Adam Kirby is a man with the heart and physique of a true bodybuilder! He has persevered through some real hard times this past year and has been able to survive a dangerously high fever, coma, and extreme sickness, which made him rapidly lose a huge amount of weight, most of which was hard-earned muscle mass.
Most of us know Adam from the very informative "Getting Cut With Glass" Video series in which Charles Glass trains Adam on camera with host and narrator Bob Cicherillo. Adam was put through skilled and intense workouts by a real trainer of champs, Charles Glass in Gold's Gym, Venice, California.
Adam's Contest History:
- Antigua & Barbuda Nationals 2002 - 2nd place Novice Lightweight
- Pacific USA All Naturals 2006 - 3rd Place Novice Middleweight
- Excalibur Championships 2006 - 8th place Novice Middleweight
- Mr. Venice Beach 2007 - 6th place Novice Middleweight
My name is Adam Kirby and I come from the eastern Caribbean island of Antigua.
I moved here to California over four and half years ago for (the following) two reasons. The first reason was to care for my brother Adrian, who moved here from Florida to look for work as a graphic designer. He is a quadriplegic from the chest down from a surfing accident on December 26th, 1993.
The second reason I wanted to come here was to learn everything I could about training and bodybuilding, and return home to the Caribbean to be the best trainer in the region.
Personal Training Articles:
In order to be the best, I had to seek the best so I sought out none other than Charles Glass. I asked if I could apprentice under him and he agreed; therefore, I have been working with him ever since.
Through the years I have worked with him, where I have had the privilege of training some of the best athletes and bodybuilders in the world. I learned more than I ever could have imagined about bodybuilding. I was always interested in bodybuilding since I was a kid, but my dad would tell me that if you bodybuild and stop all that muscle turns to fat. He told me that all my life, so I never got started when I was younger.
I was into every sport you could imagine. I did everything but high jump; I could not jump very high. I eventually started training as a Triathlete when I was 14; by the age of 15 I competed in the world championships to represent my country of Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda is our Sister Island.
The training conditions were miserable, bad roads, and bad equipment, as a 15 year old I just wanted to have fun, so I took up competitive windsurfing. I competed locally and partied locally too. We didn't do drugs, we as Caribbean people just love our rum; therefore I got out of shape.
I did some form of exercise but not consistently, not until I was asked to train for the 2000 Olympics in Australia as a Triathlete. I started training straight away and within 3 months I was doing a mile swim in 17 minutes in very rough water while being beached 3 times by the waves. I could bike ride the 27 miles under 1 hour but my run was suffering - I had injured my knee somewhere along the line.
I was not able to finish the run all the time and my Olympic dreams were cut short, which made me very upset. I went from the Olympic office straight to the gym; my friend Steve always wanted me to be a bodybuilder. I asked him when the next show was he gave me a big smile, and said 6 months, which was the nationals of Antigua; I said lets do it. I came 2nd in the novice class, and from then on I was hooked.
Through the time training with Charles I met my friend and training partner (for two years now) Jerome Ferguson. We work well together, Jerome is a great competitor, but more than that, he is a great person, and he gives his fan base, or as he says it, his "friend base" a lot back, he loves them, and really appreciates every one of them and gives them his time, no matter if he's in the middle of a training session or not.
I have managed to bring my physique from a 149 lb Triathlete to my heaviest 208 lbs, but my 208 lbs was also with 19-20% body fat. Not something I liked at all.
That was before I got to Cali. And before I got to Cali, my bodybuilding and dieting was made up of bad advice and hard training. The bad advice was regarding my diet. I read all the magazine articles and stuff like that.
At one time I was eating 10 solid meals a day, big meals, and drinking 1/2 a gallon of milk a day. Needless to say, I wasn't moving fast anymore, and I didn't like that. So when I came to Cali I studied, listened, and experimented with my diet.
I started to compete in Natural shows out here in Cali; my first show I came 3rd. I was still unsatisfied with my body though. I never wanted to be huge, I always wanted to be very lean and strong. I was always pretty strong naturally; I get that from my dad.
By Summer 2007 I was 185 lbs and about 7% body fat. I was finally looking and feeling like I dreamed I would. I worked my @ss off to get there. No cutting corners, I trained hard, I ate clean all the time, and I got enough sleep. No partying, no drinking, nothing. And I like that discipline. I was even planning to take a trip home for that Christmas.
Dedication, Consistancy & Focus Articles:
In March of 2007, my brother Adrian under went a surgical procedure to rebuild him a new bladder. His old bladder had just been beaten up over the years of having an indwelling catheter all the time, so they built him a new one out of his intestines. This was a pretty extensive surgery that knocked him for 6. He wasn't really fully recovering from it and some complications had come up.
September 9th, 2007 - I tried out for the American Gladiator series. The next day, Monday, I came down with a headache and fever. I didn't think anything of it, it was right on time, and I usually get the flu once every 4-5 years. So I was due for one... I thought. However my fever was 103.8, and with Tylenol it only went down to 101, so I had a feeling that something might be wrong, and then I thought, it's ok, it will go.
I have had a fever before for 6 days, and I never went to the doctor and I was fine. I can beat this; I will just do my usual of loading up on vitamins, food and water. I never missed a meal. Tuesday was the same.
I woke up Wednesday morning and the fever was really kicking my @ss. I got out of bed, went to check on my brother who hadn't been feeling well from the night before. He was in bed also in a heavy sweat. But he wasn't sick, his intestines had become completely blocked, and his stomach was really distended.
I called 911 right away, the ambulance came, and the paramedics came into my house and asked which one of us was the sick one, because I was looking worse than my brother. They decided to take both of us in together. I didn't want to leave my dog alone, but I thought, it's ok, they will check me out and send me home with the flu or something.
So off we went to UCLA Medical Center. My brother was admitted for emergency surgery. I was sent home with what they thought was viral meningitis. The deadly one is bacterial. They gave me Tylenol and sent me home. I do not remember very much after that. I remember hearing that my brother's surgery went well, but I was too weak to go and visit him. I couldn't move, I wasn't getting any better, and I was getting worse, the last straw for me was when I couldn't eat anymore.
The rest I was told, as I can't remember...
That Sunday I called a friend to ask her to take me back in to the hospital. Soon after I got to the hospital, I coded, I could no longer breathe on my own and I was placed on a ventilator. By that night my body was going into shock and slowly shutting down, my kidneys stopped working, then my liver stopped working, my hearts output was at 35%.
I was dying.
The doctors didn't know what was wrong with me apart from my pneumonia, and told my brother who was still upstairs recovering to call the family and prepare for the worst. "Your bother is as sick as you can get and we don't know if he will live." My Father flew out right away.
I was now being kept alive by drugs and machines. How could I be so fit and healthy a week before and now I am in a coma? These are the kind of questions that will come. I was told I fought hard. I wasn't ready to die.
By Monday morning my system was shut down, nothing was working. My doctors were not optimistic at that point. They said it's just a waiting game; we have done all that we can do; now it's up to him.
By early Tuesday morning my body started to respond a little, my blood work was starting to show improvement in my kidney function. Then I started to pee again. I was still in a medicated coma.
By the time my Dad arrived that Friday, the doctors told him that I will make a full recovery, everything seems to be working again, and there will be no long lasting effects on my heart or brain. Everything will recover.
The only thing that they could say that I had for sure was pneumonia. All the other tests that they ran came back negative, they tested me for every virus, every bacteria and fungal infection known to man. They found nothing; it was a mystery that a young healthy person could become so sick - pneumonia, usually only immune suppressed, older people and children get that. Not a healthy young man. They kept running tests and nothing.
I awoke a week and a half later, totally in shock, shaken up and scared out my mind. I had also suffered from really bad nightmares when I was under, I would later find out that I was experiencing ICU psychosis, apparently a common side effect of all the drugs. I really thought I was somewhere else, another hospital in a redneck town in the middle of nowhere, and people where dying all around me, and a man came into the hospital and started shooting everybody, and I couldn't move.
I really thought I was experiencing this. I thought I heard the doctors tell my dad that I was going to die, and then I thought my dad jumped to his death. So when I woke up I was super scared, I didn't ask where I was, how I got there. What happened? Nothing. And when my dad walked into my room, I freaked out. I thought he was dead.
I was a wreck. I thought I had some disease, and I was gonna die, but I was too scared to ask anyone. I didn't know what was going on. I think that was the hardest part of the whole thing for me, the nightmares that I thought were true, even when I woke up. I was in full recovery my dad said. "The doctors say your gonna be fine." I didn't believe him; I thought he was lying to make me feel better. So I just kept quiet. Eventually I became more aware, and I was taken off most of the drugs.
The doctors were on their rounds every morning, and they would keep questioning me, where have you been? Have you traveled anywhere? Have you been around any farm animals? Do you have rats in your house?
They were lost, they were trying to find some mysterious virus or bug that I may have caught somewhere, but nothing, everything kept coming back negative. You are a mystery case they said. I was even more scared now. What if it comes back? What if it happens again? They never came up with anything. And that is where my recovery began.
In two weeks, my body went from a 185 lb lean mean sexy machine... (LOL!) ... to a 150 lb frail broken body that resembled a cancer patient or an AIDS patient.
I was in shock of the person staring back at me in the mirror. I couldn't walk or anything, everything I had worked for had been stripped from me in two short weeks. By the way, I didn't remember 3/4 of my time there, so to me, it's like I went to sleep fit, and woke up in someone else's body. But it wasn't a bad dream, it was true, this is my body now.
I was no longer strong. I got out of the hospital October 1st, 2007. I walked out of the hospital... barely. My Dad was holding me up a little. I looked around, and realized for the first time where I was. I wasn't in some mysterious hospital in the middle of nowhere, I was in UCLA Westwood, about 20 minutes from my house. I still couldn't ask what happened. Every time my brother or my Dad started talking about it I would stop them straight away.
I got out the van at my house and could barely make it up the 2 small stairs at the front of my stairs. I walked into my room, and saw my pictures and posters I had up on my wall still, and it hit me again, as I looked in my mirror, this happened, this is real; this is not a bad dream.
I went out into the front room to check my email. We have wooden chairs around the dining table. I pulled my laptop out and sat down, Ouch, I was soo skinny, I had lost soo much weight that it hurt to sit on those wooden chairs because of my bones were poking through.
I had to grab a pillow to sit on. I got up to get a drink of water out of the fridge, I got to the fridge, kneeled down to grab the water, and I fell, I didn't have the strength to squat down anymore. I didn't have the strength to stand and shave anymore.
I tried to go for a walk that day, I was determined to build back as soon as I can, this is my new training session, and I was going to walk around the block I said.
I got to the end of the street and turned around. I came back in the house and collapsed on the couch. Rested for a little while then tried to go into my room to do some pushups, all I felt was my tendons, I had no muscle left, my tendons were doing most of the work. I managed to push out 10 push-ups, and no blood was going into my muscle, no pump? I thought, oh no, I'm f#%*ed up.
My appetite was beyond normal, it was crazy. I ate and ate and ate, and when I finished eating, I ate some more. I couldn't stop eating, I would eat every 3 hours, but I would sometimes eat for two hours straight, then I would be hungry an hour later, and super thirsty.
I put on only 5 lbs in the first week. Considering the amount I was eating, I thought I would have gained faster. I jumped on my scale every day, morning and night. Disappointed every time. I had no guidance - went online, searched for answers and nothing. Would I recover? Would I ever get my muscles back? Would I ever get my strength back? Will it be the same?
My Dad was only able to stay 2 weeks after I got out, and then I would be on my own looking after my brother. I would have to cook, go shopping, clean, and walk the dog. I couldn't sleep anyway at all for 3 weeks after I got out, so I stayed up all night worrying and thinking. How am I gonna get strong enough in a week and a half in order for me to take care of everything, I was overwhelmed.
I was getting a little stronger day by day, but by stronger I mean, I was able to walk around the block, and try and go to the supermarket with my dad, I didn't even have the strength to push the cart. I wore baggy clothes, long sleeve, a hat, and dark sunglasses.
I was embarrassed in how I looked, I thought everybody was staring at me, I saw someone I knew in the market one day and I hid, I couldn't let anyone see me like this, I didn't know what to tell them, every time I tried to talk, I would break down in tears.
I however called my friend Chris Cormier, who went through a similar experience the year before. He couldn't believe this happened to me, he came over right away and sat with me, and we compared stories. It was hard for me to see anyone, even Jerome wanted to come and see me, and I said not yet give me a couple of weeks, he understood. I took no photos or anything. I didn't want this to exist - if I didn't acknowledge it, maybe it will go away, like it never happened.
I walked everyday, and everyday I would get stronger and fitter. I started doing lunges in my front yard the week I got out. I went to buy some dumbbells from the sport shop. I went there thinking I could buy some 50 lb or at least 35 lbs dumbbells - I went in and tried to lift the 50 lbs, and it wouldn't move, I got scared, I went to lift the 35 lbs and I started to tear up. I left with 20 lbs, which felt like 100 lbs to me. My hands had lost weight too, it hurt to hold dumbbells - my bones in my hands had no more muscle protecting them.
I went home and did shoulder press, chest press on a ball, bicep curls, triceps kickbacks and skull crushers, pushups, abs, and side raises in a circuit. Then went and did lunges, this time I forced myself to use the 20 lbs dumbbells. My Dad and my brother thought I was doing too much, but to me it was a step towards normal, and I felt I was on a dead line. I still was not getting any pump at all, nothing, Nada.
By the time my dad left, which was less than two weeks after I got out, I had built my strength and endurance up enough for me to be able to drive, go shopping, and cook. And lift my brother from his bed to his chair, and visa-versa. When I did lift him though, my tendons in my bicep and elbow hurt. They hurt for a couple months until my muscles were strong enough to take the strain instead of my joints.
We moved house about 4-6 weeks after I got out, I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I did. I moved our whole house on my own in a week. It showed me that I was ready to go back in the gym and train.
So I went back... I started in the small gym in my apartment complex. I was still too frail to face Gold's Gym Venice. My strength in my legs were the fastest to return. My biceps were my last thing to come back; funny, considering that was one of my strongest body parts.
I did my best, but then my brother got sick again, and he had to go back into the hospital for another emergency surgery. He ended up on the same floor and ward I was in, same nurses and everything, none of them recognized me when I went back, until I told them who I was, They couldn't believe I could look like that.
I felt I was coming back, but I was very shaken up being on that floor, and in that hospital again, my brother was in there for over 3 weeks, and I was there with him everyday... I didn't train.
Before I got sick I wouldn't have missed a training session, but now I knew what it was like being in a hospital bed. So I just kept him company.
I hadn't dated anyone for a very long time at that point. Then I noticed one of his nurses, she had a nice smile and a nice bum, LOL! But I wasn't the type to pursue, especially at that point, and I was still beat up, mentally more than anything. But she asked for my number, and the rest is history. The running joke is, "At least something good came out the hospital, heh Adam?" Yeah yeah, very funny!
My brother recovered, and I got back to Gold's, with Jerome, and we have been training ever since. I am back up to 180 lbs, around 9-10% body fat.
I started running again, with no knee pain for the first time since my triathlon days, which has got me thinking about taking back up triathlons again, but never give up bodybuilding.
People always say - even when I filmed the "Getting cut with Glass series" with Charles Glass - "Hey he doesn't look like a bodybuilder, he's no bodybuilder, he has no business being called a bodybuilder." Blah blah blah. I would smile and ask, what is a bodybuilder to you? Only somebody that weighs 280 lbs?
A bodybuilder my friend is somebody that gets up everyday, eats his breakfast of 8 eggs whites, 1 cup of oats, 1 banana, some berries, takes his or her vitamins and supplements like glutamine and creatine, picks up his or her bag, goes to the gym and train their @ss off 6 days a week, (including legs) LOL! You know who I'm talking about!
After training, take a post recovery, and then continue eating every 3 hours no matter what, even if they in the middle of a movie theater take out the container and chow, even with people looking at you because they think you farted as you open the container of steamed broccoli. Even if you driving down the freeway, it's food time. It's bedtime, it's food time, and it's training time, and all the while dealing with the rest of your life too. Trust me, I don't care if you weigh a buck 0 five, as Jerome says. In my eyes, you are a bodybuilder!
The doctor never found out for sure what caused my illness, all they told me was that it was rare, and if I wasn't in the shape that I was in, I would have probably died - my heart and lungs were fit enough to take the onslaught of my illness. Being fit cannot only keep you from getting sick in the first place, but also if you do get really sick, your survival rate and recovery will be so much better. In other words, fitness can save your life!
How Does Adam Kirby Workout Now?
This is basically what Adam does right now. He does 30-45 minutes of cardio, 5 days a week after each training session, and on Wednesday he usually runs on the street.
Tuesday: Back And Biceps
Thursday: Chest And Tris
Friday: Hamstrings And Shoulders
Saturday And Sunday: Off
What Is Adam Kirby Up To Now?
Right now is like being in a catch 22, before I got sick I had quite a few clients, and we were able to afford a full time career for Adrian (my brother) but because I had no insurance, I now have a $300,000 dollar bill. Although I have few clients now, I have spent the past 7 months building my own health back up. But as we can't afford a full time caretaker anymore, I am limited on the time I would have to work. So I do what I can when I can.
My average day starts at 8am; I get my brother up, which takes roughly 2 hours to complete. I have breakfast as soon as I wake up. I walk my dog. Once my brother is up and ready, I go to the gym and train myself for roughly 1 1/2 - 2 hours depending on how much cardio I do that day. I have a post-workout shake, and then I eat lunch around 12:30-1:00.
I train a couple clients and eat again around 3:00. Usually every couple of days I have to run to the supermarket, go home; cook, clean, laundry etc., walk my dog; I eat again at 6:00pm. We cook dinner - we meaning, either my girlfriend or I will cook while the other cleans. A team effort around here. Haha! I eat again at 9:00. I usually get to bed at 1:00am. My last meal is at 12:00am, after I walk my dog again. That is a typical day for me at the moment.
I train people right now out of Gold's gym, Venice. I am certified by the PTA (Private Trainers Association). I am also the director of the Caribbean region for that same company. So when I make my way home I will be teaching and certifying people there, based out of Antigua. I am also working on opening my own gym there.
I would love to promote Antigua and the business I plan to open there. I will be catering to tourists also. I plan to be the Charles Glass of the Caribbean. I should be heading home in October. Meanwhile if people want to train with me while I'm still here, or if anybody has any questions regarding building back up physically and mentally, I would be happy to offer advice and support.
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Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #53 - 3/20/2007
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Thank You Adam Kirby
I have been a writer and fitness professional for nearly twelve years and this has to be one of the most unique interview experiences I have had the privilege of being a part of. I really did not have to say or write too much this time, only keep quiet and listened.
Adam's comeback story has really reinforced my belief that we should all lead a healthy life by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and getting plenty of rest. Adam thank you for your time and the best of luck to you and your brother!