The Tao of Beachbody®

Saturday, January 08, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Denis Faye

Everyone loves that old Tony Horton chestnut, "Do your best and forget the rest." It's catchy and insightful, and it sticks in your brain like only a good mantra can. But here's something you might not know about this little bon mot. It's also part of a 2,500-year-old Asian philosophy (even older than Tony) that's prevalent in most things Beachbody.

Here's how the words were first written by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu: "When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you."

Granted, Lao-Tzu's words may not roll off the tongue like a good Tonyism, but they're every bit as profound, if not more so. His book, the Tao Te Ching (or, loosely translated, The Book of Way) is a cornerstone of Eastern philosophy that espouses balance and moderation in all things. Taoism has had a huge influence on our society, as it's informed the decisions of heads of state, rock stars, and, most importantly, Beachbody trainers.

Yes, you read that last line right. Admittedly, programs like P90X®, TurboFire® or INSANITY® paint a picture of our trainers as buff adrenaline junkies, pushing you to go harder, faster, and better. While there's an element of truth to that, it's just one side of the coin. P90X may torture your body with plyometrics, but it also soothes and heals it with yoga. Chalene's Fire Drills in TurboFire may drive your heart rate off the charts, but Stretch 40 balances that out, cools you down, and promotes recovery. It's all about balance.

"Live life now! Be the best person you can be right now. Follow your passion and be kind to yourself." —Debbie Siebers, Slim in 6® and Slim Series®

Taoism is tricky to describe, given the opening line of the book is, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." However, if you'll allow my interpretation, it's about patience, balance, and letting things happen as they happen. Sure, you want six-pack abs and you want them now, but if you're doing the work and doing it right, those abs are going to happen either way. Stressing and obsessing about them the whole time won't make them develop faster, but it can make the journey a lot less pleasant.

Debbie pretty much nails this outlook when she says, "Be the best person you can be right now." From the Tao Te Ching:

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

The truth is, you succeeded the moment you Pushed Play for the first time. You're exercising and eating right. That's all you can do, so just enjoy the process. That said, when you're dealing with Taoism, you need to remember that there are always two sides . . .

"Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That's how you break the plateau and reach the next level." —Chalene Johnson, ChaLEAN Extreme® and TurboFire®

As is the case with life in general, working out isn't all roses and peanut butter sandwiches. It can be really hard. Sometimes, you just don't want to do it, but it's important not to lose sight of why you're doing it.

The path into light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,
the direct path seems long,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true steadfastness seems changeable,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest art seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.
The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.

OK, now you're scratching your head. "What a minute," you sputter. "One minute you're telling me to enjoy the journey, and the next minute you're telling me to buck up because it's hard?"

That's correct. The trick is to look at the big picture. Sure, there are days when I just don't want to get off the couch. I don't want to work out. Working out bites! But then I remember how I'll feel after the workout. I remember that sense of completeness and health I'll feel and it carries me through the workout. It's still hard and I'm still uncomfortable, but I'm content in the knowledge that it's benefiting me. It's cool to allow the future to compel you, but don't let it overwhelm your appreciation of the now.

"Trade in the concept of staying motivated and replace it with commitment." —Jon Congdon, President, Beachbody

When I look forward to completing a workout, it's very different from being obsessed with my abs. I'm not living for the completion of my workout, but I find tranquility in what the future holds. I'm not going to try to get six-pack abs. I'm going to get six-pack abs. Similarly, I'm not going to try to work out. I'm going to work out. It's just going to happen. Accepting these not as possibilities but as truths removes a lot of pressure.

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.
If you want to accord with the Tao,
Just do your job, then let go.

But no matter how motivated you are, it's important to remember those last three words: Then let go.

"Intense training should only be done in short cycles. As good as it feels to keep pushing yourself to your limit, you have a breaking point." —Steve Edwards, Beachbody Director of Results

Sometimes we get so caught up in action that we forget the value of inaction. Always make time to recover. Muscles can only grow if they're given time to repair.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

However, you also need to know when it's time to start working again. Sometimes we can get a little carried away with that recovery. Sometimes we never get off the couch. Sometimes we screw up.

"If you miss a day . . . congratulations, you proved that you're human." —Carl Daikeler, Chairman/CEO, Beachbody

If you mess up, no problem. Own it and move on.

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

"Everyone at Beachbody started from scratch somewhere along the line. Look at us now." —Gillian Marloth Clark, Yoga Booty Ballet®

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

"The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet." Think about it and think about what Gillian said. The road to good health is wrought with fear and passion. It's too easy to let those consume you. That fear gets to you and you give up. The passion gets to you and you start making mistakes, training too hard, getting injured. Just choose a path, take a breath, follow the instructions and succeed. It's that simple. If you have problems, don't panic, don't veer off course. Just look to us for answers. "We've laid the groundwork for you," adds Gillian. "We reach out our hands to help. When we each reach a vista, it's a good idea to enjoy it, then root into it and help others on up too."

"Walk your talk." —Brett Hoebel, RevAbs®

With this motto, Brett echoes Tony—and they both echo Lao-Tzu, who said it millennia before them. The only way to reach your goals is to stop pondering them and go for it.

The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn't try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
He doesn't need others' approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.