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Couple finds solace working out and competing

Solmas lift, lose weight, improve health, make new friends

January 8, 2012
Photos, story by Fritz Busch , The Journal

A couple years ago, Carrie and Harris Solma of Sleepy Eye took interest in their son Taylor's struggle to get into shape for the fall high school football season.

"He was so challenged with summer football practices, I told him to get into better shape," Carrie Solma said.

Taylor began working out at Dungeon's Gym in Sleepy Eye and found satisfaction that spread to his parents, according to his mother.

Article Photos

Harris and Carrie Solma place weights on a Dungeon’s Gym leg press.

"I started working out, changed my diet and began feeling much better, nearly cutting my body fat percentage in half and making lots of new friends," Carrie Solma said.

Ten months ago, Harris Solma, 48, began lifting, doing other workouts and drinking protein shakes with his wife and son, said he has lost more than 30 pounds and feels much better than he did.

Last August, he ran the Sleepy Eye Corn Day 5k around the Sleepy Eye Lake Trail.

"We still eat some of our previously favorite foods but our body fat percentage is much less," Harris said.

These days, you can often find them working out on spin (stationary bikes), doing 1980s-style aerobics, afternoon kickboxing classes or doing cardiovascular pump (90 minutes of fast-pace pumping and running) with the 25-member Dungeon's Gym Army Power Lifting team on Saturday mornings.

"It's lots of variety, many really fun things to do. I really miss working out with my friends if I don't do it. The Brent and Jan Mielke guide everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes," Carrie Solma added.

On the power lifting team, the Solmas have traveled to South Dakota, Wisconsin and Kansas to compete in bench press, dead lift and squat competition.

The team includes 65-year-old "Iron" Mike Walden of Sleepy Eye, He began working out and changed his diet to improve his health after he was diagnosed with high cholesterol and had triple-bypass heart and shoulder surgery a few years ago.

Featured in the Dec. 13, 2009 Lifestyle section of The Journal, Walden, a semi-retired electrician, celebrated last Thanksgiving by powering a spin bike seven miles before 5 a.m.

His daily fitness routine includes 30-40 minutes on a spin bike, 20 minutes of kick boxing, weight lifting and eating egg whites, plain coffee, fish, chicken or turkey, fruits and vegetables.

Dungeon's Gym owner Brent Mielke aka "The Zooman," of Sleepy Eye, said he met Walden several years ago during his "Zooman" show at Allison Park in Sleepy Eye.

"I put a snake on Mike's shoulder. He said he couldn't lift it, so I said I'd take it off his shoulder if he came down to the gym," Mielke said.

Before long, Walden set a state age group power lifting record.

"He's an inspiration to lots of people who work out here. Now he's got the heart of a much younger man," Mielke added.

At 8 a.m., Saturday, April 28, the Dungeon's Gym Iron Man/Iron Woman competition will be held on the Sleepy Eye Lake trail.

Anyone including five-person teams can enter any of three events including running and biking 5k to compete for 10k, 20k, and 40k Iron Man/Woman titles.



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