2013 Most Valuable Motivator: Kurt Warner

Featured Article, Fitness, Motivation, News and Advice
on April 8, 2013
Kurt Warner shares his personal fitness philosophy.
USA_Scott McDermott

Name: Kurt Warner

Claim to fame: It’s an improbable rags-to-riches tale that has become immortalized in NFL lore: Before skyrocketing to stardom in the National Football League, Kurt Warner was stocking shelves at a grocery store for $5.50 an hour following a brief but unsuccessful stint with the Green Bay Packers. A mere 18 months later, he emerged from obscurity to lead the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV, winning the title of Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and capturing the hearts and imaginations of football fans across the nation. Kurt’s story is one of tremendous faith, perseverance and determination. Throughout his illustrious 12-year football career, he has continually defied the odds, breaking numerous NFL records along the way. From 1999 to 2001, in what became known as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Kurt famously led the Rams to two additional playoff appearances—including another Super Bowl—and received Pro Bowl honors for three consecutive years (1999-2001). He was also one of a select handful of NFL players to be recognized with two prestigious NFL MVP awards, receiving his second after the 2001 season. In 2008, he led the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII, and owns the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history. Since retiring from the NFL in 2009, Kurt has remained an active presence in the sports world, bringing his expert football knowledge to the table as an analyst for the NFL Network. With his charismatic nature, the veteran quarterback has also emerged as a natural TV personality, appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010. This spring, Kurt is back on TV screens, but this time with a mission—of helping others achieve their wildest dreams. On Kurt’s inspiring new reality show, “The Moment,” which premieres on Thursday, April 11th at 10/9c on USA Network, everyday individuals are given the opportunity to pursue their dream career. Kurt lives in Arizona with his wife, Brenda, and their seven children.

Favorite workout: “Basketball! I love the sport. It is great exercise and helps feed my competitive drive.”

Favorite healthy meal: “I make a breakfast meal of eggs and quinoa,” Kurt says.

Health philosophy: Be consistent. “It is easier to stay in shape than get in shape,” Kurt explains.

Biggest inspiration: “My kids,” Kurt says. “I want to be a great role model for them by living a healthy and fit lifestyle.”

Motivational quote: “It’s taken from a Bible verse, Colossians 3:23—‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,’” Kurt says. “I take this to mean, ‘If you’re going to do something, give it your all.’ Commit to a life of excellence. So, if I’m going to do something, whether it’s my career or my workout or my marriage, I’m going to give it my best.”

Five Minutes with Kurt Warner

Spry: Your rise to NFL stardom is legendary—you went from stocking grocery shelves to being named Super Bowl MVP in just 18 months. Tell us a little bit more about this incredible journey.

Kurt: It was a bit of a crazy journey, for sure. From the time I was eight or nine years old, I dreamt of growing up to play in the NFL. Like anybody with a dream to play professional sports, I worked hard at it. Things went well throughout high school, and I received a scholarship to play football at a small school in Iowa. Well, I ended up sitting on a bench for four years until I was finally given the chance to play my senior year…I blew everyone away. After college, I signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent but was cut after four weeks at the training camp. Even then, however, I refused to lose sight of my dream. I got a job in a grocery store to make money, but on the side I continued to train and work out in the hopes of getting another shot. Finally, I was given the chance to play with St. Louis Rams and went on to win the Super Bowl two years later. And, as they say, the rest is history!

Spry: On your new USA Reality show “The Moment,” you give everyday individuals the job opportunity of a lifetime. Why did you decide to get involved with the show?

Kurt: When I retired, my mission moving forward was to stay busy and continue to do things I was passionate about. My wife, Brenda, and I had a goal of trying to impact people, which is why we started our foundation, First Things First. The reason I decided to get involved with “The Moment” is because it really hit home for me. I wanted to help people in a similar way that I had been helped, all those years ago. The reason I’m at where I am today is because someone took a chance on me and gave me a second shot at achieving my dream. So, in a way, working with the show allowed me to come full circle and give other people the opportunity of a lifetime.

What I like most about the show is that we’re not simply handing anything out—we’re giving individuals an opportunity. That’s how life is–you’re continually presented with different opportunities along the way and it’s what you do with those opportunities that matters. So yes, we open up the door for people, but it’s completely up to the individual what happens from there. They have to be willing to seize that opportunity and work hard for it. We don’t give out free rides because there aren’t free rides in life. You have to work hard for everything.

Spry: What would you say is the most inspiring part about your work with “The Moment?” Do any individual stories come to mind?

Kurt: They were all different. That’s the great thing. I could relate to so many different aspects of what these people were dealing with—those moments of frustration and wanting to quit. Those moments of thinking you’re not good enough or too old. And, on the flip side, those breakthrough moments, the moments when you start to believe in yourself and everything sort of just clicks. So, for me, witnessing the breakthrough moments was the most exciting part of the show. Seeing individuals chase their dreams, seeing their passions come to life. That’s what life is all about—pursuing your passion and making it your life.

I think a lot of people are prevented from fulfilling their dreams because they find excuses for why they can’t do something. When people watch the show, I don’t want them to think, “Well, I, too, would chase my dream if Kurt Warner showed up and knocked on my door.” But the thing is, nobody knocked on my door—I did that for myself. I was passionate enough about my dream that I went out there, I knocked on doors and I pursued it. I had to work in a grocery store to make ends meet. But on the side I was working out and making training videos to send to teams. I hope that the show, in and of itself, knocks on people’s “doors.” I hope that it wakes people up to their dreams and passions. I firmly believe that happiness lies in being able to live out our passions. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams again, whatever that means. I want to encourage people to introduce their passions back into their everyday lives, even in small ways.

Spry: You had a long and very illustrious football career. If you had to pick, what was the most memorable and inspiring moment of your football career?

Man, that’s hard to say. I have so many. I guess I would say any moment when I knew that all of my hard work and determination and dreaming wasn’t in vain. I’m so proud that I kept the dream going for as long as I did. I faced a lot of setbacks along the way, a lot of frustration. Out of college, people said I couldn’t do it…that it was time to give up and find a real job. Even during my football career, there were many times when everybody kept telling me I couldn’t do something and I showed them wrong. I’ll never forget it: it was right after I was voted NFL Most Valuable Player, and I was driving in the car with my wife, Brenda. The windows were down, it was a beautiful day, and I thought to myself: “This is what it’s all about.” In that moment, all of my doubts were pushed aside and I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I knew I had made it. So, those were probably the most memorable parts of my football career—those moments when I proved everybody wrong, or more importantly, when I proved to myself that I could accomplish my wildest dreams.

Spry: You and your wife, Brenda, have seven children! What advice do you have for busy parents out there who are looking to squeeze exercise into a hectic schedule?

I truly believe that whatever your priorities are in your life, you have to commit to doing them. The key to being fit is making a commitment to staying in shape. Personally, I commit to going to the gym 5 or 6 days a week. Even if I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll squeeze in a 15 or 20-minute workout and just try to push as hard as I can. A lot of people have the misconception that they can’t work out unless they have an hour of time to devote to it. But that’s not true; it’s all about sneaking in a few minutes of exercise whenever you can. For example, if I know I’m going to have a busy day, I’ll get up an hour early and work out before the kids get up. I also try to make exercise a family affair. At night, we watch shows like The Biggest Loser as a family, and during commercials we all get up and do exercises—squats, push-ups, jumping jacks. I also try to implement activity into my everyday routine and pick up exercise at moments when I have some downtime. The other day, I was cooking steaks and I suddenly jumped up onto the railing and started doing tricep pushups off of it, and my soon looked up at me and said, “Dad, you’re weird.” But it’s all about utilizing those moments of idle time to get up and move your body. It’s the little things that count.