We all know that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is super efficient and effective when it comes to getting fit, but – let’s be honest – it can be a bit of a snooze-fest. Enter: AquaPhysical, the company behind the genius FloatFit class that shot to fame after a viral video last May. With more than 100 million views on Facebook, it featured people in their activewear, having what looked like the time of their lives as they worked out on yoga-mat-sized floating boards. Now, the fitness trend set to be the workout of 2017 has finally made its way Down Under, and we’re totally on board.
FloatFit is a 30-minute HIIT workout with a twist: you do the whole thing while balanced precariously on water. Each person has their own Aquabase: a 220cm x 90cm platform that sits on top of the water and feels like a slightly more sturdy, wider version of a paddle board. And the exercises? Think: squats, push-ups, planks, lunges and burpees. Yes, burpees. When Tom Whelan, the co-founder of AquaPhysical and our instructor mentioned them, there were a few side-eye glances as we wondered how on earth we were going to manage to stay on our feet through that.
So, what’s the logic behind this absurd activity? Well, being on water means it’s low-impact – the lack of solid ground is a saving grace for weak ankles and wrists. On top of that, having to stay balanced really engages the core and gets you tensing all your muscles, taking each move to a whole other level.
And boy, did it do that. Even just ten minutes in I could feel every muscle getting down to the business of keeping me upright, especially my core and upper thighs. The burn was appreciated though – we got wet just making our way to the boards so it was necessary to get warm fast. One of my biggest reservations was how much of a struggle getting on the board would be: I pictured slipping and sliding on and off and missing half the workout. But it wasn’t the walrus-like wobble-fest I’d been picturing. The boards are super slip-proof and, as they’re tethered to the side of the pool, they don’t drift away from you as you try to get up.
For the entire 20 minutes I was either grinning or laughing out loud. There’s something amazing about doing something you’ve never done before, being able to (literally) fall off and make a fool of yourself and then get right back to it. By the end, there was a sense of camaraderie between the participants – we were in this together as we wobbled through our squats and, yes, burpees.
Of course, the burning question is, how many times did I fall off? Surprisingly only once, when our instructor told us to jump 90 degrees and face the other way. It’s a little harder to balance on the narrow side of the board (and when your feet are off the ground), so in I went. But as a self-identified absolute klutz on dry land anyway, face-planting into water was a refreshing change from a solid surface. And being kitted out in Speedo’s Cross Training range – specifically designed as a cross between swimmers and ordinary workout gear – meant being soaked and getting back to the mountain climbers was a completely chafe-free experience.
I left the class with that mixture of exhaustion and elation you get after doing an intense sweat sesh. The best bit about it? My smile muscles got a solid workout too.