Cycling shows prevalence among Urban Students

August Ackley, Staff Writer

Photo of Lavation Cycling Studio, by Vivien Manning

In the spring of 2017, the Urban School of San Francisco began offering an indoor cycling class in addition to rock climbing, strength & conditioning, and other physical activity classes. Cycling is a way for Urban School students to earn their physical activity credits and exercise socially without being involved in a team sport. The class meets twice a week at Lavation studio and is open to all Urban students.  The class attracted the attention of students from all grades.

Ever since the bike was invented in 1817, people across the globe have been bicycling as a mode of transportation. However, in recent years, more and more people have been riding bikes for fitness, and indoor spin classes on stationary bikes have grown extremely popular. According to, the number of indoor and outdoor cyclists in the U.S. has grown from 47.1 million in 2008 to 66.52 million in 2016. Indoor cycling offers a low impact way to get in shape, while still experiencing an encouraging and social environment. Many students of the Urban School have taken up cycling as a hobby or mode of exercise.

Because it is low impact, but can be both high-intensity, full-body, cardiovascular, workout, many athletes choose cycling as a mode of exercise in the off-season of other school or club sports.

“It helped me a lot when I was injured; I had shin fractures due to running and biking was a great alternative to get intervals in. I actually hated it when I first did it … but I ended up loving it,” said Lily Niehaus (‘18), who uses cycling studio chain Soulcycle regularly.

Soulcycle has three San Francisco locations. According to the Soulcycle website, Soulcycle has 85 studios across the U.S. and is adding six locations within the next couple of months. Soulcycle has drawn the attention of many Urban School students.

“It’s appropriately challenging … it’s not that difficult to get good at, which is something that appeals to a lot of people. You want to be good at this athletic endeavor, but unlike most sports, it doesn’t take a long time to get good at it,” said Miki Alexander (‘19), speaking to what initially drew him towards cycling, and kept him with it.

On the Lavation Website, it states that “cycling does not discriminate; it challenges each of us at our own level.” Participants are able to adjust resistance on their bikes to customize the intensity of their session.

In addition to Soulcycle and the Urban School’s class at Lavation, there are many  other places to cycle in the city. The JCSF and YMCA both offer cycling classes of varying intensities, including beginner classes open to anyone who wants to try cycling for the first time.