Pedal your way to health (but not in the way you think)
We started our heart month posts this week with Isil’s delicious recipe for Turkish red lentil soup. Today Matt is bringing a fantastic and effective way to get anyone who is an exercise-phobe or addicted to junk food sure to jump on board with health…
Our Smoothie Bikes are bicycles that have been converted into people powered blenders.
The rider pedals, but the bike remains stationary; the pedalling motion being employed to turn the blades of a blender mounted over the front wheel of the bicycle. Fruit and juice go into the blender and a minute or two’s pedalling produces a nutritious smoothie for the rider to drink!
It’s my job to take our smoothie bikes into schools, communities and workplaces to encourage and cajole the unwitting and sometimes the downright unwilling to get some light exercise and eat some fresh fruit.
With children my job is easy. Bikes are perennially cool with kids and the novelty of riding a smoothie bike usually gets even the most sedentary children up and pedalling. More often than not I have an endless queue of eager young smoothie-bikers.
It’s good to let children handle the fruit, choose their ingredients and prepare their own smoothie.
Children like to be creative and playful with food. They like to make a bit of a mess. They like to make mistakes.
A smoothie bike offers kids that space to play with food; to get familiarised with it. Preparing and pedalling a smoothie challenges kids to take control of the preparation of their own food even if it’s just one drink.
You will frequently find me and a smoothie bike transplanted into the office environment, tucked in by the water cooler to provide healthy active refreshment at staff well being events.
The office bound adult is often a tough nut to crack; they may feel patronised or infringed upon by healthier menus and smoking bans; others just don’t want to be the centre of attention as they pedal the smoothie bike in their heels.
In these situations I jump on the bike myself and thrust my tastiest smoothies into passing hands, finding some stealthy satisfaction in getting a portion or two of fresh fruit passed the lips of the most reluctant of the steak and cake brigade.
Conversely, there is also a good quota of keen cyclists who welcome a bit of spin in the office. They like to talk bikes, enjoy puzzling over the mechanics of the smoothie bike and of course all strive to make the fastest smoothie in the office.
What the smoothie bike seems to offer in all environments is the potential for a dialogue around healthy eating and exercise.
In schools, the fun of the activity can keep pupils engaged with learning about food and nutrition. In the office the smoothie bike never fails to open up debate around personal choices in diet and exercise.
But, no matter which environment I find myself in I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who get on the smoothie bike and forget they don’t like fruit.
Matt was educated in the arts at Nottingham Trent and Oxford Brookes University. He’s currently working as a music educator, sustainable transport promoter, cycle courier and smoothie biker.
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