Well yesterday turned out to be an awesome adventure. I decided the next use of my Classpass would be to try out NYC’s first and only aquacycling studio – Aqua. Review below!
Let me tell you – this workout is so great. It perfectly combines several of my fitness interests (swimming! cycling!) into one workout that was ideal for my fitness level. I am the perfect amount of “sore” today – not too much, but I know I recently worked my muscles.
The studio is beautiful, and easy to maneuver. It is clear where the locker room and pool are. I sometimes find myself a little lost or confused at new studios but none of that here. Due to rain delaying my train and someone actually grabbing me (!!) on my way to the studio, I was a little bit late. They suggest arriving a full 15 minutes before class starts. I think I got there around 9:27 for my 9:30 class. Oops. Luckily the receptionist was super nice and let me postpone filling out all of my first-timer paperwork until after the workout, I just had to quickly sign my waivers and rent my shoes and I was on my way. By the time I got my suit on and crammed everything in a locker (the locks DO work, by the way – several reviews I read online complained about them not working – I believe they have been updated and all seem to be working properly), class had just begun. I think there were about 5 other ladies in the class with me (due to only a single locker room classes are not coed). Unfortunately since the class had just begun, I wasn’t able to get a proper bike setup, so I just walked around until I found one that had a good seat height for me and away we went.
Pedaling on these bikes was something to get used to. My stroke felt very choppy and “bouncy” for a while, especially out of the saddle. There is an emphasis on “smooth strokes”, and by the end of the class I think I had this down. After a nice warmup, we went through a sequence of climbs, jumps and sprints like you would in a traditional spinning class. However, the addition of swimming movements and other arm exercises is what MADE this workout for me. We did several exercises where you essentially take freestyle strokes in the water while spinning. This provided a really solid upper body workout. There were a few other exercises that mimicked a butterfly stroke, and some arm movements that were like freestyle and butterfly in reverse. Another upper body exercise required us to “push” down into the water in double time. Keep in mind you’re still spinning through all of this. These arm movements were SO much more taxing than what I’ve experienced with dumbbells in traditional spin. Big thumbs up.
The other awesome activity and point of differentiation with this workout was the fourth “riding” position. This was done by sliding off the back of the seat. Feet stay in the clips while you hold onto the seat. We then integrated some more swimming type motions, this time mimicking a breaststroke movement. “Swimming” in the fourth position was my absolute favorite part of the entire class.
While I knew I was sweating during this workout, it was nice to be able to splash a little water on my face and keep pedaling. The water temperature was absolutely perfect. It didn’t feel cold at all when I entered the pool and never felt too hot during the workout.
A nice cool down included standard stretches. After the class, it was back to the locker room – which is beautiful. Dimly but sufficiently lit, dark wood and paint – it all felt luxurious. The showers (plenty of them) are extremely roomy and well stocked with soap, shampoo and conditioner. The vanity area has hairdryers (and diffusers), plus q-tips, cotton rounds, etc. The towel provided is full sized and absorbent – no scratchy, thin “gym” towels here. I brought an extra to wrap my hair (which ended up not getting wet, but was nice to have a second towel anyway).
Finally, one more thing that stuck out to me was how incredibly friendly everyone was. I’m not just talking staff. I’m not sure I’ve ever really struck up a conversation with semi-naked strangers in a locker room before, but I think I talked to no fewer than 4 ladies at some length.
My only semi-gripe was with the music. I thought the volume was at a good level – never drowning out the instructor (Ed), even as he turned it up as the intensity of the workout increased. It just wasn’t my style. And while the choreography that goes into traditional spin is probably my favorite part of those classes, it seems like that would be impossible with this kind of setup (the water is your resistance, not a dial). But, honestly I was so focused on the workout I wasn’t paying much attention to the music anyway. Certainly NOT a dealbreaker.
Overall, I will FOR SURE be revisiting Aqua Studio. With Classpass, you may only visit each studio a maximum of three times in a month – you can bet I will be getting all three of my Aqua visits from now on. I’m a big believer in practicing functional movements, and I’m not sure there’s much that’s more unnatural than being strapped to a bicycle that doesn’t move in a swimming pool, but for the fun factor alone I’ll be back. It seems like a great joint-saving supplement to running and other weight bearing activities!This was by far the most “out there” class I’ve taken – what’s your favorite class that isn’t so mainstream? I’d love to hear about it!!