Written by Carlye Wisel
There is no greater pleasure on earth than getting lattice ass indentations from sitting at a poolside plastic picnic table while dunking popcorn into a plastic cup of nacho cheese with wet, drippy, post-pool hands that are drying off both in the sun and on top of your soft pretzel’s enormous salt crystals. I love pools. I love the whole experience. I am one with water.
But I hate exercise. I detest physical exertion, sweating, racerback tanks, public grunting, and walls of mirrors that seem to galvanize exactly what I try to hide. Since the days of arm floaties, I’ve been on a quest to discover any physical activity/exercise class that could pass as a mix of recess and fifth grade P.E. class. Continuously, I sign myself up for the most…exotic classes I can find, which brings me to the early early morning I spent at Tribeca’s Aqua Studio, home of the no-seriously-it-exists activity of underwater cycling.
I rolled into the bougie-cute all-black-everything locker room at the studio like a geriatric G, wearing a Nike one-piece, not knowing what to expect. Every review I read called the pedaling class awkward, the splashing distracting and even deemed the entire process to reach new heights of weird. In New York, that is no small feat.
So was it as weird as foretold? Absolutely – but more important to keep in mind is that it is not SoulCycle. I repeat, because this seems to be the general aquatic spinner’s hiccup on his/her way to bathtub biker status: this is not SoulCycle. There are no motivational phrases splashed across walls or neon sweatpants. You’ll be focused on trying not to hit another bike during the arm swings portion rather than chugging water in unison alongside a crew of mind-blowingly lean “woo!” girls.
You might even go so far as to call the Aqua Studio class boring (there are no Rihanna remixes) but you know what, that would kind of be like calling a massage boring.
Frankly, it is a special experience. While you don’t get that that Lululemon-cloaked, Type-A, borderline-psychotic, bright-red-face-drenched-in-sweat workout that New Yorkers aim for, that’s also the point.
Your body is calmly reaping the benefits – increased blood flow, low joint impact, improved cardiovascular endurance and oddly, cellulite burning - of underwater exercise:
Don’t be fooled, though. Underwater cycling is hard. But just like college and dating and throwing a brunch party, it’s also only as difficult as you make it. Your tiny jelly-clad feet could pedal gently through the water resistance, or you could grit your teeth and quietly, calmly hill-climb like Sir Lance-a-lot Armstrong without breaking a noticeable sweat.
My inner thighs were inoperable for a straight 24 hours, I didn’t mind it at all.
It may take a couple classes for your body to figure out how to do it all properly, but it’s worth trying twice because you’ll spend the entire first class doing two things: questioning if it’s working, and praying to the urethral gods that you’re not wetting yourself.
As the proprietor of what could be referred to as a fussy vagina, I spent an extended half hour terrified that I was going to pee my suit. Terrified to the point that I started wondering if my bladder had fallen too low, wishing I’d paid better attention to vaginal mesh lawyers-for-hire commercials. It’s a curious experience for sure, but then again, most of the great ones are.
Lingering questions answered below.
How shitty will I look after? Wet hair is nearly inevitable from the arm portion of the exercise. Buy a swim cap or top-bun it and be careful.
What do I need to know? The studio is women-only, save for a duo of male instructors. Get there 10-15 minutes before your class, and whatever you do, don’t use the peppermint shower soap in your hoo-ha, unless you’re into that sort of Gold Bond-y burning thing.
What in God’s name do I wear? (Almost) anything goes. A one-piece bathing suit, sports bra and shorts or athletic-looking bikini works, but shorts are recommended due to thigh-seat friction. Required shoe rentals are available for $2.
Worth it? Yes, because worst case scenario, you just spent an hour at an athletic amusement park and didn’t waste an extra $20 trying to win an XL stuffed Garfield toy.