Cycling in the water? Yup! I mentioned that I was going to squeeze in as many NYC Workout Options as I possibly could during my 2 week stay and yesterday, I got the chance to experience AQUA - The First & Only Aquacycling Studio in NY (per their window):
It wasn’t easy to get up to make a 7am class at the 3 month old Tribeca studio but getting to see the sun rise over downtown Manhattan while on the train certainly made it easier to take.
AQUA‘s receptionist, Gabrielle, gave me a warm greeting and some insight about this unique studio. The owner of AQUA enjoyed aquacycling in Europe and was determined to bring a sport she loved to one of the fitness capitals of the US.
It took about 2 years for the studio to be completed (it’s hard to get the permits required to build a pool in a building in NYC) but the result was worth it! AQUA has a clean, industrial New York look and feel with exposed brick and pipes. The fact that many of the materials from the original building were also re-purposed (the original floor boards are showcased as the reception desk) was admirable (as well as economical and environmentally friendly).
Michelle V from FiTMAPPED was nice enough to meet me for this early morning experience and once we paid our $2 for our special jelly cycling shoes, we were off to the locker room (complete with free locker keys, shower, vanity and beauty amenities).
I can’t continue without saying how amazing it is to glimpse a pool with 15 bikes in 4 feet of lukewarm water in the bottom of a Tribeca building.
Our friendly instructor, Natalie (who looked exactly what you’d expect an AQUA instructor to look like – tall, pretty and well muscled without being bulky) instructed us how to set up the bikes (seat at hip level allowing for a slight bend in the knee when in the saddle) and then explained the 4* aquacycling positions (more on this later) before beginning our 45 minute class.
This was my first cycling experience since exacerbating my back injury in February and I figured that riding a bike with no resistance might be easy. Wrong! Getting a smooth cadence was definitely difficult due to the water resistance not only from my own legs but from the 4 other people in the pool. I’m sure it would be an even more difficult class with a full 15 people in class.
This is workout isn’t only for your legs; your arms and core get worked as well. Thank goodness I’ve been working my core muscles or staying upright while pedaling and alternating arm strokes in the water would have been a major challenge!
My favorite part of was the unique 4th position of cycling behind the bicycle seat! Only in the water could you put your body behind a bicycle (with hands on the seat) and still be able to pedal! This position was great for my back (no leaning over), strengthening for my core and arms and elongating for the legs. This is definitely why people engage in aquacycling for sure!
AQUA was a harder workout than I expected (definitely more than a recovery ride) but absolutely enjoyable. Even though I would not be able afford classes on a regular basis (see prices below), I’d definitely treat myself to a class again in the future. The 6 things I think people should know about AQUA include:
My 6 Top Takeaways from AQUA:
1. Classes are for women only
There are male instructors but only females can participate in class at this time. Male locker rooms are in the works but classes will be single sex only.
2. Classes are pricey but high end boutique experience and amenities are offered
$34 for trial class and $40 for single class with packages available; $2 shoes (unless you bring your own) but you do receive the following for free: one large towel and access to a well stocked locker room and shower. Water is available but I’m uncertain if it’s complimentary or for purchase.
3. Wear a supportive swimsuit top or sports bra.
Most swimsuits are for form not function and supporting “the girls” should always be a priority (especially if you are well endowed like me).
4. Aquatics not acoustics reign.
If you go to a cycling class for the music, this may not be the place for you. It is difficult to hear the music (and the instructor at the same time) due to the acoustics in the pool area. Grab bikes at the far end of the pool to be close to the cool floating speakers if music is a priority.
5. Consider your cycling experience and strength levels when booking a class.
The more people in class, the more turbulence there will be in the water and therefore more resistance to overcome during your ride.
6. Enjoy the unique experience.
In NYC you can go to a million different types of fitness classes. The AQUA combination of indoor cycling and water exercise is unlike anything else available. You’ll get wet, raise your heart rate, burn some calorie, strengthen your muscles and have some fun while doing something on the cutting edge of fitness in the US. Try it, you never know where you might be able to fit it within your fitness routine.
Just to clarify – I was not compensated for or asked to write this post by AQUA or FiTMAPPED. I attended and paid for my own class at AQUA because it is a unique fitness experience that I was dying to try! All opinions and photos are my own.
AQUA is located at 78 Franklin Street, NYC between Church and Broadway.