Taking the Only AquaCycle Class at Sea
Photo by John Roberts
We might be disrupting a good time. I should have thought about this, but it hadn't really dawned on me until I was about to head up to the pool at the aft of the ship on MSC Divina that morning to try out the ship's unusual fitness class, AquaCycle.
Yup, sure enough.
It was 9 a.m. on a cruise in the sunny Caribbean with thousands of people on their vacations. Of course, the pool was already packed with swimmers and lounging sun-seekers. Why wouldn't it be — especially on a sea day?
"Just wait till they all hear that they have to get out of the pool," I said quietly to one of my friends who was joining me for the class. Signs were posted, warning of the upcoming AquaCycle session, but I was sure that this still wasn't going to go over very well. Another cruiser joining this particular session said she had done the class before and could assure me that the crowd was not happy about the interruption to their swimming and sunning routine.
However, this time, they were both fairly gracious and extremely curious as they noticed our instructor lowering the AquaCycle bikes into the water.
MSC Divina is the only cruise ship to offer AquaCycle classes, essentially spin classes performed in the pool, with the added resistance of pedaling against water. Sounded challenging, maybe a little daunting, to me. But I figured I should try it out, just to say I had. I wasn't optimistic about how well I would do, though. I figured, with the water covering more than half my body (you're submerged up just past your belly button), I could pedal slowly — or not at all — during some parts of the class and fake it.
Seven of us slid into the water and adjusted our cycles to fit. I immediately notice how warm the beating sun was. I'll surely be sweating, but who will notice in the pool? Dozens of cell phone cameras were trained on us — apparently to prove to friends and family of those temporarily expelled from their relaxing pool time that there was a group of obvious nut jobs who would rather be doing this than relaxing with pina coladas as we cruised south toward Saint Maarten.
Early on the pedaling felt unexpectedly easy. But then the minutes passed and the constant water resistance started to take its toll. The instructor kept us going, imploring "push, push, push," and directing us to get up out of our seats and adjust our hand positions over and over again... even mixing in a series of pushup movements off the handlebars and periods of reverse pedaling to mix things up.
This was indeed a challenging workout.
After 45 minutes, when the instructor told us the session had ended and gave us a little congratulatory nod, I heard a slight cheer arise from the crowd of onlookers. Any applause was not for us, however.
It was time to restore the pool to its intended — and much-preferred — use: swimming and relaxing.
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