In the autumn of 2014 FOGM was approached through their Prison Council Representative about the possible purchase of 4 new spinning bikes at a cost of £1000 each.
When pressed, FOGM learnt that such bikes were the very latest thing in gym equipment, allowing those using them to undertake a wide range of physical exercises whilst pedalling on what we, old fashionedly, called a static exercise bike.
The Committee were impressed by the amount of detail that had been put into the prisoners’ submission and gave the go-ahead for the purchase.
After the bikes had been installed, the same prisoners announced that a ‘Spinning Challenge’ event would take place in the gym involving an activity starting at 9 am, based on 19 bikes in all, and concluding nine hours later at 6pm.
Gratifyingly, this marathon was being undertaken for charity to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Ward in Southampton Hospital. The specific charity to benefit was called Ocean Ward. The day in mid October arrived and a number of FOGM members assembled at Guys Marsh gym to see them start; they being all kitted out in Ocean Ward and FOGM T-shirts. It was quickly apparent that this was going to be physically very demanding with a wide range of exercises being undertaken, whilst pedalling at a range of speeds, all to the leader’s stop watch.
We returned just before 6pm to catch the conclusion of the event. In all 32 ‘spinners’ had participated, 14 of these being prisoners and most of the others being members of staff. Of the 14 prisoners, more than half of them had stayed the course for the full 9 hour period.
In all a sum in well in excess of £2000 had been raised for Ocean Ward, with getting on for half that amount coming from the prisoners themselves.
Since then the spinning ‘bug’ has really caught on in the prison and a number of new events are planned. What was really gratifying, however, was that the initial investment had been maximised, fitness levels had increased and a local children’s charity had benefited. In seems such a shame that a praiseworthy initiative such as this, undertaken by prison inmates, receives so little attention and appreciation amongst the wider public.