Kyle Fields is a “shaman meets meathead.”
The onetime law student and college football player discovered strength training early in life and later jumped at the chance to make a career out of it. After years of perfecting his individualized training methods, he co-founded The Fort, New York City’s first group strength training club.
Here, Fields explains why pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is the key to lasting change:
Live The Process: How did your background in strength training help your game as a college football player?
Kyle Fields: I began strength training at 12 years old and, for the three to four years after that, it was more about learning how to move an external load safely and efficiently. Because I had a good knowledge base, I was able to dramatically increase my strength and durability, which served me well in high school and college.
LTP: When did you realize strength training would become your professional path, and how did that lead to The Fort?
KF: I didn't take it seriously as a profession until I visited New York and discovered that there was such a huge demand for quality training. At the time, I was a third-year law student and many NYC trainers were billing a higher hourly rate than I would have charged for legal services. When I asked myself how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, the answer was clear: training people to be strong over defending them against lawsuits.
The Fort came about when I felt I had reached a level of competence that allowed me to set the parameters to produce better and more affordable outcomes than the status quo.
LTP: Has your legal background informed your experience in the fitness world
KF: Pursuing training over the law was definitely a 180 from where I expected my life to go. I couldn't have been more relieved because I was secretly very stressed about committing to a career that was not very fulfilling personally or professionally.
I don't regret law school in the least. It taught me how to think critically and problem solve. It also gave me the confidence to believe I could accomplish anything I wanted if I was willing to take a risk and work hard.
LTP: Why does The Fort emphasize small group workouts? Do you have favorite gear that also improves a workout?
KF: We believe in small groups because that’s the way we best train ourselves. Generally, training alone does not provide a strong enough reason to push beyond your comfort zone. When someone else is suffering next to you and sharing your struggle, you don’t want to let them down. People work much harder for others than they would for themselves.
I love training equipment from brands that value quality over gimmicks. Some examples are Eleiko, Buy Me Brunch t-shirts, NoBull training shoes, Crossover Symmetry and Mobility WOD for rehabilitation and recovery.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
KF: For me, progress equals happiness. It isn't a destination, but rather a state of improvement. When I’m improving, I’m able to give more to my clients and loved ones. The more I give, the more fulfillment I get.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more every day?
KF: For me, it means avoiding comfort and complacency and embracing struggle and growth. People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year. Keep your head down; don’t worry about how far you’ve come or how far you have to go. Do one thing every day that makes you better. Take responsibility for it; make it a habit. You’ll be more open to change, take more action and be in a perpetual state of progress. And remember: progress equals happiness.