Breath is fuel

Cycling workshop at Mansion House Health Club benefits FUEL program.

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On Saturday, Feb. 15, as part of the Mansion House Health Club’s annual Winter Workshop Series, an intensive indoor cycling class was held titled “Breath Is Fuel.” 

“We have done a variety of workshops in the past months,” Brenda Wallis, fitness director for the Health Club, said, “but this is the first time we have tied it to a fundraising opportunity.” 

“The focus of this workshop is on breath and learning how to get the most of an intense workout with correct breathing practice,” Casey Blum, co-teacher of the class, along with Freedom Cartwright, said. This 90-minute class is considered an Interval ride in that there were stretches of intensity interspersed with moments of recovery, applying techniques to help participants utilize their breath to maximize their workout both physically and mentally. 

“Indoor cycling has been around for about three decades now,” Wallis said, “it’s different from a workout on a regular exercise bike. It simulates an outdoor ride; it’s great for cardiovascular health.”

The Mansion House and FUEL are excited about this collaboration, and the link between the two organizations is FUEL’s program director, Casey Blum, who also happens to be a cycling instructor at the Mansion House Health Club. 

“We see the need for this type of program offered by FUEL for our young adult population,” Wallis said.

FUEL is an Island-based nonprofit organization for young adults struggling with depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and other behavioral health issues. “Similar to therapeutic wilderness programs that take place on land,” Blum said, “FUEL takes learners out to sea on a purpose-built, historic sailing ship that hopes to begin construction in 2021. The program is projected to launch in 2023. The semester-long voyages are dedicated to fostering self-determination, problem solving, and leadership so that the students can transition into adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm.”

The “Breath Is Fuel” workshop was open to Mansion House Health Club members as well as nonmembers, and a donation to FUEL was suggested but not required to participate. The workshop was full, with all 11 of the bikes occupied. 

The Times spoke to several participants after the class. “What a  fantastic workout,” Linda Hammond said. “it was a journey that took us into something really difficult then brought us back to calm and back again. And I’m glad that it’s benefiting something for the Island.”

“It’s a great concept, there’s the dynamics and the energy of the class, but also with a greater purpose too, beyond just our personal fulfillment,” cycler Kathryn Harcourt said. 

“I knew it was for FUEL, and that’s specifically the reason my partner and I came,” said Laura Denman-Magdens. “It sounded like such a great thing to donate to.”