First, I would like to thank The Alaska Club for allowing Any Time Fitness members to transfer their membership. With this transfer, I have been able to continue work with my trainer, Joelle Miller. Her patience, knowledge and experience working with a wide range of abilities has greatly helped me.
Initially I had joined Any Time Fitness to help maintain my fitness for my profession. When I first joined the gym I was not interested in a personal trainer, as I thought that I could do it myself. I have worked for State of Alaska, Division of Forestry with forestry/wild-land fire for over 20 years. My various firefighting jobs require that I maintain a physically fit stature. Early in my wild-land fire career I was required to pass an arduous test (3 miles within 45 minutes, with a 45 lb pack). Now, I work in management, which requires a lighter assessment (1 mile walk in less than 15 minutes) to maintain my red-card qualifications. I am also a member of the Incident Management Team (IMT). The Alaska IMT can be mobilized at a moment’s notice. Assignments can be in Alaska, as well as in the lower 48. An assignment can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days. In 2018, before I left on a three-week dispatch assignment, Joelle provided me with an exercise program that could completed in a hotel room.
Now as I grow older, staying fit has become more challenging. Throughout the years and many trials and tribulations, I have realized that my previous fitness strategy was not sustainable. In my 40’s I started running local 10K’s and sometimes marathons. I thought that by running I was “fit”, but in truth this strategy held many falsehoods. 1996 was my first episode with cancer, soft tissue sarcoma of the foot. I had several recurrences leading up to 2011, but was able to maintain remission for a better part of the decade. I’ve also had other struggles, such as a broken elbow, dislocated shoulder and in the fall of 2018, a broken wrist. Currently, I am dealing with metastasized breast cancer that developed in my spine. I had been initially diagnosed in 2006 with breast cancer DCIS, and in 2019 I found that the cancer had returned posing the risk of my mobility by not being able to walk or run.
I worked with Joelle first at Any Time Fitness and now The Alaska Club. She has helped me to develop a whole-body fitness regimen. Working with both my strengths and weakness through each undertaking, Joelle has assisted and guided me to regain my strength. Under the directions of my physicians and physical therapists, Joelle and I are currently working towards a plan to rebuild my strength.
The gym and my personal trainer are two reasons that have helped me survive both emotionally and physically. As I mentioned last February, I was bed ridden; Tumors had weakened my spine, I used a walker and at one time, I was on portable oxygen. After the radiation, oral chemo drugs and physical therapy, my medical team gave the approval to get back into the gym. I WAS SO HAPPY! It has been a slow progress, but it was an upward progression. My new physical fitness goals are so different from my past marathon training. These new goals are just as tough or even tougher. I have learned moderation and started with little steps. Just getting to the ground and getting myself off of the ground has been a huge milestone. To my family and friends, I describe this scenario as a “turtle lying on its shell”.
I would like to extend an invitation to everyone to take that first step and start, or re-start an exercise regimen, join a gym and take advantage of the gym’s personal trainers on staff. You may feel that your physical limitations will prevent or hinder your ability, or that you won’t fit in. This is not true. I can attest that one-on-one personal training is extremely beneficial. I have also observed and witnessed two friends working with a trainer helped each other achieve their goal to run a 10K. I am extremely thankful for the emotional support and assistance that Joelle has given me in achieving my goals through the years.