I try to teach that true strength is vulnerability
Kevin’s struggles began in childhood and got worse following the loss of his father when he was in sixth grade. Not only was the loss a defining tragedy in Kevin’s life, but he was also intensely bullied by his peers.
I was picked on every day. I lived in a very blue-collar neighborhood. Imagine being the last one to tie your shoes in the neighborhood, and the last one to get training wheels off the bike. I stunk at every sport, and I would always get picked last for teams.
It wears on you.
Fortunately, Kevin’s uncle intervened. He pulled Kevin aside, encouraging him to take karate lessons and even helped pay for them. Kevin went on to earn his black belt. Fitness and strength became paramount to him.
Karate basically saved my life. I learned discipline, control, effort, etiquette. We had a weight room at the martial arts school, and that became love number two. I started weightlifting and my body responded to it.
During his childhood, Kevin never would have imagined a career in fitness. He went on to study exercise physiology in college, and later opened his own fitness company. For decades, he has coached elite fighters, military personnel, and first responders in fitness and martial arts.
While fitness always made Kevin feel strong, things changed in 2018 when his marriage with his college sweetheart ended and his two daughters moved out of the house.
It all changed in a blink of an eye: no home, no marriage, no relationship, no kids, and no positive outlook.
Kevin felt like everything came crashing down. And his fitness activities were not helping the way they had before.
Exercise was always my go-to. It was shocking to me because anytime I was stressed out, a workout made me feel better. But then it was like I was straining to get through a workout, straining to get through yoga. Instead of going along with the ride, it was like ‘When is this going to be over?’
Being in that depression, everything changes: your libido goes down, your appetite goes down, your sleep is disrupted. Everything was screwed up.
In the months that followed, Kevin attempted suicide. After his second attempt, he woke up in the hospital the morning of Christmas Eve.
I spent Christmas week as a patient at McLean Hospital. Everybody was very friendly—talking to me, always checking in with me. I went to workshops and had time to think. I decided to try ECT to help with my depression.
After my third treatment, it was like the sky opened up.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was the turning point in Kevin’s treatment. He believes people should be relentless in their approach to mental health, whether they utilize therapy, medication, or other approaches.
You need to try different things. Don’t accept that ‘this didn’t work,’ or ‘that didn’t work.’ Keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
Now Kevin is on a mission to educate the public about mental health. He has noticed that men, especially, struggle to tap into their feelings.
Men are taught in America and in other cultures not to have feelings. I try to teach young guys and even older guys that true strength is vulnerability.
When he trains clients in the gym, online, in their homes, and at their workplaces, he talks with them about emotional health and his experiences.
Kevin wants everyone to know that mental health is important, and that people should put their own well-being first.
In addition to his coaching work, Kevin has written two books on mental health and often gives presentations on the topic.
I want people who are struggling to know that at the end of the day, you must forgive yourself first. You’re not alone. You matter. There’s help out there. Ask. There is light in the tunnel!