Water-Cycling Workout Review

posted: 09/09/16
by: Rebecca Goldberg

Whether you're in search of fitness motivation, sick of doing the same old exercises, interested in finding a new class, or just plain bummed out about the public pools having all closed for the season-- I've got a workout that just might be for you.

Water cycling!

Yep, you read that right. Spinning in the water--or, more specifically, in the pool. Now, I know what you're thinking 'isn't that just for the older folks who have to be careful with their joints?' Well, while this is a geriatric strengthening exercise and often recommend for the elderly, it's actually an option for people of all ages.

When a friend reached out to me about a new water cycling class in the DC area, SplashCycle, I was totally down. Also interested in what water-cycling entails, was my coworker Molly. So we signed up and eagerly awaited the day of our class.


First impression upon hearing about the class:

Molly: My first thought was COOL. Followed by--is this going to be a weird/lame water aerobics class with older women or is it going to be super intense athletes who use it for training purposes? I wanted something in between.

Rebecca: My first thought was a mix of 'yes-finally!' and 'well, now my friends are REALLY going to say I'm a granny." I figured that this might totally be a joke, partially because I feel that way the first time I try any new class. But at the same time, I was secretly like, what if this is actually difficult and I'm awful at this. I probably asked Molly in advance to not judge me about 100 times. #nojudgementzone

Water-cyling active wear:

Molly: I wore a sports bra, tank top, and biker shorts. If I had had a sportier two-piece bathing suit, I would have worn that. But I only have bikinis and I didn't want my boobs falling out.

Rebecca: I took Molly's lead and wore a sports bra, tank, and a bathing suit bottom and biker shorts. Though, Molly got really into it and ended up ditching the tank mid-way through class. That was smart. I found myself constantly adjusting my tank whenever it moved. Also, the bathing suit bottoms and the biker shorts was a bit much. I really only needed one or the other. Lesson learned. As far as shoes, they provided everyone with water shoes that used a drawstring to tighten them around the ankles. They weren't necessarily what I'd choose for my own water-cycling shoes--but they were free and did the job.


Pre-class worries:

Molly: I was worried about the shoe situation. And what everyone else would be wearing.

Rebecca: I worried I'd be cold in the water and uncomfortable while on the bike.

Immediate impression upon arriving to the class:

Molly: I was excited! First of all, it was such an beautiful location for a work out--the rooftop pool over looking Washington, DC. I love finding work out classes that take you outside of the regular gym scene. The instructors/organizers were also super nice and welcoming, so I didn't feel intimidated at all.

Rebecca: I thought 'Dang! This is awesome!' But seriously, it was a pretty swanky setup. Being in the heart of DC, and on the roof of a colorfully decorated hotel, made the experience so much more thrilling. The music was pumping, the teachers were hyped, and everyone was in good spirits. There was also a fun and comfortable vibe because almost everyone was new to it.


Thoughts on class set-up:

Molly: The set up was ok for the most part, it was tricky because the pool was different depths in different places. I think they tried to organize the taller people in the back where it was deeper, but that probably should have been explained a little bit better.

Rebecca: I found it hard to really have any control over my setup because I can't open my eyes underwater (I know it's simple, but I just can't!) So while the instructors were able to adjust things underwater with their goggles-- I was not able to modify the settings to my preference. I'm 5'7- which made me one of the taller girls in the class, and so I was placed further back in the deeper part of the pool. I would later come to learn that this actually makes a huge difference. I frequent SoulCycle (but no, I'm proudly not one of those cult-like members) and so I know my way around a spin bike pretty well. However, these were incredibly light and were not like the ones I'm familiar with. Thus, being a spin pro on dry land will not make you immediately feel like one in the water.


Feelings while on the bike:

Molly: I was comfortable on the bike, however, they definitely need to weigh the bikes down. They are nice and lightweight. But during certain moves--particularly when you're off the bike, leaning back into the water with your feet still strapped in--the bike can shift. I had to do a little bunny hop to put mine back into place.

Rebecca: My feelings: "I'm on a bike, in the water!" Just like Molly said, I really wish they had weighed the bikes down. I understand that this is a pool used mostly for swimming, and so they utilize lightweight bikes that can easily go in and out of the water. However, this resulted in constant movement that impeded getting a proper workout. For example, if I leaned back to do abs, the bike would lift up and I'd be unbalanced. I felt like I couldn't get as good of a workout in when I didn't have firm resistance countering me. Also, when we did exercises where we leaned back, I was envying Molly in the 4 ft section because I'd lean back and barely be able to keep my face above water.


Level of difficulty:

Molly: Since it's all body weight/water resistance--it could definitely be something you just breeze through. But if you understand how water works (that sounds weird, but it's true), then it can be a really challenging workout.

Rebecca: I think It can really be as difficult as you make it. The more you attend class and become familiar with the movements, the more challenging the workout would be. I felt like I missed out on a lot of exercises because it took a second to realize what I should be doing. By then, the set would be almost over. #newbieprobs

Feelings after class:

Molly: I felt great post-workout. I was a swimmer back in the day, and I had the same feeling as I used to have post swim practice. It's a completely different feeling than a regular spin or gym class. My muscles felt heavy and tired, but not torn. That's the beauty of the low impact and water resistance.

Rebecca: I felt rejuvenated and didn't want to get out of the pool! I couldn't remember the last time I'd splashed around in a pool so it was a fun treat for me. I didn't feel totally sweaty, flushed and exhausted like I typically do after working out. But, like Molly mentioned, I had a completely different feeling. Muscles and parts of my body that I'm not typically in tune with were lightly fatigued.

Rebecca Goldberg

Would you go back?

Molly: If it wasn't $35 a class, I would definitely go back. I thought it was so different and fun and loved being outside in this beautiful pool doing a totally new kind of work out. But $35 is way too steep for a specialty fitness class.

Rebecca: If I had a friend to go with, (and if it wasn't $35) I'd go back. Half of the fun was just that it felt like a silly bonding experience, and much of the ab workout was just from all the laughing I did. I was excited to be outside in a cool pool, working out with awesome music and fun people, and all along with the backdrop of the incredible Washington D.C. skyline. I mean, you can see the capital from the pool! It doesn't get much more awesome than that.


What would you do differently, next time?

Molly: If I owned a sportier two-piece bathing suit, I would definitely wear that.

Rebecca: I'd definitely opt for a sportier bathing suit, or wear a couple of the pieces that I wore to the first class. This time, though, I would avoid wearing layers. One bottom and one top would be plenty. I'd also bring goggles! I spent half the class with my eyes shut because so much involved splashing water. In that same vein, I would be sure to wash all the makeup off my face before class. After dunking my head fully under water, my eyes felt the familiar burn of mascara. By the end of class I looked like the zombie Snapchat filter!


What would have made the experience better?

Molly: A lot of the moves where you're leaning off the bike to do abs/arms requires a LOT of coordination and I think that a little more instruction would have been helpful. But I also think that practice makes perfect and a lot of the moves are things you'd improve on quickly if you did the class consistently.

Rebecca: The experience would have been better from a mixture of things. On my end, washing my face ahead of time, modified active wear and perhaps finding a shoe I find more comfortable would be a big improvement. On their side, I'd love a bit more attention to set-up, more focus on form to get a stronger workout from it, and I'd strongly recommend they put some sand bags on the feet of the bike to help hold it down in the water.


Now that you've heard from two newbies, check out what unique benefits this workout offers. SplashCycle representative, Sarah Gontijo, shared the following:

  • Cycling in the water is a low-impact exercise. The water helps to support your body weight, creating lower impact on your joints.

  • You can burn up to 800 calories in an hour!

  • The workout won't leave you feeling sore. Being in the water prevents injuries and micro-traumas in your muscles that cause soreness.

  • Gets rid of cellulite! The water movement provides a lymphatic draining massage which is extremely effective in eliminating cellulite.

  • You can workout with less exertion. While in the water, you're cooled down and your heartbeat frequency is approximately 10% lower than on land. Thus, you work at a higher intensity with a lower heart rate--improving your endurance.

  • Cardio-health and detoxing! The hydrostatic pressure of the water, combined with the lymphatic massage,boasts circulation and increases your blood flow. Thus, improving the cardiovascular circulatory systems. Both of those systems are responsibly for cleaning your body to get rid of toxins.

So, what do you think? Would you try water cycling or do you prefer to remain on dry land? Let us know!