Andrea Lo dives into the deep end with a high-intensity aqua fitness class.
I’ve always been into water-based activities, like swimming and stand-up paddle boarding. I like being able to control my own rhythm and be as lazy as I want. So when I heard about Hydro 1.0, Hong Kong’s first aqua fitness centre that offers high intensity, low impact exercises under water, I figured I’d totally ace it.
Hydro 1.0 was founded by Simon Cheung, who spent more than two decades working in logistics following a stint in the US Navy. He was inspired by his daughter’s passion for swimming and founded the centre initially to provide a place for swimmers to train. Hydro 1.0 eventually became an indoor aqua fitness centre, catering to a wide clientele – everyone from athletes to patients undergoing aquatic therapy.
Obviously, I don’t own proper exercise clothing, so I borrowed my mum’s long-sleeved swimsuit and shorts for the 40-minute aqua fitness class, selected as it sounded like the most gentle session on offer (I took a pass on underwater cycling, treadmill, aqua spinning, aqua CrossFit and dragonboat training). The focus of the class is on calorie-burning and increasing metabolic rate, and is good for fat-burning, muscles and building cardiovascular endurance.
The centre is equipped with a small pool, accommodating classes of up to five people. I meet instructor Sasha. Formerly a pro swimmer, she taught aqua aerobics in her native Russia. Sasha is super energetic and ready to get us moving, even though the lovely warm water made me want to float around and not do anything.
We started off with some warm-up moves that consisted of us kicking our legs out the water, then in, then out again. Next we worked our arms using the water as resistance. The key is to stay still while you do these exercises, which I found close to impossible. Your coordination is all over the place while you’re in water. Jumping with my arms raised was fairly easy, but I just couldn’t nail raising my left arm and right leg together, and vice versa. The pool is equipped with an underwater camera projected on a screen, so you can see what you’re doing, and yes, I was totally out of synch with everyone else. Also: think you can’t sweat under water? Think again. I felt my heart rate go up, and Sasha commented that my cheeks were flushed.
I was getting out of breath when Sasha told us to grab a pool noodle each, and then use our body weight to push it down into the water. More used to reclining on a noodle while on a junk trip, this was astonishingly intense. The exercises got harder: Leg raises against the wall, and running around the pool as fast as we could – which looks silly and is also much tougher than it sounds.
When the 40 minutes were almost up, we went back to the easier exercises to cool down. The class was a real eye-opener: I can definitely see the appeal of aqua fitness, which presents a whole new way of working out. You learn a lot about how your body moves, and the fast pace of the class means that you actually get a good adrenaline rush. Maybe next time I’m floating around in a pool doughnut I’ll switch it up with some aqua fitness moves.
Hydro 1.0, Shop 6, G/F, Brilliant Court, 28 Praya, Kennedy Town, 9475-0737, www.hydro1hk.com.