…For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
~ 2 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV)
I suppose it’s ironic that I – a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of a fitness and health company – someone who makes his living by providing instruction, am writing an article warning of the dangers of giving or receiving too much information.
And yet, it’s an article that needs to be written.
We are beings who ultimately function best through our own internal guidance system. Yet we sometimes need the assistance of other people, to help guide us back to our natural path, and to help move us through life’s complicated maze.
The problem occurs when their guidance fails to move us back to our path, but instead guides us onto their path. This is a huge problem in our world, and is spread across nearly every field of human endeavor.
It is common in the world of religion and spiritual pursuit. It is also huge in the world of medicine, health and fitness. Authorities and gurus abound, each with their own take on reality, and what it takes to “succeed.”
When someone asks me to help them transform their health and fitness, they typically either want a “down and dirty” program, which tells them exactly what to do to attain their goal in the simplest way possible; or in addition to effective instruction, they’re looking for someone to give them a taste of the joy of movement and ease of living (as opposed to dis-ease).
While I totally understand and appreciate where the first individual is coming from, and do all I can to deliver exactly what they’re looking for, I must admit I find the most satisfaction in teaching the second kind of individual. Simply put, I find “life” in inspiration and creativity, as opposed to merely providing a “recipe” to reach a goal.
To me, the world of fitness is a great big candy store. I find joy in DISCOVERING new things, in finding greater efficiency and economy, in developing the body in a more complete fashion, and in achieving greater mastery of not just my body, but my mind and emotions as well.
Clearly this is about more than “counting reps” for me, and for many whom I come across.
The challenge I have with this group, is to give them enough – to ignite a spark in them that can become a flame… Yet not give them TOO MUCH, which tends to kill the flame, and foster a dependency in them toward outward authority. This is a balancing act every teacher should strive to get right.
Specifically, a major challenge occurs in creating the right kind of program. Rather than the standard regimented “recipe,” I prefer providing a set of clear PRINCIPLES – a sandbox with clear lines that a trainee can “play” in.
While I believe having a clear goal or goals for your training program is very important, it is also of vital importance to learn, grow, and enjoy the PROCESS along the way. Merely having an end goal without a true education along the way is worse than needlessly shallow – it’s a spirit killer.
Ultimately the dividing line is knowledge versus wisdom. In the Garden of Eden, where God strategically placed the tree of life in the middle, He warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“You are free to eat of all the trees in the garden. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not free to eat, for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die.”
There is something about knowledge that kills, and something about wisdom that gives life. I try to stay close to the latter. Even my company’s tagline reads: “Ancient Wisdom – Cutting Edge Strategies.” Wisdom is the source for the tree of life, and for all true knowledge.
Yes, a certain amount of “practical” knowledge is necessary and beneficial in the world of health and fitness. It is good to be aware of principles of safety and the most current strategies for maximizing various gains (or losses, as the case may be). Yet no principle or strategy is sound that does not contain wisdom. Regarding “gurus,” I choose to consult experts only to help further my own path, not to copy theirs; I urge you to do the same, for a better training experience, for superior health, and for a more fulfilling life.
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Patrick Rooney is the Founder and President of GREEK PHYSIQUE™, LLC, which specializes in functional body sculpting for men and women in Middle Tennessee and worldwide via phone and Skype. Patrick is Certified through the National Association of Fitness Certification (NAFC). Email questions or training inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.