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Trainer under the spotlight this week: Adam Fretwell

Adam Fretwell has always been passionate about fitness. FitPro discovers why he chose to leave his customer service job behind to help his local community get fit.

Meet Adam Fretwell from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, who worked in an array of customer service jobs for years until the long commute and extensive hours meant he lacked energy and passion for his roles.

“One day I found myself almost falling asleep at the wheel on the way to work. I realised I couldn’t continue like this as the job was killing me,” says the 28 year-old former supermarket worker. 

He decided it was time to retrain in a role where he could marry his love of fitness with his desire to help others. His fitness journey began when he embarked on a personal training course with Premier Training International to gain his Level 3 Diploma and he also received an advanced qualification in specialist exercise for those who are obese or have diabetes.

Fretwell continues, “The transition from retail to personal training was about a six-month process. I was frustrated at work but knew I needed more money for equipment. So I stuck it out and used my pay to buy a few new equipment pieces. Then, when I couldn’t change my hours at work to allow time to build my business and take on new clients , I quit. It was always just a stop gap while training with Premier and setting up, so I knew my business would always take priority over other jobs.”

Since Fretwell completed his training qualification, he has been able to set up his personal training business, Adam Fretwell PT, and trains 70 clients, including Derbyshire U16s Netball Academy, Nutbrook Cricket Club and Beeston Cycling Club. The PT combines one-to-one sessions with team games, which helps those interested in social exercising, and also organises activities to help establish a sense of community among clients.

PT Adam Fretwell happy in his new role

PT Adam Fretwell happy in his new role

“I have always been into fitness, especially team sports. When I was younger I regularly played cricket, badminton and squash. I was also chosen for the U17 Derby Squash Academy but, due to a shoulder injury, had to give it up,” he explains.

“I was about 13 when I injured my shoulder. The doctor said it was an ‘overuse injury’. I was a kid and was in my own little world thinking ‘Can I still play cricket with my mates and badminton?’ I had to give up squash as they said that was one of the main factors constantly putting my shoulder under stress. Apart from that, the doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory cream and sent me on my way. It still doesn’t have the same range of movement as my left shoulder but it’s just as strong and no longer causes me any issues or postural problems. Doing functional training with power clubs, kettlebells and suspension has really helped and, over the last couple of years, I can’t believe how strong it is now compared to five years ago.”

Following his active school days, Fretwell went on to study a sports science and management degree at Nottingham Trent University.

So, why the success?

“I think the sessions have been a success because of the personal feel I provide, which I feel is missed with the larger corporations. It’s my business, so I’m the only one people deal with, which helps build a great bond,” says Fretwell.

The personal trainer even has three WhatsApp groups with clients, discussing everything from exercising to nutrition plans. He finds it a great way to keep updated with what his clients are doing and also provides the opportunity for clients to get to know one another.

Fretwell is adamant personal trainers must realise that being a good PT doesn’t stop at the end of the session. He ensures this doesn’t happen by including his clients in a number of activities. A few years ago, he began organising free walks with his clients and, since starting, his team has completed 25 walks in 18 months.

“I also organise laser tag and archery as an alternative way to keep active. A group of eight has also entered the Isle of Wight 54km walking challenge next year – it’s been a great way to help grow the PT family,” comments Fretwell.

The fundamental aim behind the walks is the social side, to de-stress from the busy week, chat to people and be out in the open air. This coming weekend, Fretwell and his team will do a 6km flat loop with tearooms and changing facilities on route. The PT has engineered the flat nature of the route so that two of his postnatal clients can also join in. On 9 August, Fretwell and his team will do a 25km walk as the second training walk in preparation for the Isle of Wight challenge next year. The target is to gradually build up an extra 5km each month.

Adam Fretwell with his fitness community on the Buxton walk

Adam Fretwell with members of his fitness community on the Buxton walk

“If we keep this momentum going, it will mean that, by the month of the 54km walk, we will have done a 55km training walk, so we will have the confidence to be able to finish as a team.”


Training big

In his group sessions, Fretwell likes to use work, rest and play circuits. Here is a snapshot of what might take place in one of his sessions:

  • Work: Kettlebell swings, goblet squats, press-ups, medball slams, rotational shoulder presses
  • Active rest: Step-ups, knee drives, side hops
  • Play: “Daft kids’ games”, such as tig or British bull dog, hand-eye co-ordination development with dodgeball or tag rugby, or simple activities such as hopscotch with the agility ladders and hopping over hurdles or crawling under the larger ones

Client reactions

Daniel Brooks, a 33-year-old technical support worker, comments, “While Adam likes to works us hard, the sessions are light-hearted and enjoyable. Training is helping me to achieve things I would never have thought, including a 10km obstacle run and a 54km Isle of Wight walk. Adam doesn’t just encourage from afar either; he’ll be right in the thick of it with you as well. His sessions bring together people from different backgrounds to help find common ground.”

Joanne Seacombe, a 36-year-old humanist celebrant, adds, “Adam makes the sessions both fun and challenging. He has helped me to see where I was going wrong without being judgemental. By taking part in various events alongside his clients, he makes it feel like a joint team attempt, encouraging people from all areas to work together.”

Adam organisers a game of Lasertag

Fretwell organises a game of Lasertag

Fretwell adds, “People tell me I need to rest more because I’m always on the go. If I’ve got a spare hour I will take myself out for a walk; it’s nice to get out in the fresh air and stretch your legs. In group sessions I’m throwing myself around with my clients, putting in as much effort as they are, so I can lead by example for them. They keep me on my toes as much as I keep them on theirs. With my own training I like to experiment, finding different combinations of exercises and equipment to use so I can add something a bit different for one-to-one clients. It’s always a nice feeling when you finish a workout and, apart from sweating, you have that smile on your face thinking how that combo really works and I can’t wait to get my clients doing it.”


If you’re looking for ways to increase your client retention, follow Fretwell’s lead and create effective solutions for your class participants – make sure your session doesn’t just end when the final plank has been completed or the last lap around the park has been achieved. Create an experience and successfully monitor your client progression so they keep coming back. Why? Well, if you have to ask, you’re probably in the wrong business.

To follow in Fretwell’s footsteps and kick start your training career, visit

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