Fit to Learn: In-School Cycling Instruction for Lacrosse Players—Why Not?

An empty space, enthusiastic cycling instructors, and the willingness of a high school principal all came together to introduce a unique concept to Seton High School in Cincinnati. The students would no longer be required to venture outside the school building to find convenient ways to participate in everyday fitness classes.

The fitness classes would come to the students at the all-girls parochial school, as well as to the community, within a permanent studio space in the school. In August 2016, this unique opportunity was presented to RYDE Cincinnati, the cycling and fitness studio I co-own with Millie Dechat. From our perspective, the opportunity to renovate a vacant space inside Seton High School into a permanent studio was a perfect scenario. 

Not only was the location unique, but the type of cycling bikes we introduced also represented a new concept in fitness. RYDE classes are offered on the RealRyder bikes, which deliver core movement and functional training through leaning and tilting motions. RealRyder cycling classes provide a more effective and efficient total body training experience. In addition, participants can get an incredible cardiovascular and strength workout without ever stressing joints. Thus, the athletes who are constantly “pounding the pavement” or jumping on the court, etc., can achieve a challenging workout without ever touching the ground.

School-Community Partnership 

This was unique—a fitness studio to be permanently located on a high school campus. As studio owners, we saw this as a great opportunity to work with students and athletic teams at the school. The goal is to work in conjunction with the athletic department to offer off-season training to the athletes and even apply for various grants to help support and expand class offerings.

“Seton is proud to be the home of RYDE, and [this] is just one example of how we go beyond the classroom to provide exceptional opportunities for student growth,” says Principal Kathy Ciarla. “We value the importance of healthy living, and giving our students the chance to take classes with RYDE right here at school promotes wellness. In addition, many of our sports teams have taken classes during the off-season to stay in shape and condition for their sport. It is a win-win to have RYDE and their amazing instructors at Seton.”

Renovations for the new cycling and fitness studio began immediately after the project was approved. The buzz and excitement about the new studio quickly spread among the student body and staff. Brand new flooring was installed, and lighting, a stage, and a sound system were added to enhance the class experience. As the studio came together, the students, staff, and community were all eager to see the space and get a chance to be a part of this new experience at Seton High School.

Convenience Counts 

As studio renovations were finished, students, athletes, and coaches expressed curiosity and interest in the RealRyder cycling classes. The student athletes saw the cycling classes as a way to cross-train and maintain their fitness levels during their sports’ off-seasons. Soon, the lacrosse team began training on the bikes one day a week. 

“Some of the girls wanted to get involved in the RYDE program as part of off-season conditioning,” says Seton High School senior and lacrosse player Tricia McHale. McHale says the convenience of having a fitness studio on-site is also beneficial. “It’s a good way to bond with the other lacrosse players as we condition,” she says. Participating in the cycling classes has also offered benefits beyond team bonding. RYDE instructor Kim Kemen incorporates resistance bands and weights into a cycling class to build overall strength, in addition to cardiovascular health. Kemen also includes abdominal exercises to reinforce strength and stability in the core muscles. Injury prevention is a key factor, as every class concludes with full-body stretching. Additionally, RYDE classes can always be modified based on the specific training and fitness goals of the participants.

The uniqueness of RYDE Cincinnati’s studio isn’t limited to its location. RealRyder cycling classes are offered most frequently, but the studio also provides a variety of other group fitness classes such as yoga, women and weights, personal training, and boot camp as well. Additionally, RYDE classes are open to everyone in the community, not just Seton students or athletes.

Operating the RYDE Cincinnati studio within Seton High School has been a positive experience for the business. Seton staff and students have been welcoming and supportive from the beginning. Any time the studio door is open, curious people wander in to see the space and inquire about RYDE classes. The relationship has been beneficial for both parties, as a portion of the proceeds go back to support the girls via the Seton Athletic Club, and RYDE Cincinnati has a new studio with a great deal of potential to grow among the campus population. 

Consider how you can leverage a similar strategy in your school. Find an unused room and pair it with a business that’s seeking opportunity “outside the box.” You never know what will develop.  

Rachael Dotson is co-owner of RYDE Cincinnati in Ohio.