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Training For A New Life

By |2013-03-21T09:00:00-04:00March 21st, 2013|Guides, Health & Wellness|

Kimo Frederiksen (back) teaches Kyle Williams how to be a personal trainer. BTL photo: Crystal A. Proxmire

When Kyle Williams lost his breath walking up a flight of stairs, he got scared and knew that something had to change. At 300 pounds he did not feel very healthy in his size 46 jeans.
At the time he was living in Georgia with his grandmother, and he started using the naturally hilly landscape as his personal gym. He trained himself to be “addicted” to fruits and vegetables and kept focused on his goals.
Soon after he began the journey towards good health, Williams’ grandmother died and the 21-year-old Detroit native found himself jobless, homeless and family-less in a city that he barely knew. Williams had graduated from the Detroit School of Arts High School and he made his way back north to live with the family of a classmate temporarily. He got a job at Randazzo’s while he struggled to figure out what he was going to do.
“I don’t really know what made me do it, but when Charles Pugh came into Randazzo’s, I thought that maybe I should write him, and I did. I thought he might know what I should do,” Williams said. He wrote the Detroit City Council President a letter that, as he described, “was so long that I went on and on. I just poured everything into it. I told him about my grandma, and how I had nowhere to go. I don’t know what I expected, but he used his connections and got me into Ruth Ellis Center. I was so lucky.”
Because of his age, Williams could only spend a few short months in the Ruth Ellis Center’s Transitional Living Program. The program has several young adults sharing a house while they prepare for life on their own. They get help with job searches, counseling, food and internships and training and other things they need to learn self-sufficiency. “I had a job, but I was always trying to do better. It’s like a rule that at Ruth Ellis Center you wake up every day and look for work. I wanted to make sure I used every resource they had available while I was there.”
Williams also kept focused on his health. Through mindful eating and exercise, the once 300-pound youth slimmed down to 180 pounds. “I’d be in the kitchen and other people would be like ‘Why are you eating squash?” and I’d try to tell them why. This girl at the center wanted to lose weight. She saw how I was always using the weights there and eating healthy, so she asked me if I could help her. So I started doing unofficial training for her and other people there. I guess someone at Ruth Ellis Center noticed and talked to Kimo. They asked me if I would like this opportunity and I thought it was a dream come true.
The opportunity was the chance to train with Kimo Frederiksen at True Body Fitness located at 1434 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. For the past four months the experienced trainer and small business owner has taken Williams under his wing and taught him how to be a personal trainer himself. Within the next few weeks Williams will be taking a test to become certified, and he’ll be able to build up his own client base while working out of Frederiksen’s facility.
Williams is happy with personal training as a career path. His own journey was so rewarding. “It validated that I can do anything. Nothing is an impossibility,” he said. “I love being here. It’s the environment I was always searching for. It’s like the law of attraction. I’ve always known about True Body Fitness, but I could never come here, and now this is where I’m at.”
Frederiksen started his business in Howell, near his hometown of Brighton. But he moved to Corktown in Detroit because he was excited by all that was going on there. For the past two and a half years, business has been “building up more and more,” he said. “You watch the news and Detroit seems just awful. But it’s not. People here support each other and they’re really proud of keeping their money here. I get people that come from all over, but I get a lot of business here from Corktown because people really keep it local.”
He’s passed along some of the fruits of his success to the Ruth Ellis Center, with donations to the organization and by attending their fundraisers. “A lot of it is as an openly gay man there is that fear in the back of your head that people will disown you just because you’re gay. When you think about that there are parents out there that would do that to their own child, it’s really sad.”
This is the first that Frederiksen has done mentoring. “Kyle is first, kind of like an experiment,” he said. “It’s worked well. I’m glad to be bringing him on as a contractor so he can own his own business and have his own clients and give him the space to do it. This will give him a set income and a business he can grow.”
Williams is on his way out of Ruth Ellis Center, having found his own apartment and the income from both the personal training and a second job. And though he does not have a biological family to support him, he’s gained the skills to create a family of his choosing.
Jessie Fullenkamp, director of Drop-in Services with Ruth Ellis Center, is happy when she can see a business and a youth partnership turn out so successfully. “The Ruth Ellis Center is always open to working with businesses and organizations to create opportunities for youth that will also be an asset to our partners. Businesses that approach us understand the importance of investing in LGBTQ youth who experience homelessness. A mentorship interaction with youth is an effective model for a life-long learning experience. We are looking for businesses that understand how transformative an opportunity paired with mentorship can be,” she said. Two of the center’s biggest internship partners are DTE and Youth Employment Solutions. More are welcome.
Williams is looking for clients to train once his certification is complete. Those who are interested in letting him guide them towards better health can contact Kyle Williams at True Body Fitness through their email form at

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