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Owner of Fieldworks Gym, Stuart Frew, on taking the weight during the Pandemic

Published: 30/03/2021

First off, Stuart Frew can walk. As we pace around London Fields in the Spring sunshine, I realise I’m walking faster than myself or my family would believe I’m capable of, and I’m maintaining it. What Stuart has unconsciously done is proven that my default can be adjusted.

In essence this is what Fieldworks does best, it focuses on stretching your capability by making a series of small consistent changes, enabling you then to run faster, be stronger or shift any unwanted pounds.
The stripped back gym, situated under the arches at the top of London Fields, precariously close to the bakery Pophams, isn’t your archetypal gym. Classes are restricted to 12 to create a sense of camaraderie amongst the participants whilst also leaving nowhere to hide, so any bad technique can be picked up on and adjusted.

In contrast to other gyms there isn’t a mirror in sight. The focus is on you and your internal progression as opposed to how you look, eliminating any showboating.

A proud family man, Stuart comes across as gentle and considerate but his past career in the Marines indicates that he is anything but a push over. You only have to follow Fieldworks Instagram to see the frankly insane things he does for charity.

The transition from marine to civilian life can be hard for some but Stuart focused on what he enjoyed in service, training and mentoring, and used that to forge a new career path.
After initially offering PT sessions to professional athletes he realised that he was drawn to clients who were interested in competing against themselves as opposed to others.

“There isn’t any short term fix but a lifetime of health and stability. I like to empower clients to take responsibility for their own fitness as opposed to relying on just a class”- and then eating cake for the rest of the week I think.
Given Stuart’s background you may be excused for presuming there would be a lot of shouting and drilling. To dispel that myth he explained the fundamental differences in training with the Army and with the Marines, with a story about his visit to a naval base early in his career.

“The squaddies were doing drills and one of the guys was lagging behind and fell down. The sergeant came over and calmly asked if that’s all he felt he could achieve right now.”

I’m sure we can all relate, a disappointed parent is more powerful than a shouting one.  

“It harboured a communal attitude of self achievement and purpose. Service was bigger than me.” he continues.

Interestingly, the Marines make up for only 4% of the armed forces but when it comes to hiring for the special forces, 40% have previously been Marines. As a statistic I’d say that’s a pretty strong indicator that they are doing something right.

Given all this, I wonder how he’s coped through Covid?

“Initially it was highly frustrating, as Boris said he was keeping pubs and gyms open but not to go to them! I closed Field Works then and within a week was comforted when it was mandated, as it meant we were all in the same boat. I quickly accepted that there was nothing I could do right now to change the situation so I focused on my family and homeschooling.”

How was that?

“I was pretty lucky but I really missed the community at Fieldworks and to be honest, talking to adults.”

Were you worried that you would lose the business?

“Absolutely but I’ve been lucky to have a landlord that understood my predicament and agreed a deal which has enabled me to reopen next month and with increased space.”

That's exciting, what’s changed?

“We’ve taken on the space behind our original studio and gained a mezzanine floor which we will use as a PT area. I really can’t wait to see everyone again and use the space, but initially we hope to make the most of the weather and do as many classes as we can outside in the park.”
There are some things in life we can’t control, like a pandemic, what we can control is how we deal with it and how we emerge from it. Post lockdown if you want to take control of your health and your body, I can’t recommend a better place to go than Fieldworks gym.

Fieldworks is situated at Arch 8, 274 Richmond Road, E8 3QW