Balancing life forces for improved wellness: fitness instructor draws inspiration from Jewish holidays – St. Louis Jewish Light

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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.
CATHLEEN KRONEMER, Special to the Jewish Light

Tu B’Av, a relatively minor Jewish holiday, finds a place in modern Israel as a holiday of love.
Considered a romantic Jewish holiday, even secular observers see Tu B’Av as the Jewish equivalent of Valentine’s Day.  Couples often plan their weddings, commitment ceremonies, or renewal of vows to coincide with this day. In 2022, we celebrate Tu B’Av on August 11-12.
This observance lies in sharp contrast to Tisha B’Av, which always falls the week before Tu B’Av. Tisha B’Av represents the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, the culmination of the “Three Weeks,” those 21 days during which Jews remember and pay homage to the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Similar to what these two Jewish holidays demonstrate, that both happiness and sadness exist in our lives, many Eastern religions also recognize and understand that the positive and negative energy forces — yin and yang — must work together, and remain in balance at all times. Yin energy represents the cool, slow, passive, feminine energy of darkness. Yang, on the other hand, exemplifies heat and action, movement, fire, and masculine force.
Within us, on any given day, yin and yang emotions compete, and threaten to throw us off balance, spiraling downward into disequilibrium. Our physical bodies represent the outer manifestation of a continuously changing energy of the soul. When our energy falls out of balance, we often experience a physical symptom.
Therefore, we arrive at the understanding that a complete physical health program must pay attention to the energy of both the body and the mind. When fitness professionals speak of “wellness”, we refer to the idea of not limiting oneself simply to exercising/training the body. An individual can look fit, muscular and lean, yet still feel restless and at odds with his heart/mind/soul. We encourage our clients and class participants to take moments out of each day to express gratitude, appreciating the simple joys that surround us all and bring harmony into our lives.
To live completely and fully requires a commitment to both our physical “house” (the body we occupy) and our internal energy. Striking a balance every day, always striving to maintain homeostasis, can provide us with everything we need to successfully navigate life’s challenges. The next time you find yourself in the midst of a particularly tough workout, or a challenging new group exercise class, remind yourself of the blessing that allows you to move in such a healthy manner. Before hitting the locker room and showers, take some deep breaths and focus on your inner self. Appreciate the strength that lies within, and the health that accompanies your complete regimen. Take pride in your endeavors…and feel your soul settling into its own happy place.
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.
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