A New Spin On Spin Class—Aqua Cycling

We were skeptical when we first heard about aqua cycling. Spin class in the pool? Really? Why? (It didn’t help that it was January and we would have to wear bathing suits.) But curiosity about the new fitness trend—which originated in Europe and has just come to the US, and to Westchester—won out, and we gave it a shot. Seated on specialized aqua bikes in the pool, we pedaled and pushed against the natural resistance of the water for two heart-pumping one-hour workouts. We took the plunge at the two Westchester spots currently offering aqua cycling. Here’s what we found:

Aqua Wellness World at The Carver Center, Port Chester

Classes are currently offered on Thursdays and Saturdays. First class is $35; single class: $40; 10-, 20-, and 30-class packs: $290, $540, $750

What We Liked: After getting used to the choppy feeling of pedaling a bike underwater, its massaging effect was calming and refreshing. Though feeling the burn from the workout, the water keeps you cool and remarkably un-sweaty. Unlike regular spin bikes, aqua bikes can pedal in reverse, which increases muscle-toning options and is a fun change of pace. And the arm exercises (while wearing strange water gloves) provide an added workout bonus. Also, minimal soreness the next day was a nice surprise.

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What We Didn’t Like: The overall strangeness of riding a bike underwater was hard to shake. Also, between the loud music, the splashing, and the instructor’s thick French accent, it was hard at times to hear the instructions.

Aqua Cycling at YMCA, White Plains

Three classes are currently offered daily Monday-Saturday (free trial classes are available); Eight-week session: $150 (members), $200

What We Liked: Though it was odd hopping atop a cycling bike in a pool, Aquatics Director Eric Hammermeister’s enthusiasm was contagious from the get-go. He fitted the bike to each of our proportions and then began the class. His loud “y-ups!” and “downs!” had us pushing through a tough—yet remarkably sweat-free—workout, well timed to his thumping soundtrack, which had the perfect amount of bass to keep us going when we needed, mixed with slow instrumentals when it was time to let our heart rates slow a bit. 

What We Didn’t Like: Aqua cycles are built with suction cups to stay planted on the bottom of the pool. The Y’s pool is designed with small tiles, which the bikes didn’t stick to firmly, so the bike moved a bit during the workout.

The Verdict

If you like being in the water, you will love aqua cycling; if not, regular spinning may be your best bet. It’s a hard, thorough workout that’s easy on the joints—sign us up for future sessions!

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