Aqua Cycling

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Take a bike, add some water and make a splash. Like a swimsuit-clad version of spinning, aquacycling involves pedalling on a modified exercise bike that’s attached to the bottom of a shallow pool.

Classes involve similar sprint and resistance stints to land-based sessions, but instead of getting all hot and sticky, you work out in chest-deep water that helps to support your body weight (and provides refreshing waves during intervals). Not only a great form of cardiovascular exercise, aquacycling also provides a resistance work out thanks to the extra work needed to move your submerged legs.

How does it work?

Aquacycling is a group exercise class that takes place in a swimming pool, but you will be stationary and have your feet within reach of the ground the entire time. It is led by an instructor, who keeps you motivated, and is accompanied by a high-energy music soundtrack.

You will often be provided with plastic or rubber ‘jelly’ shoes to wear for the duration of the session, which may not be the height of style, but provide foot protection and grip. To make sure you remain in contact with the pedals throughout, aquacycles are also equipped with special pedal cages that gently fit around front half of each foot.

The bikes themselves don’t have any wheels and – like regular gym models – have extended handlebars so you can shift to an off-saddle position when tackling a climbing section. The extra support afforded by the water means that aquacyling is classed as a low impact exercise, but you can still expect to work up a sweat, as it is by no means low intensity.

Most classes last between thirty minutes and an hour, and there are usually different levels on offer. All you need is your swimming cossie and you're ready to go, but keep hair tied back or in a swimming cap to keep it out the way while you’re pedalling.

Is it for me?

Aquacycling is ideal for anyone looking for a fitness class that’s a little bit quirky, but still offers a substantial work out… and the faster you pedal, the harder it gets.

Invented by a physiotherapist to help rehabilitate injured athletes, it is easier on the joints than regular spinning and as the water improves core strength and mobility, it is also recommended to help with arthritis and obesity.

The constant cooling effect of the water means you'll feel unusually fresh throughout (which has a lovely stress-relieving effect) and the water hides any unwanted lumps and bumps in a way that Lycra on an exercise bike never could.

If you can't swim, don’t worry. You will never find yourself out of your depth as the water is kept below a height of around four feet, and there's usually a lifeguard keeping an eye out for trouble.

Good to know

If you’re recovering from an injury, aquacycling may even help speed up your recovery. The pressure from the water massages your muscles as you exercise, stimulating blood flow and helping your body heal.