Lighten Up: Grin to win

Cathleen Kronemer

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

As an exercise enthusiast and professional, I can honestly say that I LOVE being in the gym. It’s not only where I work, but also where I play. Here is where my heart and soul feel nourished, not to mention my body! Yet even I have those occasional days when my usual abundance of vitality is lacking. We all experience these days. It’s so easy to give in and just pull up the covers and stay in bed an hour longer, or come right home after work and become enmeshed in projects around the house. Before we know it, a “skipping-the-gym” mindset threatens to take us over!

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “Fake it til you make it”. This mantra can be applied to your workouts as well! On our low-energy days we try to talk ourselves out of going to the gym, honestly believing that if we just don’t feel like exercising, we won’t get much out of the time spent there. This is when you pull that mantra out and put it into action!

Research studies have demonstrated that, contrary to popular belief, one does not have to feel like exercising to really benefit from the workout. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Engaging in a physical sport can actually make you feel more energized! This theory goes way beyond endorphins. It actually originates with a smile. Putting a smile on your face as you head into the gym causes a cascade of events to occur within your body and mind, of which you are not even aware. Yet once in play, these events enable you to push through a difficult lifting set, complete those last few laps, or make it through the entirety of your session on the Elliptical machine.

Will you feel better at the conclusion of your time in the gym? Most definitely you will! Which came first, then……the emotion or the action? Did you really have to feel good to enjoy the workout, or did the exercise dictate the euphoria? You be the judge. While you are deciding, though, be sure you are smiling!


Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.