Lately it seems that I’ve noticed more and more dogmatic viewpoints. And in all sorts of fields too so it got me thinking. Is this good or bad or neither or both? With an extremely divisive election coming soon, it’s no surprise that all the sides are putting their opinion out there to be heard. Religion is probably even better known than politics for its dogmatic thinking but I’ll leave both of those subjects alone for the purposes of this post. Music is fun place to study this phenomenon as well, but the one that has really caught my eye was the dogmatic thinking in the exercise industry. This thought that there is only one way to train and if you don’t train according to the parameters set forth by a certain “guru” then you are spinning your wheels, doomed to never lose the weight and get stronger. Doomed to be “skinny fat”. Doomed to live a life without the abzz and never taste the sweet life that comes with them.
So, I ask, this way of thinking is terrible right? The mind is like a parachute and will only work when it’s open right? My answer? My favorite answer to any question if I can get away with it?…Maybe. Possibly. Sometimes.
Off the cuff and without any investigation I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to agree that an open mind is the better option. But after thinking a tick, and examining my own way of looking at things in terms of tendencies to be dogmatic and open minded, there are pros and cons to both approaches.
When people are overly open minded they can come off as an indecisive, wish-washy, flip-flopper. They are easily misdirected, gullible, and susceptible to half-truths. In relation to fitness, their inconsistency and lack of conviction keeps them from making any real gains because they never 100% commit to any program long enough to see the full potential of that program. Much like the guy who takes up snowboarding, then fly-fishing, then kayaking, then rock-climbing. He’ll be able to speak from experience on all these subjects, but if the conversation gets past the beginner stages (much less a Mt. Hood black diamond slope or class 5 route up El Capitan), he’ll have to bow out. An approach to exercise in this manner usually leads to a lack of results and soon thereafter quitting.
The flip side of the coin is the dogmatic view of exercise. When people are overly dogmatic and mistake it as spreading their “passion”, it causes them to come off as unintelligent, obnoxious, intolerant, and it causes people to not take them seriously. If, however, a person will identify their own goals and become passionate about view their own exercise only, they will to be more focused. The type of workout they choose will be tailored to their goals and begin to define them as a person. This “hobby” of exercise will soon become less of pastime and more a way of life. People with this sort of attitude are known as someone with “follow through” and “dedication”.
The pros of an open mind are many and well known as most of us have been taught why we should have one by various people throughout our lives. An open mind leads to empathy and learning. The value of an open mind cannot be overstated but one has to learn how to filter and focus.
When dealing with exercise it is imperative to take stock of where you are now where you want be. Set clearly defined and measureable goals that you’ve actually thought about and came up with yourself. Read about different routines, strategies, and justification and see what appeals to you. Don’t be afraid to make a decision that will possibly alienate someone who thinks differently or is afraid to leave their comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to learn or think for yourself. After you’ve completed a few professionally written routines, take what you like them and make create your own Frankenstein. Don’t dismiss everything your teachers and trainers told you, but don’t think it’s authority beyond question either. Take what you “know” right now and experiment with it, mold it, and make it your own.