If you’re anything like us, the idea of a water-based workout probably brings up images of sweet old grannies doing water aerobics. But water workouts aren’t just for the senior set; there are now studios across the country offering everything from spin to yoga to HIIT classes in pools and lakes. Sounds cool, right?
And, as it turns out, working out in the water has unique benefits. “It offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work all of the major muscle groups without any harsh impact,” explains Jimmy Minardi of Minardi Training. “Water is 12 times denser than air, so moving through it puts more pressure on your limbs than out-of-water training. Every kick and every arm stroke become a resistance exercise, which is the best way to increase strength, flexibility, and sculpt your body.” In other words, moves that are challenging on land are going to be even more challenging done in the water, without any of the pounding on your joints or bones. Working out on the water has benefits, too: It challenges your balance while keeping your core engaged the entire time.
Want to give it a go? These five spots across the country each offer a unique take on working out in and on the water:
Photo: Aqua Studio NYC
Spin meets swim at this Tribeca studio where you hop onto cycling bikes immersed in a (candlelit) pool. Their six different aquatic classes include not only cycling, but also resistance exercises, stretching, and yoga. They also offer special pre/postnatal classes with a combo of yoga and gentle spin.
Photo: Chicago Paddle Company
Choose from three different stand-up paddle board fitness classes: SUP Pilates, SUP Yoga, and SUP Core Fit. In the first two, the board takes the place of a mat; the last class uses resistance bands attached to the board for a seriously intense core workout. All take place on Lake Michigan with views of the city that offer a welcome distraction from your shaking muscles.
Photo: Boot Camp H2O
These high-intensity, hour-long classes combine everything from swimming to plyometrics to traditional weight-based exercises. The end result? A heart-pounding cardio workout that also sculpts and strengthens muscles from head-to-toe.
Photo: Aqua Vida
This studio offers AquaFlow SUP Yoga, as well as AquaFit HIIT — think burpees, lunges, squats — all done on the water for a calorie-torching full-body workout. Or try AquaSculpt, a 45-min yoga/Pilates blend that focuses on flexibility and muscle lengthening. Find their indoor and outdoor classes throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Photo: H2OM SUP
Get your Zen on in the middle of nature with their SUP Yoga classes that take place amongst insanely scenic Pacific Northwest perfection. They also offer SUP Fusion — a hybrid class of yoga, Pilates, interval training, and body weight resistance training — that will challenge your agility, balance, and strength.
Can’t get to one of these studios? As long as you have access to a pool, you can easily DIY a water workout. Try three of Minardi’s favorite moves:
Stand in water that’s neck deep and churn the water with your arms bent and fists clenched, making the same motion as when you run on land. Run as hard as you can, pushing against the resistance of the water. Try three rounds of five-minute running intervals.
Leg and core toners
Stand with your back against the side of the pool and your arms extended backwards, holding the edge of the pool on each side. Keep your legs together and pull them up until they are extended straight out in front of you. Move your legs out into a V-position, then pull them back together. Keep them together and move down to the starting position. Do three sets, 10 reps each.
Float on your back, perpendicular to the side of the pool. Hook your knees onto the side of the pool, so that the rest of your body is flat in the water. Use your abs to pull your upper body up out of the water as far as you can, then lower back down into the water. Aim for three sets of 10-15 reps.