Coming home for the holidays

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

As the High Holidays approach, I find myself reflecting upon our youngest daughter, newly embarking on her journey into the world of higher education at a university across the country.  Now that I know she is settled, making friends, and enjoying classes, I have been gently nudging her to take advantage of the offerings provided by the Hillel Foundation for Rosh Hashanah.

While I know that many students do find the university’s religious services to be a very positive experience, there are just as many teens who find reasons (excuses?) not to attend, or even acknowledge the arrival of the Jewish New Year.  Despite their parents’ pleas, they seem to have left their religion behind when they set off for college.

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As unsettlingly as this may be for many parents to endure over the course of four years, something interesting often occurs once these students graduate and enter the working world….they return to their roots. Regardless of where they choose to settle, Judaism creeps back into their lives and picks up exactly where it left off after high school.  Seeking out a nearby synagogue, they strive to make a place for themselves in their new community.  The surroundings may be unfamiliar, but it is an act of “coming home”, knowing they will be welcomed with open arms and quickly integrated into the congregation. 

So it is with exercise.   Many of us get so caught up in our lives, whether it is with children, work responsibilities, or even a cross-country relocation, that exercise gets left behind, much like religious observance on a college campus. Once the dust settles and our paths are cleared, some individuals find it hard to re-enter the world of fitness, fearing that after a hiatus, their minds and bodies will not be forgiving.  If we think of resuming exercise as a homecoming for our bodies, just as a return to Judaism is a homecoming for the reawakened souls of recent college graduates, we may find it easier to embrace that which may have gone unobserved but most assuredly not forgotten.

This year, if exercise has been a thing of the past, I invite you to come home for the holidays.  Tiptoe into the gym, ease your way back into a familiar routine, and grant yourself the gift of good health…we’ll be waiting for you with open arms.

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Lifestyle/Weight Management Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.