T Nation

Cult of the Guru's Personality

I feel that this post goes in line with Stu’s recent post in the bodybuilding forum regarding belief in things just because they are in print.

I believe that because many people involved in fitness are very young or are not involved in or are not friends with anyone in “the industry”, they can only go by what they see in print, and many times because because what people see in print they believe must be true and without knowing anyone heavily involved, they have no reference to any other source of information “from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

There are many GREAT trainers and nutritionists out there, like some that write for this site and on the forums. However, what I’ve noticed over the years is that some people behave as if they can’t trust themselves and as if they need the permission of a guru to go forward with their training, or to back up a counterpoint in a conversation, they might say something like, “Yeah, but ______ (insert guru’s name) said/does…”

There was a time when I was much younger in which I believed the following about gurus:

  1. That because a guru promotes himself very well and has a huge following, everything he says must be true or useful in all situations.
  2. All gurus are infallible human beings. That is, they don’t lie, steal or do any other unsavory things.
  3. Lifers might be delusional, but gurus aren’t.

Down the road, I became a more discerning person, not just with my own routines or diet–although some help doesn’t hurt here and there, and I’d love to pick some people on here’s brains til they want to slap me–but with my personal ideology in every facet of life.

Come to think of it, when I was very young, I used to believe a lot of silly shit.

I thought because a pro bodybuilder posed in Flex magazine posed in front of a flashy car or a mansion, he must be a millionaire from bodybuilding, and actually own those things.

I thought because some guru said he had a client who could do one finger pullups on a diving board over an empty pool or that from using one little dietary trick, he could have a female client lose several bodyfat percentages in a ridiculous time frame, that he must be telling the truth!

When did you start becoming a bit more discerning and self reliant with training and nutrition?

Should everyone use a coach or nutritionist? Who should use one?

Anyone else have the same feelings as I?

Being a discerning human being IMO is all about wisdom and experience…unfortunately many of our gurus, idols heroes etc will begin to disappoint because they are simply human and many can fall prey to the ills of society and the temptations of life.

For most of my weight lifting life, I just went to the gym tried to get big and strong and really didnt concern myself about the intricacies of the sport, in my naive eyes simply putting what I perceived as hard work in the gym was all it took, I never considered that I was spinning my wheels.

Over the past 4 or 5 years or so, the lifting engulfed me and through my passion for what I did I sought more knowledgeable people or so called experts. I latched on to guys like Wendler, Tate and Bell. I used them as reference and almost as a security blanket, in the sense that these guys said it is so, so it is so! I needed their programs to set me on the right path and appreciate all the knowledge and so much of it free knowledge that they have given me because it will always be the crux of how I view alot of things. There also guys on here, guys like Pete S, Bulldog, Mmeat, Fischer and Ecogenx (NHLFTR) that I still look up to and will defer to.

All that being said, because of the teachings and programs and experience of the aforementioned it helped shaped my own ideas about lifting and I don’t need the direction anymore, but I could always fall back on it. Everybody has gotten some ideas from somebody and molded it into what fits for them.

With regards to having a coach or nutritionist, if you are serious about a goal, wether it be competing,an elite total, or getting a six pack etc I think it is money well spent as long as your determined to put in the effort.

Firstly, this is a brilliant thread idea Brick! Well done.

I believe that a certain amount of scepticism is necessary in any science as well as hobby. The problem these days is that most gurus are around to make money and not necessarily contribute to the body of knowledge. Sure, people should be able to cash in on their mothodologies but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

I think that the best results are earned through a combination of common sense, scientific exploration, curiosity and a splash of guru. I found my turning point was then I realized this. The best way to program for individuality is via the individual so I threw away those flex magazines and started to take my fitness into my own hands. However, I never did away with my inquisitive nature and an open mind to hear others’ ideas.

Very cool thread idea. Worth a bump.

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
However, what I’ve noticed over the years is that some people behave as if they can’t trust themselves and as if they need the permission of a guru to go forward with their training, or to back up a counterpoint in a conversation, they might say something like, “Yeah, but ______ (insert guru’s name) said/does…”[/quote]
I think part of this is the result of someone who follows pre-written program after pre-written program after pre-written program without ever thinking about what’s happening and gradually learning how their body reacts to different methods. If you have to read a road map every time you drive from home to the office, you’re never going to discover that shortcut along the way that shaves 15 minutes off the commute. Ya know?

I’m absolutely all for following a well-designed plan created by someone who writes programs for a living, but part of making this a lifestyle so you’re training for decades is going to be, at some point, developing the ability to make your own routine and have it be effective for your goals. Or at the very least, understanding the difference between an efficient tweak and a change that alters the heart/purpose of the program.

Funny thing on this point. You know the joke about “a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client”? Dan John once commented that the same applies to trainers, and lately, I’ve come to think he’s right, as usual.

Personally, I find it hard to gather the mental energy to come up with a decent training plan for the hypothetical client Kris Kolucci who happens to have my exact height, weight, and training history. I can and have done it, of course, but I find it too easy or tempting to adjust things every few weeks instead of being consistent and sticking to the short-term plan.

So far this year, I did Waterbury’s ABBH 1 and 2, and I just started one of Tim Henriques’ programs. Like Dan has also said, 'there’s a lot of power in, ‘Coach said so.’" Why am I back squatting, deadlifting, and front squatting the same day? Tim said to. I don’t have to justify or try to wrap my head beyond that, because he knows what he’s doing and I trust his work. It relieves me from mental energy, which translates into less stress and “easier” workouts.

I’ve designed my own routines in the past, sure, but I focus better when I can just open the notebook and follow the plan… “do X, Y, and Z, then go home”. It also helps me come up with more concrete short and mid-term goals, which I’m finding I thrive on recently.

I wouldn’t say everyone “needs” to hire a coach or nutritionist at some point, but everyone can almost-certainly benefit from taking info from a professional and running it through their own personal filter to absorb whatever’s relevant or useful for their individual goals. The trick, of course, is having an open-enough mind to realize that there are people you can benefit from listening to. And if competing in any type of sport (strength, physique, etc.) is on the agenda, then a coach would definitely offer an advantage over the competition.

Thank for this insightful post Chris.

I think it’s a topic worth discussing, especially in this modern technocratic era in which everyone needs either permission or hand holding for many things, especially with training and nutrition.