“What’s appealing about fighting? That’s easy – knocking people out!”
Big Back Grips User Profile Interview: Keith Kirkwood
Keith Kirkwood is one of the most interesting people we know. His successes are expansive, from (MMA) Mixed Martial Arts Champion to Los Angeles-based film/TV producer, with his company Bio Pic Entertainment (biopicent.com). Keith, who’s 27, is one of those guys who, we like to say, “works hard and fights hard.” He recently did a fight tour around the world and came back to California with the championship belt. He has several film/TV projects in the works, and is an avid – and excellent – chef. He has been working with Big Back Grips for more than a year, hitting the Mr. Olympia, Branch Warren and Los Angeles FitExpo with us, as well as many events at Muscle Beach Venice. You can see some of Keith Kirkwood’s workout videos on his BBG video page. And he has lots of fans both in LA and around the world, and we finally had a chance to just sit down and talk for a few minutes.
BBG: Keith, you have a very varied background. Can you fill us in a bit: some of the places you’ve lived, work you’ve done, people you’ve worked with. Your life story in a paragraph?
Keith Kirkwood: I am originally from South Boston and then lived in Europe for a few years. After getting into the fight business and making some money there, I invested in two professional basketball teams and the restoration of the famous “Webster Hall” Restaurant & Lounge. Now that I’m in LA, I’ve turned my attention to producing film/TV projects with my company Bio Pic Entertainment (Biopicent.com). We have some great films beginning production, including an Uma Thurman film, “Girl Soldier.” This is going to be a very exciting year.
BBG: You were a street fighter, MMA fighter. You’re not a huge guy, but a scrappy muscularity is easy to see. What is it you find appealing about being a fighter?
Keith Kirkwood: I’m not a huge guy but I’m not small either. I weigh 180Ibs., which I feel is the type of physique most people like, men and women. Being this weight allows me to be quick, but with still maintain one- punch knockout power. What’s appealing about fighting? That’s easy – knocking people out.
BBG: What are some of the highlights of your fight history. And, if you don’t mind, is there a lowlight as a fighter that was, say, instructional?
Keith Kirkwood: Highlights have been winning the MMA Grand Prix Championship. The lows are the mindset I get into before fights; you’re going into the match like you’re in jail and you’re fighting for your life. I don’t look at it like I’m fighting for money, but as if my life depends on winning.
BBG: Can you tell us about your most recent tour? Where did you go? Who did you fight, etc?
Keith Kirkwood: Yeah, I went to Europe to fight in a Grand Prix style fight format were you have to win in each fight to advance to the final round. If you win all your fights, you fight for belt which I did and won, with the Knockout resulting from elbows to my opponent’s face. I like to get on top of opponent and let my elbows fly.
BBG: Now you do a tough workout, but you don’t consider yourself a bodybuilder, correct?
Keith Kirkwood: Actually, I would consider myself a bodybuilder, the same as you would consider Floyd Mayweather Jr. a pro boxer even though he is not a heavyweight. Bodybuilding is a sport, not a weight class. I just had this discussion with a top Hollywood agency that represents me regarding a reality show I’m producing. Just because the subject is bodybuilding, it doesn’t mean you have to be 200lbs; it’s about building your body – exactly what the word says, whether you go from 130-150lbs or you’re a young lady who wants to tone her body. If you’re in the gym training hard 4- 6 days a week, you’re a bodybuilder.
BBG: Do you ever have the desire though, to really “Go Huge?”
Keith Kirkwood: Yeah, it fascinates me to see how you can transform the human body, that idea turns me on. I lift naturally, so I am extra proud when I see myself put up heavier and heavier weight, and see I have the lean mass I like.
BBG: We’ll be direct about this: one of the reasons, and there are many, we like working with you is because you are one of our most devoted users. What did you use on your hands before BBGs and why did you switch? What do they do for your workout?
Keith Kirkwood: I used bare hands before BBGs. I didn’t like feeling I was loosing grip strength with my hands; to meet the demands of training the rest of your body, you need a strong, solid grip on the bar. Straps, etc., are kind of a crutch and actually weaken your grip strength. BBGs bridge that gap – they hold the bar in place but still engage your forearms. Plus, they keep your hands nice and smooth – the ladies like smooth hands.
BBG: How would you compare them to weight lifting gloves?
Keith Kirkwood: There’s not much of a comparison with gloves. Gloves do keep hands smooth but they don’t give you the really solid grip you need.
BBG: Describe your workouts if you will? How often? How long? What are the components of your workout? I train for 2 hours a day when I am not training for a fight. Now if I am training for a fight I train in gym in and out all day. At this point in time I am training to put on some lean size so I train 1hr 30mins with free weights and MMA Train the last 30 mins. I enjoy using Kettle bells as of late to do squats to shoulder shrugs all in one smooth motion.
BBG: Where do you work out?
Keith Kirkwood: I work out at a nice, low-key gym in Hollywood.
BBG: Are there any sports you like besides lifting and fighting?
Keith Kirkwood: I like hockey, football and basketball.
BBG: Who are some of your favorite bodybuilders, or athletes, or anyone else whose accomplishments you especially admire, and why?
Keith Kirkwood: Bodybuilders I like are Bill Grant, Arnold, Ken Waller and Victor Martinez. As far as athletes I really admire Ken Shamrock, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. I like athletes that have an edge to them and are tough in and out of the ring. The real-deal tough guys.
BBG: What about your own personal and professional goals. What are the most important things you want to accomplish over the next year?
Keith Kirkwood: I want to finish producing the film “Girl Soldier.” And there are some other films I am excited about announcing later this year.
BBG: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part: back or legs, shoulders, chest or arms, even abs. Just pick your favorites.
Keith Kirkwood: I’ll choose abs – everyone wants abs! I do kneeling cable crunches with the rope: five sets @ 170lbs for max reps. Then Roman chairs: five sets of max reps. Then decline situps: 4 sets of max with 45lbs. And there you go – abs!