When it comes to fitness, I’ll try anything once. So I jumped at the chance to give Aquaphysical a go. It’s a new concept in which you do a workout on water on top of a specially designed floating mat, called an aquabase. The idea, say the founders, is to “enjoy using the natural fluidity of water to achieve flexibility, stability and strength.” Sounds so graceful, doesn’t it? I knew this would be a challenge and an amazing workout for your core and balance. And I also knew I’d fall in at some point…
Aquaphysical will usually be found in swimming pools, but for the launch event, hosted by Rachel and Louise of The Privée Project, I tried out a class at the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. As we waded into the lake and swam to our floating mats I was grateful that it was the hottest day of the year so far! The aquabase mats are inflatable with a rubbery textured surface for grip. They’re pretty sturdy, and big enough for you to lie down and jump on, but they’re small enough to wobble around as you try to keep your balance. They’re also tethered so you don’t float away (phew).
I did the HIIT class, which was a combination of strength work and plyometrics – yes, jumping! Think squats, press-ups, mountain climbers, rotation jumps – all on top of a moving surface. I didn’t actually fall in, but don’t worry if you do, because you’ll get wet anyway – halfway through the class we all slipped into the lake to tread water and keep our heart rates up.
It’s an absolute blast, but it’s also one of the most challenging workouts I’ve ever done. On dry land I can happily bash out 50 (near)perfect pulse lunges, but on an aquabase mat I struggled to do 10! And if you normally hate doing burpees, then try doing them while the ground wobbles underneath you. But this kind of challenge can only be a good thing, right?!
Not only is Aquaphysical unusual and a lot of fun, it has heaps of benefits, whether you do the HIIT class or the yoga class they also offer. It strengthens your core and stabiliser muscles – the smaller muscles that support your body when you’re moving around (not the big ones you usually train in the gym), which are important for preventing injury. The mat gives you immediate feedback on your balance and form, so you constantly adjust and improve – there’s no cheating here! – and you’ll notice that your posture gets better. The small but intense movements are great for toning muscle. And it takes so much concentration that it trains your body and mind to work together, honing your focus. It’s ideal for those who need a low-impact workout, and – as long as you’re not afraid of face-planting into a pool – then anyone can give it a go!
Images Kate Cowdrey Photography