by Lindsay Miller
While one lifts 45-pound plates on the barbell every day, the other carries the number 97 on his jersey on Sundays. There’s no question that brothers Kevin and Karl Klug have each found their niche in Nashville’s growing fitness industry.
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Karl planted himself in Nashville pursuing a career in the National Football League with the Tennessee Titans. As a fifth round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Karl made a promising career for himself as a defensive end and has even racked up some key sacks and forced fumbles during critical moments in the games.
Karl recently came off an Achilles injury, and although Karl has been following the advice of the Titans athletic trainers closely to safely nurse himself back to health, he says he’s also relied on his brother Kevin for that extra set of work when needed.
Karl’s brother Kevin originally came to Nashville to support Karl’s football dreams. After spending time apart from each other in college—Kevin played Division II football at Minnesota State University, Mankato—it only seemed natural for Kevin to be by his brother’s side to witness his success firsthand in a new city far from home.
After a short career as a bouncer, Kevin found his way into personal training at a local gym, where he was quickly noticed for his work ethic and coaching strategies by members. Eventually, he was approached and asked to come on the road and train clients outside of his normal routine.
“Someone was watching me for a few months and said they liked how I handled myself. They asked if I wanted to come on tour with Lady A. At the time I didn’t even know what Lady A was,” Kevin admits, referring to the award winning country music group, Lady Antebellum. This would later grow into an incredible opportunity, opening the door for Kevin to jump on the road with country music artist Sam Hunt as well.
Through his endeavors, Kevin is now the founder and owner of Klug Fitness, a mobile workout service. Kevin carries all of his workout equipment with him to either a client’s home or a favorable outdoor space for a group class in what’s now called “The Klug Van,” which can be spotted at places like the Greenway in the Gulch or parking lots and high school tracks across the city. Kevin makes the city his playground, and anywhere that allows space for his gear to be unloaded from his van is a workout space. It isn’t unusual for a client’s cooldown to consist of loading the van back up with barbells, racks, battle ropes, bumper plates, and medicine balls.
Kevin has made a serious impact on the fitness community in Nashville and was recently named an ambassador for lululemon Hill Center. He says he commonly hears how lucky he and his brother are to live the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to. However, both brothers can attest to the long hours and hard work they’ve each put in.
Kevin is a straight shooter during conversation, and he’ll say luck isn’t exactly what got him where he is today, as his mindset is to simply put his head down and go to work. But Karl points out, “Even though Kevin was noticed for his work ethic while just going about his business at the gym, everyone needs a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Jesus.”
Karl has more of a laid back personality and a courteous air about him—answering questions, first, with a polite nod. He is the kind of person who you’d envision saying, “Yes ma’am” or “No sir,” to everyone he meets. They both have this manner, really, and it is easy to forget they are not originally from the South.
“I’ve been lucky to get to year seven,” Karl says. Going into his seventh year in the NFL, he has managed to avoid any serious (or career-ending) injuries and credits timing for some of his successful journey. “One year, I might have been cut if it wasn’t for another guy getting injured,” he confesses.
Kevin and Karl’s parents are both blue collar workers still living in their hometown of Caledonia, Minn. But athletic genes aren’t always passed down from sport to sport. The real family relevancy comes from their parents being hard working individuals. Kevin says, “The common joke in our town is: If you want a job done well, hire a Klug.”
Both sons played multiple sports throughout high school before following their mother’s lead (who played collegiate basketball), both choosing football as their avenue. Growing up, Kevin and Karl always played on the same team. Karl proudly states, “There is nothing better than playing on the same team.” Kevin continues, “It made me want to win for my brother, but also made me look at my teammates as brothers, too.”
Being identical twins, as you can imagine the Klug brothers are competitive, but not in the way you’d think. When I asked about the inevitable sibling rivalry I was sure existed, Kevin says, “We’ve always had respect for one another, so it was clean competition. [As kids] we did everything together. Of course, being brothers, we would compete and that might ruffle some feathers, but the feud never lasted more than 15 minutes.”
I admit it was hard to believe that two grown men at this level of athleticism would be this civil, but after witnessing their partner workout, it was evident they were not trying to out-do one another. They were supportive, opting to battle without belittling. The brothers quickly turned a casual outdoor photoshoot into a “you-go, I-go” game of high intensity intervals. If Karl did a pattern of plyometric movements drawn on the driveway, Kevin would mimic the same actions. If Kevin used 75-pound dumbbells for lunges, Karl wouldn’t grab anything less. Within 10 minutes, they were both drenched in sweat and out of breath.
“As we’ve grown in our careers, our conversations have been more about ideas and opportunities we can take on together in the upcoming years,” Kevin says. With each passing year, they become closer as friends, both in their career and relationship. Their health and fitness routines keep them in constant contact with one another. We all know how easy it is to be out of touch with loved ones, especially in a town like Nashville where schedules fill up with events, games, clients, and travel in no time.
“We have two separate careers and Karl has a family that keeps him busy. Our biggest change as we have grown is that we don’t see each other every day. So now it’s daily phone calls—that’s life though. It’s been fun watching him grow as a player and person during his football career. Karl’s career has allowed me to stay close to the game that we love.” Kevin admits.
Their love for each other’s lifestyles has given them a common bond. And just maybe with a little luck, and surely a lot of hard work, it has paid off. Even after they have taken different paths, the Klug brothers have managed to keep it in the family.