Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my existence is marked by being an Aquarian (the zodiac sign symbolised by the Water Bearer) because as far as I’m concerned, being in a pool of water is one of life’s little pleasures. While I’m quite happy living on land, I feel a strong sense of connection towards any water based exercise or activity. I make it a point to steer clear of gyms and marathons, but give me competitive swimming or aqua aerobics, and wild horses couldn’t keep me away!
So when I got the opportunity to try out aqua spinning, I could hardly wait.
Aqua Spinis Singapore’s first and only aqua spinning company and has been running classes (both group and individual) for over a year. Helmed by certified aqua bike trainers, Yannick Dedigama and Alicia Antonuccio, it’s one seriously splash-tastic workout mama!
What is Aqua Spin? Aqua Spinning is the popular European water-based fitness craze, which has you spinning on a stationary bike that’s submerged in water. Harnessing the intrinsic power of water; buoyancy and resistance help you perform intense yet gentle exercise motions, making it the perfect total body workout.
Ideal for Singapore’s sweaty climate, the natural movements of the water protect the joints and relieve the spine, building endurance and helping strengthen your core, belly, back and upper body, all at the same time!
Having done serious aqua aerobics twice a week for most of last year, I thought I knew exactly what to expect from this trendy new workout. Pedalling on stationary bikes underwater seemed relatively straightforward – just hold on to the handle bars and pedal right?
I will admit, I may have been a little wrong.
Mama does Aqua Spin Yannick, my trainer for the day, started us off nice and easy with a gentle warm up. After we’d done our underwater stretches we jumped on the bikes and started pedalling. Yannick had us start pedalling at 50% of our strength, before cranking it up to 75% and finally pushing us all the way to 100%. Just when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore, we were back down to 50% and the cycle started again. Aqua spinning uses interval training, involving a series of high intensity exercise workouts sprinkled with (extremely) brief recovery periods. I pined for the breaks to be longer than what felt like 10 seconds. But any longer than that, and my heart rate would start to decrease – which only meant I had to work even harder to get it back to the rate it had been pumping at before I stopped. Talk about a vicious cycle (pun intended)!
After our intital interval training session, we then moved on to pedalling in different positions (sitting directly on the seat, squatting just above the seat and standing straight), with or without arms and at different intensities. Imagine cycling while in a squatting position just above the seat – certainly not something I could do at the gym on a stationary bike for longer than 5 seconds. But the water easily supported my weight and I could hold the position for a lot longer. However, allow me to explain “intensity” here — what was initially my speed at 50% power was now to be my speed during the rest period! The idea was to not stop completely at any time, as it would just make it that much harder to start again from zero. I understood the logic, but pretty soon logic went out the window and all I wanted to do was stop!
By the end of the first half an hour, my thighs were burning and were literally screaming to get off the bike! Up, down, arms, no arms, leaning forwards, we just kept going and going. I had complete faith in Yannick’s claim that I would be burning tons of calories, but I couldn’t help but feel I would pay for it the next day with sore muscles. My trainer was quick to re-assure me that aqua pedalling actually acts as an underwater massage on the body, reducing lactate levels in the blood more efficiently than land based cycling.The lower the blood lactate levels in the muscle, the lower the resulting soreness.
Little did I (or my muscles) believe him. This did not feel like any massage that I liked or cared to remember!
But breaking up the cycling with different postures and different upper body movements was actually quite effective. Just be prepared mama to move across the pool floor –- I had positioned my bike at a fair distance from the next lady when we started the class, but halfway through the session, I found myself getting increasing closer to her. The cycling movement causes the bike to effortlessly glide in the water from time to time. At one point when we were leaning forward and peddling hard standing upright, I asked Yannick if he had ever had a bike tip forward and crash into the water. “No” he said amused, “you would be the first to make that happen!” (which I didn’t – thank goodness!).
In my opinion, while I completely swear by aqua aerobics for its conditioning and muscle toning qualities, I found aqua spinning to be more cardio intensive and targeted. Aqua Spin is ideal for anyone looking for a challenge or seeking rehabilitation, including pregnant women, high level athletes, and people recovering from injuries. The motions are adapted to each person, plus being in the pool means you’re not a hot sweaty mess by the end of your workout!
And you know what – unbelievably, I woke up with no sore muscles the next day! Just as promised.
From now until 30 April 2014, Aqua Spin is offering all Sassy Mama readers 50% off the usual price of a class. All you need to do is quote “Sassy Mama” when booking your trial and the discount is all yours!
Priyanka is a mama to 7-year-old twins, and moved to Singapore 11 years ago (and counting!). Having grown up in Kenya and lived in several countries around the world, Priyanka has always had a passion for the outdoors and travelling, reading and being a foodie. Now a published freelance writer, she is also currently writing a children’s book about her twins and their favourite teddy bear. You can read more about Priyanka here.