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Becoming a Personal Fitness Trainer in Alaska

Personal trainers play a key role in keeping the people of Alaska healthy and in great shape. It doesn’t matter if people are looking to get in shape for outdoor sports, tone up a little, or lose weight; a personal trainer can guide them through this process. You’ll need to be able to leverage coaching and communication skills to convey your expertise in weight management, movement, and physiology in order to help your clients achieve their goals.

As a personal trainer in Alaska, you can expect a number of options regarding your potential work environment as well as the type of clients you choose to work with. Alaska has a thriving cruise tourism industry that offers many employment opportunities working on the cruise ships in the Gulf of Alaska area as a personal trainer. If that isn’t to your liking, plenty of opportunities are also available in the major cities in gyms, senior oriented fitness clubs. and medical facilities. Each offers unique opportunities worth exploring.

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Alaska has a pressing need for personal fitness trainers. According to recent statistics, 65% of Alaska’s adults are obese, overweight and at risk for weight related health problems. With their quality of life threatened due to this, professional training and education to help the residents of Alaska achieve a healthier lifestyle are imperative.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Alaska

As of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 560 personal trainers were working at fitness facilities in Alaska. Most facilities not only prefer, but require that applicants have national certification, a relevant degree, and some sort of experience. The most competitive candidates often have poet-secondary education to help set them apart from the crowd. There are also programs that offer guided opportunities shadowing personal trainers so that graduates can begin building up a body of experience that makes them more desirable to prospective future employers.

Post-Secondary Education and Formal Training

The following are some degree options you might choose from as a prospective personal trainer in Alaska:

  • Associate degree (two-year):

  • Fitness and Health

  • Exercise Science

  • Bachelor’s degree (four-year):

  • Exercise Science (including courses in Resistive Training, Fundamentals of Cardiovascular Training and Analysis of Human Movement)

  • Physical Education, Teaching and Coaching (including courses in Concepts and Design of Physical Fitness Activities, Adapted Programs of Physical Activity and Fundamentals of Aquatics)

  • Biology or Physiology (including courses in Human Anatomy and Physiology, Fundamentals of Cell Biology and Immunochemistry)

  • Kinesiology

  • Nutrition

  • Sports Medicine

As a general outline, you can expect to encounter coursework that will cover these key areas in any one of these advanced degree programs:

  • Strength and conditioning theory

  • Weight management

  • Health and fitness analysis

  • Biomechanics

  • Nutrition for fitness

  • Biology

  • Human Anatomy

Upon completion of any of the above mentioned programs, a graduate will have the expertise and skills that employers and clients most value. Whether an individual is seeking strength conditioning for outdoor activities such as hiking, or some joint friendly exercises designed to help older adults stay fit and limber, a nationally certified personal trainer should be able to meet the needs of each of their clients.

Another aspect of this career field is that you need to be a bit of a cheerleader. You have to be encouraging while working with your clients to help them meet their health and fitness goals. Communication is a cornerstone of all you do. Having strong people skills is what allows a personal trainer to provide a client with the kind of unforgettable experience that keeps them not only motivated, but coming back.

Personal Training Certification

Almost all employers will require that anyone they consider hiring have at least one national certification, although more are preferable. Each of the agencies mentioned below are recognized by the Livestrong Foundation as top personal training certification agencies. Each maintains a necessity for its members to have passed an exam and specific certification requirements. Some of these agencies even require that applicants have an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite for membership.

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS) - requires a 4-year degree

  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) - must have at least two years of fitness experience

  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE)

  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)

  • American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA)

  • National Endurance and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

  • International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)

  • The Cooper Institute

Additional Preparation

Some of these agencies will require that personal trainers have CPR certification before they can sit for exams. For trainers focused on working with specific athlete populations will obtain further certifications geared toward their specific areas of interest.

  • Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Certification (AFPA)

  • Group Fitness Instructor Certification (ACE)

  • Certified Health Fitness Specialist (ACSM) - requires a 4-year degree

Career Opportunities for Personal Trainers in Alaska

The type of employment available for personal trainers in Alaska can be demonstrated by looking at a 2015 posting from the Alaska Club in Anchorage and what they expect from their trainers. The Alaska Club is a well-known private athletic and social club that prides itself on providing its members with a superior experience.

A March 2015 job posting by the Alaska Club in Anchorage gives you a great look into what employers expect from prospective personal trainers. The club is a private social and athletic club and expects its team members to provide an outstanding training experience for new and existing clientele. As their ad stated, trainers would be needed to motivate future clients by setting goals, creating fitness plans and tracking results. Another aspect of the job would be providing goal setting assistance for members with specific fitness goals. A job like that can only be obtained relevant experience, a current national certification and the proper educational background. For anyone with the proper qualifications, the salary generally starts around $60,000 and comes with a free club membership.

One of the nice things about Alaska for personal trainers is the state offers a vast array of work environments and opportunities to enter into programs that employ the styles of fitness you’re most passionate about. The following classes at the Alaska Club in Fairbanks give you a great look at what group fitness options are available:

  • Power Yoga

  • Mat Pilates

  • H20 Combo

  • H20 Cardio

  • Zumba

  • Glutes and Guts

  • Dance Cardio

  • Warm Flow Yoga

Trainers are also often expected to create personalized nutrition and workout plans, so consider this when pursuing continuing education. Whether you hope to work with clients one-on-one or teach group classes like those mentioned above, having the proper certification and education is the key to a rewarding career as a happy and successful personal fitness trainer in Alaska.


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