Creating the Habit, part 4: Maybe It’s *Not* You

If sticking with an exercise regimen remains an elusive goal, maybe the problem isn’t you after all, but where you’re going and/or from whom you’re seeking help on your fitness journey.

We have all seen them. Maybe you are going to one now. A gym or studio whose sole focus is on classes. When I started FOR in 2004, I was literally it — the only small strength and resistance training studio in Alexandria. Now, there are more than 20. People are interested in specializing between spin, strength, CrossFit, core, etc., and don’t get me wrong, it’s great that folks are exercising. But as an avid student of fitness industry trends and data, I’ll be honest, this trend of ‘specializing in group classes’ only feeds the fad tendencies of the fitness industry. And you know what happens with fads – in today, out tomorrow.

The problem: not all studios and trainers are invested in you. Okay, that’s not entirely fair; they are invested… in getting you into their classes. If you’re getting your exercise in these classes, why is this a problem? Because there is so little individual attention and little to no accountability for the results you achieve or, more often than not, don’t achieve. How are you supposed to create a new healthy habit when the system you’re going to for support and guidance doesn’t deliver on key habits to changing your behavior?

You think you’re doing everything right by joining a gym or studio (i.e, paying money to go, or not go, to classes) and committing to a fitness plan, but what you don’t realize is where you’re going may not have your best interests in mind. Why? Because:

  • Coaches are not responsible for your success.
  • There is no client evaluation prior to starting a class.
  • There is no one-on-one session prior to class to teach the exercises expected during the class.

What is the result? Injury, frustration, stagnation, weight gain.

The business model for a classes-only gym is hinged on filling classes. The more people, the more they make. This business model doesn’t put you first. Trainers typically don’t know your goals, much less any limitations (i.e, current or past injuries) you may have. When the emphasis is on class size, there’s little to no incentive for trainers to help you achieve your results. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, many coaches simply are not responsible for the success of the client.

Even if a trainer or coach has the best intentions, the system can be stacked against them. Proper client evaluation can be difficult to assess in the class-only model or in classes as large as 20-30 participants to one coach. You can read more about this here, here, and here.

We think there’s a better way that can give you the results you’re looking for.

We recommend coaches train clients one-on-one before training people in a group or class. This is why we offer three personal training sessions for $99 — so you can become familiar with FOR and our philosophy, and we can learn how you move and any limitations you may have. Why? Because every single one of us moves differently. We all have a history of exercise or lack thereof; you have a health history that dictates the kinds of exercises and the programs that are right for you.

After the evaluation, each client is taught the fundamental movements that will be required in our classes if the client chooses to join our class program. Many clients choose our one-on-one training approach, while others choose our small group program, which maxes at four people. Regardless of the avenue you choose, we have a thoughtful program of strength training, cardiovascular work, and lots of FUN in between.

Get started here.


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



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