Waterloo student brings stationary bike study desks to campus

A student at St. Paul's University College in Waterloo is encouraging her peers to try cycling while they study and has already convinced her university to install two cycling desks on campus.

Laura Barkin says studying on a stationary bicycle makes her a better student

St. Paul's student Laura Barkin studies while sitting on a FitDesk. (Laura Barkin)

A student at St. Paul's University College in Waterloo is encouraging her peers to try stationary cycling while they study, and has already convinced her university to install two cycling desks on campus. 

Laura Barkin says she started what she calls active studying about five years ago while training to be an occupational therapist assistant at Humber College in Toronto.

"I was at the gym and using the weight machines," she said. "I was like, 'O.K., I'm going to be working out this muscle, let's see if I can remember all of its actions."

After that, Barkin said she started reviewing study notes and reading her text books while pedaling on a stationary bicycle.

"I found it much easier to stay focused," she said. "It improved how much I remembered of my school work. So, that was incredibly helpful."

But studying at the gym had its downsides. Barkin says stationary bicycles aren't built to hold a laptop or even a large book and it's almost impossible to write or highlight text.

When she moved into GreenHouse, St. Paul's business accelerator, Barkin says she started looking for a better active studying machine. That's when she discovered FitDesk, a stationary bicycle with a desk attached. 

She got one for herself and convinced St. Paul's to install two on campus. Conrad Grebel University College also has a FitDesk, thanks to Barkin. 

"If I know something works for me, there's a good chance it's going to work for somebody else," she said. 

Barkin said she has talked to different organizations and departments associated with the University of Waterloo about getting more FitDesks on campus.

She said she'd love to see the cycling desks in all study spaces, but especially in the university libraries.

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