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Friday, March 21, 2014

Return to Aqua Studio -- Restorative Cycling

After a long cold winter, spring has arrived (once we survive the predicted nor-easter/snow-bomb next week).  I generally enjoy winter, but I am really craving some warm weather and sunshine.  I started my lap swimming and I decided to do a more reasonable open water swim on the East Coast in September (slightly shorter and sans hypothermia, rip currents and sharks).  Details of my training will follow in future posts.  In the meantime, I decided to give aqua cycling another try.

Last September, I tried an interval class at Aqua Studio in Lower Manhattan (and blogged about it here).  I really liked the pool at Aqua Studio, and I felt great after that class, but standing up and pedaling on the bike kind of aggravated my knee.  I loved the idea of Aqua Studio, but I was a bit ambivalent to return (note -- if you enjoy spinning, you will love the interval classes).  I was really excited to see that Aqua Studio added some new classes, including a "Restorative" class.  According to their website:

The RESTORATIVE CLASS objectives are to restore physical and mental well-being by releasing stress, strengthening and realigning the body, as well as connecting it to the mind. This class combines aerobic endurance training with deep breathing, stretching and yoga. You will leave this class feeling calmer and rejuvenated.

I continue to be a little stressed out (for various reasons - mainly work-related) so I thought I'd give it a spin.  I loved it!  Since I work downtown, I opted for the Thursday 8 pm class.  I arrived a bit early, so I chatted with some of the other ladies in the class, some of whom were recovering from sports injuries.  

Ed, the teacher, appears to have a devoted following.  The Interval class before our class was packed with a lively bunch of students.  Ed is in great shape (very muscular) and very calm with a good sense of humor (he described the Restorative class as classical music, as compared to the "rock 'n roll" Interval class).  After he adjusted our cycles, we were off.  

I really liked two elements of this class:

  • No standing up -- We cycled the whole time but we didn't have to stand up.  We did do the vault-backwards-over-the-bike move a few times (which is apparently called "position 4").  If you watch this video news report, they do position 4 about 1 minute in.  Kudos to Ed for adjusting the foot straps on the bike so I didn't fly out of the pedals this time.  And I managed to let go of the seat for long stretches of time.  
  • Lots of arm movement -- Although we were sitting on the bike, we moved our arms for the entire class -- sweeping through the water, freestyle swimming, figure 8s, treading water, etc.
Ed was extremely attentive and walked around the pool making sure we were doing the exercises properly.  After the class, they put out a tray of lovely herbal tea in the locker room.  It was a really good class -- a decent amount of aerobic exercise, some good yoga and Pilates-like movement, and a total body workout.  As we were stretching after the class, I really felt like I had worked my thighs.  Later that night, I was acutely aware of EVERY muscle in my body -- I was a bit sore.  And once again, I slept like a rock after the class.  I felt calm and rejuvenated.  

I will definitely go back - I enjoyed the class and I felt GREAT afterwards, and it was a really nice group of women -- covering a good range of ages.

Aqua Studio is at 78 Franklin Street, between Broadway and Church.  You can register for classes on their website.