Training for the Mountains

Alpine Start Fitness in Whitefish offers training and wellness coaching to prepare athletes for mountain sports

By Maggie Dresser
Cat Jenks, owner and trainer of Alpine Starts Fitness, in her gym space in Whitefish on March 11, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

After spending 10 years in the outdoor guiding industry and enduring a multitude of sports-related injuries, Cat Jenks wanted to start a business that allowed her to share her passion for the mountains with clients while instilling health and wellness into their lifestyles.

Jenks opened Alpine Start Fitness in August and has worked to develop individualized and group-training programs that encourage structured training in a gym while getting outside as much as possible.

As an integrative health and nutrition coach with certifications in personal training, yoga and TRX, Jenks combines cardio and strength training with recovery strategies, nutrition and overall wellness to help individuals reach their fitness goals.

“My main mission and goal is to find out how fitness can fit into people’s lives and lifestyle and support all of our unique bodies to feel strong and healthy,” Jenks said.

She structures her programs specifically for athletes to help them train for activities like skiing, backpacking and biking, with a strong emphasis on injury prevention.

Much of Jenks’ programs are inspired from her own personal injuries and mountain-sport goals. After suffering a broken humerus bone and enduring multiple knee surgeries, including a knee reconstruction, Jenks wanted to increase her athletic performances while preventing future injuries.

“As an athlete myself, I have been in and out of injuries, and as a mountain athlete, I kind of had blinders on,” Jenks said. “I would either ski really hard or run really hard, and I was getting injury after injury.”

Jenks began a regimen of strength training with yoga recovery and quickly noticed an increase in performance.

Inspired by her own personal success, she wanted to create a program to help others reach their fitness goals while creating a comfortable space unlike a traditional gym.

“Sometimes I feel intimidated going to a gym, and I am a personal trainer,” she said. “I know that people walk into gyms and they have no idea what to do, they feel like everybody’s watching them and there’s mirrors everywhere.”

Jenks has created a comfortable environment in her 950-square-foot gym in downtown Whitefish, where she utilizes simple equipment. With no machines, she incorporates high-intensity training with kettlebells, BOSU balls, box jumps, TRX suspensions and pull-up bars.

Her upcoming spring-training programs starting in April, Spring Thaw and Complete Body, entail in-person group training with an online forum and specialized programs that Jenks creates for her clients to do outside of class.

Spring Thaw is geared toward the mountain athlete, but Jenks says it’s open to anyone who’s interested. Athletes meet twice a week in the Alpine Start gym for six weeks in groups of six to eight people. Jenks creates individual workouts that suit specific needs and activities.

A similar program, Complete Body, is a well-rounded class that meets once a week for six weeks and focuses on training along with general wellness and nutrition.

“It’s catered more to people who feel out of touch with themselves as an athlete,” Jenks said. “Whether they’ve never been in a training program or they’re taking a break or they need extra support.”

Starting in June, Jenks will offer a five-week training program for Flathead Valley women ages 16-20 in which they will meet once a week to train, set goals and create a program outside of the gym. The class will lead up to a three-day backpacking trip in Glacier National Park.

Jenks will also offer an all ages and genders six-week program leading to another backpacking trip starting in July. Athletes, however, will not meet up in person before the trip. Jenks wanted to offer a program designed for people that don’t necessarily live in the Flathead.

Additionally, Jenks offers traditional one-on-one personal training with a laid-back atmosphere where moms can bring their kids and they can feel comfortable taking breaks to breast-feed if needed.

Jenks creates month-long program designs for athletes who want to do their fitness more independently, but Jenks makes sure to check in with them to alter their training as needed while keeping them accountable.

Open gym times are also available for members who want to use the space, but hours are limited when Jenks has a class or training session. Eventually, she would like to expand the space to be open 24 hours.

Alpine Start Fitness is located at 22 B Spokane Ave. in Whitefish. For more information and to view schedules, visit www.alpinestart.fitness.


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