Ever since we announced that Aqua Studio was putting bikes in a pool in Tribeca, people everywhere have asked us about it: "Wait, really?" "But why spin in a pool?" "Is it really hard or not?" "And what the heck do you wear?"
Finally, dear readers, the answers to your questions—in case the Aqua Studio's Number 10 reason to try it—"Europeans love it"—doesn't immediately convince you. (Hey, Aqua Studio, Europeans also love cigarettes and foie gras so their wellness taste is not a given, dare we say.) We stopped by the simply stunning, spa-like subterranean space for two rides with two different teachers.
First, your wet suit: Most riders were wearing one-pieces or shorts and a sports bra, and you'd be fine in a bikini, as long as the bottom doesn't move around like crazy. Clear rubber slippers (provided for a fee) are required footwear, though one reporter found they pinched and was happy cycling barefoot.
The workout uses the same three riding positions in and out of the seat that you're used to at SoulCycle or Flywheel, plus a fourth position that involves pedaling while you sit in the water behind the bike, holding onto the seat. Sequences are similar, too—you'll move from one position to another on the beat, do tap backs, and alternate between slow climbs and sprints.
Your resistance, however, stays the same throughout class. You choose one of three levels at the start of class, and it can't be switched during the workout. You feel the water adding resistance as you pedal, but no more than if you rode up a crazy hill. The water acts as arm resistance, too. Though barely. You push the water forward and back and out to the sides, alongside your bike. You may also get a core sequence, where your feet come out of the pedals and tuck under the handlebars and you lean back into a crunch position on the seat. (Do not try this on land.)
Overall, the workout is challenging but doesn't feel as hard as a regular cycling class, and the arm workout is very tame. A reputed "no soreness" claim is hard to verify, since it didn't seem like a workout that would have produced soreness in the first place.
The vibe: The music is loud and motivating throughout, but with the echo in the room and the splish-splashing, it's nearly impossible to hear the instructor's cues. That said, it's easy enough to just watch and follow. It's also important to know that instructors' styles vary greatly, so regulars tend to find the one they like and stick with him or her.
Last but not least, price. The $40, 45-minute class price doesn't include shoes ($2) or more than one towel ($1 for extras), which puts things at almost a buck a minute.
Who it's for: Indoor cyclists with a curiosity for all things spin. Those with a boutique fitness bucket list. People with injuries and pregnant women (verified by a mom-to-be in our class) or who are looking for a gentle version of indoor cycling. Those attracted to spa-like environments.
Aqua Studio, 78 Franklin Street, btwn Church and Broadway, Tribeca, 212-966-6784, www.aquastudiony.com
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