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Aqua Cycling / Hydro Spinning

If you thought spinning was trendy, get ready for the next big thing: Underwater Spinning.

It’s just what it sounds like, which means it involves even more water than most sweat-drenched spin classes. Yes, you heard that right: you can cycle in the pool, combining the low-impact nature of swimming with the hardcore exercise of a spinning class.

If you love spinning but feel like you’ve mastered the traditional version, then it might be time for you to give this new trend a try.

The concept of underwater spinning is really simple: It’s a static bike class, with the exception that the bikes are located in a swimming pool. Your legs and hips are submerged in the water throughout the class, while your head and shoulders are kept safely above water level. Underwater spinning classes might be popping up at a studio near you soon, so here are four reasons why you might want to give this new trend a try.

One of the best types of aerobic exercises, aqua cycling provides great cardiovascular benefits, without causing any kind of mechanical stress to the back, hips, knees and ankles in the form of pain. For those who do not know how to ride a cycle, you can go for stationary ones.

Try something just a little different. One of the more interesting aqua sports at the moment is the underwater cycling trend that first emerged in Italy, where it was started by a physical therapist.

Aqua cycling or aqua spinning is a technique in fitness training that involves stationary exercise bicycles which are submerged in water.

It became so popular when it was turned into a class instead of just one guy in a pool with a bike. There are several aqua bike manufacturers, all located in Europe, and all of whom are claiming to be the first to pioneer the underwater bike.

Burn Hundreds of Calories Every Hour

If you thought spinning was good for keeping off the pounds, then get ready to take it to a whole new level. The resistance of the water means that you have to work even harder to keep the pedals turning. Underwater spinning studios claim that it is possible to burn up to 800 calories an hour in one of these classes. If that claim is true, then this is one form of exercise that could really make excess weight melt away when combined with a healthy diet.

Protect Your Joints

Exercises that are done in water have much less impact on the joints than exercising on land does. The water supports the weight of your body, protecting your joints from harm while you work out. If you have problems with joint pain, are recovering from an injury, or are overweight or pregnant, then this low-impact form of exercise could help you to burn calories while minimizing the risk of hurting yourself.

Get a Massage

As you cycle, the water moves over your legs and glutes, effectively massaging the muscles and other tissues. Aqua Studio, which offers aqua cycling classes in NYC, claims that this water massage can reduce cellulite and improve skin tone.

Work Your Core

When cycling in water, the amount of weight pressing into the pedals, handlebars, and seat is reduced. Rather than putting pressure on your legs, underwater spinning focuses more on working your core. Want to get killer abs? This could be a good place to start.

Originally used as physical therapy for injured athletes, underwater stationary bikes are going mainstream. It’s your standard cycling class, with all the rows of stationary bikes, upbeat music and peppy trainers, but submerged in 4-feet of water.

These specially designed bikes work very similar to a regular cycling bike with a few variations. One is that the bikes sit in a pool and resistance is based on pedaling speed. There are also extra exercises that can be done on the bikes, which you can't do on regular cycling bikes, because of the proximity of your body to the water.

Hydro bikes are positioned on the pool floor in chest deep water. This allows you to pedal in water and do an invigorating aerobic workout.

Low-impact doesn't mean low-intensity. While it is certainly a challenging class, anyone willing to put in a good effort should be able to give this a go. It helps with cardio, endurance, and strength thanks to the resistance provided by the water, and is also easy on the joints.

Just like a traditional bike run, it enables you to do a non-strenuous leg workout against the water's resistance. It has the same heart-pumping sprints, heavy-resistance climbs and arm-focused interludes as land cycling, but this time with your bike at the bottom of a pool.

You can burn between 300 and 500 kcal in a typical session with this lower body, glutes and thigh workout, while fighting cellulite and flabby thighs.

We highly recommend an orientation session with an instructor prior to using the equipment on your own. Stop by 5-10 minutes before any scheduled aqua-cycling class, and the instructor will show you how to adjust the bikes to your body, how to use them safely, and how to get the most out of this unique equipment.

The natural massage from the water pressure also reaches the deeper muscles that are tougher to stimulate on land.

On land, you’re not getting the same resistance. The massage you’re getting from the water hits the region of the leg where the fats accumulate on the muscle. It helps drain the lymphatic system and eliminates more calories and toxins, and burns more cellulite than on land. Depending on your body type, bikers can burn up to 800 calories over an hour of aqua cycling.

The water also allows for more nimble movements around the bike, which really sets it apart from the average cycling session.

The water supports your body weight, which relieves pressure on the joints, making it popular among people recovering from injuries, as well as overweight individuals who want to exercise without straining joints.

Made in Italy, Hydrorider bikes are created of marine industry stainless steel so they can be placed in pools for classes and training.

Aqua Cycling Clothes

Clean sports shoes and socks are required for all use of the equipment. The shoes are there for health and safety reasons to avoid injury if you slip off a pedal. Optional socks avoid any chafing.

Comfy cycling clothes or sportswear keep you warm in the water and look good. More clothes make this workout much harder if you want to get really fit.

Cycling Shirt

A cycling shirt adds comfort and style, makes you look cool. Choose from a vest like design, short sleeve or long sleeve, tight fit or loose. If you get too hot just duck under to get it wet again.

Aqua Cycling Jacket

While your legs are pumping fast, your top is out of the water and not moving that much, unless you go for a sprint. An aqua cycling jacket avoids any chill from drafts in the pool hall. Made from thin nylon, it is easy to swim in, dries quickly, and looks the part.

Cycling Tights

Cycling tights or shorts made of Lycra with a padded seat inlet are a good choice. They cause no drag, are easy to wear in the water, and reduce muscle vibration for better performance.

Cycling Shorts

Cycling shorts are a bit more loose fitting, but have more drag in the water. Long pants are even better for a harder workout.

Reader Comments

Hanging Loose

by Luigi from Rome

At one point during the last class, I was told to keep my feet strapped into the pedals, but position my body behind the bike, and let go. If it’s hard to imagine how someone stays afloat in such a contortion, let me tell you, it’s even harder to pull off. The position forced me to tread water, or frantically try to stay afloat, in my case. It was tough, but it works out the arms, legs and abs.

In another position, we strapped our feet underneath the handle bars, lay across the seat, and cranked out sets of crunches. I was struggling to keep my balance and fell into the pool a couple of times.

My fellow aqua-spinners were a diverse group, with a mix of beginners and gym gurus of all ages, which attests to its wide appeal. Everyone had similar goals, to get a good workout and stay injury-free.

Hydro Spin Rocks

by Robert from Plymouth, England

During my first aqua cycling session, I revved it up too fast. Instead of a control knob on the bike that makes pedaling more challenging, you simply pump faster and let the water provide more resistance.

Being a keen cyclist, I dressed only in my cycling kit, tights and jersey, but the resistance wasn't high enough. So the instructor suggested I should wear more clothes, like a jogging suit. Interesting idea.

During an interval break I got out of the pool, swapped the cycling clothes for my hooded jogging suit I wore on arrival, and jumped back into the pool. This was amazing. The extra drag of the jogging pants was what I needed to make this work.

You can’t sweat when you’re in the water, so despite my struggling and panting, I think (I hope) I kept my cool thanks to my wet hoodie. During the few minutes of recovery between intervals, floating around the pool in my jogging suit was quite relaxing and felt really good. Walking home in wet clothes during the hot summer weather was cool too.

How hard could it be, I wondered?

by Kai Leung from Singapore

I took my first aqua biking class and was so surprised. After all, I’ve ridden a bicycle since before I was even old enough to reach the seat, often getting soaked in the rain. So this new exercise fitness craze should be easy, I thought. I was so wrong.

Aqua Cycling takes spinning to new heights. It’s like taking exercise bikes and putting them in the shallow end of a swimming pool. All you have to do is put on a cycling suit or workout clothes, climb on one of the stationary bikes and pedal away.

They said I should wear my cycling kit or sportswear and sports shoes. I wore my trisuit under a thin nylon windsuit, breathable but not waterproof. This is my wet weather gear, should be good for aqua cycling. It was an interesting experience as I stepped under the shower with all my kit on and then went into the pool. Actually, swimming around in my cycling clothes before the training felt really good.

Hop onto the Bike

I climbed onto one of the 15 bikes in the four-foot-deep pool, where the warm water came up to my chest. I tucked my shoes into the pedal straps, and as I started pedalling my legs felt like jelly. The water lapped at my moving legs but did not keep them from spinning.

The fitness instructor lead the cycling session under water in time to energetic music, like M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.” He kept the beat fast and the instructions varied enough that you don’t get bored.

The increased resistance of pedalling in water adds to the exercise benefits. Since you are doing it in water, the strenuous pumping is not as hard on knees, ankles and other joints. My long nylon rain pants added a bit more resistance than tights as they reached down to my ankles. My jacket dried quickly in the warm air. It felt totally hardcore.

It is not all pedalling. Some of the movements include arm exercises, back stretches, neck arches, leg extensions and so on, dipping back into the water. I found the arm moves easier, leaning backward in my seat, my jacket slapping the water.

We moved into the back position, for which there is no cycling equivalent: crouching behind our bikes, underwater. This meant getting my jacket wet again which was refreshing.

I gripped the seat in front of me, immersed up to my neck. The instructor demonstrated breaststroke arm movements. That worked well for me with arms pushing me forward and my legs pedalling, working against my cycling suit's drag resistance.

I felt like a little kid playing in the bathtub, with the waves slapping gently against my clothes. At this point in a spinning workout, I would be sweating and out of breath. But in the water I felt relaxed and weightless, as if biking in zero gravity.

Great fun, enjoyed it a lot, almost forgot that I'm exercising.

My First Aqua Cycling Suit

by Dima form Sotchi, Russia

Inspired by your aqua cycling article, I found a cycling suit on Aliexpress. It is good for road cycling with reflective stripes. I also wear it in the pool for aqua cycling and swimming because it gives me a much better workout and feels very soft in the water.

Aqua Cycling Suit
Aqua Cycling Suit
Aqua Cycling Suit

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