Clubs for Christmas

by • December 5, 2016 • Home Display, Running wildComments (0)896

Mike Halko works on squats to strengthen his hill-climbing muscles in the newly renovated Buckner Fieldhouse at JBER. Courtesy Mike Halko.

Mike Halko works on squats to strengthen his hill-climbing muscles in the newly renovated Buckner Fieldhouse at JBER. Courtesy Mike Halko.

Beat the New Year’s rush with gym membership

You can ramp up your fitness program over the holidays by working out at a local health club. Most have the standard treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. Try expanding your exercise repertoire by joining a spin class or yoga session. The value of cross training and flexibility enhancement is certainly worth the time to improve your running.
If possible dive into the pool as well – who knows? A triathlon may be penciled in on your calendar in 2017. So, where are these indoor meccas of fitness, and how to join?
First up is The Alaska Club, with 13 locations throughout the state, including two in Juneau and Fairbanks and nine in southcentral Alaska, which includes Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage. Visit for details. I recently visited the newly remodeled West Anchorage club and for a session of weights and 1,000-yard swim, it’s clearly a solid brand.
However, if I want to spoil myself in Anchorage, the Hotel Captain Cook Athletic Club is hard to beat. The nautical theme of this hotel’s health club makes it a signature facility in Anchorage. It offers all the bells and whistles of a classic club and, in my opinion, boasts the best steam room in town. Fitness areas are gender specific, so you can focus on you fitness regime instead of scouting out the scenery. Also, the club has a reputation as a longstanding networking place for the movers and shakers of Anchorage. Heck, this is the place where movie stars stay and exercise, including President Obama, when he was in Anchorage in September of 2015. More details on the club can be found at
Active-duty and retired military also have full-service, state-of-the-art fitness centers on base in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and at no additional cost. In Anchorage the Buckner Field House on the Army side of JBER has recently been upgraded, boasting features similar to an Alaska Club facility. The Air Force side of JBER offers a gym with an indoor track that serves up killer views of the Chugach. Swimmers will prefer the larger pool at the Army base – definitely a nice benefit for serving your country.
A relatively new player in the health club business is Planet Fitness with three facilities. The price is significantly lower than the major brands in town, and without a long-term contract. It’s good to see price does not have to be a barrier to fitness. Let’s be honest: Regardless of what one pays, you have to show up regularly to get the most for your money.
If work sends you around the state and you are looking for flexibility, there are loads of yoga studios to help you increase your range of motion. Want to concentrate on your core? My pick is Studio One Pilates ( A few years back I attended The Boot Camp Class and it tightened everything up. The instructors were very patient and kept the students challenged within their own ability range.
OK, perhaps you are one who does not particularly care for organized clubs. A completely acceptable alternative is to set up shop in your house with some gear, or take your training outside. A new, interactive cycling regime is Pheleton, although you have to have a bike and set up to live streaming to make it work. The live stream bike rides will help you pass the time in all types of virtual locations. It’s spendy but effective. Learn more at
Finally, we know that solitude builds discipline but our dark winters make it tough, so grab a few friends to exercise at your place or head outdoors for a run, bike or hopefully cross-country ski.
Give yourself a fitness present this year Christmas – at a club, home or outdoors and solo or with friends – it’s a gift that can last a lifetime.

Winter treadmill workouts
(Set treadmill incline on 1.5 for each workout)
1. Warm up 10 minutes easy (walk the first two minutes). Then run for 10 minutes at 85 percent effort and recover with two minutes easy. Do this three times, and warm down with an easy 10 minutes of running.
2. Warm up 10 minutes. Then do a “Ladder Up and Down” workout: 10 minutes of regular running with three-minute easy recovery; five minutes of harder running with two-minute easy recovery; and three minutes of even harder running with a one-minute recovery. Reverse the process, then warm down with 10 minutes easy recovery.
3. Run 15 minutes at easy effort then go to the stair stepper and get 50 floors. Run another 15 minutes.
— As always keep striding and smiling,
Coach Mike

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