., visit or call 205-930-1800.

-Melissa Armstrong 

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Special Feature

Freezing rain had been falling for over an hour; Jodi started her engine one more time praying they could make it through the night with little or no heat. They couldn’t hang on much longer like this. She noted half a tank of gas. Stuffing her arms up in both sleeves of her hoodie to rub her arms for warmth she watched her three-year-old twins sleeping quietly under two blankets she had slipped into the trunk a week before. Scraps of candy and crackers littered the back seat and a milk container she purchased at a nearby grocery store was almost empty. Jodi checked her purse, $25.00 and some change. Three days on the road now.

Fear gripped her when she thought of their narrow escape. Her husband had once again beaten her after an argument but then he slept hard. She had a window of time. Leaving was not an easy choice. She kept hoping. For years she suffered conflicting emotions, good days, bad days, but the continued verbal, psychological, and physical abuse was unbearable. No more! She and the twins would get out of that environment. In a blur of emotion, she grabbed the keys, a diaper bag for the boys plus the two sleepy eyed babies and left. “Lord, what am I doing, Christmas is next week?! Please,” she cried out. “I do not want to take my boys into a shelter at Christmas.” She did not want to spend the holidays around strangers trying to make her happy when she was so crushed and broken. Would she ever have a warm holiday in a quiet, safe home? Being in a shelter seemed so horribly wrong at Christmas.

There are hundreds of Jodi’s out there experiencing pain on pain during the holiday season. Thankfully, shelters do offer a short-term solution, but the dream of having a home is often never realized. When women leave shelters, they may not be able to secure and maintain independent living. We would like to offer a longer-term solution to finding that “place of my own.” It is a project entitled “Housing Hope” utilizing renovated campers for women in need. Donated campers can make this a reality. For more information, email, call 205-677-3041 or visit

Hopes Door Founder and Director-Liz Sherrell, Michelle Sylestine 

Mother, daughter team: Founder and Exec. Dir. of Hope’s Door

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Mission Makers

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Run2Rebuild participant Barry points to his “25 Miles Further” achievement board.

Run2Rebuild is a community volunteer group comprised of 20 plus men that aims to build a support network for clients at the Jimmie Hale Mission’s men’s center through motivation, physical fitness education, and goal-setting practices. The group was started by James Harris, Garrett Rogers, Jess Westerhouse and Jordan Carr while looking for ways to combine their enjoyment of physical activity with their desire to be more involved in the community. They eventually reached out to local missions looking to build a program from scratch and the Jimmie hale Mission “was the perfect fit.” When the project launched in November 2020, the group partnered with five residents for the twice-weekly exercise program. Since then, the numbers have more than doubled with new faces signing up monthly. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 6 a.m., the Run2build crew embarks on a one-hour run that is scaled to each participant’s skill level. Beginners may spend the bulk of their time walking while more seasoned road warriors quickly rack up the miles. Each client’s cumulative distance is logged over the weeks and resident names are then added to special “Miles Further” boards on display in the facility’s dining hall as designated milestones are achieved. So far, every participant has reached the 10-mile club, with one client well on his way to the 50-mile chart.

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Members of the Run2Rebuild crew gather twice a week for exercise and much more.

Run2Rebuild founders emphasize the importance of the several partners who have helped to make this happen. Trak Shak has generously been donating shoes to the clients so that lack of running shoes isn’t a concern,” Carr said. “Mel Cosio, PT, DPT designed a full stretching routine for us which we go through each morning before we run. CrossFit Mudtown also donated all proceeds from its [BirmingAMAZING Race] to Run2Rebuild.” You can find out more about this amazing group by following @run2rebuild_bham on Instagram. †

Mission Makers Run2Rebuild logo Jimmie Hale Mission

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