Cyclists spin for a good cause

MIDDLEBURY — Despite the gloomy weather this past Sunday, more than a hundred community members enjoyed a long bicycle tour.
The tour was on stationary “spinning” bicycles at the Middlebury Fitness health club and the goal was not miles traveled but money raised. By that measure it was a big success as they raised more than $7,000 for the United Way of Addison County in the six-hour Spin United fundraising event.
The trip was anything but easy for the cyclists. From within the spinning studio an instructor could be heard yelling above the music, “If you can talk to your neighbor easily, you’re not working hard enough!”
Six instructors, one for each hour, volunteered and donated their time to motivate and coach the spinners. The instructor bike was centered in the front of the room with the leader’s back to the floor-to-ceiling mirror that covered one entire wall. The half moon of 21 bikes faced the instructor and from each bike hung a white towel provided by Middlebury Fitness. After each hour concluded there was a round of applause from all participants as they cheered each other on. People would walk out of the studio and gulp down water as they wiped the sweat from their faces.
Exclamations of “Wow!” and “That was fun!” filled the air as the next group of spinners talked with the people who had just spun.
Tamara Chase, a spin instructor at Middlebury Fitness, has been a spin instructor for about 30 years and she loves it.
“It’s efficient. You can burn a lot of calories in only 45 minutes,” she said.
Last year Chase contacted the United Way in pursuit of a local outlet for an annual spinning fundraiser that in the past she has coordinated with Livestrong. She likes the spinning event because it brings out many different people from around the community, even those who haven’t spun before.
“The event is really great,” said first time spinner Barbara Hofer, “It’s dynamic and energetic and fun!”
CYCLISTS INTENTLY FOCUS on a volunteer spinning instructor at Middlebury Fitness on Sunday during the Spin United event. Participants worked their bodies in exchange for pledges to the United Way of Addison County. Independent photo/Alex Munteanu
Nancy Luke, development and marketing manager at United Way of Addison County, was ecstatic when Middlebury Fitness wanted to partner with her organization for the spinning event. The money raised will go toward the three goals of the local United Way — health, education and financial stability of people living in Addison County — or just to general support, according to Anne Hanson, volunteer co-chair at United Way.
Teams or individuals paid $300 for a bike in Spin United, and then they were allowed to choose which of the goals to put the money they raised toward. The event ended up garnering $7,276 and it is expected that a bit more money will come in as a result of online pledges.
Sponsors of the event included Tata Harper Skincare, Middlebury Fitness, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op, Middlebury Eye Associates, Bob’s Furniture and Bedding, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). They provided prizes and snacks for the spinners.
Events are new for the United Way of Addison County, according to Luke, although they are definitely a positive addition to the work that the organization already does.
When asked if she will try to partner with the United Way of Addison County again in the future for this event, Chase was emphatic.
“Absolutely,” she said. “It’s the first annual, let’s call it.”
Although many individuals signed up for the event, so did many teams. The Counseling Service of Addison County and Shear Cuts Hair Salon in Vergennes both sent teams to take part in the day’s activities.
“(Spinning) kicked my butt, but it was awesome,” said first-time spinner Chelsa Ploof of Shear Cuts as she exited studio 1, out of breath.
Diane Dapolito has been spinning for years and was motivated by the fact that the money raised went to the United Way.
“I’ve always been a supporter of the United Way and I like how it helps all of the people of Addison County,” Dapolito said. 

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