Q: Frank – you have a well balanced idea and philosophy about training and how it incorporates in your life. I commend you on that and have taken a leaf out of your book. I’ve noticed via forums, pictures and training that our generation (mid-80’s to mid-90’s babies). Place far too much emphasis on the physical than the spiritual or mental. Spend too much time in the gym, rather than libraries or near nature – meditating. What is your take on all this? To me, lifting traps impressionable young men rather than giving them the freedom they desire, if they aren’t mentally strong or sincere with their motivation.

Frank Yang: There are a lot of people who work out a lot but remains what you might call “meatheads”, there are also a plenty of people who train both their bodies and minds, there are people that read and study all day but have never set their foot in the gym, and then there are people who are uneducated and obese/or skinny. It’s hard to say which of these categories characterizes our generation, but the obesity rates that are going up can indicate that a fairly good amount of people don’t put any emphasize on the physical body. Maybe it’s because your own emphasize on the physical leads you to visit mostly training related forums that caused your somewhat biased perspective, because if you happen to be a physics major who visit science forums all day, you might end up with the conclusion that our generation is populated by 110 nerds who can’t tell the difference between a dumbell and a barbell…And then you have to take into consideration that there are also people who probably don’t have the luxury to sit around and visit and post on internet forums, and those people might just be the ones that are unfit both physically and mentally.

With that said, there is certain truths to the stereotypical “meatheads”/skinny, emo nerdy kinds of people. If you are a music or a PHD student who by the necessity of their career choices require 8 hours of research and practice a day, it is only natural that you might not place as much emphasize on the physical body because you simply do not have the time and energy to go hit the gym after a long day of research and practice. There are only so many hours in a day to accomplish your specific goals. You can’t be good at everything. If Einstein spent more time eating right and building a more muscular body, he might not have come up with the theory of relativity. And on the other hand, if Kobe Bryant tried to study philosophy during off-season instead of using that time to squeeze in a few more hours at the gym, he probably wouldn’t have won as many MVPs as he did.

In terms of “freedom”, that word will mean different things to different people. Lifting weight and staying fit is a sort of freedom that most gym goers desire. And to accomplish even moderately in the gym, a certain degree of mental motivation is a must. Maybe it’s a different type of mental motivation then let’s say, meditation 10 hours a day to become a monk, but it’s still a mental motivation nevertheless. And in terms of spiritual growth, I’m sure most people who lift will tell you that there’s nothing more beneficial to the spirit than feeling the “high” or the “pump” after a good workout, especially when you set PRs and know that you had pushed your body to the limit.