As someone who cycles in Scotland, I am no stranger to being soaked whilst on two wheels. It’s par for the course for a pootle to include hurricane force winds with a side of stinging rain. A good set of waterproofs and my ridiculous overshoes tend to keep the worst of the Scottish wet off, but I turned up to my latest waterlogged cycling adventure sans cycling gear. Instead, I was awkwardly clad in a weird combo of swimming costume and padded shorts, as the Commie Pool in Edinburgh has started underwater spin classes (aka hydrospin). I felt it was my duty to give them an, erm, spin.
The pool floor submerges the bikes. It’s pretty cool.
These classes have been ongoing for a wee while and I’ve had a range of conversations with other folk about the sheer absurdity of hydrospin and how on earth it would even work. Cue a well-timed email from the folk at SimplyHealth inviting me along to a free class. So I turned up at the Commie Pool last weekend, ready to submerge myself and give the whole mad thing a bash.
I’m not a massive fan of spin classes. I’d much rather be outside on a bike labouring up a hill instead of wearily sweating away on the spot with some bronzed Adonis screaming “HIGHER RESISTANCE!!!” in my face. I’ve only ever been to one regular spin class and, aside from the sheer knackeringness of it all, I found the saddles to be the fitness equivalent of sitting on a cheese cutter. So I’d not attempted any spin since. Until now.
First of all, I thought it would be supremely difficult. I figured the resistance of the water would make revolutions harder. But it was much easier than a regular spin class because your weight is supported by the water. This is good news for anyone with an injury that would like to ease back into exercise so it comes recommended on that count alone.
Secondly, I was concerned about the saddle situation after my previous spin experience. I rocked up to the class with my scabby padded shorts on, expecting the worst. But, again, the water sorted that problem out. I spent the class trying to sit on the saddle, because the water’s buoyancy had my arse floating precariously above the bike like some bum-shaped flying saucer.
Here I am, setting up the bike before the floor is lowered. Spot the scabby shorts.
Lastly, I was totally confused about my feet. Turns out that they give you some regulation surf shoes that protect your feet from the pedals and are secured via straps. Word to the wise though, adjust your feet before the bikes get submerged, because otherwise you’ll need a snorkel when attempting to fix your trotters.
We did 45 minutes on the bikes, after all the adjustments and so on were sorted and the pool floor was lowered into the water. You set the resistance at the start of the class and hope that it’s not too difficult. I wimped out with the “medium” setting and quickly regretted my decision. I’m hardly a hardcore cyclist, but the “hard” setting is the way to go if you cycle more than five miles a week.
It was a laugh, though. I bobbed up and down along to boom-boom music, chuckled at the amusing banter from the instructor and did some really poor imitation synchronised swimming stuff with my arms while my legs were pedalling away. I even got to try a recumbent position, lying into the water while hanging onto the back of the saddle. It was a fun experience.
Pedalling and swimming at the same time. Multitasking for the win.
For the spin addicts out there, the watery equivalent is unlikely to hit the sweet spot. Although I felt like I had done a workout, I didn’t feel dead on my feet and the infamous jelly legs were nowhere to be seen. So if you crave pain and need that I-am-going-to-vomit heart rate, stick to regular spin.
However, if you’ve got an injury, want to be eased into spin or just fancy doing something wacky and different, then I recommend the class with two thumbs up. It’s lots of fun and if nothing else, the pool hides all your wobbly bits so there’s no need to feel self-conscious, yay!