CHINA — When Joshua Lambert suggested putting bicycle desks in his math classroom at China Middle School last year, the idea was met with skepticism.

Lambert is on the Regional School Unit 18 wellness committee, which was coming up with ideas for grant proposals to fund health and fitness programs in district schools.

“They all chuckled a little bit,” he said.

But when the two FitDesk bicycle desks showed up in his classroom at the end of last school year, they were an immediate hit.

During homeroom period first thing Wednesday morning, two students quickly hopped onto the desks and started pedaling.

Working on his laptop and happily pedaling away, eighth grader James Hardy said working at the desk helps get some of his energy out during the school day. After the desks were delivered last year, the class kept track of how many miles they pedaled and tried to do the equivalent of crossing the U.S., he said.


“We got as far as Georgia,” Hardy said.

The white FitDesks look like normal stationary bicycles, but with a flat workspace attached in front of the handlebars in front of the rider. The bikes are stable, so the desks don’t wobble, and also silent, so they don’t distract other students.

The idea for the bike desks came to Lambert when he watched his father use his stationary bike. He wondered if he could attach a desk to it, Lambert said. After a little research, he found out that someone else already had the idea.

A number of companies, including FitDesk, build and sell bike desks, and people have also created their own. The school bought the cycle desks through a Let’s Go! program grant from Inland Hospital in Waterville.

Lambert, who isn’t a cyclist, said the idea appealed to him because he felt it would be a way for students to work off some of the nervous energy that can keep them from focusing in the classroom.

“Eighty minutes is a long time to sit in a math class,” Lambert said. “You can just see them fidget, see them need to move. This makes a world of difference.”


Lambert also installed two new standing desk stations for the same purpose.

“If I can have a classroom of students who move around more than sit, that would be great,” Lambert said.

He intends to apply for more money this year to buy a few more of the desks for the class.

Because there are only two bike desks, students have to take turns, using the bikes for about five or six minutes at a time. So far, that hasn’t been a problem, and all the students recognize when they’ve been on the bike for too long and someone else wants to use it, Lambert said.

Colby Marston, an eighth grader, was one of the first students on the bikes at the beginning of Lambert’s class Wednesday morning. Marston said it was only his second time on the bike, but it helped him focus on his classwork.

“I tend to be a little restless,” Marston said. “This helps me get my energy out,” he said, pumping the pedals faster.


Fellow student Morgan Presby, sitting next to him, agreed.

Sitting at a desk for a long time can make her feel tired and unfocused, but on the bike she feels like she is paying more attention to the lesson.

“I’m energized, moving, it makes me want to do work,” Presby said. “It’s a really cool tool.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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