The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Mike 'Mad Dog' Lahart

Dedicated to a Life of Fitness


"Mad Dog" doesn't seem a fitting title for the soft-spoken Mike Lahart, a long-time Y member. But the nickname he was called in elementary school after his hero, Maurice Vachon, one of American Wrestling Association's greatest, has remained with him.


It wasn't his enthusiasm for wrestling, however, that motivated Mike to join the YMCA in 1975 as a junior at Aquinas High School. It was his love of basketball, a sport he has played since eighth grade.


After the intramural basketball season was officially done, he and his friends wanted to continue their fast-paced and fun times on the court. They began playing basketball after school at the YMCA. He fondly recalled that his intramural basketball team only lost two games in three years.


After he graduated from Aquinas in 1977, Mike began working for Desmond's Formal Wear for eight years. He then spent the rest of his career at Skogen's grocery store for 23 years. Mike performed in a variety of capacities at those two local family-owned businesses. 


Mike has been as committed to the Y as he was to his work. He retired in 2009, and continues to go to the Y seven days a week, usually during the noon hour, for about two hours each visit. Like his love for basketball and his nickname Mad Dog, his dedication to the Y has stuck. He has consistently held his Y membership for close to 40 years. 


"I've met so many good friends over the years at the Y," says the 53-year-old Mike, who is single. He considers the Y an important place for his social life and his exercise time to maintain his good health.


Before he retired, Mike planned his trips to the Y around his different work shifts. When he was scheduled for third shift, he enjoyed the chance to play noon hour basketball. That's obviously been his favorite work out, but he also likes training in the Wellness Center. He often can be found using the bicycle and weight machines and relaxing and reading the newspaper in the men's lounge after he's completed his exercises.


Walking most everywhere around the La Crosse downtown area also keeps Mike physically fit. He sold his home in 2010 so he could live closer to the Y and walk there and most anywhere he wants to go. He enjoys watching basketball games at Aquinas and Viterbo University, as well as UW-La Crosse. "I'm a big local basketball fan," he says. He also is a fan of local theater and spends time walking to productions at the La Crosse Community Theatre, Viterbo, UW-L, The Muse Theatre and other places. 


Another reason he sold his house and moved to an apartment is that it gives him more freedom to travel, another one of his favorite pastimes.


He enjoys planning and taking trips throughout the country. If you ask him about his travels, he can't pick his ideal destination. He enjoys everywhere he goes. He journeys by plane, train or bus, and that provides him with versatile experiences too. He often combines education and travel. His most current vacation was a Civil War history tour out East. Mike is definitely a role model for keeping active and productive during the retirement years.


- By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC. 2012