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They want to be like Mike

After triple-bypass heart and shoulder surgery plus high cholesterol issues, 63-year-old Mike Walden of Sleepy Eye finds the fountain of youth by changing his diet and working out daily.

December 13, 2009
Story and photos by Fritz Busch

Six days a week, Mike Walden of Sleepy Eye gets up at 6 a.m., eats six egg whites, one egg yolk and drinks a cup of decaffeinated coffee.

Then he heads to Studio 34 Fitness on West Main Street and starts working out with his friends.

Walden rides a stationary bike for about 30-40 minutes, does a 20-minute kick boxing workout and works out on weight lifting equipment.

Article Photos

Mike Walden bench presses at Studio 34 Fitness in Sleepy Eye. Walden works out six days a week.

A semi-retired electrician, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and bowling when he isn't working out.

For lunch and dinner, Walden eats fish, chicken or turkey, vegetables and fruits.

Peanuts and almonds are his snacks.

With the aid of cholesterol lowering medication, Walden said he reduced his overall cholesterol from more than 200 to 110.

Later in the afternoon, he's usually back at Studio 34.

"I'm just trying to stay in shape so I can keep up with my grandchildren," Walden said.

Studio 34 owner Brent Mielke said Mike is modest and somebody many people who work out in his business look up to.

"He's a great role model," added Mielke. "It seems everybody including high school football players - most of which can't lift as much as Mike - want to be like Mike, and I don't mean Michael Jordan."

Mielke told the story of how Mike became interested in working out.

"A few years ago, his wife saw me doing my "Zooman" show at Allison Park. She asked if I might be able to help him," Mielke said. "I put my big snake on his shoulder, which he said he couldn't lift. I said I'd take the snake off his shoulder if he came down to Studio 34."

The rest is history.

Walden set an age group power lifting record at a Minnesota Independent Power Lifting Association contest.

"He's an inspiration to a lot of people who work out here," Mielke said. "He's got the heart of a man in his early 20s. If he isn't in when other people come in to work out, they usually ask where he is."

Walden said he enjoys making friends with people he meets while working out.

He's won age group titles in 5k (3.1 mile) road races and 12.3 and 15.5 mile bike races on the trail around Sleepy Eye Lake.

"Mike's pretty humble. He told me to have a coffin ready for him at the 5k road race. He finished it in just over 28 minutes," Mielke said.

Walden and Mielke plan on attending the Arnold (Schwarzenegger) 5k Pump and Run next March in Columbus, Ohio.

The largest race of it's kind in the United States, the event is already sold out.

Athletes from more than 30 states and two other countries will compete.

Participants bench press a pre-determined percentage of their body weight.

Each lift, with a limit of 30, cuts their 5-kilometer run time by 30 seconds.

Depending on age, men must bench press 60-100 percent of their weight, and women 40-70 percent of their weight.

Walden and Mielke plan to go to listen to talks by runners and lifters, some of them in their senior years and attend running and lifting expositions at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The men hope to compete in the 2011 Pump and Run event.



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