Nothing gives me more joy than being in the water. I grew up swimming and diving on my neighborhood pool’s summer league teams, and still try to get laps in whenever I can. So, I was curious when I saw the description for an Aqua Spin class when browsing the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website a few months ago.
The intriguing description reads: “Tired of a normal Spin Class? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then join us for Aqua Spin!” The page also includes a picture of a bike in the water ... not something you’d usually see.
I’ve taken spin classes before and they were a great workout. I was very interested to see how different cycling was in the water and finally mustered up the courage to take the class a couple weeks ago.
I arrived early to class, which takes place at Tolson Indoor Pool, to make sure I knew what I was getting into before I made a fool of myself. Chelsea Earl, water safety instructor, swim/water aerobics coach, FMWR Aquatics, greeted me with a smile. She explained the structure of the class and helped me get fitted with a bike.
Earl described how to determine the correct bike settings for each person and emphasized the importance of using flat, not pointed, feet when pedaling. She said Tolson Indoor Pool’s bikes are specially-equipped for use in the water, with unique pedals and holes that fill with water to ensure stability.
After getting in the water and starting to pedal, Earl gave me some tips on proper form, as well as how the resistance should feel. She also advised me not to lean on the handlebars and to use my full body weight to pedal. Then it was time to get to work.
With a mix of pop, 80s and 90s music providing motivation, we started off with light pedaling and some arm resistance moves. I was happily surprised that the workout incorporated more than just my legs, and definitely felt the burn after a minute of tricep pushdowns in the water.
The workout progressed into sprints with short rest in between and a climb, where we pushed ourselves to pedal against increasing resistance.
Earl said she likes to incorporate these sprint and high resistance intervals in her classes.
“I have a few basic moves and build off it to make it more interesting,” she explained.
Throughout the class, other participants motivated each other and shared the pain as we pushed to finish a sprint or “climb” to the top of the hill. Overall, it was a great workout. Being in the pool also enhanced the experience — I could definitely tell a difference in the effort required to pedal, and enjoyed being able to splash myself with some cool water when I got hot.
But, the benefits of Aqua Spin are more than surface-deep, according to Earl.
“Being in the water is great support for people who have arthritis, knee, ankle, or hip injuries ... My favorite part is working everybody out so hard. I love helping people in their journey for weight loss and recovery or whatever their goals are in a unique way,” she said.
This novel workout has a new fan. I enjoyed the first class so much I went back this week and brought two co-workers with me. I recommend Aqua Spin to anyone looking for a different spin on their exercise routine. The class is 45 minutes long, including bike setup, and takes place Tuesdays at 6, 6:45 and 10 a.m.; Thursdays at 10 a.m.; and Fridays at 6 and 6:45 a.m. It is open to authorized FMWR patrons ages 16 and older, and the cost is $5 per class.