Putting the Pieces Together

Kai Greene brings his life's work to the stage
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FLEX: You often speak about the importance of visualization, yet I usually see you covered up in the gym. A lot of other bodybuilders like to see their muscles working in tank tops in the mirrors. What gives?

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KAI GREENE: When I was a teen working out in the gym in a tank top an older bodybuilder took me aside and told me to put my shirt back on. At first I think I took offense, because I felt he wasn’t thinking much of what he saw, which was a fledgling little bodybuilder. What I came to realize later from that experience is there’s a time to work and a time to admire, and the truth is it’s possible to mix up the appropriate time for either. When it’s time to admire and assess there’s a mindset for that. There are tools for that. For instance, I don’t walk around the gym in a Speedo. That’s a part of the unveiling come contest time. When I’m onstage in posing trunks I’m allowing my work to be assessed. Many times people will judge others without a hint as to what’s going on. At church when I was a kid the pastor said, “Please don’t be so quick to judge me because God isn’t finished with me yet.” He was talking about going through the process of maturation, the trials of life. Through those fires a better human being can be forged. Yet if you freeze-frame a person at any particular stage of that process it’s like considering an artist’s work after the first few brush strokes. What’s on the canvas in the beginning might differ markedly from the end product. But if you’re too quick to judge the beginning, the artist herself might give up before she is done, and no one will know. So sometimes you’ve got to play your cards close to your chest in an effort to keep your mind clear and focused, to keep control over your universe without becoming disheartened or derailed. And that’s why I cover up.

FLEX: I know you’re a fan of the self-help genre. Are you reading any good books right now?

KAI GREENE: I am, but I don’t want to advertise. I could name an author or an idea and people could run out and buy every book that person has ever written or every thing written on that subject. But they would’ve lost the message.

FLEX: What’s the message?

KAI GREENE: Self-development is everything. At the root of this experience (bodybuilding) is self-mastery. A lot of times people get caught up in how big their arms are or how much they can bench. But what it’s all about is controlling one’s thinking and focusing one’s concentration in the pursuit of a goal.

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