Here are just a few stories from our members: congratulations on your successes, and keep up the great work!
I've had a breathing problem for many years and, to my mind, I was gaining too much weight and a general feeling of sluggishness from not being active enough. My personal physician had also been telling me I need to get into a program of regular exercise. When she ran me through a stress test, I was convinced that it was time to stop screwing around by putting off the discipline required for a regular program of physical fitness. I originally signed up about a year ago to work the treadmill as the best way to rebuild my lung capacity. In addition to losing significant weight, I think my lung capacity has improved a great deal over the past year. However, I feel like I need another year to get to the point where I might actually need the help of a personal trainer to get me into a more comprehensive program of fitness. I am feeling much better and much more fit after my year of steady treadmilling. I can take long and difficult hikes once again. I look forward to coming back to The Alaska Club and continuing with my program.
With The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Joelle Miller
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.
With The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Jay Hiller
"My journey began on September 22nd, 2019. My best friend called and during our conversation, she told me she had lost 80 in the last 8 months. She showed me a pic and she looked amazing. I was not about to have her show me up so I asked how. She was eating healthy. She had cut out most carbs and sugars. I was 386 lbs and had already thought about getting healthy and this was the last straw. So I did what she did. I cut out all carbs except vegetables. Within 3 weeks I had lost over 20 lbs. I had committed to this healthy way of life but then I began to think long-term. How was I going to look without the fat? At this rate, I was going to have skin flapping everywhere. So I hung my head and headed to The Alaska Club. I didn't want to go to the gym but I knew I needed to. I signed up and then got a personal trainer. I knew I was going to need that extra motivation. The first 2 months were slow. Besides personal training, I was only going in maybe 1-2 times a week. Then I played on the app and saw the monthly challenges. Another motivator. Then my trainer told me he also did team training. I liked working with him so I figured I would sign up for that as well. All of a sudden I had motivation coming from every direction. I still have slow weeks but I now average 4-5 times a week, sometimes even more. This morning I stepped on the scale and it said 284. I'm writing this February 19th, 2020. That's over 100 lbs in less than 5 months through diet and exercise alone. I'm not even close to being done and cant wait to see where this journey takes me."
From Stacey Acree Ledgerwood, Personal Trainer, The Alaska Club West
"My client Lee-Ann has been training with me since July 2018. She weighed in under 200 pounds this morning, and has lost 95 pounds in the last 11 months. She is much stronger and healthier because of the choices she made. I am wicked proud of her. Lee-Ann, we are so inspired by your perseverance and dedication. You are a constant reminder to always be working towards the life you want to create for yourself!"
"Tara had recently competed in the bikini
"As far as exercise goes, I stuck with building muscle to burn fat. No matter where you build muscle the fat comes off everywhere. I started lifting free weights with two male friends from work, one who is very knowledgeable in
"Whatever you’re doing concentrate on:
"When I felt fed up, I would think of Tara. I’m still in awe of how this woman has five children, one of which is special needs, and a husband who would be training and deploying with the military nonstop. She did this diet for FOUR months while training for a
"At age 44 I can say I really like myself and I’m proud of myself. I’m excited
The Alaska Club Fairbanks South Member
Jim has been a member for about 4 years and every morning he shoots 200 baskets a day, 100 free throws, and 100 foul shots. Jim started this routine in January 2014 and since then he has lost 220 pounds. Jim is 70 years old, which you’d never know by looking at him. His primary care doctor said that his losing the weight and his workout routine combined, has extended his life by 20 years! He wanted to share his story with others because he believes that at 70 years old, if he can do it, anyone can.
Way to go Jim!
"I began working with Zach in April 2018 and my primary goal was to maintain my weight loss and improve my overall strength. Working with Zach twice a week and also attending AK Club Team Training has played an intricate roll in reaching my fitness goals. Zach designed a specific program for me to follow and has been a pleasant to work with each session. I have improved my overall strength tremendously. I am able to bench and squat more than I ever have. My posture has improved and clothes fit wonderful. Zach is always on time, pleasant and prepared for my session. His coaching style is great at helping me to perform each exercise correctly for the maximum benefit. I always feeling the workout is challenging but never unattainable. I recommend Zach Ferntheil to anyone who is interested in having a conscientious personal trainer to build their overall strength performance."
"Over the years, Alaska Club has provided so much for our family. Child Care at the Boniface/Muldoon location to the point our daughter did not want to go home. She had so much fun and the staff was beyond wonderful.
"I also took tennis lessons and entered tennis tournaments; one year during a double tournament, we took first place. Pretty awesome, I would say. Great staff, great instructors!
"My daughter and I also signed up for Personal Trainers, we actually lost 1-2 lbs a week and then gained muscle weight with Breanne and Tanna at the Wasilla Location. The Classes for aerobics and cycle were awesome and grueling, but we loved every minute.
"It seems so strange to move away. The Alaska Club has been family. I am sure we will visit or move back: most do, and until then, thank you for being there for us and making a difference."
With Personal Trainer Heather Beat
"I met Heather in November 2016 after I requested a trainer to help me work towards general fitness goals. I was 50 years old and someone who had been a workaholic for decades, juggling a large job and 60+ hour weeks. My job was largely sedentary as I worked in an office setting and most of my time was spent at a desk or in conference rooms and meetings. I had reached a point in my life where I had forgotten what it felt like to have muscles or a core, range of mobility, balance, strength and stamina. I love to fish but frankly, I was in terrible shape.
"What I appreciate about Heather is she is a very clear communicator and listener, she is also responsive to her client's feedback and she adjusts the workout, as needed, to either challenge or tailor the workout to her client's capabilities or problem zones (old injuries or chronic pain areas, etc). In the past, I have worked with personal trainers at other gyms in the lower 48 who pushed me to the point of injury or designed the workout with maximum burn and intensity in mind. Heather pushed me but it felt like encouragement. She encouraged me to smile when that was the last thing I felt like doing! She shared healthy living tips and was overall, a wonderful coach, trainer, and friend who helped me learn how to be a healthier and active person both inside and outside of the gym.
"Last summer, I took my 81 year old mom salmon dip netting and I single-handedly had to push over 90 lbs of salmon in a cooler up the soft sand slope to the parking area - probably 100-150 feet. I felt like my heart would burst but I kept thinking about Heather saying "come on Marian, do this! You've got this!" and I somehow made it to the parking area without collapsing. I had many such moments throughout the past year and I was grateful to have worked towards better health and fitness.
"I have decided to end my personal training because it's been 19 months and it's time for me to own my exercise and healthier living. I appreciate all that Heather has done to help me get to this point and I highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to train with a trainer."
With Personal Trainer Stephen Ferntheil
"Working with a personal trainer has been awesome! It was a fun process and I'm loving the results.
"I decided to add strength training to my fitness routine. I was intimidated because I hadn't lifted weights before, and I wanted to do it correctly so I wouldn't injure myself.
"I learned so much while working with Stephen. He listened to my goals and helped me feel comfortable taking on a new challenge.
"Now I am stronger overall and my posture is better. Training has translated into other areas as well. I love to swim and now my swim times are faster. I can bike and hike more easily, and my endurance is better.
"I've become a fan and will continue to keep strength as part of my routine. Super. Fun. Thank you, Stephen!"
With The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Andrea Steele
"My name is Tuyet Smallwood and I am celebrating my one year anniversary with working out with my personal trainer, Andrea Steele. February 26, 2016 is the date that changed my life. I finally summoned up the courage and approached Andrea and told her I had been interested in getting a personal trainer after I had been observing her over several weeks as she worked with one of her clients. I asked her how I could get started with registering for a personal trainer and advised her that I had no idea what I was doing. Immediately, Andrea was very engaged and gave me her phone number and scheduled me for an appointment with her the very next day!
"On that day, she asked me about what my goals were, what I had been doing [i.e. physical activities and experiences], diet, and overall health. Honestly, I dreaded this moment: taking measurements! She assured me that we needed a benchmark to measure our progress and track changes. I knew she was right but I felt humbled and ashamed at my starting numbers… UGH…but I truly appreciated her reassuring me that she was not judgmental. She has been so supportive and understanding!
"Over the course of the year, I have learned so much from Andrea! She introduced me to machines, equipment, technique, form, vocabulary, and routines. She has completely released me from my “run of the mill routine” and placed me outside of my comfort zone. Through the years, I knew I had to get out of my usual treadmill rut; however, I always felt justified staying there because I thought I was doing “something” and yet I also knew that that “something” wasn’t helping me see any progressive change: I have been in Weight Watchers for about 8 years. My initial starting weight was 148.4 lbs. My best weight in Weight Watchers was at 136 lbs. That was fine and life was great…..but then I broke my leg in March 2015. Unfortunately, I gained weight during the recovery phase. I never returned to 136 lbs. When I first started seeing Andrea, my weight was 146.6 lbs. [A quick side note: my heaviest weight has been a startling 152.8 lbs.] I was clearly unhappy with myself and what was [not] happening.
"As Andrea worked with me, I started noticing changes. Other people started noticing changes. First, it was a side- comment here, a small compliment there, a brief conversation here. My clothes started to fit, I actually had to buy smaller clothes, I could wear some of my older clothes in the back of the closet, my overall appearance was changing, and I started feeling better. A year later, my weight is now 130 lbs.! I brag about how awesome Andrea is! I brag about how incredibly patient Andrea is! I tell everyone how enthusiastic she is! I show everyone her fitness – music videos that she sends me and everyone is so amazed at what we can do! She motivates me to stay on course. Andrea has obviously changed my outlook on how to work on exercising, weight change, and nutrition…but she has also changed how I look at myself. I now have confidence in myself and I can set challenges and goals that I would have never done on my own. Running intervals on the treadmill at death defying speeds!!! Who knew?? She is always showing me new things and mixes up the routine with different activities. Am I still afraid and cautious? Of course, I am … but I am also excited and ready because I have a new level of self-esteem that I have gained from Andrea’s coaching.
"She has taught me that I can do anything that I can set my sights on: I just need to give it the effort and if at first, I don’t succeed then I should just keep trying! A year later, I know I can push myself beyond a 100% and aim for 110%! I am excited for the next year! My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner!"
"I have always been a generally fit person favoring long distance running and cycling. Strength, balance, and fluid movement were my weaknesses. After years of endurance sports without proper strength training, I start to feel the wear and tear around my large joints, especially my hips.
"As part of my postpartum recovery, I started going to The Alaska Club Team Training in October 2016 with the encouragement from my friend Heather Beat. I became a regular immediately. Team Training works for me, because it’s a fun and challenging strength based program with the perks of personal attention from fitness professionals. It’s been a year since I started going to Team Training, I can see clear improvements in my strength and movement. Because of the stronger core muscles and better agility, I have also improved my timing in running and cycling. Huge kudos to my trainers: Heather Beat, Carlo Pastena, and Jordan Edwards."
"Amy and I have been working together for 6 months now and she's been nothing but an inspiration. She began her journey over a year ago and so far has lost over 100lbs and nearly 10% body fat! She's committed to the process and continues to strive forward for her success."
Way to go Amy!
With The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Stephen Ferntheil
Maria shares her journey: "In November, I had weight loss surgery (Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass) and I knew that in order to achieve long term success, I needed to incorporate exercise into my life. I signed up for personal training in January. I weighed about 390 lb and I was extremely intimidated. I felt like I didn’t ‘belong’ in a gym environment. I was scared to fail."
"My trainer Stephen set me at ease right away. He helped me stay positive and was very encouraging. Each month he set lofty goals, and with his help I have achieved every one. I now look forward to coming to the gym. I am able to do things that I NEVER thought I’d be able to do. My current weight is 335lbs. I know that personal training has been essential to my success. I have so much more energy, and confidence that spills over into every aspect of my life. I have come so far in the last four months, and I am very thankful for Stephen’s support and guidance. I’m excited to continue working with him! I recommend Personal Training to everyone, but especially to weight loss surgery patients, or other people who are intimidated by the gym."
Here is Maria's story about how her trainer Stephen helped her achieve one of her biggest goals yet!
"This July I achieved my biggest goal since I set out on this weight loss journey. Stephen is always challenging me to think about my fitness goals, and when I mentioned that I wanted to climb a mountain, he was immediately on board. We climbed Flattop! He took time out of his own schedule to support me, and encouraged me every (difficult!) step of the way. I really appreciate that Stephen truly cares, and is just as committed to my success as I am. When I started personal training I weighted 390 lbs. I am now 268lbs! I know I would never have been able to climb Flattop without the training and encouragement I received from my excellent personal trainer. Thanks Stephen!"
Thanks for sharing Maria! It is always a pleasure to see our members crush their goals. keep climbing those mountains!
From The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Cameron Allen
"Coming into training, Sam wanted to gain upper body strength and lose body fat. In 4 months of hard work and dedication, Sam went from 22% body fat to 9% and pushes 50 lb dumbbells! He wants to continue working on his upper body strength and gain more control and understanding over his diet which will help him achieve his desired body fat results."
Way to go Sam, keep crushing those goals!
With The Alaska Club Personal Training Manager June Dewese
"I have been in reasonably good shape most of my life (I’m a field biologist), but when I reached my 50s, the weight really started to pack on. When the scale read 156 lbs for a 5’3” frame, I had a sort of freak-out moment where I realized if I didn’t change course soon, I could get to the point where losing weight is a real challenge (my sister had bariatric surgery and my brother is obese, so some family history with this issue). Plus, being a biologist, I was aware of all the health problems associated with being overweight. So I started taking the 6:15am Insanity® class at the Alaska Club with your instructor Jonal and although my whole body was sore for the first 2 weeks, it was the kind of soreness that says you are working all of your muscles; I loved it. Nevertheless, I still felt like something was missing. I decided to take the plunge and learn how to work with free weights, with personal trainer June Dewese. Less than a year into the training, I broke my ankle skiing and had to have surgery and a cast. I was so motivated to stick with my training that I continued to exercise. June showed me how to do modified exercises with my cast on. Then June and I worked together to get my strength back for when the cast came off as well as after the cast came off. Within 3½ months, I was back to hiking cross-country in the Susitna River valley. I am convinced my rapid recovery was due to my strength training. At age 55, I am 15 lbs lighter than when I started, have lost 8 inches in my waist, arms, and thighs, lost 5% body fat but gained lean muscle throughout my body and I am probably in the best shape I have ever been in. A recent bone density scan revealed I am still in the normal range, which for women my age is fantastic. My fitness training has been a life-changing experience that inspires me to set new goals and find ways to stay active wherever I am."
Keep it up Janet!
With The Alaska Club Personal Trainer Carlo Pastena
"I joined the Alaska Club about 7 years ago with the intention of improving my health. My job at the time, which was once active, turned sedentary. My diet along with other habits took a nose dive. I was smoking, eating fast food almost everyday, and enjoyed my evening cocktails (yes, plural). For the first five years, I would go to the gym pretty regularly, but unfocused and with no goals or plan in mind. I had heard that "showing up was 90% of the battle". Not true! The only gains I made were in my waistline and my cholesterol.
"In late 2015 I decided enough was enough. I was 60 pounds over weight, and could not walk up a flight of stairs without losing my wind. So, I got a Personal Trainer with the hopes of him helping me stay focused, accountable, and provide me with a plan. What I actually got was so much more.
"Carlo has helped me in so many ways. Yes he helps me be accountable, yes he has a plan for me, and he checks in frequently even when I'm not at the gym to help me stay focused. He and the other Trainers at South have become friends. They are truly interested in helping me be the best me I can be.
"I am learning that my health is not a quick fix, but a journey. I'm now excited to see just where my journey leads."
Lost 80 lbs and 10 inches exercising at the Wasilla location
"I had two heart episodes in July and August of 2016. I went and saw Dr. Skulley and he determined it was a weight issue. I was 5'4 and 240 lbs. My daughter is a dietician student ( graduate in May) and so I combined good eating with proper exercise and the results have been fantastic. I will always be very thankful for the Alaska Club and how it was instrumental in offering varieties of exercising options to keep me motivated (3× week stepper, 2x swim, 1x jump rope)."
Great job, Robb! Keep it up!