Grab a Swimsuit--Workouts Are Going Under

Working out in the pool once had geriatric connotations, but forget noodles and swim caps—now you can do everything from spinning to boot camp in a swimsuit!

Let’s start in New York. The most talked-about fitness craze in Manhattan right now is Aqua Studio, a partially underwater cycling class said to burn more calories than its dry equivalent. (Aqua Studio says you’ll burn around 600 calories in a 45-minute class, while Soul Cycle, for example, estimates 400 to 550 in their traditional class.) The water provides added resistance, but also delivers a built-in massage that helps to drain your lymphatic system, increase blood circulation, and break up cellulite.

Paris transplant Esther Gauthier brought the concept to Tribeca in April, after seeing the trend start in Europe. “Two years ago I tried an aqua biking class on a trip to Paris,” she says. “I knew they were onto something great.” Gauthier immediately decided to open a studio stateside, but kept her plans a secret to guarantee she’d be first. “There are around 50 studios in Paris now,” Gauthier says, a rapid expansion she hopes to duplicate.

On the West Coast, Lana Shapiro and Igor Porciuncula started their underwater boot camp, Boot Camp H20, in Los Angeles back in 2009. Like a traditional boot camp, each class is different: after ten minutes of abdominal work poolside, participants jump in for things like laps, weights, treading water, and underwater sprints.

Not in L.A. or New York? You’ve still got plenty of options. To start, Zumba’s signature cardio dance class has taken to the water. Set to high-intensity Latin beats, hip-hop, and salsa music, the cardio class is offered in community pools around the country, as well as gyms like 24 Hour Fitness (find a community class here). Over at Equinox you can try boot camp and kickboxing in a swimsuit, while Chicago Athletic Clubs across Illinois have aquatic offerings beyond aerobics, too. Their pool Cross Training class blends cardio, resistance training, and core movements. You might not be able to tell you're sweating, but don't be fooled—these are anything but easy.