Try to imagine a hot tub crossed with a bicycle and you’ll have some idea of what the latest trend in aqua-fitness, is all about. Like spinning, Hydrofit uses interval cycling to increase fitness; but that is where the similarity ends. Each bike is set up in private ‘pods’ accessed through a half-height door and filled with water once you’re seated inside (by which time you’re kitted out in swim suit, shorts and aqua shoes).
Frenchwoman Delphine Riahi-Botbol imported the concept from Italy where it was used as a rehab tool in hospitals and clinics. She says: “As the doctors watched their patients use it, they noticed an unexpected side-effect. Patients’ skin tone improved. Their cellulite disappeared. It was really amazing.”
Before long, the Aqua Bike – as it is known in France – was made available as a commercial product and 85 drop-in studios have sprung up on French high streets since its launch there three years ago. Now clinics are opening in London and across the UK with the promise of toning legs, burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness, eliminating water retention and puffiness, boosting circulation and even eliminating cellulite.
Delphine adds: “Traditional spin classes can be hard on the ankles and the knees. Some people also feel lower back twinges, as it’s easy to have poor posture on the bikes – especially when doing high resistance work. But the cushioning effects of the water minimise this in Hydrofit, meaning it’s suitable for more people than standard spinning.”
Before training, you’re taken through a detailed assessment so that the machine can be set to provide a targeted workout. It’s worth remembering the resistance of the water is 12 times higher than air, so although you may not feel the effects in the water, you will when you get out. Most one half-hour sessions cost £30, so if you’re doing the recommended two it’s £60 a week – a big investment but the results may just make it worth while.