Burpees and squats on dry land are one thing… but while standing on water? Welcome to the latest craze shaking up the fitness industry: Floatfit, a 30-minute high-intensity workout on water that tests balance and core stability.
Classes take place all over London and the UK, as well as in the Netherlands, Vienna and Hamburg, but I’ve come to London’s Haymarket Hotel for a pop-up class in its chic 17m swimming pool surrounded by Vegas-style gold furniture, a pewter bar and a fluorescent pink lighting scheme by artist Martin Richman.
I’ve been advised to wear gym gear that I don’t mind getting wet…
I slip into the pool and clamber onto my “aquabase”, a rigid surfboard-cum-exercise mat that floats on the water. It’s made from military-grade PVC (the same as is used for inflatable high-speed military boats, apparently) and feels indestructible. Good job, as I reckon I’m about to test it to its limits.
As our class of six stands on the mats, we wobble while we try to maintain our balance – some more successfully than others. Electro beats play in the background and instructor Elliott welcomes us warmly.
We begin with some gentle body twists, adjusting our balance to stay afloat. We’re told to shut our eyes so we feel the board more and focus better.
Gradually, stability and strength moves of increasing complexity are introduced. What should be a simple lunge or mountain-climber proves far more challenging than on dry land, as my muscles work hard to maintain my balance. But I manage to stay upright and hold the poses. Not so for many others – there’s one poor woman who is constantly falling in. Each of our boards are connected with bungee cords, and as one or two crash around, it’s a little like bumper cars. There’s a lot of laughing – but with a sense of camaraderie.
My legs judder when I attempt the simplest of squats, but shifting my weight from one to the other helps – though it highlights weaknesses in my ability to balance… probably caused by a combination of past injuries, bad habits and muscle weakness: my left leg proves far more wobbly than my right.
It’s the 180-degree jump rotation that’s my undoing. I topple in, but when I surface I hear the reassuring splashing sound of my neighbour, who has incurred the same fate. I try to regain my composure while climbing onto the mat with as much elegance as I can muster.
After 20 minutes my face feels flushed and, despite the refreshing dunking, I’ve worked up quite a sweat. I push on through, gathering confidence and ability as the class progresses. At the end, rather than a traditional calming cool-down, in the spirit of team camaraderie, we're all encouraged to jump into the pool.
Post class, I treat myself to brunch in the Brumus Restaurant: crushed avocado on rye with grilled chorizo and poached eggs, washed down with a refreshing orange and carrot juice. I throw in a glass of prosecco. Today is Saturday, after all.
The Bottom Line
This fun, feelgood class left me in high spirits. Despite being only 30 minutes, it was a real challenge and my limbs ached from top to toe at the end – but in a way that made me feel like I’d had a seriously good workout, one that tested my balance, coordination… and sense of humour. (Though it’s also worth knowing that for those who can’t face the public humiliation of capsizing in front of a crowd, the boards themselves retail at £550.)