The month of February can present a conundrum for health enthusiasts. Here we stand, 5 or 6 weeks into our New Year’s resolutions of exercising more, sleeping well and eating clean… Then, what smacks us in the face mid-month? Valentine’s Day!

Why the Chocolate Craze?

Try as I might, I have never figured out how we have come to equate cupid’s heart with those of Fannie May. Yet every retailer in the city seems to bring out the fine chocolates in celebration of this Hallmark-created romantic holiday. Does a sugar high even come close to comparing to the rush of passion? Why do we feel compelled to intertwine the two?

It’s not so much the chocolate that is bad, but what is mixed with the chocolate. Sort of like coffee. Sort of…

Turning Clients Onto Healthy Habits

If clients have mentioned that they are looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s day with an indulgence in something sweet, encourage them to consider choosing dark chocolate over milk chocolate this year. According to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany, dark chocolate contains cocoa phenols, which can help to lower blood pressure.

Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants, substances that can eliminate destructive free-radical molecules which have been implicated in heart disease. Dark chocolate can also reduce stress! Though, even dark chocolate can have hidden ingredients, so read those labels and look for brands that have minimal additives and sugars. (Bonus points for Fair Trade and Organic!)

If this sounds like a free ticket to Willy Wonka’s Factory, gently remind goal-oriented clients that a 100-gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar packs 531 calories.  The same 100 grams’ worth of a sweet apple, however, offers fiber and nutrients, all for a mere 52 calories. If one conscientiously balances dark chocolate consumption with a prudent workout plan, the health benefits derived may be worth the indulgence.

February is Happening

The 14th gets a lot of attention, yet there is more going on that you can focus clients toward. For such a short month, February is replete with excitement.

Encourage your clients to embrace the recipes and practices of it being a Healthy Heart Month.

Since Charles Dickens, author of “Great Expectations”, was born in this month, February has been coined National Expect Greatness Month; so you can push your clients just a bit harder than in January.

Turning the focus in many directions can ease the attention away from the one day. It’s easier to replace a habit with another habit than to try and break it completely.

Come up with creative ideas that surpass the usual Valentine’s Day traditions. Suggest including a free day-pass to your gym to clients looking for ways to share passion with loved ones. It’s the gift that says “I love you” in so many different ways!

Embracing any holiday and shifting it to be a win-win for clients and their goals is well within your grasp as a trainer. To be a long-term, successful certified personal trainer, you just have to think outside the box.

Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!