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Underwater Cycling, the Next Fitness Phenomenon?

Update Date: May 17, 2013 01:01 PM EDT

Fitness classes have evolved other the past decades from simple Pilates and relaxing yoga to intense boot camps and bikram yoga. These newer classes, that involves 100 degree Fahrenheit rooms have taken over gym classes and people's schedules as the popularity for these classes continues to soar. Now, an even newer way of working out could be the next big thing for gyms to capitalize on. The first ever underwater cycling studio, which is literally cycling in a pool, has opened in New York City.

To avoid confusion, underwater cycling is not the same as aqua-aerobics, which is a cardiovascular form of exercise that involves little equipment. In aqua-aerobics, people perform moves while standing in water. Underwater cycling, however, brings the entire bike into the pool. Although this new fitness craze might have just started, the concept is not as new as one would think. Underwater cycling has been used as a form of physical therapy for injured athletes in Europe, but no one has ever really heard about it in America until Frenchman, Esther Gautheir decided to open up the Aqua Studio. The class is exactly like a normal cycling class with music, stationary bike machines, and an energetic teacher. Except now, everything takes place under four feet of water.

"I was visiting my family in Paris two years ago, and I took my first aqua biking class. It was the first time I had even heart about it, and I was so surprised. It is very rare that [a fitness trend] is not in the U.S.," Gauthier said. "I followed the evolution of the trend and I decided to bring the concept here. It started in Italy as a physical therapy, and it became so popular when it was transition into a class instead of just one individual in a pool with a bike. It really started to spread in Spain, Portugal and then France."

This type of exercise uses water resistance so that people can decide when they want to push harder or slow down on their own instead of relying on a machine feature. The water pressure also adds a bit of a massage feeling to the legs that can reach deeper muscles, which is believed to help the person lose more calories. Gauthier added that since the body is submerged in water, the body manages to stay cool despite working out hard. The classes, however, do not only focus on cycling. There are other small additives to the class, such as floating on top of the machine or treading water as other ways of working the body.

Aqua Studio currently has classes open for women only since it does not have a locker room for men yet. But, if popularity rises and more requests are sent in, underwater cycling could really take off. 

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