Q: I recently decided to get on the cross-training bandwagon and joined a CrossFit box, but the instructions for my classes goes against everything I learned during all my years of bodybuilding. Should I just go back to my old gym, or give these new fitness “gurus” a chance?
A: If you’re trying to improve yourself and learn from someone who’s expert in a field in which you are the neophyte, then listen (or, should I say, shut the f#*@ up!). There is a popular Zen Buddhist story of a student (or professor or what have you) who goes to visit a master. While the student begins to expound excitedly on his understanding of Zen, Buddhism and the master’s work, the master quietly pours tea for the student into a cup, which quickly overflows. The student exclaims, “Stop! My cup is already full,” to which the master replies, “You are this cup.”
This scenario is common enough. If you want to learn something—from a well-studied expert, no less—you must first empty your cup in order to consider the teacher’s perspective. That does not equate to blind acceptance, but it does mean that you must strive to give fair consideration to a different perspective, with as little projection as possible. If you have a coach or a trainer or are just hoping to learn from another athlete, actually listen to what he or she has to say. Do not project your own perspective. Just shut your trap and listen.
Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MPH athlete, www.MHPStong.com. IM