Meet Kyle Landi – the down syndrome athlete who has been taking bodybuilding by storm

In the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, host Mike O’Hearn delved into the remarkable story of Kyle Landi, the first Canadian with down syndrome to pursue bodybuilding. Kyle’s journey is one of resilience, determination, and breaking down barriers, all while challenging stereotypes surrounding disabilities and physical fitness.

Generation Iron is in the early stages of producing a documentary on the life story and bodybuilding journey of Kyle Landi. Beyond his dedication to lifting weights and building muscle – he has been traveling the country meeting with the biggest names in bodybuilding.

His story is proof that bodybuilding and fitness is truly universal and provides a framework to better succeed both in and out of the gym. After having trained together in the gym, Mike O’Hearn meets back up with Kyle Landi at the 2024 Arnold Classic to discuss Kyle’s origins in bodybuilding and his future plans. Let’s dive in!


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A post shared by Kyle Landi (@greenrangerkyle)

Kyle’s Beginnings: Defying Expectations

Kyle Landi’s journey into bodybuilding started with a fundamental principle instilled by his parents – the refusal to treat him differently due to his down syndrome. From a young age, Kyle was raised with the same responsibilities and opportunities as his siblings, defying societal expectations that often underestimate individuals with disabilities.

His mother, Kimberly, also opens up about having faced criticism for allowing Kyle Landi the same freedoms as his peers. She notes that Kyle was not coddled due to having down syndrome – and in public this would occasionally bring her disapproving glances from other parents. However, it was this approach that set Kyle on a path to success.

Discovering Bodybuilding: A Passion Ignited

As Kyle reached adolescence, he sought out a recreational activity like his siblings, ultimately choosing weight training. Despite being the only person with down syndrome in the gym, Kyle’s dedication and passion for bodybuilding shone through.

Kimberly emphasized the importance of such activities for individuals with down syndrome, not only for physical health but also for social engagement. She notes that bodybuilding and weightlifting have done nothing but enrich Kyle’s life. It’s given him the structure he needs while also helping to find an active way to instill good health habits as he ages.

Breaking Barriers: The Power of Support

Mike O’Hearn highlighted the crucial role of parental support in Kyle Landi’s journey. Despite the apprehensions of some parents towards physical fitness for their children, Kyle’s father emphasized the necessity of pushing boundaries and setting ambitious goals.

Kyle’s family not only refuses to baby him, they also refuse to baby their other children who do not have down syndrome. They have always encouraged health and fitness in their children – better setting them up for success early.

Kyle’s step father, Joe, emphasized that in his experience, there are many parents in the world who didn’t have a good fitness or health routine themselves. Due to this, fitness and health is not valued or focused on. This then transfers over to their parenting style. Which is why Joe and Kimberly have always dedicated themselves to ensuring all of their kids are instilled with healthy habits young – making it easier to stay healthy as they grow into adulthood.

Independence and Determination: Kyle’s Perspective

For Kyle Landi, independence is paramount. Despite his condition, he refuses to be limited by societal perceptions of what he can achieve. He relishes the challenge of overcoming obstacles and finds fulfillment in his accomplishments. Kyle’s determination serves as an inspiration to many, showcasing the power of self-belief and resilience.

He notes that others sometimes feel the need to coddle him and help him with things he may be struggling with. But he would rather struggle due to the incredible feeling of success he gets from eventually completing a task.

This is why he loves weightlifting and bodybuilding. The struggle is part of the process. That’s something that all individuals who lift weights understand. So while he is at the gym – he is allowed to struggle. It’s an environment where he can feel fully independent.

Embracing Uniqueness: A Message of Empowerment

Kyle’s father shared poignant insights into his son’s journey, acknowledging the struggles of living with down syndrome while celebrating Kyle Landi’s uniqueness. He encouraged Kyle to embrace his condition as part of what makes him exceptional, reminding him that everyone faces challenges but it’s these challenges that shape our character and drive us towards greatness.

Joe mentions that Kyle is high functioning on the spectrum of down syndrome. He considers this a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for Joe and Kimberly as parents – because their son is able to have much more independence. But he also considers it, in some ways, a curse for Kyle. Due to being high functioning, Kyle is very aware of the affect down syndrome has on his life.

Joe shares a story of driving home with Kyle after they first trained together with Mike O’Hearn. Kyle asked to stop at the hospital. When asked why, it was because Kyle said he wanted the hospital to “take out” his down syndrome.

Clark Bartram, who was a part of the podcast conversation, steps in to note that everyone has something that they don’t like about themselves. It might be to different severities, but our weaknesses are part of what make us unique. And also part of what leads us to overcome struggles and succeed.

Clark Bartram encourages Kyle Landi to not want to “remove” his down syndrome – as it is part of what made him the specific individual he is today.

Wrap Up

In recounting Kyle Landi’s journey, The Mike O’Hearn Show offers a powerful message of empowerment and resilience. Kyle’s determination to defy expectations and pursue his passion for bodybuilding serves as a beacon of hope for individuals with disabilities everywhere. Through unwavering support, determination, and self-belief, Kyle Landi exemplifies the transformative power of embracing one’s uniqueness and pursuing one’s dreams.

In a world where stereotypes and limitations often overshadow potential, Kyle’s story serves as a reminder that with dedication and support, anything is possible. As Kyle continues to inspire others with his journey, he proves that true strength lies not only in physical prowess but also in the courage to challenge the status quo and redefine what is possible.

You can watch the full episode above. And make sure to check back every week or new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.