Fire up your muscles in this HIIT workout – on water.
I’ve never been a water baby. While I can swim to save my life, it’s definitely not my first choice of exercise. There’s just something about being in a body of water that makes me uneasy – perhaps it’s my belief that people were designed to stay on land (as much as possible, anyway). So it was with great trepidation that I agreed to try out FloatFit HIIT, which is essentially a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout performed entirely on a floating mat (called an aquabase) in the pool.
FloatFit HIIT first originated from AquaPhysical in the UK. It was brought to Singapore in September 2017 by Skyline Aqua, who is the only provider of FloatFit workouts locally. Currently, classes are conducted in a half-Olympic sized swimming pool at Parkroyal on Beach Road’s wellness floor. Each class can hold up to 10 participants, and a 55kg woman can expect to burn roughly 400 calories in just one 30-minute session since the exercises performed in class are designed to target muscles all over. This, combined with the constant struggle to balance on the aquabases, engages and fires up the whole body.
On the day of our FloatFit HIIT trial, I was definitely nervous. The thought of the session loomed at the back of my mind even as I busied myself with other work. There were practical considerations: “Would the water be too cold? What if it rains? What if I slip?” And then there were irrational considerations: “Would I drown?” My worries turned into excitement, then back into fear over and over again. But, the show must go on.
We make our way down to Parkroyal on Beach Road and meet Riane Low, our FloatFit HIIT instructor for the day. She teaches us how to set up our aquabases in the water. Each mat has two hooks to secure it in place so that it can’t drift off during class. You should expect to get wet – and possibly drenched – during the session since you already have to wade through neck-high water to set up your aquabase.
Once our mats are fixed, we hoist ourselves up and literally try to get a grip. There seems to be no graceful way of doing this. I plop myself onto the mat and sit up. I soon learn that sitting is comfortable but standing proves challenging. My legs are quivering as I steady myself into a standing position. “Stand with your feet wider apart,” says Riane. “It’ll be easier to balance that way.” I follow her instructions – much better.
The warm-ups help us to find our balance and get accustomed to our aquabases. We ‘run’ on the mats, rocking them side to side to create waves in the pool. By the end of the second set of moves, I start to feel my thigh muscles burning. No kidding about the full-body burn. Next up, squats. These are pretty manageable and I’m getting surer of my footing. We also do some core work with planks and V-sits. It’s harder to balance on movable ground so it takes a lot more effort to perform the moves.
By the time we get to mountain climbers, I’m tired but also grinning from ear to ear. Feeling more confident now, I even attempt a little hop at the end of my burpees. I succeed and laugh, high on adrenaline and joy. This has never happened to me while doing burpees before. In fact, we’re all laughing and smiling despite the muscle burn. There’s just something infectiously fun about splashing about and trying your best to balance. All my previous worries have dissipated, and though I do fall into the water a couple of times by the end of the class, I just get a grip and climb back on board.
If FloatFit HIIT can convince someone as aquaphobic as myself, I truly believe it’s a workout that anyone can enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and even found myself asking if I could try out the FloatFit Yoga class someday. Falling into the water wasn’t as scary as I’d thought, plus it’s nice to be silly and laugh with – and at – your friends if you try this together.
For extra fun, the instructors can also customise a challenge where participants pair- or- team-up to jump 180 degrees on the aquabase to pass a beach ball to each other. If you haven’t fallen in during the class, it’s likely you’ll do so now.
Expect to be aching in your thighs, core, arms and chest the day after. The exercises performed in class are customisable and options are given for varying intensities. Each session costs $40 ($25 for a first-time trial). You can sign up for classes or find out more information at www.skylineaqua.com.sg.