Spin Cycle | Health + Fitness | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published January 14, 2004 at 3:03 p.m.

Ever wake up in the morning feeling like you're spinning your wheels but not going anywhere? The folks at the Howard Center for Human Services know a thing or two about that, and they're hoping you'll come out February 7 to put some of that energy to good use. The Burlington nonprofit agency is sponsoring its second annual "Howard Center Sunrise Spin," an instructor-led cycling challenge to raise money for mental-health services.

Like walkathons, bikeathons, quiltathons and other cough-it-up-athons that have become ubiquitous to charitable giving, the "Sunrise Spin" is asking individuals (or teams of four) to ride a stationary spinning bike for four hours and raise at least $200 per team. Last year, the Howard Center marshaled 30 participants who raised $3400. This year's event will involve 100 bikes at four area locations: the Shelburne Athletic Club, Racquet's Edge, Sports and Fitness Edge, and Twin Oaks Sports and Fitness.

"Events like this appeal to people because they're noncompetitive. That's our focus, to make it fun and challenging," says John Atkinson, events coordinator for the Howard Center. "On a spinning bike, you can really settle into a solid groove, which makes it easier than, say, going out and climbing the Appalachian Gap."

Lately, Howard has had its own uphill climbs. Nearly all mental-health agencies in Vermont have been hit by budget cuts or level funding at a time when the demand and cost for their services are rising.

But Atkinson, an avid biker who missed last year's spinning challenge due to a knee injury, says he prefers that the event's focus be on fitness and fun, not finances. "If you can walk, you can spin," he says. "It's good for the body, and good for the mind."