Champion Wheelchair Bodybuilder Kyle Roberts Interview

Kyle Roberts is a champion wheelchair bodybuilder and a true inspiration! Brad Borland talks to Kyle about how he has overcome obstacles in the gym and out to develop his physique and become a natural champion wheelchair bodybuilder!
Kyle Roberts On StageTell me a little bit about yourself (background).

I am 23 years old 6′ 3″ and weigh 155-160 lbs in the offseason and come down to 150-152 lbs for a contest. I have been lifting for probably the last 11 years, and I have been involved with sports my whole life. In high school I played pretty much every sport there was, football, basketball, baseball, and track. I then went on to Louisiana State University (LSU) after graduation and had a roommate that was a two-time national powerlifting champion who recruited me to powerlift for school. I was doing about one year of training for the LSU powerlifting team when I became paralyzed from the waist down at 19 years old. That was April 8, 2004 and I was in Bay St. Louis, MS and I was at a fishing camp, leaned up against a railing, the railing collapsed I fell ten feet.

I was going through rehab and that is when I started lifting again. I came to Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) and met you, Carrie Addison, Tyson Hill, Myles Hannaman and everybody at the gym. It wasn’t until them that I actually started looking at bodybuilding and started training seriously for bodybuilding two years ago.
Could you go in to a little more detail about the extent of your injury?

I am what you call a T10 paraplegic, which would be from your bellybutton down.
What interested you in weight training itself/bodybuilding?

I have always enjoyed lifting weights. You get to see results, your body becomes bigger and stronger, people notice you more, it gives you a lot of self confidence, and it is a way to stay healthy, but for me personally it is a passion. Anything I’ve done I’ve always done 110%. I am glad I was always involved and became passionate about it. The way I saw people in wheelchairs was, you’re in a wheelchair and people are going to notice you so why not present yourself in a positive way. Some people are going to look at you in a wheelchair and think, “Can I help him?” Others will think, “Wow, he’s out there, he’s getting stuff done, he’s independent”. I want to present myself as independent, physically fit. I have always been a person who does not want sympathy. If I can give advice to any other paraplegics who need that inspiration – not only do it for you, but prove people wrong. If people think that you can’t do it, show them that you can, show them that you can better yourself. With bodybuilding I was able to take it a step further and be an inspiration for others. Be an inspiration for myself. If I can get on a decline bench without having any balance and strap myself in and lift weights, then hey, the possibilities are endless. It’s just one way also to ease the pain – its good therapy.

    My motivation in life is that I want to be a success story. I have always loved talking to people and I have always put myself out there to help other people and be a role model so people who get down can look at me and say that if he can do this if he goes through all the trouble and has to go through a lot of challenges and is a success then, why can’t I be?

It was definitely instrumental in your recovery and your motivation with the injury?

Definitely, and with doing wheelchair bodybuilding and getting out there on stage and competing against others in wheelchair, just being in front of an audience is a natural high. It’s just an adrenaline rush. You just do it for everybody, it’s great, it’s wonderful.
How did you get involved in competitive bodybuilding?

I have always been a competitive person. Seeing the people I was lifting with at SLU’s gym doing bodybuilding made me think why can’t I. And also do it the all natural way. Live by Mother Nature. All you need is hard work and dedication with those hard intensity training sessions and you get the exact same results as someone else who is doing something artificial to their body.

 How long have you been competing? Tell me about the shows you have done and your feelings towards them.

I have been competing since June 23, 07. That was the NPC greater Gulf States show, in Metarie, LA. It created an incentive for people to come and compete in a wheelchair contest by having the championships rather than just a wheelchair division. I competed in the novice division and crossed over into the open light weight division. I placed 1st in novice and 1st in light weight. I started training for that competition, in Oct. 2006 knowing that I would compete no matter what. Overall I probably started in Feb. Mar. ’05 training for body building. After that NPC show, I recently did WNSO FAME North America Championship in Miami, FL November 4, 2007. They had a physically challenged division and I took 1st.

 Where do you find motivation in the gym?

My motivation in the gym is to outwork the person who is an upright walker. Being in a wheelchair, my motivation is – can I adapt and overcome? can I create a routine, or an exercise to get the exact same results as someone who is not in a wheelchair and can do something a lot easier? My goal is to outwork everybody in the gym. There are a lot of people in there who are dedicated, but I just try to go one step further. My goal in the gym is technique. I have always believed in slow and controlled movements. If you’re going to lift and you want results, go with the lighter weight just to get the form down because you will build up to heavier weights latter.
What motivates you in life?

My motivation in life is that I want to be a success story. I have always loved talking to people and I have always put myself out there to help other people and be a role model so people who get down can look at me and say that if he can do this if he goes through all the trouble and has to go through a lot of challenges and is a success then, why can’t I be? Just to get through a day with everything I have to go through – that is my motivation. I want to motivate everybody, not just people in wheelchairs. I just take one day at a time.
How do you keep a positive attitude?

When I was in the rehab hospital I saw kids younger than me who were quadriplegics. They had brain damage. I could do a lot more than they could do, and in there mind they wished they were like me. I want to make sure I give “us” a good name. That really gives me a positive attitude. You just can’t take everything too seriously. You have to take life one day at a time and live it up.
How has bodybuilding changed you?

Natural Bodybuilding has definitely changed me for the better. It has made me more patient with life. With bodybuilding you just can’t work out one day and get results. You can’t work out for weeks and get results. You have to work out months, and months, and months and you get the results. You learn to be patient with things. With bodybuilding you learn to appreciate your health, other people in the gym who are competing because you know what they are going through; a diet, frustration, carb depletion, and water cutting. You can be there for them because you know what they are going through. You can give them that little bit of extra intensity. As you run into problems in your life down the road it helps you learn to cope.

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