The gym is the place to tone, not atone

Cathleen Kronemer

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

These days, just about any newspaper or magazine we pick up seems to contain articles about ways to stay fit. Once we weed out all the details regarding types of exercise, best time of day to work out, etc., it all seems to come down to one main idea: calories in versus calories out. That having been said, how many of us find ourselves pounding out extra steps on the treadmill, or beating up the punching bag, simply because we overindulged at Ted Drewes or Papa John’s over the weekend?

As Yom Kippur approaches, I’d like to propose that we save such atonement for our holier places of spiritual worship. While the gym can indeed be the “salvation” for many of our caloric indiscretions, it seems almost sad to relegate our workouts to a place of such punishment. Certainly it is true that a particularly strenuous session on the stationary bike will in fact burn off those extra pounds and inches; but such a workout can also become a source of pleasure if, for example, one chooses to listen to energy-bursting music. I personally love to read a good book while on the StairMaster; the time flies by, the workout gets accomplished, and I have enjoyed myself immensely in the process.

Walking through the gym during peak “cardio usage” times, I notice that many of our patrons enjoy watching various programs on the TV monitors while engaging in what seem to be very strenuous workouts. Are the calories being burned? You bet they are! Yet these athletes also seem to be enjoying themselves, one of my personal prerequisites for exercise!

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

This year, we might all try to view exercise in a positive light, as a means to an end of course but also as a pleasurable activity, not a punishment. The gym doesn’t have to be viewed as the place to atone for our sins, but rather as a source of renewed positive energy and commitment to a newly emerging healthier self!

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