Why I Quit Being (Just) a Personal Trainer

I’m not quite sure the day or the week, yet I do remember the year when I realized I needed to make a change. It was 2018. 

After all, I’d started the first strength personal training gym in Old Town, Alexandria. I’d hired and helped to developed over 40 coaches. I’d personally known the fitness stories of over 1,500 clients. I’d expanded my education exponentially each year. I myself was stronger than ever. I was 51.



Our team of trainers was (and still is!) the best in Northen Virginia. Our philosophy about how a strong body translates to a strong mind was almost a cult-like operation. Everyone seemed happy. Yet, it just didn’t feel right anymore. 

I was still hearing the same one liners I’d been hearing since I started my former company, Fitness on the Run in 2004, from clients. 

They were:

  • • “I need more cardio to lose weight.” 
  • • “I know it’s all about calories in and calories out.” 
  • • “I take care of everyone around me and have nothing in my tank for me.” 
  • • “Can you just give me five things to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I’ll lose weight.”  
  • • I’ll stick to what I know or what I read in the paper/IG/podcast/blog (even though it hasn’t helped me achieve my goals).”
  • • “I’ll never be as fit as I want. My body shape is pre-set.” 
  • • “My sleep is good (meanwhile I learn they awaken every night).” 
  • • “Isn’t everyone stressed? How can stress be the reason I feel so out of shape?” 
  • • “I’m working out and eating healthy yet still not seeing results.”

I could give you more, yet these were the main lines or feelings I heard over and over again. So many were frustrated, lacked contentment, and were stuck on the “more is better” mentality. “Maybe I should try another type of exercise.” Maybe I should add a class.” “I guess I need to cut calories more.” 

Thankfully, those are the same themes that form the foundation for my new company, Alexandria Wellness.

On the other hand, I did (and still do!) have a number clients who understood that health and wellness is a journey, not a short term “challenge”. They were – and are – C-R-U-S-H-I-N-G it. Frankly, so was I with my own fitness. After introducing new concepts with my personal clients, we changed the face of their wellness journey. They embraced daily habits, banded together with a belief of “I can”, got rid of “cannot,” and made little changes in their days that made lasting results a reality. 

So while my fitness clients at Fitness on the Run were happy with our familial culture, my handful of personal clients added contentment, strength of body and mind, a lifestyle of wellness, and new practices that today they profess they’ll never stop. 

They became more confident not only in their movements in the gym yet in themselves 💥, they felt better than they imagined possible and improved relationships with loved ones. And this is all as a result of adjusting the way they viewed their fitness to a fresh definition of wellness…one step at a time. 

And, yes I’m still to this day their personal trainer and am darn proud of it. Each session is jam-packed with wellness conversations, sharing, and hard work. We are a community of women who are dedicated to our wellness, not just our fitness.  

In this series I will outline their small yet effective food, stress, sleep, mindset, habits, body acceptance, physical movement, and (self-talk) language strategies that resulted in defining their wellness journey. Yes, small changes resulted in massive success for my clients. They embraced a new and fresh way without killing themselves in the gym and starving their precious bodies of much-needed nourishment. 

Stay tuned – or schedule a free 30 minute consult with me.



Over time I essentially bridged the gap from the fitness-only model into other components of my clients wellness, and they experienced amazing results. That is how I began including nutrition, mindset, language, and the other aspects of the Wellness Wheel into my clients programs.

Although fitness is a noble profession I enjoyed for 15 years, the audience of women with whom I work want more than just fitness. They want true wellness – like me. 

I believe deeply in fitness. Exercise produces enormous benefits underneath and above the skin and especially in the area between your ears. Yet even the most robust fitness practices don’t address other essential components necessary to keep you fit – of mind and body – for the rest of your life. 

Join me in my crusade to help others engage in a meaningful wellness program addressing way more than fitness and diet. Read on for the next few weeks where I dissect the statements above and demonstrate to you the superior benefits of a holistic approach to your health, wellness, fitness, and yes, physique. 



  • 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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