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     Through the years, a lot has been written about a number of the elite lifting gyms which have gained a popularity amongst Lifters and Energy Athletes.  Whereas many, sadly,  have passed by the wayside, a number of are nonetheless working to this very day.  I’ve typically lamented the truth that I’ve the “pleasure” of belonging to a business health club.  Whereas I’m lucky to have the ability to prepare at dwelling for probably the most half, one of many issues I miss is belonging to an awesome lifting health club.  There simply aren’t many round, at the very least right here in Lengthy Island.  That wasn’t at all times the case, although.  I had the nice fortune of belonging to 2 nice gyms up to now.  The primary was Bruno’s Well being Membership, which operated from 1980 till 1989.  The second was Iron Island Gymnasium, the place I educated from 1992 till 2008.
     Iron Island was merely the best health club I had ever seen. In case you communicate to anybody who educated there, I feel you’ll get the identical response. It had the whole lot you’ll need in a health club: nice tools, handy hours, immaculate amenities, and an environment that needed to be skilled.  Naturally, an enormous cause for the excellence of any health club is the individuals who run it.  And Iron Island Gymnasium had two of the best possible in Dr. Ken Leistner, and Ralph Raiola.  These two gents had been childhood pals who turned enterprise companions and created the best lifting facility that any of us had ever seen.
     Earlier as we speak, I obtained the unhappy information that Ralph handed away yesterday at age 72.  How unhappy that these two legendary figures would go away inside a number of months of one another.  It’s positively the top of an period.  And whereas there could by no means be one other Iron Island Gymnasium, the reminiscences of that particular place will dwell on.  And whereas individuals often affiliate Dr. Ken with Iron Island, Ralph performed an enormous half within the success of the health club.  Certainly, after Dr. Ken had left the enterprise, Ralph continued to run the health club for nearly one other ten years.  Whereas I’ve many reminiscences of Ralph, maybe my warmest reminiscence of him occurred through the very darkest of instances.
     Within the days following September 11, 2001, I had stopped going to the health club. I do not assume it’s a necessity to elucidate why. Nevertheless, up till that time, I had been going to the health club daily.  Whether or not it was to carry, or just do my thirty minutes on the Stairmaster, I used to be on the health club daily.  Naturally, within the days instantly following 9/11, there was little time, curiosity, or incentive to work out. However a number of days later, on Friday, September 14, I made a decision to go to the health club early within the morning,  earlier than I reported to work.  If nothing else, lifting weights would offer short-term reduction from the whole lot that had taken place.  I will always remember strolling into the health club that morning.  It was very early, and much more quiet than normal. As I walked by the door, Ralph noticed me from behind the entrance desk.  He form of did a double-take, then ran out from behind the desk and hugged me.  He then started to cry, as he was hugging me.  He even kissed me, and tried to inform me how comfortable he was to see me.  It was onerous for him to talk, as a result of he was crying so onerous, however phrases weren’t obligatory. I may really feel what was on his thoughts, and in his coronary heart.  I attempted to inject some humor and stated one thing like “Ralph, individuals could get he fallacious thought.” However he was simply so glad that I used to be alive.  Since he hadn’t seen me for 4 days, he assumed that I had been among the many lacking. I do not bear in mind the particulars of my exercise, and, actually, it wasn’t vital what I did that day.  I used to be simply glad that I went to the health club that day.
     Throughout a time when uncooked feelings had been the order of the day, Ralph restored my religion in human nature, and restored hope when there had been little trigger for hope. I will always remember what Ralph did for me that day. And I will always remember a person who was as big-hearted as he was large.  RIP Ralph.