Hydrospinning: the fitness craze that makes your spin class look easy

I believe you should try everything once, apart from tripe and Cirque de Soleil, so when I was told about a new water fitness class – hydrospinning – I thought I’d give it a go. Pippa Middleton likes it, I was told. Now Pippa Middleton could clip her pigtails to a roundabout and call herself Paula Vortex and I still couldn’t care less. But I only swim for about a minute a week in this cold weather so for the sake of fitness, I found myself on the way to a Hydraburn class on a rainy January evening.

Once you’ve sung “Drizzly Night in Croydon” to the tune of Rainy Night in Georgia, you’ll never hear the original in the same way again. Still, there I was, in the kind of hotel where people go for sales conferences, and like them, I was hoping not to come away with cystitis. Hydraburn does have that ring to it, and by the description, I imagined there’d be a lot of friction heat and nylon razzling up my delicate areas. I wasn’t wrong.

I’ve done a spinning (static bike) class before, in one of my “try everything once” moods. It was brutal and unforgiving and made me sweat more than Nadine Dorries justifying her appeariance on I’m a Celebrity …. For about 55 of the 60 minutes it feels like I imagine an unfit smoker does tackling that last hill before Brighton. (I only know of this hill; I’ve never done the London to Brighton cycle ride. I don’t really like cycling. This should have been a clue.) I don’t know why I thought a static bike in water would be easier. I was wrong.

The hotel pool was one of those decorative ones that are rubbish to actually swim in (too small, too hot, in a funny shape you can only twiddle around). I was handed regulation scuba-type shoes and noted that there were 10 bikes in the pool, nine of them already occupied. The one remaining bike was right at the front of the class. My natural place is back of the class, but I couldn’t exactly heft someone else off their machine – that kind of behaviour is frowned upon, apparently. So I took my place, and the trainer, Rob, came and strapped my feet in. Oh God, I thought. What if I fall off my bike and my feet are strapped in and I DROWN? (I did a drama degree, I don’t like to waste it.)

Then Rob got on his static bike poolside, and the music started. You know the kind of thing: a repepepepepetive synth line and a boof boof boof (if you want to catch up on club hits from summer 2010, do a gym class). We started off reasonably slowly – pedal at around 50%, Rob said. My slows and fasts tend to be around the same speed. It’s tricky, pedalling in water.

I’d like to say that the next 45 minutes went by in a blur, but that would be a lie. There was a clock directly in my eyeline and I think it was a trick one, designed to make every minute feel like 10. We went 50%, we went 70%, we went FULL PELT 100%. Then back to 50%. We sat down, we stood up, we hung off the back off the bike. Some of us (me) couldn’t do that, kept banging our bits on metal protusions ouch. I think it would have come easier had I spent my youth getting backies. On we went, over hill and dale, getting nowhere but Croydon. All the while pedalling like mad in the water. Have you ever added not quite enough milk to custard powder, and it turned into a solid liquid? That’s how my legs felt. We swooshed our arms forwards, backwards, side to side. This bit’s easy, I thought, look at my amazing swimmers arms – till I tried to eat a bacon sandwich later and had to take my head to it, rather than it to my head.

All the while, Rob pedalled on at the front, barely breaking a sweat, telling us to keep to his speed. TRY and keep to my speed, he kindly modified. Lordy I tried, but his legs were quick. I focused on them, my eyes bulging and sweat pouring off me.

Hours later, the class finished. I kind of fell off the bike, my legs a wobble. “How was it?” Rob asked. GREAT! I said. I feel high as a kite! “You should write your piece now,” he said. I’ll wait and see how I feel tomorrow, I said, wily even under the influence of endorphins. And next day, endorphinless, I was heavy of leg and arm but that’s a good thing, because it meant I’d worked different muscles safely. So this comes out as a positive YES for hydrospinning as a water-based fitness class, from me and P Middlez both. It’s definitely better than that one aqua aerobics session I did where I felt like a stoned pink elephant on parade.

Delicate souls should now look away. Cycling on a hard bike seat in a nylon costume for 45 minutes does somewhat knacker your soft bits, especially if you are no plump spring chicken. If you are a withered old bird like me, you will be SORE. I’d advise special padded swim shorts. If such things don’t exist, consider them invented.

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