I Went To An Underwater Spin Class So You Don't Have To

I’m not really sure how it happened but in the past 18 months I’ve become one of those people who enjoys exercising. If I could travel back in time and tell the chain-smoking, Netflix-bingeing, frozen-pizza-and-instant-noodle-gourmand me of 2014 about this, well, I wouldn’t believe myself. But it turns out exercise is actually quite good. Replacing a 20-a-day Marlboro Lights habit with jogging and exercise classes makes you feel a lot healthier – who knew? But I’m not completely used to the New Me. I still surprise myself.
I was particularly surprised when I scrolled past a video of an underwater spin class during an at-work Facebook skive last week and, instead of thinking, 'Look at those maniacs, who in their right mind would want to do that?' as Old Me would have done, New Me thought, 'That might be a good start to the weekend'. I bobbed my head over my office divider, convinced my friend Sarah to come along, too, and booked a place.
The class, called AquaFit, was held in Canary Wharf, which seems to have the highest concentration of luxury gyms anywhere in the capital. In fact, it’s mainly luxury gyms, as far as I can tell. And this one was as luxury as it gets. The entrance hall looked like the lobby of a five-star hotel. In the changing room, staggeringly beautiful women blow-dried their immaculate hair, sitting in front of the mirrors in their matching underwear. ‘You don’t belong here!’ Old Me jeered, in my head. Old Me was delighted that I’d finally got my comeuppance. I was getting nervous – what had I signed up to?

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At the poolside, Gessica, the instructor, greeted us and asked our shoe size so we could be fitted out with special rubber shoes. The class, I was relieved to see, was small – about eight of us. For some reason, all women. We lowered the bikes into the pool, where big suckers held them in place, and were invited to jump on.
Pedalling a bike underwater is roughly as difficult as you might expect. Imagine cycling up a fairly steep hill and you’ve pretty much got it. This was combined with arm and core exercises and alternated standing and sitting. Gessica counted off each exercise’s repetition, hopping from foot to foot at the edge of the pool, shouting over a mega-mix that somehow managed to combine Taylor Swift with Wu Tang Clan and make Marvin Gaye high-octane. I’d go again just for that playlist.
Then, about halfway through the hour-long class, on my eighth or ninth rep of an exercise that was gradually turning my thigh muscles into jelly, I was suddenly reminded of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. There was something distinctly 1960s about the luxury surroundings, the synchronised-swimming vibe, Gessica’s peppy shouts of "Come on ladies! Use your core!" Us women, all together, feeling the burn in pursuit of a pert bottom.
The hour passed quicker than I expected and Gessica congratulated us, seeming genuinely impressed. Maybe she just wanted to make sure we’d come back again, but I choose to believe we amazed her with our stamina. At £20 a session, I probably won’t be going the recommended three times a week (because, jeez). But I’d go again, to stick it to Old Me. And for the complimentary luxury body lotion.

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