“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” – Bruce Lee
This is one of Bruce Lee’s most famous quotes. What does it mean? Be flexible, make adjustments, try different approaches, be fluid, be open to change. When it comes to health and fitness, people often pigeon-hole themselves by trying to follow strict diets and workout programs. And what happens when they’re too tired to train that day or didn’t prepare that particular meal? They feel like a failure and sometimes get derailed. Why? The programs weren’t built with flexibility. They’re built to be followed; On Monday you eat A, B, C and do Routine #1 in a specific sequence. I don’t know about you, but my days are not always the same. My energy isn’t always 100%. And to expect that is pure folly.
Bruce Lee hoped to free his students “from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds.” There’s something comforting in following a pre-set program that others have done. However, it’s limiting because it’s not tailored to you. Let me give an example. I have had clients ask me to instruct the proper use of workout machines. After trying different seat positions, grips, and foot placements sometimes it still wouldn’t work. The answer is that the machines, even with all of the adjustments, aren’t designed to fit everyone. My frustrated client learned that she just didn’t fit. And that’s okay. The machine should conform to you and NOT the other way around.
Health and fitness is about being intuitive and instinctive. How does your body work? What feels good? Do you have the flexibility to do an alternative exercise when the lat pulldown machine is being used? Are you happy doing yard work on a sunny day in place of “going to the gym”? As Bruce Lee says “When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.” I absolutely agree. To learn more of the science and philosophy by one of the greatest martial arts practitioners, read Tao of Jeet Kune Do.