Today we speak with Kyle Maynard. Kyle is an American speaker, author and mixed martial arts athlete, known for overcoming physical challenge and becoming the first quadruple amputee to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics. He is also founder of the No Excuses Crossfit gym.
“Everybody has bad days…I think it’s important to remember that each day is a new day… tomorrow is going to be different in that nothing stays the same, nothing stays permanent as it is, and our lives, the universe, everything’s kind of constantly evolving into something and changing and growing and adapting. I think it was Darwin said that like, you know, it’s not the species that are the strongest or the smartest that live, but it’s the ones that are the most capable of adapting”.– Kyle Maynard
June 9. Hey, how are you? It’s New Jersey and we’re like almost reopening here. So this is a really cool day. And I hear birds chirping in the background and I think this conversation today is going to kind of blow your mind. I thought it was important to bring this guest on because he’s got an incredible story. And I think at a time like this, we all need to keep hearing things that, um, That are just incredible to, to aspire to. Um, so Kyle Maynard is here and he is, um, how do you even begin a really super accomplished athlete? Um, from what I’ve read about you, MMA fighter, you are working to accomplish wrestler. You have climbed Kilimanjaro, you have climbed, I think one of the highest peaks in Latin America. Um, you know, you kind of do it all. You put everybody’s fitness resume to shame. So if you’re watching this and saying, well, yeah, athlete. Yeah. I’ve heard that story before and that’s that’s great. Kyle was not exactly like you and me. Ah, he’s a quadruple amputee. So let that sink in for a second. When I just listed all of the things that he’s done it more, um, and every day is a different challenge for him. And I think he’s done some incredible things and I’d love for him to share with all of you. Um, you know, how, how it is that he’s able to stay motivated despite challenge cause we all have experienced ridiculously crazy challenges in our own way, over the last couple of months. So welcome. Thanks for joining today.
Hey, thank you so much for having me. And yeah, I don’t know if it’s swinging the kettlebell or not and locked down, but that’s about as one does.
That’s amazing. So tell us a little bit about just your background, your story. Were you born with this condition or was it something you had to adapt to or just take us back?
Yeah, so I, um, I was born, uh, quite NPT as you mentioned.So, um, basically my arms end at the elbows and legs into the knees. And, um, it’s just, I think in a lot of ways, the fact that I was born this way and didn’t know any different than, um, is, is a huge, huge advantage. I think a lot of times, like it would probably just. Do you think about that a lot? You know, it’s like people, like I’ve got friends that had lost limbs in combat and whatnot and, um, yeah, it’s totally different.
So yeah, I think for me, you know, we’ve kind of only, only picked up a spinner fork one way and, um, kind of just done it that the whole way, my whole life.
That’s amazing. So what do you remember as sort of your first, um, I guess point of, you know, determination when you wanted to play sports, where did you start. And how did you get into fitness knowing that it was going to be a little bit of a rougher road for you?
Yeah, so in, um, when I was a kid, I remember, um, playing like street hockey and, um, you know, like wrestling with my dad. Um, and that, uh, was, you know, it was probably four or five years old and just like out playing with my goalie stick and my friends and, um, You know, in the, in the, in the, in the street and the yard and just, I think that was, um, a huge aspect. I mean, there’s different chapters. I mean, I remember playing basketball with my like Fisher price basketball, who, you know, in my room watching the Atlanta Hawks play and, you know, wanting to be that, I mean, it was probably not going to be in the cards for me to be a basketball player. So, um, the first real sport that I played was football and, um, played nose guard and, you know, the running backs. They would, uh, you know, come at me and I’d take my helmet and try to smash it into their legs as hard as I could to bring them down. And, um, you know, that’s that progressed into wrestling. And then from the wrestling into Jitsu, from jujitsu into, um, MMA, uh, mountaineering, as you mentioned, climbing Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua, and started here a little stone mountain, 900 foot peak, um, in, in Atlanta, Georgia, where I grew up and where I’m at now, so that, um, you know, it’s kind of just had different, different chapters along the way, and I’m really, I’m excited for whatever’s going to happen next.
No, I suppose on and when you wanted to climb a mountain, I guess, but he says you take the first step, but you know, most people I know get winded going up the stairs. When you have to think about something like that, you know, climatizing and getting the fitness, right. I mean, where did you start for a goal like that? Because I think a lot of us have different levels of goals we want to achieve, but I think the story is always the same, you know, you have to start somewhere, but I mean, knowing that this was going to be incredibly difficult. Um, how did you even start the plan? Something like that.
I know that climbing something is bodacious as Kilimanjaro. That was, um, basically I started with a bath towels wrapped around my arms and my feet and use that to go and bear crawl up. Um, so, um, you know, lucky enough to have friends that would sit and, you know, Like tape on bath towels and, uh, things to, you know, do my, my arms and my feet and kind of help create some makeshift shoes to be able to go up. So that’s when I first started on stone stone mountain and then, you know, used, um, oven mitts and potholders and all kinds of stuff and ended up, you know, eventually using like, um, you know, rubber bike tires and, you know, um, kind of cutting those up into, cross sections, duct, taking those on and, um, using that to, to cruise, eventually some amazing people came in and made like a prototype for me that was really, really helpful.
And it was a, uh, a custom carbon fiber shoe and, and that, um, You know, I had basically like a, like I have shoe kind of material, like a vibrant five fingers shoe on the outside, and then had, um, like a carbon fiber socket that I would stick my arm into and then all attached to a, um, a climbing harness. And so use that to go in, um, cruise up the mountains and, you know, without, without that gear, then there’s absolutely no way that I wouldn’t be able to make it. You know, if I was still trying to use bath towels, then I’d probably still be there.
I can understand that. And that’s, I’m pleased here. I guess that how incredibly important support is. People that you love and people that believe in you and being able to adapt, which I think is the lesson. We’ve all had to learn. We learn, um, during the time of lockdown and quarantine. And I know that you’re a motivational speaker. Um, are you, let’s see when you have a bad day, we talked about this a little bit offline. Spiderman or Superman and you have a bad day, but you’re expected to kind of keep up because I, this relates to a lot of people going through this situation, a parent that are a working parent, especially that has, you know, is just drained. Um, I mean, people expect the best of you at all times. You know, you don’t have time to let that be seen. Um, you know, as someone who people look to for inspiration and motivation all the time, I mean, what happens? And what’s your advice for someone that, that isn’t that position, but has a bad day.
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s important to know that like everybody has bad days, you know, and that like, I, I’m no different too, and that, you know, this lockdown period has been, you know, kind of especially difficult for me as well, and, um, it’s been. You know, I, at the same time, I’ve been grateful for it too, in the sense that like has had me, you know, it gives me an opportunity to be able to have like a reset and I felt guilty for feeling good, grateful for it and in a lot of ways. So, um, you know, it’s, but everybody has bad days. I, you know, made jokes that were like, maybe not so like, uh, you know, they were actually accurate jokes about being a depressive motivational speaker and how that’s not a very good combination. Yeah. So, you know, it’s just, I think it’s important to remember that each day is a new day and you know, tomorrow it’s going to be. Different in that, you know, nothing, nothing stays the same, nothing stays permanent as it is and you know, our lives, the universe, everything’s kind of constantly evolving into something and, you know, changing and growing and adapting and, and that’s, that’s a big aspect of it. I think it was Darwin said that like, you know, it’s not the species that are like the strongest or the smartest that, that live, but it’s the ones that are the most capable of adapting.
I fully agree with you. I think if this has taught us anything, it’s just that we have to keep shifting. Um, and what I think you wrote a book called “No Excuses” and somebody just commented that they have your box. That’s awesome. I can’t stand when people complain and I am guilty of complaining myself, I can’t stand myself when I complaining, um, you know, cause I do believe everything is possible in some way. There’s always a way my Dad was like that he’s passed away, but he was like, there was never a no. There’s always a way, you know, there’s always a way to the front of the line. There’s always a way to achieve something. Um, so when you wrote the book, I mean, is that sort of, I guess how you live? I mean, I mean, I think you’ve proven it with things that you’ve done, but I mean, is that, is that something that you repeat yourself every day and try to share and spread?
Yeah, I think that’s a really important aspect of it because it’s like sometimes the way it’s not always obvious. Sometimes we got to go and figure out alternative ways to be able to go make things work and, you know, and that’s an important thing to consider because like, you know, My, I came from a family of engineers, my dad and my grandpa are both engineers. And so, um, that engineering mindset is all about like trying to solve a problem, trying to go and, um, you know, change, alter things to be able to grow and adapt into, into something new. And so for me, that engineering mindset, like I never inherited the math aspect of things. I actually like cracked open a math book during the uh COVID and, um, you know, it was. It was pretty wild, like, um, that, um, like I, I think that I probably probably could do it maybe, you know, if I really wanted to go down the road of like physics or something like that. Um, but you know, I don’t, I don’t really know if that’s the path for me. I think that my path is one of ’em, you know, I love being around people and, um, you know, engaging in life and in the world. And, um, You know, travel and adventures. I know you do it, both share that that passion is when you told me yesterday about like the heli skiing or hella hiking in New Zealand, and it was like amazing. It wasn’t before, but it is now.
So I haven’t worked out that you’ll do it. And so what are you doing now? I mean, like, I know that you’re on lockdown, but I mean, what do you, I know you opened a gym. Is that still something that you’re doing?
No. Um, Uh, sold the gym to, uh, to a friend who was running it for a few years. And, uh, he’s done an amazing job of, um, of, of keeping it together and keeping it going. Um, and, um, you know, I, I just, I’m grateful that it’s still there and I can go in and work out and spend some time at it. Um, but you know, in a way I felt guilty about the fact that I had, um, You know, just gotten rid of the gym and they’ve made it his problem effectively, you know, and that was a big, it was a big, big thing for sure. You know? Cause I don’t think that he would have stuck it out, had, um, you know, had this come around when, um, you know, when I was running it and for me, I was off running around doing other things. And so.
So, what do you love to do? Is it speaking is what’s your, you know, what’s the passion and the way forward.
I love literally everything. It’s hard to say. Like it’s, um, there’s a, you know, I think. I’ve really enjoyed the time being at home. I enjoy the time being close to family. Um, you know, I recently, I don’t know, I’ve been considering like going back to college too, as a, as an alternative, maybe doing some online classes and some, you know, the time to be able to go and travel. And so I, um, You know, basically with, uh, with this, you know, with the virus, it’s definitely made me like reassess everything kind of in my life and the direction I want to go and take it, um, going to college would, would be different. It wouldn’t be like something that I thought was in the cards, but, um, I love history. I love, um, you know, like chemistry, math, science, all kinds of different things, you know, um, like business love, um, cause that’d be around people and. Um, you know, just love being around, especially like people that are, you know, positive people that can go and withstand, you know, going through like, you know, difficult situations too. But I had an understand too. And on the other side, like, you know, there’s a lot of pain in the world right now. Um, and that’s just something that’s, it’s been on my mind too. It’s like, you know, man, like never before we’ve seen like how much. You know how much like pain there really is, and people that are willing to go and then sacrifice and, and, you know, and show their rage and their frustration and angst about that. And, um, I think everybody is now questioning and looking for that, like path forward, you know, what it is that we’re going to go in and do. And. No. I hope that this, um, you know, the, the, the American experiment itself will like withstand.
It’s been a, you know, it’s like you think one thing is, is sort of ending and then another begins and it’s just been this rolling roller coaster does more accurately describe it. So I agree. And I think even just for me personally, it’s definitely opened up some new pathways I didn’t see before. And you know, it’s been frustrating as hell, I think for everybody, um, you know, in their own way, But how is it just in you, I guess, because of everything that you just keep going, what’s your best advice for somebody who’s watching this and the saying, you know what? I just, I can’t stand this anymore. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, because it seems like you don’t have, I can’t. In your mindset, it doesn’t mean you have to work on, are you just born with it or working? You can’t, you know, I mean, I guess what’s your best piece of advice or what would you share something, you know, with somebody that helps you stay motivated? Despite despite challenges?
I think I draw that source from a lot of different things. Um, you know, kind of been. Like obsessive about trying to like, learn to go and train my mind, you know? And, and, and since I was a kid and, and to just be around other inspiring people that are looking to go and do the same, the same thing, you know, I think, um, I think that that’s, you know, in speaking about like America, I think that’s one of the biggest things that like our country has helped forge more than anything else. Not to say that there aren’t, you know, like immediately at the Olympics, for instance, you know, go way, way back. Like it’s an ancient thing to be able to compete and, you know, um, and fight for something. But I think that, like, that’s a big aspect of why I say like, you know, and somebody at every, you know, um, That just commented the American experiments with the ligature historian. I think that that’s, you know, it is like, it’s a really special thing for our, um, for our country to go in, like, is celebrates, is that attitude to like compete a drive and to push the envelope and go higher and further, you know? And, and, um, that’s. If that, to me, looks like, you know, going in and studying history to go and try to understand, you know, the past and where things or things went wrong or things went. Right. Um, you know, that could be an aspect of it too. There’s you know, but also like after, um, you know, you and I talked yesterday about like the, um, You know, like the, the adventure travel type stuff. I, I turned on some, um, you know, GoPro videos and watch that and saw just like how cool it is to, you know, to, to be out. You know, skiing and skydiving and, and you know, all that stuff to dive in, um, something I kinda miss as well. So yeah, I dunno if that helps answer that question,
But a great point is that, you know, I think a lot of us forgot that the world is still beautiful and the world is still out there and they didn’t exist, you know, yesterday, but it’s going to go away. Something’s going to happen. Something’s going to change. And. The most crystal blue waters are still the most crystal blue waters. You know, the mountains are still there, the snow still there. So I think, um, you know, it’s just being able to wrap our mindset around the fact that we actually should and can get out and see it again. So that’s, that’s my feeling on it. And do you have any more challenges, physical challenges that you’re working on or any, any other, uh, mountains to climb or basis to jump off of? Or are you working on anything at the moment?
Not so much working on anything in terms of like a specific project, but, you know, I’ve just literally, like I said, kind of been in the garage, doing my thing with the kettlebell and like make it up my own games and other play and trying to entertain myself there. So, um, you know, and, and. It’s been a it’s definitely, it’s just, it’s been a pretty wild experience and, and so many different fronts as I’m sure it has been for so many different people. So, you know, I’m sure everybody else’s is rarein to get back out and get back to work. And, you know, the, the lives that have been impacted by this lives have been lost. The jobs that have been lost, you know, it’s a tough time for sure, but I think this is probably the time more than ever, that we need to be able to, you know, Band together, I think is a big, you know, you know, it’s, um, there’s a saying that like, you do want to want to go fast, go alone. You want to go, you don’t want to go far go together. So, you know, I’m grateful that I’ve got some amazing people in my life that, um, You know, I can rely on with us. And I think that it’s, um, it’s definitely, um, you know, something that’s been on my mind. I felt like a moments of guilt, for sure, for like having a family that I have to be able to go and fall back on. And to be able to have the people in my life that, you know, that they care about me and other times, you know, like I in the last year or so, it’s definitely been some ups and downs and a rollercoaster is a good way to put it for sure. So, you know, I’ve definitely had that like time of like, feeling like guilt for like having the resources that I have and, you know, I’m grateful. You know, one of my friends taught me. He said like, you know, use everything to your advantage all the time.
It were true. Anything African learned, anything it’s, who we can rely on at these times. So it’s, it’s awesome. Where can people keep an eye on you? How can they follow you? This is what you’re up to next.
Um, I’m kind of around different places. Yeah. I’m not really like super big social media fan. Um, but like, you know, I kind of use it, use it a little bit, but like, I think I’m just kinda like around and people can, um, you know, I don’t know. I don’t really have a good answer to that,
That’s like the first time I’ve heard that answer in a very long time, pick up your book, put it that way.Amazon, hopefully Amazon, I think as long as it’s in stock, a little bookstore. That’s great. Well, thank you so much for chatting and I love your story and I’m just glad that we were able to amplify it a bit and share it with everybody.
Awesome. All right, stay safe. Okay, awesome, thank you!
Connect with Kyle at: https://www.kyle-maynard.com/