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Mike Persson

Classes: Cycling


In the fall of 2003, I was sedentary 225 pound 37 year old whose sole exercise was chasing my 4 and 7 year old daughters. I had a membership at LASC through my wife’s work there in the child care area, but I seldom used it. A friend of mine suggested that I take a Spinning class and my wife encouraged me to try it, so I did.


My first time on a stationary bike, I thought that I was going to die. However, I went back and the second time was easier. By the third week of faithfully attending these classes, I was hooked. I enjoyed the music, camaraderie and instructors, especially Mad Mike Gallagher. Mad Mike was a drummer and his choice of music to match a desired cadence is a technique that I still use to this day. 

By the spring of 2004, I had lost 15 pounds and was feeling good about myself. At that time, a number of my new Spinning friends were transitioning to outdoor riding and asked me to join them, so I bought a used road bike for $500 and started doing outdoor rides. The first year of outdoor rides was tough, especially the hills, but we had a great group that went out every Wednesday. Our group included former Laconia Mayor Mike Seymour, who was the “Timberman Rookie of the Year” that summer and his training for the August triathlon was featured in The Citizen newspaper each week. We became friends and I was introduced to triathlon. That fall, the friend who had suggested that I try Spinning was looking to enter a relay team for the Granite Ledges Triathlon and asked me to do the bike leg. I agreed and rode the course around Newfound Lake a number of times in training and got to know it fairly well, especially the killer hill at the end of the lake. On race day, got out on my $500 bike and started around the lake. At the top of the downhill leading to the end of the lake, I was passed by a person riding an $8K bike with all of the high tech bells and whistles. I figured that I would never see him again. However, when I reached the killer hill, I saw him struggling in front of me. I dug in and passed him on the hill and he never passed me again that day. I was hooked and was determined to train for a full triathlon the next year.


I spent all of 2005 training for the Timberman spring triathlon in August and had dropped to 190 pounds from my original 225. I desperately wanted aero-bars for my bike my wife bought me my aero-bars for my birthday on August 1st. I installed them and went for a ride on the Timberman course on August 2nd. Big mistake. I wasn’t used to using the aero-bars and slid off the road and crashed my bicycle on the bad stretch of road near Beans and Greens. My bike was in serious need of repair but, more importantly, I had broken my arm. When I went to the doctor, I was told that I couldn’t bike or swim for 4 weeks, which took me out of the Timberman. However, when I asked him about running, he told me that I could still run. I wasn’t about to let a year of training go to waste and decided to train for a fall marathon. I went to college at Villanova and chose the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I had never run more than a 10K but had 11 weeks to get myself to 26.2 and was going to at least give it a shot. I put in a lot of miles in that 11 weeks and, despite the fact that my longest training run was 18 miles, I completed the full 26.2 that November day in 4 hours, 8 minutes. Not fast, but not painfully slow either. In 2 years, I had gone from a 225 pound couch potato to a cyclist and marathon finisher!


In 2006, I became certified to teach Spinning and have been an indoor cycling instructor ever since. Instructing has been a constant for the past 13 years and it has kept me in the gym even during those periods when I have not been as dedicated as I should to fitness. Each time I have lost my focus, my weight has ballooned upward. Each time, I have subsequently rededicated myself to fitness and have gotten back to where I wanted to be. There are many ways to do this and many programs that can help. My wife and daughter have been doing the Commit To Get Fit program and both have gotten excellent results. For me, the old “eat less and exercise more” routine has always seemed to work and I am always happier and feel less stressed when I am committed to it. Regardless, the key for me has been to know that I can get back to being fit, to not feel that it is hopeless when I gain a few pounds, and to rededicate myself to doing the necessary work to get there. If there were a magic pill to give you fitness, everyone would look like the cast of Baywatch. Unfortunately, I have found that there is no magic involved. Just good hard work and the great feeling that you get from doing it.

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