Alumni redefine personal training

Dustin Evans Joey McDonald
Dustin Evans and Joey McDonald innovate physical fitness.

In an attempt to keep Flagstaff residents motivated about their health and well-being, Northern Arizona University alumni Dustin Evans and Joey McDonald are using their education to provide an effective, cost-efficient style of personal training to the community.

Evans, a 2003 graduate who majored in community health promotions with an emphasis in strength and conditioning, and McDonald, who graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences, both knew they wanted to be personal trainers upon finishing their education. But after a brief stint working at a athletic club in Flagstaff, where the struggling economy forced many of their clients to give up on personal training, both recognized they could use their experience and education in a new, exciting way.

“Our clientele was having a hard time continuing to train at such a high cost per session,” McDonald says. “We decided to think of something that would help provide them a great service of personal training, but at a much lower cost.”

So in 2009, McDonald and Evans opened High Altitude Personal Training.

In order to make exercise more affordable, McDonald and Evans created an entire new model for personal training. Instead of more expensive one-on-one sessions, the duo developed a way to instruct up to ten people simultaneously. This method reduces client costs while still granting trainees access to high-level, individualized training. And, according to McDonald, many of High Altitude’s clients find themselves more motivated after having trained in a group due to the competitive nature and inherent support system of multiple training partners.  

Experienced and ready to go

High Altitude Personal Training is now in its third year, and McDonald feels their success stems from creating a sense of comfort between trainers and trainees.

“Our experience gives our clients a lot of security in that they know we have degrees in the health realm,” McDonald says. “We know what we’re talking about and have gone through physiology, anatomy, and other courses to really broaden our perspective and knowledge.”

Evans says if it wasn’t for his extensive experience, education, and training, he’s unsure whether or not High Altitude would exist today.

“[The university] gave me the foundation and the knowledge to do personal training,” Evans says. “All of the courses, the classes that taught me how the body works, how to apply exercises, and how to eventually make sure that our clients get a safe and effective exercise are invaluable in my line of work.” 

A new generation of health trainers

As High Altitude continues to grow and evolve, so do the owners’ focus and goals. In an attempt to give back to the community and provide the same opportunities they had, McDonald and Evans have hired two trainers who are current students at the university.

One of these students is Jenna Damron, a senior double majoring in exercise science and psychology.  Though she has only been there a year, Damron says her experience as a full-time personal trainer has allowed her to apply classroom lessons in a real world setting. 

“Every single thing I learn in my exercise physiology classes, I bring here,” Damron says. “Each day, I see something that I can apply to one, maybe both, of my degrees. I’ve even been able to take a really functional, working knowledge of weight training that I’ve gotten here to classes and bring a whole different perspective. High Altitude has given me the opportunity to grow within that knowledge.”