Working out at the gym fills me with dread. I’m a self-conscious person, so the idea of exercising in front of others – while trying to look semi elegant as sweat drips down my forehead – really makes me cringe.
So when I was invited to Chelsea’s Hydrofit spa, which offers an aqua spinning workout in the privacy of individual Jacuzzi pods – I was practically skipping there, bikini in hand.
The unique sports concept, which originated in France, involves riding an exercise bike while submerged in a special hydro-massage hot tub. Water jets in the bath generate a steady supply of oxygen atoms to promote natural exfoliation of the skin as you cycle, and the workout is said to help tone the legs and banish cellulite as well as enhance blood flow around the body.
Arriving at the sleek Chelsea Hydrofit, I’m lead past the juice bar and massage and treatment rooms downstairs into one of the luxury cabin rooms, each of which has a TV and wireless headphones to keep you entertained as you exercise. Drinking water and a towel is provided, too. I strip down to my cossie before being given an extensive explanation of the technology and what to expect.
I’m given Croc-like shoes to wear for grip on the pedals, and clamber in to the pod before the door is shut and the water level starts to rise, only ever reaching as high up as my waist. The cabin offers a choice of four chromo-therapeutic lights – I’m shown how to change them, and advised to choose one that takes my liking. I opt for red, which is said to promote vitality.
The timer is set: 30 minutes left, and the jets are bubbling around me, producing a tingling feeling around my thighs. I stick the headphones on and tune into the music channel on the TV before me. At first it’s a bit odd as your downstairs half is warm and upstairs half is a bit chilly, but that soon changes as it’s time to start pedalling.
I’m told to alternate between fast and slow speeds for maximum impact, but it’s not that easy: bike resistance is 12 times stronger in water than air, so it’s a bit more intense than a usual spin session.
One of the lovely Hydrofit assistants comes in to check on me when I’m 10 minutes into the 30-minute session – she encourages me to go faster, and rise up off the chair to help. I reach a maximum of 36km/h, but average on about 26km/h the whole time.
I’m sweating soon enough – it’s uncanny that the upper half of my body is wet with perspiration, but my bottom half is already wet!
Normally I’d be bored senseless sitting on a bike for this long, but with the TV on in the background, I start to get into it. It becomes a game of how much water I can splash around the pod, and I also have a play with the intensity of the jets. I don’t dare touch the bike resistance button though. At 18 minutes, I’m doing a bit of clock watching as my legs are tired, but 30 minutes in and I’m told I’ve burned a minimum of 300 calories. Hooray.
My legs feel strong, and I’m feeling less stressed than when I arrived. I have a quick shower (optional) before heading upstairs where a refreshing juice is waiting for me at the bar.
Hydrofit provides a personal and comfortable experience – sort of like visiting a spa and the gym in one go. I leave feeling light and energised – I wonder if it has something to do with those fancy red ‘chromo-therapeutic lights’…
The next morning, my bum hurts a bit, but other than that, I’m right as rain.
What’s great about Hydrofit is that you don’t need any specific workout gear to take part – swimming gear will do – and you also don’t have to worry about your body being presentable – it’s just you and the machine *WIN*, although if you do wish to work out with a pal or partner, duo luxury cabins are available, too.
Hydrobiking is considered to be a low-impact, cardio workout that doesn’t provide too much stress to joints, so it’s great for people with injuries. It also stimulates the body’s lymphatic system, thereby improving metabolism in the long run.
One of the Chelsea Hydrofit staff, Michela, tells me the Hydrofit workout is great for people “looking to tone up, lose weight and banish cellulite”.
The Chelsea Hydrofit branch has five luxury cabin rooms, and its next outpost, opening in Battersea in the coming weeks, will have four.
If you’d like to give it a whirl, you can get 50% off your first booking by mentioning ‘The Curious Londoner’.