Testimonials

Kiel McDougall is the best trainer I’ve ever worked with. He takes the time to find out what your body needs — and what will inspire you to have fun and work hard — and crafts every workout accordingly to get the best results out of you. He will push you to your limits, but somehow make it a ton of fun every time, from straight physical training to yoga to MMA to workout creations of his own. Kiel also does a great job of showing you how to workout on your own to get the most out of sessions with him. He’s a hell of a nice guy, so his manner and patience make him perfect for beginners, but he’s also a busted-nose badass from Maine, so his knowledge and fire make him perfect for all levels of fitness experience. I would recommend Kiel to anyone looking to get in shape, break a sweat and have some fun. He’s the man.

 

- Josh Lohrius

I approached Kiel because I was interested in training MMA and Brazilian jui jitsu. We eventually expanded to also include swim coaching and weight training. Kiel helped me push past my comfort zone and achieve things I did not think were possible. The result: I overcame my fear of water and successfully completed my first sprint triathlon in 2014.

 

Kiel is always engaged and prepared for our training sessions. All of my workouts were customized to fit me and my abilities. He researched exercises to help me reach my potential.  His caring as a coach never stopped in the gym.  We worked together on nutrition, exercises and stretches to perform on my own. I found the experience life changing.

 

I would recommend Kiel to anyone interested in living a healthy lifestyle. He truly changed my life. I will be forever grateful.

 

-Agnese’ Milito

I had the pleasure of being one of Kiel's first one on one students. I started training with him in February 2011 after I got jumped in the alley leaving my job. I wanted to learn how to defend myself and went in with zero knowledge of MMA, although I did have a small amount of wrestling experience from high school.  Kiel is very good at teaching techniques step-by-step and adjusts his training style and level on a student by student basis. I looked forward to my 2 to 3 hours of training once a week because I knew that not only would I learn some cool new techniques, but it would also be a blast. 

 

Kiel not only cares about his students learning the techniques correctly, he also cares about his students on a friend level. Over the four years I have trained with him, he has been not only a great instructor, he has been a good friend. He has a great attitude and has nothing but positive things to say during class. The constant encouragement pushed me to do better, even when I was not "feeling" it that day. He wants to see his students excel and get better at martial arts. I would highly recommend Kiel if you're looking for the most fun, energetic, encouraging (and James Franco look-alike) for an MMA instructor.

 

- Richard Farina

Kiel is a truly exceptional martial arts instructor whose passion for teaching is evident in every session. He is dedicated to helping his students achieve their goals, whether it’s getting fit, learning self-defense, or getting ready for a competition. He both challenges his students and keeps them motivated. He cares deeply not just about his students’ progress in their martial arts training, but about each student as a whole. 

 

Kiel’s enthusiasm and patience is matched by his technical abilities. His attention to detail and significant experience as both a martial artist and a coach means he can break down even very difficult and complicated moves into manageable steps. He understands that one size doesn’t fit all, and works with each student to help them find techniques that work for them. As a woman training with (sometimes much) larger men, I often found myself challenged by the size difference. Kiel showed me moves that played to my strengths and helped to neutralize my size disadvantage.

 

Kiel is not only an exceptional instructor, but is also an exceptional person. You couldn’t ask for a better coach and mentor. 

 

- Rachel Granneman

I have always been a healthy person, concerned with diet, weight, and exercise. And more so as I get older. I have worked out with trainers over the years, too, though finding a trainer who I fit with has always been a challenge. I want a trainer to be smart, know a lot about exercise and what a body needs, and to be personable. That is Kiel McDougall. Over a period of 2 years in Chicago, until he moved back to Seattle, I worked out with Kiel 2-3 times per week. And it was great. We covered a lot of ground because I like to mix things up and Kiel is well-versed in many disciplines. We did yoga, we boxed, we worked on balance and flexibility. We swam. We lifted weights and worked my core like never before. It was great. And fun. Kiel likes to explain what he is doing and why and has a great sense of humor, too. Perfect for someone like me.

 

Before meeting Kiel, I had injured my right rotator cuff and had been seeing a physical therapist, with mostly ineffective results. So along with our regular workouts, Kiel developed a 20 minute routine for me to focus on strengthening my shoulder. With the help of Kiel, my shoulder pain is now essentially gone. Kiel is not a physical therapist, but he listens, and he studies and he really focused on trying to help me with all of the information he gathered. 

 

Above all, Kiel was very focused on me during our time together. He didn't spend time on his cell phone or talking to other people. He kept all of our work-outs on his i-pad so he could push me further and actually monitor progress. He is always learning, and passing new information along.

 

I've been trying to get Kiel to move back to Chicago, but I don't think that's going to happen. People in Seattle are lucky to have such a special person in their own town.

 

- Mike Robillard

Kiel is a well rounded martial artist with a prolific MMA skill set but he can also disect the styles and provide in-depth instruction in very focused areas from jiu jitsu and kickboxing to judo and wrestling.  His patience with his students and passion for teaching are apparent in each class.  Some students learn differently than others and he is able to recognize the need of each individual and adapt his methods to their needs.

 

In early 2014 my nine year old daughter began taking private MMA lessons with Kiel.  She came out of each lesson excited about what she had learned and feeling a sense of accomplishment.  Most important she could recount what she had learned from him and easily explain in her own words the techniques, how they should be applied and details that made them work.  Although we have since moved away from Kiel, my daughter has continued in martial arts and loves attending jiu jitsu classes weekly. 

 

It is important to note that Kiel is much more than a martial artist; he is an avid student and teacher of exercise science as well as sports medicine and is most passionate about zeroing in on what it means to live a truly healthy life style.  In 2013 I was facing some pretty significant back pain and sought out Kiel for his advice.  Kiel spent a hour assessing my movement in a variety of very specific positions and motions to determine a therapy regimen that would strengthen my back and ease my pain.   I don't always do what I am supposed to, but when I follow through with the plan he provided me after an assessment, my lower back pain is substantially decreased for weeks at a time.  

 

I can't thank Kiel enough for his dedication to me as his student and concern for helping lead me where I want to go.  In mid 2013 I came to the realization that I wanted to dedicate myself to the pursuit of excellence specifically in the sport of jiu jitsu and Kiel supported me 100%.  He introduced me to a jiu jitsu school where I was able to funnel my love of the sport and now, even in my mid (soon to be late) 30's I actively compete in tournaments throughout the country and regularly place in the top 3 at each tournament.  

 

Kiel helped to awaken a sleeping beast......a beast that my competitors must fear.

 

- Aaron Butler

My name is Tena, I am now 27 yrs old and I have had the privilege of knowing and training with Kiel for the last 3 years in Chicago, IL. During those 3yrs Kiel and I have trained 1:1, in a team setting and in a Group Class setting practicing MMA, self defense, boxing, TRX strength training and supplemental personal rehabilitation.

 

After a frightening situation 3 summers ago, as a young woman in an urban city, I chose to seek out self defense, which is what initially brought me to the gym Kiel trained at: a fighting gym. It was very intimidating and I immediately felt like I was in over my head. Kiel was among the first coaches I met and was a very big reason why I felt comfortable enough to come back. He is confident and welcoming, markedly experienced, and demonstrates a certain ‘ease’ in his teaching approach; he is clearly a natural.

 

In addition to the wealth of knowledge and experience he has, I also believe Kiel to have a knack for Gravitation — I often describe Kiel as “like gravity” because everything is attracted to him; he breathes life into everything he encounters and brings together all of his passion, experience and networks for the betterment of the whole. Kiel is relentless in his pursuit of knowledge and tirelessly shares what he absorbs. He is driven, energetic, technical and above all passionate. He is a role model, a friend and a hell of a coach.

 

Training with Kiel has taught me the importance of patience, humility and genuine human kindness. His willingness to support your weakness and sharpen your skills with endless patience and positivity is what makes one eager to push on, willing to step out of one’s comfort zone and confident to take on any challenges presented.

 

Kiel’s motivation, positivity and dedication to his craft and students are a continued inspiration to my daily life. If you have a goal, if you have a personal hurdle to conquer or you are just looking for an example of Grace and Integrity, Kiel is the person and coach you are looking for.

 

- Tena West

Training with Kiel was a fantastic experience.  It's rare for someone to have that much knowledge of jiu jitsu/muay thai techniques and the ability to design a cohesive program to get your body in the right shape to actually do them. Each session was unique+personalized and focused on fitness for the whole body rather than isolating muscles.  After a year of training, the difference was like night and day.  

 

- Rich W.

I met Kiel three years ago while he was working at UFC, and I had been working with a different trainer. My fitness level and strength had greatly increased while working with the other trainer, but when I would take a class with Kiel, I struggled with basic body movements. I began training one on one with Kiel to improve my functional strength. Kiel was able to teach me new movements to help build my functional strength. Not only did he help me with functional strength, he helped to fix my form during squats and dead lifts, which has increased my power while eliminating the pain caused from years of improper lifting.

 

Kiel is one of the most genuine guys I know. He has always been positive and a joy to train with. I'm sad that he left Chicago but am glad knowing that he'll continue to help others to reach their goals.

 

- Jason Conger

 

I have been working out with personal trainers for over ten years and have had them all; the trainer that screams and foams at the mouth and isn't satisfied until you vomit, the trainer that spends the whole session texting, the trainer that has that way of making you feel like you are never really progressing and refuses to allow you to celebrate the small victories, I have experienced them all. Seattle, you better be feeling blessed because it damn near broke my heart when this man left Chicago- it took a decade to weed through the others and find this man!

 

Kiel is simply the best trainer I have ever worked with, period. He really takes the time to listen to your personal goals and will go above and beyond to make sure that you achieve them; researching old injuries, finding new and exciting exercises, thinking outside the box and finding ways to keep everything fresh and fun (I remember a beautiful summer day where we took our workout out on the town, running to the lake and climbing trees- focusing on body weight movement and functional exercises- so fun!). I already had a ton of knowledge about fitness going into my relationship with Kiel, but I learned something new from him every time. I have run with him, lifted with him, done swim training, HITT training and MMA- he is just top notch. And he is, hands down, the best BJJ instructor I have ever worked with. Ever. I learned more from him in one hour then I had in months of outside training. 

 

Additionally, Kiel is just a supremely kind, warm, and wonderful human being. He is an absolute joy to be around and his spirit and positivity are infectious, it is virtually impossible to be crabby in his presence. A huge loss for Chicago, a huge gain for Seattle.

 

- Cara Garbarino

Kiel significantly changed my life.  I highly recommend anyone who is interested in improving their health to seek personal training with Kiel.  Prior to our training, I was very weak.  I would pass off my lack of physical strength as a joke, because I could not do everyday things like open a jar, carry heavy items, or run for three blocks without getting winded.  I had tried working out on my own.  For example, I completed the P90X program.  This program indeed helped me get stronger and my body shape changed.  However, I also sustained injuries.  
 

What I appreciate most about Kiel is his ability to tailor optimal workouts for me each week.  My work out regime involves, but is not limited to, lifting weights, yoga, and posture awareness.  Kiel challenges me without compromising the integrity of my muscles or joints.  He diligently modifies or stops my work out the second the quality of my movement decreases.  Therefore, I am able to safely and effectively work out.  I already witnessed a change in my body after four workouts.  I developed muscles in places that I have never seen before!  I can carry heavy items and I can run for longer distances!  I have been working out with Kiel now for almost a year and I am happy to say I have never endured any type of injury.  

You will not regret working out with Kiel.  He is such a rare find.  I will admit I was a little hesitant to work out with Kiel, because he is a strong advocate of deadlifting.  I had the impression that you lifted less weight and performed more reps in order to gain lean muscles.  I was worried that rigorous weight lifting would lead me to develop large muscles.  My fears were allayed after working out with him.  I performed several reps where I deadlifted 95 lbs., but I have maintained a fit, lean figure.  Now, I love my body, precisely because I feel strong. 

 

- Samantha Chin

HOLISTIC HEALTH * PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINING * GROUP & CORPORATE FITNESS * MIXED MARTIAL ARTS (MMA) * SELF-DEFENSE

207-613-KIEL (5435) | IronTreeLife@gmail.com