Former world kickboxing champion turned celebrity fitness trainer, Drew Neal has won world championship title multiple times & is now a personal fitness trainer to many top bollywood celebrities.
An expert in martial arts, Drew has also been a kickboxing coach for World Association of Kickboxing Organization. With several awards & championships under his belt & an ever-growing list of accomplishments, he has maintained his grip on WAKO British title by winning it for six successive years.
In the later part of his career after retiring from the combat sport, he got finesse in fitness training & coaching to a superstar clientele. He is now focused on training bollywood celebs including Farhan Ahktar, Arjun Kapoor, Karan Kundra, Shibani Dandehar, Harshvardhan Kapoor. In the past he has worked with Kareena Kapoor, Amrita Arora, Bushan Kumar, toning them to actively fit into any desired role on screen. He also works with other high profile CEO’s and politicians and more.
“To him Fitness is all about the journey, not the destination.”
His journey is nothing less than a ship that sails on a stormy sea. His careers is marked by severe transformation of fate. His fans talk about his great clashes & the success he has earned. What they don’t talk about are the ups and downs that he has professionally gone through.
Giving more insights about him and Indian fitness cult, Drew Neal shares his journey with team Impact.
Born and brought up in England (UK), he was passionate about sports since his childhood days. He was drawn to fitness and his journey began in Karate at the tender age of five.
Drew says “I started mainly because my big brother did it. I followed him everywhere. We used to re-enact Bruce Lee movies together. He was always Bruce Lee and I was the student. Further, I started as a Kick-boxer at the age of 7 & slowly graduated to be an expert.”
The current phase of his career began in 1998 when he started working as a personal trainer and even a manager at various gyms, while still heavily competing and teaching seminars all over the world. He has worked with many fighters that become national, European & world champions. By the time he retired from fighting, he had his own gym & kickboxing school where he coached his own students and was selected as the national WAKO Kickboxing coach where he produced many champions, both nationally and internationally.
While working at his gym he was asked a number of times to travel to India to train various actors. This wasn’t really something that he saw himself doing, so he kept saying no.
He says “I began to wonder why I was being asked and maybe I should explore the idea. So an opportunity came about where I would train a new actor for his debut movie. The contract was for 3 months. I took the opportunity and moved to India. Its been 6 years now and I’m still here”.
Drew says, “Kickboxing involves deep practice. It is training for a purpose and pushing yourself to the edge of your limits every single time, making mistakes, correcting errors and constantly improving skills. If you look at any great fighter, their technique is cleaner than others; again this goes back to deep focused practice and the commitment to their training.”
He lived in a village far off with no direct access to world class coaches & training centres. And as such finding a perfect opportunity to flourish was very challenging for Drew.
Kickboxing has taught him a set of skills and standards that he applies to all aspects of his life. He has learnt that goal setting is something that one should do. When he first started his martial arts journey, he had 3 distinct goals, at the age of 5 to be so adamant on achieving something he feels it is rare. However, within 2 years he was able to do full box splits, goal 1 ticked off. After 5 years goal 2 was achieved, he could wear a blackbelt around his waist. And finally after 16 years of unwavering dedication he became world champion. Although, he managed to achieve these goals, he also realised that the goal wasn’t really the rewarding part, but in fact the journey was where he developed character & standards that he would apply into his daily life.
He says “I constantly set goals, whether it’s to achieve a certain aesthetic look for my body or work with a client I have set my eyes on. I find that I am constantly achieving the goals and it’s all because of the person martial arts has made me. The get knocked down 9 times get up 10 times lives inside me and it helps me to go after the most ludicrous & insurmountable of targets.”
He firmly believes in continually educating himself and evolving with the fitness industry. He says “Being a trainer can look very glamorous & exciting but it involves lots of hard work. It is such a profession where you only truly get good at your craft after years of experience, making mistakes and educating yourself.”
As a trainer, the biggest challenge is to understand the personality of their clients. Everybody has a unique personality & Drew aims at motivating his clients in different ways to get each of them to do what they need to.
“Getting the best out of people is quite a challenging task."
He says “I give my clients what they need not always what they want. With certain clients who are used to getting their own way how I put this across requires skill and understanding. I have worked with all kinds of people, young, old, rich, poor, athletes, unhealthy all of whom’s goals were to be a better version of themselves. Not all of them realised what exactly that takes but I endeavour to give everyone I come across an education give them a small part of the jigsaw which will help them grow. That is the most rewarding part of my job & why I continue to do what I do with the same passion and enthusiasm.”
Because of his chosen sport of kickboxing, fitness was just a way of life & he gained so many wonderful experiences that it was inevitable he would make a career from sport and coaching.
He often says that “combat sports are a great way to encourage fitness. Mainly because if you’re not fit you will get punched in the face more often, what better motivation to stay fit is there than that.”
He got to travel the world, teaching & competing and formed friendships that will stay with him forever. Drew swept aside challengers at WAKO British Championships in Nottingham & conquered all corners in the under 84 kg division since the start of the millennium.
World Champion Kick-boxer Drew decided to retire from competition in March 2012. It is his ambition to get his sport into the mainstream and help the future fighters gain recognition and sponsorship for the hours upon hours of training, discipline and dedication that it takes to be number one in their chosen sport.
“Talent needs opportunity. Giving talented athletes access to world class coaches, facilities, nutritionists, sports science and psychologists; this is what I mean by talent needs opportunity to achieve its true potential.”
He says “If my face can be attached to my sport and be seen as a well known profile, then I will have paved the way for the fighters that follow and give the sport of kickboxing the recognition it deserves.”
He adds “Although I still feel like this my goals have shifted somewhat, less into developing the sport, although I would if I could be given any chance. Would love to get involved in coaching the national team in India, which I have been approached to do but unfortunately I don’t have the free time to commit to it as I need top work in my own business and there isn’t enough money to support me as a coach only.”
He further adds “My goal is now to impact as many lives as possible whether that’s to inspire/motivate people into keeping fit & achieving their goals or whether I can help educate trainers here in India so as a team we can impact the lives of many.”