That’s exactly what’s happening in a new workout by a company called Aquaphysical. You know mountain climbers and squats are a great way to pump up your cardio and work your butt. Now just imagine how much more insanely hard they would be if you did them while standing on a paddleboard in a pool. (We’re sweating just thinking about it.)
At the beginning of class, exercisers climb up on an Aquabase, a sort of blow-up paddleboard, for moves like burpees, lunges, and planks. Need to see it to believe it? This video of the new workout has attracted nearly 20 million views on Facebook (as of press time).
The U.K.-based company calls it a “low-impact, cross-training workout on water,” and also says you can take your fave “land-based routine,” like yoga and Pilates onto the board. (Want to get in shape, fast? Check out Women’s Health’s Ignite routine created by Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)
So it looks cool and, um, refreshing, but are there legit results behind the hype? Yes and no. First the positives: “Using an unstable platform definitely taps into engaging your core for stability and also challenges your balance,” says Jess Allen, a Chicago-based certified strength and conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S.) and author behind the blog Blonde Ponytail. In addition, you’ve got the group workout thing going for it, especially if you find it motivating to socialize while getting fit.
But as fun as it might be, Allen suggests adding this into a weekly routine that includes weights—not doing this as your only workout. “This workout will not change your body composition. You must lift weights in order to build muscle and burn fat, as well as tighten up your nutrition,” she says. “So if you’re crunched for time to exercise, this particular workout is not the best use of it.”
Alissa Rumsey, R.D., C.S.C.S., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees: “While this type of unstable training can be beneficial for rehabilitation and balance training, it may not actually result in any performance or strength improvements when compared to using a stable surface.”
Right now, FloatFit classes are only available in the U.K. But true diehards can buy an Aquabase on Aquaphysical’s site for roughly $800 (but it won’t ship ’til August).
A closer-to-home option: Hop on a stand-up paddleboard, which activates similar muscles and will also target your core, says Rumsey. And do your workout outside, as opposed to in an indoor pool, if you can. (Just don’t forget the SPF!) Research shows sweating it out al fresco gives you a bonus boost of energy and more enjoyment while decreasing feelings of depression and anger, Allen notes.
The bottom line: If Aquabase workouts take over the U.S., go ahead and hop on to mix up your fitness routine and beat boredom, says Rumsey. Just think about it as more fun of a fun challenge than a body-changing routine.