Summit County resident finds new identity and passion in psychological fitness therapy business

Healthy Body
David Mykel/Courtesy photo
David Mykel, right, works with a client as part of his psychology fitness therapy business, PSYFI.
David Mykel/Courtesy photo

Summit County resident David Mykel vividly remembers one moment like it was yesterday.

He remembers looking down at his swollen, battered knee and slowly falling asleep out of exhaustion after he tearfully realized that his athletic dreams had just come to an abrupt halt at the age of 21.

For 17 years, baseball was Mykel’s life.

“It became a passion really fast,” Mykel, who started playing baseball at the age of 4, said. “I dedicated so much time to baseball, and the older I got, the more time I dedicated. … Every day I was still going to school, to the gym and then batting cages/indoor training facility — hours a day, basically.”

Mykel’s immigrant family instilled discipline and hard work in him, he said. Straight out of high school, Mykel played within the Miami Marlins organization as a catcher before attending Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Mykel played two years for Le Moyne before he transferred to the nearby University at Albany for the remainder of his college eligibility.

After several successful seasons in Albany, Mykel’s lifelong dreams quickly crashed down on him. While back home on break and refereeing a hockey game to make some money, Mykel’s knee completely locked, tearing his meniscus.

As a result, Mykel sat out the entirety of his senior year in Albany and was not considered by professional teams because of his bum knee.

“All the scouts basically said I was a 21-year-old catcher with a bad knee and that they had no interest in me anymore,” Mykel said. “I remember crying for nights on end — coming to the realization that for the last 17 years that I had one sole mission: to be a professional baseball player. I was on track for it, and all of a sudden that was taken away from me.”

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At a loss for what to do next with his life, Mykel followed what he calls the “societal blueprint” and went back to college at Marymount University to attain a master’s degree in forensic psychology. 

Upon graduation, Mykel became a litigation psychologist, which he enjoyed for seven years, until he decided it was time for a change in his current path.

“Towards the end of 2009, I just realized that I had reached all of the metrics that I wanted to hit,” Mykel said. “I wanted to have this title — I was a senior consultant at 27. I was making six figures, I was leading a team. I had everything I wanted, but I was completely unsatisfied.”

To the displeasure of those close to him, Mykel left his secure, high-paying job and decided to start traveling around the world as a volunteer. 

What was meant to only be a one-year sabbatical quickly turned into three years. In the process, Mykel discovered the benefits of psychology fitness therapy while in Australia.

Mykel worked with at-risk indigenous kids in Australia and loved the work he was doing so much that he tried to gain a visa to start a psychology fitness therapy company with his friend in Australia. 

With the visa not panning out, Mykel was forced to return to the U.S. where he tried to gain employment in a new career path but eventually returned to his litigation psychologist career. 

Despite being groomed to take over a litigation consulting company, Mykel said he fell into suicidal depression in large part because of unhappiness he had doing his job. After 3.5 years with the company, Mykel left the company with no new job or path lined up.

The career change was just the shove Mykel needed since it jump-started him into creating a psychology fitness therapy business that focuses on helping people overcome what they are battling through brain and body training.

Mykel officially launched the first iteration of PSYFI in New York in January 2017 before a client convinced him to move across the country to Summit County in 2021.

David Mykel/Courtesy photo
Summit County’s David Mykel poses for a photo for his psychology fitness therapy business, PSYFI.
David Mykel/Courtesy photo

Since then, Mykel has worked with professional winter snowsport athletes, youth athletes and members of the public while leaning on his background as an athlete to relate to the client on a personal level.

“If I look back at my life, everything in my life was pointing to get to this place,” Mykel said. “Everything I had done and everything I had gone through.”

Contrary to typical therapy where patients are often sitting in front of a therapist, psychology fitness therapy allows people to get outside, move and navigate through what they are facing.

“When you are moving, you have the ability to feel better,” Mykel said. “When you are sedentary you don’t have that ability. In traditional therapy where you are sitting on a couch, you lose access to literally three quarters of what you can actually change.”

Working with organizations like Building Hope, Team Summit and Summit Foundation, Mykel says the community has been receptive to the therapy method in large part because of how it resonates with them.

David Mykel/Courtesy photo
David Mykel conducts a psychology fitness therapy session as part of his business, PSYFI.
David Mykel/Courtesy photo

“People understand that when they think about it they are normalizing stress,” Mykel said. “The statistics show that 90% of Americans live in their amygdala — their fight or flight system — 70% of their day. Three-quarters of your day you are essentially freaking out.”

Through rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking and other physical activities, Mykel has helped to reduce this stress, relate to clients and pull people from the mental health challenges they may be facing. 

“Therapy should not be going to a therapist year, after year, after year,” Mykel said. “If we are talking about the same thing a year from now, you are going to fire me. I will fire myself because I have failed you as a coach.”

Having seen over 6,000 clients come through the program since its inception, Mykel hopes to continue helping people with their mental health journeys.

“The goal is to continue to serve our community to get our mental health crisis under control,” Mykel said. “‘This training is really simple. I will never promise anyone that it is easy because changing your life is not easy, but at the same time it is really simple. It is step by step.”

To learn more about Mykel and PSYFI, visit

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