Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I don’t miss most of the things I expected I would when I moved. I knew I would miss people and I certainly have, but thanks to friends like Lora dipping their toes into the blogging world it will be a little easier to keep in touch. I anticipated missing some of the Madison food, but that hasn’t happened (though I do miss the Wisconsin prices). Real Chili already closed long before my move. I’m on an endless Halibut and Salmon diet when dining out – no complaints.

Leaving Madison I figured that the lost cycling opportunities would be high on my list, but they have turned out to be relatively low now that I’ve settled into the trails and back roads of Anchorage and Chugiak. There are plenty of trails to whiz down and birches and spruces to speed by, smelling the fresh air along the way.

I am amazed at how much I miss my gym though. I always knew I was extremely lucky to have a great gym in Madison. It did have some drawbacks, but they were really blatant signs of just how great a gym Ford’s is. You sometimes had to wait a bit for the dead lift platform or one of the squat racks, which while that may have been inconvenient for 5 – 10 minutes, it fostered a priceless environment of proper training, focus, and competition. The proper exercises and muscle groups were always at the top of most people’s training routine – lots of squatting and dealifting with minimal attention to” beach muscles”. I found myself constantly throwing a few more plates on the bar when lifting there just to avoid any sense of complacency. Ford’s was also one of the friendliest groups around. If you looked over at the people endlessly squatting you were apt to ask why you weren’t squatting today, and when you were going to squat next. You were sucked into a friendly vortex of competition and encouragement in the exact exercises that too often drift into the ditch in other gyms. I’m now a 5 day a week guy at the World Gym here in Anchorage. It has a lot to love about it – open 24 hours, sauna/steam room, and no waiting for the squat rack or dead lift platform. You do have to wait at times for the preacher bench or to bench press. There are even a few guys that I see everyday to the point where I have correctly deduced their workout routine: Day 1 is chest, Day 2 is biceps and triceps, repeat. There may be some abdominal work thrown in, but there is certainly nothing beyond that slipping in. There are many people there like that, but also more than a few that work their legs and back as part of a wise routine. All gyms have both types of members, but Ford’s seemed to swing towards the better side of that ratio. The real answer is that I can do all the exercises I want here so it’s up to me (as it always has been). I will miss some of the chit chat at Ford’s: “Throw a 45 on it for you?” (I was planning on adding a 25) “Yeah, let’s do it.” I had the same environment when I skated with much better skaters. I was happy landing 360 flips on flat, but Pete did them faster, over hips, and then switch. Before you know it you’re pushing harder than before. Strength training is ultimately a solitary pursuit, which is probably why I love it so much. You have to embrace the constant, linear nature of the pursuit. Benching 225 is still 225 lbs, whether in Madison or Alaska. Just remember to add some more weight on for the sake of the cheeseheads that couldn’t be here.

Life is pretty good. Housesitting brought forth the following amazing comment: “Eat anything you want from the freezers and fridges. Just don’t eat the crab legs.” “All of the halibut and wild salmon?” “Yep, we have too much anyway right now.” A steady diet of wild Alaskan seafood on the grill is hard to complain about. The Chris from Madison that bought farm raised salmon as a treat now seems like an alien. I even have my own crab legs to eat ($8/lb). I suppose I’ll get tired of salmon someday and long for Northern Wisconsin walleye, but that day isn’t here, and I’d love to try and get to that day. Sounds like a good problem to have.

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