After a major car accident left him hospitalized, Kevin Hart has a new appreciation for life, and he’s ready to put that on full display to the world.
On Sept. 1, the actor-comedian was a passenger when his car rolled into an embankment in Malibu Hills, Calif., causing him to suffer major back injuries and undergo surgery. Hart was discharged 10 days after the crash to recover in a rehabilitation facility. He is still on the road to recovery, but that path ended up including his YouTube original series What the Fit, which marked the first project that Hart filmed post-accident. And considering there was a point where he didn’t know if he’d be able to walk again, Hart’s passion for fitness has now taken on new meaning and purpose.
With What the Fit returning for season 3, Hart talked to EW about matching his celebrity guests with “fun” activities, regaining the confidence in physical ability, and hoping to inspire others with his healing.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Considering how busy you are, why is What the Fit something that you keep coming back to and making the time for?
KEVIN HART: First and foremost, it’s fun, and I’m in a position in my career where I can have a good time and do the things that act as passionate projects. What the Fit gives me an opportunity to play with my friends like I never have before, and incorporate them into this healthy wellness space while embracing fitness on a different level than they probably ever have. Right now I just think it’s about progressing and moving forward.
How do you pick the different activities and then match them with your guests? Like how do we end up with Jimmy Kimmel playing with the Harlem Globetrotters or doing the Boy Scouts with Nick Jonas?
It’s about pairing the personality to the activity. The more awkward, the more random, the better, for both parties. For me, it’s, “Okay, who can I put in the position to have the most fun? Who can I have the highest level of fun with and with what?” The thing that I think is best is when you put people in situations that you wouldn’t expect to see them in. When I think about Kimmel and I think about basketball, the association of those together makes me laugh. Because he’s a guy behind a desk and he does late-night television, so to see him active, to see him run around, to see him do what you haven’t seen him do in the past, I think it just leaves room for a lot of fun.
With season 3 of What the Fit being the first project you filmed after your accident, was that just coincidental, or actually intentional because it was best thing for you, physically?
When we set up for me to do the show, it was before my accident, and, of course, the accident pushed things back. And as I gained confidence in my ability to get my strength back and push myself and I finally did get to a place where I was like, “Wow, I’m feeling great, I want to do it,” I felt that this would be a great demonstration of me being back to myself, of me being in a happy space, of me being in the mindset of still wanting to get the most out of life — and I wanted to put that on full display.
Fitness is something that became such a big part of your life, so after not being able to keep to your usual routine for so long, what was it like when you started filming What the Fit again? Was it hard getting back into it?
No, as you can see in the season, I’m full steam ahead. I wouldn’t have done it if I couldn’t do it to the best of my ability, if I couldn’t give my all, if I couldn’t have given my A-game. I would have stayed on the resting block and waited until I was in a position where I could go and deliver. I felt like I could do that, so I said why not, why not step up to the table and get back to work.
Did the accident given you even more appreciation for fitness and determination to keep active?
I think it’s bigger than fitness, I think it’s life. You gain a high level of appreciation and understanding for life. So when you go through what I went through, it makes you look at the things that you may have taken for granted or may have looked over. Now, having the opportunity to go and do those things again, you’re thankful. So rest was important and that was the best way for me to get back to the place where I once was. It wasn’t about overlooking or sidestepping, it was about me saying, “Okay, this is what I want to get back to now that I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to do so.”
This season in particular, I feel like you guys got extra creative with the activities, whether it be mascots, marching band, or ’80s workout. Was there one specific exercise that felt particularly challenging?
I don’t want to use the word “challenging” because I didn’t consider any of them as challenging. The challenge for me to really motivate or possibly inspire on a higher level. I think after seeing this journey and understanding it, someone can go, “Oh wow, I’m motivated, I’m inspired.” If I add a high level of hope for other people who have been through what I’ve been through…it’s never over, and will is an amazing thing, and having that will to get back to where you was, or to recover, that’s something that you should really just hold onto. It’s something that I held onto, and I think I was able to get to where I’ve gotten to because of it. And I’m still going, I’m still pushing forward, and I’m still not done. It’s a never-ending thing when it comes to healing, so it’s working on yourself and setting goals to make yourself happy.
You’ve had so much success in the last few years and done so many things but you still consistently are out here hustling — like you don’t need to do What the Fit or Cold as Balls. So what keeps you motivated to keep doing all these different things?
Look, you get one life and it’s about getting the most out of that life. I don’t want to not maximize my potential and not take advantage of all the time that I have here. For me, it’s about creating a story, creating a legacy, and trying to do as much as I possibly can.