Stepping inside of New York’s famous Dogpound gym, you understand instantly how it has developed such a cult following. The music is right. The design is Insta-worthy. The trainers are smiling. Only ten minutes inside its doors and two people have already gone on record to say that founder Kirk Myers has changed their life.
One of them is Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson. “Our first workout together was like nothing else I had experience,” says Watson. “Kirk has built something more than a gym here. I can even put it into words. The improvements he made to my regime helped me win in my career.”
Since opening its Soho location two years ago, Dogpound has gained worldwide notoriety through its jacked training staff and its uber-famous clientele. Offering both personal training sessions and classes, it has become a fitness factory for New York’s glitterati. Last year when Victoria’s Secret did their flagship event in China, Myers was flown across the world to help the girls get runway ready.
But before Myers was helping athletes win medals, and helping models prepare for the runway, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure due to obesity. The fact is, Myers’s greatest transformation may just be his own, and the incredible experience has made him a better trainer for it.
The story is too incredible for anyone else to tell, so Myers explains in his own words explains how he went from lying in a hospital bed to one of the most sought after trainers in the world.
I was really unhealthy when I was growing up in Kansas City. I have always had an addictive personality and when I was at home I would eat an incredible amount of junk food. I became really overweight; through high school I weighed well over 300 pounds. When I was in college it continued, and I had almost no energy. I ended up in the hospital for almost two weeks, and there the doctors diagnosed me with congestive heart failure.
I took it as an opportunity to turn my life around. I started to study nutrition and fitness. I read every book and magazine on the subject that I could get my hands on. I tried every method and diet that I could find. I even took classes at my local gym. I started to lose weight pretty quickly. I could feel the difference after I got rid of 10 pounds, so I kept on pushing. The next thing I knew I had transformed my body, and dropped 80 pounds.
Friends started asking for fitness advice. They had seen the results that I had gotten for myself, and were willing to listen to me. I had always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, and teaching people in this way just felt right. I started doing it just for fun, but then I discovered how much I could really change people’s lives, doing what I had started to love myself.
That is when I knew I wanted to be a trainer. I started out with just a few clients, but people at the gym were seeing the transformations. There were a lot of unhealthy people in Kansas City that I was really able to help. I was helping a lot of women turn their lives around. Some of them were able to shed up to 100 pounds. Pretty quickly I had a few dozen clients and I started my own company. The business was doing really well and I started earning a good living in my mid-20s.
I started to party too much. My addictive personality came back to haunt me. Since I had lost the weight, and was starting to be really successful, girls were finally paying attention to me. I started going out. Most nights involved drinking and sometimes drugs. I was going down a bad path.
I lost everything because of that behavior. My body started to break down. I got sick and I ended up back in the hospital. I lost everything that I had worked so hard to build. I moved to Memphis to be with my sister, who took care of me during that period. Starting to feel better, I wanted a fresh start, and that meant I needed to go somewhere else.
I went to New York. My brother lived there and I wanted to build that relationship back. We had a falling out when I had gone through my rough patch. I only planned to stay there for about two months. I was doing yoga, and I got in a mental place where I just knew that I needed to stay. I was staying away from drinking and drugs. I started to look into training here in the city.
I started to see potential in doing my own thing in New York. I have never said I was the greatest trainer, but I am a dedicated worker. I have always been confident in that fact. I am confident in my ability to make an impact on someone’s life if they give me the chance. I knew if certain opportunities arose I could capitalize on it. My brother works in film and he had a few connections that he introduced me to. I started picking up clients here and there. The word got around.
I started training with Hugh Jackman. I had gained a few higher profile clients, and one of them was Tom Farley, who is the president of the New York Stock Exchange. He knew Hugh Jackman and his bodyguard and invited them to train with us. I put them all through the ringer. Hugh liked the workout so much he started calling me regularly and we started a weekly group. He brought his dog to the sessions, so we took the name Dogpound.
I decided to open Dogpound Gym. I had never imagined myself as a trainer who would own my own gym. But other gyms were kicking me out because they saw that I was building my own sort of collective. They were overly protective, and it became clear that if I was going to be the best trainer I could be, I needed my own space. One of my clients is Fabien Baron, and he designed the space to fit my aesthetic. Now my entire world is on this block. I live across the street.
Training with the Victoria’s Secret girls came organically. The first girl that I met was Jasmine Tookes who was brought in by a friend, and she enjoyed her session, so the word spread around. Now we have trained a bunch of the girls; Lais Ribeiro, Romee Strijd, and others. They liked the look of the place and they were enjoying training so they started posting on social media. That whole part started to take on its own life. I am proud that they want to, and I think it is a great message to share with young ladies, that being healthy is cool.
We are looking to open other Dogpound locations. I am looking to expand, but we don’t want to grow too fast. Right now we are considering Los Angeles, London, or a bigger space in New York. It will happen this year. I am looking forward to take it to more people.
Next up; here are 18 fitness tips from Joe Holder, trainer to some of the biggest names in streetwear.