GB Para Cycling Athlete Inspires Horizon’s Group Exercise Classes

Felix Barrow is not your ordinary 19 year old. In fact, he is extraordinary, giving 100% to everything he does. Felix has been volunteering at Havant and Waterlooville Leisure Centres as part of his Supported Internship with Havant and South Downs College, working with fitness instructor, Josh, to deliver HIIT Circuit classes and inspiring customers along the way.

The Horizon Leisure team and their customers feel lucky to have the Team GB Cyclist at their group exercise classes, keeping them motivated and bringing his boundless energy to the workouts.

Felix’s story isn’t straightforward; he was involved in a road traffic accident in October 2015 and airlifted to Southampton General Hospital where he spent four weeks in intensive care in an induced coma and four weeks in high dependency, with a further seven months rehabilitation in hospital before coming home in July 2016. The accident left Felix with life changing injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, which still effects his speech, a broken leg and a dislocated elbow, knee and ankle. 

His mum Vanessa says: “We never imagined we’d reach this point. Back in October 2015 we received the worst news possible, so being where we are now is truly amazing. After his accident, Felix had to learn to breathe, eat, walk and talk again. He hasn’t hit the same milestones as other kids. At 17 he didn’t learn to drive, he had to switch schools, and he had to make new friends. Things are simply different for him now, but that hasn’t stopped his enthusiasm for sport and challenges.”

Felix rode a trike as part of his rehabilitation, and although swimming and running formed a part of his recovery, cycling is his favourite.  Vanessa says: “It’s important for Felix to feel positive about something and that’s what cycling does, it makes him feel good.”

Felix now represents Great Britain racing in the T2 category, designed for athletes with impairments impacting their balance and coordination, travelling all over the world to compete, including the Para-Cycling Road World Championships, gaining a third place finish in the men’s T2 road race in May 2024 in Italy.

Vanessa continues: “Felix is passionate about sport and has worked his way up to being an elite para-athlete. Sport has always been important to our family and he’s very competitive. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Felix and are nervously waiting to find out if he has qualified for the Paris 2024 Para-Olympics squad.”

Alongside his gruelling three-hour daily training sessions, including bike rides and coaching sessions, Felix continues with his college work, and over the last year his internship with Horizon Leisure as well.

Vanessa says: “The opportunity to work with Horizon Leisure made sense to Felix as he’s passionate about sport and the positive impact of exercise for everyone. This internship allows him to learn the skills needed to enter the world of work, gaining real life work experience in a sector he loves. He loves being with people and really enjoys motivating the Horizon Leisure customers.”

Josh, who has mentored Felix at Horizon Leisure says: “I love working alongside Felix. He is fantastic with our customers and has lots of interaction with them. Felix has become a really big part of the community here. He comes in with great energy, is always happy to help our members and gets stuck in with the work. Felix has been brilliant helping to teach the HIIT classes and the members love it when he’s in.”

Mike Lyons, CEO says: “Felix is a great asset to Horizon Leisure and we are so excited to see if he’ll be competing in the Para-Olympics in September 2024.  Felix proves that exercising and feeling good about yourself is available to anyone.  At Horizon Leisure we are passionate about making physical activity inclusive for all, and Felix is our pin-up boy.  We are so proud of how he motivates and encourages our customers.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Felix!”

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