Jim sits down with Iron Tribe Fitness Director of Product Developement, Kyle Sottung, to talk about their longstanding friendship, his past in the fitness industry and what methodology Kyle has brought to the Iron Tribe Fitness product, as well as what is in store for the future.
Kyle Sottung grew up in Pulaski, NY. He was a three-sport athlete participating in football, basketball, and baseball. He played baseball in Ithaca College in upstate New York, with Iron Tribe Fitness President Jim Cavale.
Kyle had always been interested in physical fitness and athletic development throughout most of his life. His college didn’t provide a true strength and conditioning program, so he began seeking out knowledge and information.
In 2004, Kyle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. After taking a year off to pursue a career in professional baseball, Kyle returned to his Alma Mater for his graduate work while coaching baseball, and earning a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology. He wanted to stay involved in athletics and competitive performance; forasmuch, he decided to pursue a specialization in the areas of strength and conditioning. Kyle was passionate about competitive performance in all types of sports and coaching. He’d go on to earn credentials as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA.
At this point Kyle began looking to start his career within his area of expertise. Due to his positive impression on his peers, Kyle was referred to Lee Taft. Lee is a highly sought after Speed and Strength Coach opening a new business in Queensbury, NY. For two years, Coach Taft mentored Kyle. Immersing himself in the mentorship process, Kyle’s eyes were opened to what athletic strength and conditioning was really about.
Kyle would go on to train kids as young as 6, high school students, college athletes, and adults in a group training setting. In order to enhance the effectiveness of the training program Lee and Kyle attended one of the first Functional Movement Screen (FMS) seminars. They began incorporating the FMS principles in their classes, emphasizing functional strength development and multi-directional speed training.
In 2008, Kyle starting working as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. After one year, he was named the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, in charge of 23 varsity sports and over 600 student-athletes, including Division 1 Men and Women hockey programs. Kyle and his two Assistant Coaches provided all student-athletes with comprehensive, sport specific year-round training programs, as well as nutritional support.
One of Kyle’s major accomplishments was the design of the new East Campus Athletic Village Strength and Conditioning Center. This increased RPI’s capacity to handle large teams, and was specifically equipped for high performance training. As he continued to scale and improve the athletic center, Kyle also continued to progress in his own development. He would go on to earn the USA Weightlifting SPC Certification, in 2009. Four years later, in 2013, Kyle also earned the Russian Kettle bell Certified (RKC)/Strongfirst (SFG) Level 1 Trainer Certification.
In 2013, Kyle joined Iron Tribe, after being recruited by Jim Cavale, who he was roommates with at Ithaca College (NY). Kyle was brought in with the intention of becoming the Director of Programming. He spent considerable time as a co-coach and went through the entire process of athlete and coach development. Doing so gave him multiple perspectives from which to understand the entire program.
Kyle would eventually ascend into his current role as Director of Programming. His core responsibilities are to oversee the Product Development Team and continue to evolve the Coaches Practicum Program to ensure that Iron Tribe coaches continue to provide industry-leading training to all the participants. He is also responsible for the Programming Committees for all of Iron Tribe’s programs to ensure we provide quality, safe, and fun workouts. As such, Kyle has worked to fine-tune the Iron Tribe fitness program to more effectively execute this category of fitness. Kyle’s comprehensive understanding of the science of exercise physiology, strong coaching background, and subject matter proficiencies have been incredibly enhanced by the combination between the science and business of the Iron Tribe brand.
Kyle has established coaching development strategies throughout the Iron Tribe Fitness coaching community, which serve to standardize the execution of the model. This standardization ensures that the coaching practices throughout the entire company are consistent. Furthermore, in order to ensure continuous process improvement, Kyle has developed a system to evaluate the coaches’ execution of the model based on three key performance indicators. This evaluation then rates the coaches on a broad range of criteria and informs his development of customized training programs for the coaches. Kyle’s cognitive ability to grasp and communicate complex physiological principles to coaches, and translate that into practical execution of fitness programs, continues to differentiate the Iron Tribe brand from the rest of the fitness industry.
The synergy created by Kyle’s experience, education, and understanding of the business has been vital to the replication of the model. Franchise Partners are the recipients of one of the strongest forms of coach development within their gyms. Kyle is focused on ensuring that each coach within the Iron Tribe system is capable of replicating the model with excellence and proficiency. He has brought incredible value and immeasurable intangibles to a great brand. His passion for athleticism, fitness, and competition has married his nuanced understanding of the science. Iron Tribe Franchise Partners have benefitted greatly by leveraging Kyle and his repertoire of skills and experience, in the development and continued success of the business model.