Kevin Kreider was adopted from South Korea into a German-Irish Family in Philadelphia. As a kid, Kevin was made to feel inferior for being skinny and Asian. As someone who grew up feeling out of place, he looked towards superheroes and comic books as my escape. His parents bought him a book called Willy the Wimp. He started imitating what Willy was doing to stop being bullied and realized that working out gave him the confidence to excel in life. Kevin graduated from Temple University in 2006 with my BS in Exercise Science and became an independent personal trainer at 12th Street Gym in Philadelphia. In 2010, he was signed by Ford Models and worked in New York, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, and London. Kevin graduated a 2-year acting conservatory, Maggie Flanigan Studio, in 2013. During this period he left his fitness career.
In December of 2014, Kevin lost all of my hair within a matter of weeks due to a condition called Alopecia Areata, a stress-induced hair loss. He then skateboarded from LA to NYC, giving himself time for self-reflection and hoping for a spiritual experience. Kevin ended up back in Philadelphia again, and he gave my fitness career a second round. He got his hair back and gained purpose. Kevin is now an IFPA pro in Men’s Physique, a Wilhelmina Model in NYC, and started a company called Pursue, in which he help others create a positive self-image of themselves through a healthy fitness lifestyle.
HealthGreatness: You started working out because you wanted to stop being bullied in school and then realized that working out gave you the confidence to excel in life. Could you tell us what how working out stopped your bullying problem and how it gave you confidence?
Kevin: Working out stopped my bullying because I started to get stronger and bigger. With strength, came muscle size and athleticism, and when my abs started to become visible I started to feel better about the way I looked. I knew exercise was working. Eventually, there were fewer comments on how lanky I was and observations on how aesthetic and compliments on my arms. I realized then that pure mass wasn’t the most important part of bodybuilding, fitness, and your physique. It was also the aesthetics and symmetry. I started to fill into my t-shirts, and my clothes were getting tighter. Instead of going a size up to hide my once skinny body, I wore tighter fitting clothes.
I started playing sports and the guys who were making fun of me when I was younger, were now looking up to me. I remember this guy requested that I not try out for the first base position because he said that it was the only chance he could play on the team. Lucky for him, I found playing first base boring.
If you want to look a certain way, you have to do work inside the gym and outside. It has to become a lifestyle. It taught me the same principles in the gym are the same outside the gym to succeed in life. But more important, the confidence came when people started to come to me for guidance with their transformation and goals. This takes trust on both ends and helped me realize I’m talented in what I do for others.
HealthGreatness: What made you decide to become a personal trainer?
Kevin: I always wanted to run my own business. My parents own their own business, and I wanted the same for myself. I had no interest in cars though, and they have their own car business called Manheim Imports. I chose personal training because the lifestyle was more appealing to me. I originally thought I was going to a professional body builder out of college with a personal training career, but I realized shortly after competing that it was not something I want to promote.
I wanted it because it was something I knew I was good at and enjoyed the helping others transform their lives into better. I saw how gratifying and how life-changing it was to change my own body, and how it helped build a positive self-image of myself, I knew I could do the same for others.
HealthGreatness: Only a few years ago, you were diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, what was that experience like and how did that lead you to skateboard across the country? What was that experience like?
Kevin: It was awful, and I don’t wish that on anyone. It’s not like I was having a receding hairline, nor was it a slow process of going bald. It’s so dramatic, and fast, that it was scary for me to run my hand through my hair, and every time, have a full hand of hair come out with it. It was scary when I was in the gym, about to head to a shoot for Men’s Fitness. I was able to pull a chunk of hair out of the left side of my head, which left a bald spot, and then have to try and forget about it and step foot on set to have photos taken. I had to do my first comb over. It was frightening having a final audition in front of a play writer you respected and have to turn the role down because you had no more hair when you auditioned with a head of hair. It was scary wondering when it was going to stop, if it ever was, and if it would ever grow back.
I was afraid to take a shower because I would have a mouthful of hair every time. Everyone told me “at least you don’t have cancer” which made the situation even more painful because I knew it wasn’t life threatening, but I felt like such a jerk that this could shake me up so much that it tore me apart. But it was life changing. I was a guy who was once obsessed with his hair, because I thought that having perfect hair was desirable. I grew up wanting my hair to look wavy like the blonde hair white guys you see on magazines in movies.
It hurt my ego, but I believed it made me more of down to earth kind of guy because I was so used to be the standard “attractive.” But more important, I was tired of trying to look the way other’s wanted me to look for approval. I started to simply my life more. I threw away everything I didn’t need. I started to see the life through a lens of someone who wasn’t the typical standard of attractive. I was always worried about how I looked and what others thought of me. This gave me the freedom to start doing things that I always wanted to do.
And that’s when I began to think about learning to skateboard. I always had a fear that I would hurt myself or look like an idiot in front of everyone because I was 30 at the time and just learning how to skateboard. I thought it was too late. Now I didn’t care. After one week of learning to skateboard, I thought it would be an experience of a lifetime to make a cross country trip like Forrest Gump a reality, but I hated running. I thought skateboarding would be more my style. I was looking for some time away to explore and reflect on what I wanted to do with my life and what I’ve been doing up until this point.
HealthGreatness: Since being back in the fitness scene, what is your work out routine like?
Kevin: Since being back on the fitness scene, my workout routine is much, much simpler than before. I don’t do super setting, drop setting, and all the other shock methods that I read about in the magazines in the past. I do compound movements, and end with some shaping exercises. I always aim to get stronger in those lifts. I avoid squats because my legs will easy dominate my physique and same with deadlifts.
I work out only 3 to 4 times a week and each session for less than an hour, as opposed to my old way of training 5-6 times a week and splitting each body part up. I now do a lot more ab training to get more depth in my abs. I realize that I was neglecting them and they never looked the way I wanted because I always believed and was told that you can have abs without the work. I listened to the belief that all you need to do is heavy compound lifting with squats and deadlifts. Well, now I don’t do deadlifting or squats and have the best shape of my life with minimal body fat all year round. Something I’ve never been able to do because I would then hover around 190-200 pounds of a much higher body fat percentage.
By training this way, I now have more energy because I’m allowing my central nervous system to recover as well as my muscles. I also have more time to focus on my business and other parts of my life that I enjoy. I also avoid cardio on treadmills or even bikes. If I feel like I need an extra calorie burner for the day, I’ll jump rope for up to 20 minutes. This is only on occasion. I still skateboard any chance I get. You will usually see my in NYC avoiding the subways and skateboarding to my location.
HealthGreatness: What does your diet consist of?
Kevin: My diet is flexible in which I call macro budgeting, with intermittent fasting. I will eat 2 large meals along with a snack in between those meals usually consisting of a greek yogurt or fruit within an 8-hour window, and fast for 16 hours including the hours that I sleep. I’m starting to cut back on red meat out and sticking towards chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurts, and fish for my protein sources. I eat white rice, oatmeal, double fiber bread, and pancakes as my source of carbohydrates. I take protein shakes and meal replacements only if I’m traveling or want the convenience of protein.
HealthGreatness: Do you have any advice for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle but doesn’t know where to start?
Kevin: I would say less is more, and consistently is key, but it’s all useless without focused effort. I see so many folks “lifting” weights without putting the intense focus and energy into the lifts, trying to get stronger each day. Don’t change it up so much. This muscle confusion has everyone confused! Stick to the same exercise routine for at least 12 weeks to get the best results. And remember, faster is not always better, be in it for the long run.
HealthGreatness: Do you have a motto you live by?
Kevin: “Be excellent to each other, ” and I believe that if you stop looking in the past, the road ahead is wide open.
HealthGreatness: What do you have planned next in your career?
Kevin: This next year consists of having all my content and information on getting buff and losing body fat online. My website www.pursuefit.com launched, but I want to build a space for an active community to share progress, achievements, and ask questions they may have regarding on improving their lifestyle and body. I plan to collaborate with YouTubers and podcasters. I also plan on doing my first webinar on intermittent fasting and weight training. I am also planning on buying my first home with a basement or garage gym to be able to train my clients, myself, and have private video workouts sent to any of the members who buy my online courses.