Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 12:50 PM on Wednesday, August 1, 2012

'Together we can': Philosophical cornerstone of Alaska Training Room

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photos by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Above, Mary Jo Cambridge, center, the founder and head athletic trainer of the Alaska Training Room, keeps the action moving. One of her posters, left, helps keep clients' smiling and focused.

Listening to the chatter and frequent encouragement given by Mary Jo Cambridge, founder and head athletic trainer at Alaska Training Room, taking Cambridge' circuit-training class is hard work, no question, but the atmosphere is charged with humor and camaraderie.

A watchful and smiling Cambridge moves about the room, offering advice, giving directions and correcting the form of the 14 men and women in one of her morning classes.

"Good job."

"Keep moving."

"Oh, that's nice."

Just as the clock and energy in the room indicates the hardworking adults have reached the end of the hour-long class, Cambridge pushes them to take one more step.

"Now your two favorite words, 'And then ... ,'" she says, giving them one more challenge before the class wraps up.

There's no doubt Cambridge' approach is hands-on. As her philosophy — "together we can" — makes clear, being fit and healthy is not a solitary journey, but a group effort.

"(Clients in) all my classes support each other," says Cambridge. "If they're working with someone that's new, they'll help them. People are embracing this."

Since opening in June, Cambridge has developed a Monday through Saturday schedule of adult classes, as well as an eight-week boot camp for high school students wanting to boost their endurance, agility and strength before the start of another sports-filled school year. She offers a complimentary weekday class to anyone wanting to see what her approach is like, and a variety of membership rates, including individual, family, senior and corporate.

"I want people to be able to afford it," says Cambridge of the multiple programs available.

Alaska Training Room also is an approved vendor for Connections, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's homeschool program, and IDEA, Interior Distance Education of Alaska offered locally through the Galena City School District. Homeschooling is near and dear to Cambridge' heart. She homeschools her 10-year-old son.

Cambridge brings to Homer more than two decades of experience in the field of athletic training. The Bethlehem, Pa., native eared a degree in physical education and athletic training from Longwood College in Farmville, Va. She went on to earn a master of education in athletic training and sports medicine from the University of Virginia in 1987.

From 1987-1991, Cambridge reports being the head softball coach and assistant athletic trainer at the University of North Carolina and the head athletic trainer from 1992-1995. She followed that with three years as an athletic trainer and exercise specialist at the Palm Beach Institute of Sports Medicine in Boca Raton, Fla., and played professional baseball for the Florida Legends of the Ladies Professional Baseball League, before relocating to the West Coast.

In Malibu, Calif., Cambridge focused on sand training while working with junior tennis players, climbers and ultra-endurance athletes. She also used her skills as head athletic trainer for the United States Tennis Association, training junior and pro athletes at both the US. Open and Wimbledon.

Cambridge holds memberships in the National Athletic Trainer's Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is a Red Cross-certified CPR instructor.

She first visited Homer 15 years ago "and fell in love with it." While at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center, Cambridge offered suggestions to some of the women around her and the next thing she knew, with encouragement from pool director Bridget Kuhns, she was leading a small class "of five ladies on the pool deck," she said. As the class grew, Cambridge moved the class to Homer High School's mat room.

"(Kuhns) said if you build it, they will come," says Cambridge.

Build it, she did. Or rather, interest in her class continued to build.

"Tia and Joel Pietsch of Harbor School of Music said I could use their dance studio," Cambridge says of another step along the way to her present location.

In June, she opened the Alaska Training Room at 1067 Ocean Drive.

Her mission, as stated on the Alaska Training Room website, is to "develop a comprehensive sports medicine and athletic training resource for the individuals of Homer and to provide a setting that encourages physical, emotional and spiritual development." She weaves that mission through a program developed to benefit elite athletes as well as weekend athletes.

"Some say, 'misery loves company,' but I say, 'the more the merrier,'" says Cambridge.

Looking around the classroom, at the men and women following the circuit-training workout Cambridge has created, some who grasp her directions quickly and others who need more explanation, it appears she's found the balance of elite and weekend athletes working side by side.

For more about the Alaska Training Room, call 299-8505 or visit www.alaskatrainingroom.com.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.