Ad Ligtvoet, Certified Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer
(Kerkrade, the Netherlands)

As a Certified Massage Therapist, I meet a lot of people who are in some way engaged in sports activities. Most of them come to me after an injury for a faster recovery and/or to help them prepare the injured muscle for upcoming activity after a layoff. Before starting the therapy, I always take them through an intake consult, mostly dealing with questions such as: what activity were you doing when the injury occurred, how did the injury manifest itself, did you have a proper warm-up, what about your concentration, etc. I always work my questions up to the point of training duration and frequency. Since I also work on a part-time basis as a personal trainer (in my own well equipped gym), I try to convince potential trainees of the benefits of a proper resistance-exercise program and, when I do succeed, will thus have a new client.

One of those massage therapy clients injured herself while performing some aspect of an aerobic dance activity. I was able to convince her of the benefits of weight-resistance training, and she became a training client also.

We started the exercise program with a theoretical session explaining to her the principles of a proper exercise regimen. Within a few minutes she started to resist my explanation, and I realized that she first had to be taught the basic philosophic principles concerning theory, knowledge, reality, certainty, etc. What I basically did was use the principles of intensity, duration, and frequency as an example of how to think in essentials and what that entails. This required two 1-hour sessions, and she started to become curious.

I further explained to her that the main goal was to improve the functional ability of her body -- which means, essentially, to become more physically fit -- and that the only way to do so was by making the muscles stronger and thus bigger. Her immediate response was that she absolutely did not want to look like a "bodybuilder". I explained the relationship between functional ability and muscle-strength/mass, as well as, the difference between looking muscular as opposed to looking like a very genetically gifted female bodybuilder. After hearing this, my client was no longer afraid to gain a few pounds of muscle mass, and her understanding of this was necessary for motivational reasons.

The beginning of the actual workout program was confined to four weeks of instruction solely on how to do the exercises correctly in order to become accustomed to the sensations, which are the results of an intense workout. Within a few weeks she had made good, but not spectacular, progress. What was very impressive about her, however, was that she was highly motivated. The reason for this was, as she told me, her sense of certainty, of knowing what she was doing and why. After one of the last workouts, she told me that she was very pleased with the results and that she now was also much more confident in making important decisions in her life and in not letting other people decide what she should do.

After hearing those words, I was astonished. I started to think about the issue and came to the conclusion that she actually applied the principles of Heroic Independent Thinking (H.I.T.). Some may claim that "heroic" is not the correct term, but I think that if we accept that there are grades of heroism, it is correct. She made the choice to use reason in her decision-making and to do high-intensity workouts, and thereby changed her life for the better. She did so in the face of resistance, not only from her friends and parents, but also as a result of inner conflict. She accepted the fact that failure was possible - but not probable. She made the decision to rely on her mind, no matter what. To me, this is the proof that she used her mind in a heroic way.

In my opinion she may also be called an Olympian. I do not intend to refer to the competitors of the Mr./Ms. Olympia contests, but to the persons who have a character similar to that of the people who lived in ancient Greece. They upheld the principle of a healthy mind in a healthy body, and one of the ways in which they expressed this principle was by competing in the games of Olympia. In general, we can say that winning as such was not what the Grecians admired, but rather that the competitors aspired to excellence. They knew that to do so was only possible by using their mind, that the mind leads and actions follow, and that therefore, the mind is the master of life. As we know, their attitude was not restricted to sports activities only but to all aspects of human life. And this is the reason why I believe that my client became an Olympian: by using Heroic Independent Thinking. She used, and must continue to use, her rational mind to conduct her life and determine her future.

After I reached these conclusions on that day, I realized that what I had accomplished with her was what Mike Mentzer achieved with his clients over the span of many years, namely, to teach people a proper method of thinking by using the principles of an exercise program as a model of how to apply that method, and then encouraging the client to use it in all other aspects his life. Because I had studied the philosophy of Objectivism for only three years at that time and had not yet fully applied these principles in my own life, all I had sought to do was teach my clients proper exercise principles. Therefore, I was astonished that I could teach someone the principles of Objectivism, motivate that person to use them, and thereby change that person's life. That I was able to do so was the result of a process of mental growth that I attribute to Mike's teaching.

However, to achieve this growth was not easy, and therefore, I can say that I admire Mike Mentzer very much, realizing what he accomplished, day in, and day out. He has changed the lives of many - undoubtedly thousands - of people by introducing them to philosophy through the science of bodybuilding, by making them realize that without the proper philosophy, they cannot control their thoughts and thus their actions, and by being an example of a person who lives in accordance with reason. In fact I can say that Mike Mentzer was one of those rare individuals who used Heroic Independent Thinking to become a real, true-to-life Olympian. He was heroic because he faced so much opposition, but he always held the truth as his greatest value. He also reached the upper limit of physical perfection and should have won the title of Mr. Olympia but, as I've said, having a perfect body is only a part of what I call an Olympian. The more impressive fact is that he accomplished it to reach the state of a healthy mind. Mike was an Olympian because his mind was in shape too.

One of the most well known symbols of ancient Greece is the fire of Olympia, and it is the symbol of the greatness of the human mind. I see Mike Mentzer as the person who deserved to hold this fire high, because he was also one of the persons that kept it burning. He knew this and was very proud of it. One of Mike Mentzer's quotes, favored by his successor, Joanne Sharkey, was: "I had the torch held high and all the others continued to crawl backwards, away from the light into the darkness". Well, it is also a fact that only a spark is needed to fill the darkness with light and that to see it, all one has to do is to open one's eyes. Let those who have had their eyes opened proudly keep this light shining and open the eyes of "those powerless victims of mass movements" who still live in the darkness. If one has the power, one can eventually lead them to the source of this light and, at the end of the road, be wise enough to carry the torch oneself.

As I said, it was through bodybuilding that Mike Mentzer showed us the value of a rational philosophy, and he encouraged us to study it thoroughly so that we could apply its principles to every aspect of our existence, Mike himself being an example of what it means to live in accordance with reason. This is why he deserves the respect he gets now from so many people. By applying the principles of H.I.T., we can become that which we were aiming for when we began to work out in the first place: namely, a "Greek God" -- an Olympian -- ready for that arena called Human Life!

Ad Ligtvoet
Certified Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer
Kerkrade, the Netherlands

Home Welcome Articles Tips Books Catalog

© 2009 Mentzer-Sharkey Enterprises, Inc. Site by FX Media, Inc.