Try­ing FloatFit – a HIIT work­out on a buoy­ant board

Bal­ance, poise and a will­ing­ness to get wet are re­quired for a Strat­ford FloatFit ses­sion Florence Der­rick hopped aboard a board for an in­tense, fun ses­sion on core sta­bil­ity

The Wharf - - Change The Word -

Itried to drive home after my first FloatFit class but my legs were shak­ing so much I couldn’t press down on the ac­cel­er­a­tor,” pipes up a fel­low par­tic­i­pant. The war sto­ries are mak­ing me ner­vous. I’ve ar­rived at the Lon­don Aquat­ics Cen­tre in Strat­ford after a 29-minute jour­ney from Ca­nary Wharf, for my first go at in­ter­val train­ing with a dif­fer­ence.

Each press up, squat and burpee in an AquaPhys­i­cal FloatFit HIIT class is car­ried out on a lilo-like board in the mid­dle of a swim­ming pool.

But it’s too late to chicken out now. So I slip into the two me­tre­deep pool dressed in full gym gear, drag­ging the in­flated board be­hind me. The first chal­lenge? At­tach­ing the board to the lane ropes with two clips, to keep it in place dur­ing the work­out – which isn’t easy when you’re fully dressed, swim­ming out of your depth and not en­tirely sure what you’re do­ing.

I scrab­ble onto the board, which is cus­tom-made and based on a pad­dle board, but the size and shape of a door. The first ex­er­cise is sim­ply kneel­ing up but I nearly wob­ble right off the side, cling­ing on as the per­son be­side me sloshes right into the wa­ter, cre­at­ing a tidal wave that nearly knocks me off again.

“Just stay­ing up­right is an ex­er­cise in it­self,” Tom Whe­lan, founder of AquaPhys­i­cal, says when we chat after the class.

“FloatFit im­proves car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness and mus­cu­lar strength, but more than any­thing, core sta­bil­ity.”

AquaPhys­i­cal is made up of two strands – the ex­er­cise pro­gramme and the boards them­selves.

“We had the idea back in 2015,” says Tom. “It came from how big pad­dle board yoga was in the States and in Aus­tralia. We had the idea to take that into a swim­ming pool as pad­dle board­ing is so sea­sonal, es­pe­cially in the UK. It’s the same tech­nol­ogy as a pad­dle board but adapted into a rec­tan­gle.”

The idea was sim­ple but the gap in the mar­ket was sig­nif­i­cant enough for their first mar­ket­ing video to go vi­ral in May 2016.

“It’s had 250 mil­lion views,” says Tom. “That sum­mer, in­quiries started com­ing in from all over the world. “We’ve made and sold about 5,000 boards since then to 55 coun­tries, and trained 1,500 in­struc­tors.” What makes it so pop­u­lar? “It’s the first prod­uct in the world that al­lows you to do that sort of ex­er­cise un­der a roof,” says Tom.

“Plus it’s re­ally pho­to­genic, which our clients love be­cause peo­ple up­load pic­tures onto so­cial me­dia and it’s free mar­ket­ing.”

Those clients in­clude the US Army and the Royal Navy, who use AquaPhys­i­cal boards for fit­ness train­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion due to their low-im­pact na­ture.

‘‘ We’ve made and sold about 5,000 boards to 55 coun­tries, and trained 1,500 in­struc­tors Tom Whe­lan, AquaPhys­i­cal

“The re­hab process is usu­ally ex­tremely bor­ing and this makes it more fun,” says Tom.

Halfway through the 30-minute class, I’ve hur­tled off my board four times and stopped try­ing to re­sist the in­evitable, throw­ing my­self into each ex­er­cise with­out fear of fall­ing in. In fact, as the pace and my heart rate pick up, slip­ping side­ways into the cool wa­ter be­comes a wel­come re­lief.

“Peo­ple def­i­nitely fall off on pur­pose,” Tom says, mak­ing me ques­tion my over-en­thu­si­as­tic neigh­bour’s mo­tives – he’s smacked into the wa­ter at reg­u­lar 30-se­cond in­ter­vals through­out the class.

By the end, I can stand fully up­right. It’s a greater achieve­ment than it sounds.

I’ve also done count­less push-ups, crunches and squats, and can tell my mus­cles will be burn­ing the next day – but I’ve been so fo­cused on keep­ing my bal­ance that it’s dis­tracted me from the pain of the HIIT work­out.

“It’s fun and dif­fer­ent from most other group ex­er­cises,” says Tom.

“It’s quite so­cia­ble and it of­ten makes you feel like you’re not re­ally ex­er­cis­ing.”

I have to agree – al­though as I leave, my legs are as wob­bly as I’d been warned at the start. Lucky I’m get­ting the Tube.

Ses­sions in Strat­ford start at £8.25 for 30 min­utes. Bet­ter Gym mem­bers can ac­cess the classes for free. Go to aquaphys­i­cal. com for more in­for­ma­tion and lon­don­aquat­ics cen­tre.org to book a class in Strat­ford

Try­ing to stay on the FloatFit board can be a strug­gle at first, but is a joy once mas­tered

The ex­er­cise classes im­prove ‘car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness and mus­cu­lar strength, but more than any­thing, core sta­bil­ity’

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