Aqua cycling is a fun, soothing underwater workout

Participants do floating leg exercises during  an underwater spin class at a physical therapy gym on July 11, 2017 in Lawndale, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Participants do floating leg exercises during an underwater spin class at a physical therapy gym on July 11, 2017 in Lawndale, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LAWNDALE, Calif. — I love spinning but it doesn’t always love me back.

So when I decided to try aqua cyling, an underwater spin class at the Motion Plus Aquatic & Therapy Center in Lawndale, it was more about giving my knees a break than getting my heart rate up.

The workout, originally designed as a therapy class for patients, is described as “a fine line between fitness and rehab” by instructor Criselda Esguerra, who is also a physical therapy aid at the center.

“It is low impact so anyone can do it,” says Esguerra. “And while it is a cycling class, I don’t focus on spinning alone but upper body, back and core work as well as breathing and stretching.”

Class takes place in 4 feet of water on about eight bikes that are attached to the bottom of the therapy pool with suction cups.

Pedaling against the water inside the heated pool left me feeling relaxed and sleepy; not exhausted or sore. That might explain why Esguerra’s most popular classes are in the evening. “The class is popular with insomniacs,” Esguerra says. Another reason why aqua cycling is growing in popularity? Simple: It’s fun.


This is a humble physical therapy office, not a boutique gym. The class was a mix of women of various ages and sizes and abilities. Some were recovering from injury; others were taking the class to balance out other high-intensity workouts. One woman next to me, devoted to HIT classes, said the class had improved her flexibility, enabling her to do squats for the first time in years.


The class feels like a restorative version of spinning rather than SoulCycle underwater. It doesn’t feel like you’re working out, but you are.


The buoyancy of the water makes difficult things easy and easy things difficult. Crunches, for example, done with your feet tucked underneath the bike’s handle bars, are a breeze while simple leg movements are reduced to slow motion.

The support of the water feels amazing and helps with flexibility, especially when it comes to stretching.

“It’s great for strengthening and toning because you are doing cardio but strengthening your muscles at the same time,” says Esguerra. “A lot of clients have seen major results in the thigh area.”


Class takes place to music in a 4-feet-deep pool that is heated to 86 degrees.

Esguerra, who teaches 15 to 20 classes per week, jumps in and out of the pool, and on and off the bike. The workout is 45 minutes and includes band work, traditional stand up spinning in third position, crunches

and stretching. It took me awhile to get my pedal stroke down in the water, but once I got the hang of it I could feel myself working my muscles without any joint pain.



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