Fitness in Paris used to be anything but à la mode. American fitness enthusiasts inspired the traditional ‘Pff, ça se fait pas’ (It just isn’t done) reaction. However, there is good news for those who weren’t blessed with the coveted skinny gene that so many of these Français seem to possess: ‘sport’ is now IN.
As it’s summertime, there are plenty of options for getting yourself into svelte shape. You could walk, run or jog outdoors, take advantage of the free yoga and fitness classes offered during weekends at Wanderlust, or you can pay a mere 5 euros or less to access any one of the 40 or so public swimming pools and get in some laps.
On the other hand, many people suffer from bad joints and shin splints, making any sort of high-impact activity like jogging a non-option. Yoga is fantastic for flexibility and shaping, but sometimes you want to feel a little more ‘oomph’ afterward, and it is definitely more geared toward calming you down. Public pools can be great budget workouts, but they can also sometimes be overcrowded and daunting, with too many speedo-clad men and slow-moving seniors.
Fortunately, there is another stay-cool option that allows you to work out at a low-impact yet with high efficiency : Aquabiking, or Water Biking. Our founder Chloe Johnston tried water biking in Paris a few years ago, and it’s quickly becoming all the rage in the capital, where diet and workouts literally remain secret weapons. Don’t be fooled. French women do watch what they eat, and more and more are jumping on the fitness wagon in recent years, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is their tendency to remain closed-lipped about how they maintain their ‘bombe’ status.
We’re here to let you in on the aquatic method to lean legs, flat stomachs and a refreshing change from the usual humdrum aerobic machines.
The concept is très simple. Have you ever tried water running, for example? It’s harder than it sounds. Although you weigh less in water (due to the water displacement), the resistance is obviously higher. The same goes for aquabiking. It adds a whole new dimension to your biking workout by upping the resistance and making you work harder (up to 12x!) than if you were just using a normal gym stationary bike, yet at the same time, it feels easier because you’re pedaling slower.
Aquabiking is especially effective for fat burning and cellulite diminution, which the French are famous for fighting against with creams, massage therapy and radiation technology. It’s also particularly good for blood circulation, reducing water retention, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and breathing. You really can’t go wrong with this type of workout, which explains why the less physically-inclined French and other Europeans are raving about it.
Whether you want to water-log your calories alone or en groupe is up to you, as Paris now has plenty of options for trying out this relatively new fitness fave. Here are a few suggestions :
Solo aquabiking : If you can afford it and you prefer a little privacy when working out, this option is for you. Many specialized aquabiking centers offer individual cabins with advanced technology water bikes that offer hydromassage benefits to help eliminate cellulite and soothe your muscles.
- Flexible hours (walk-ins)
- Wider choice of machines (some designed for pedaling while lying down — good for pregnant women or anyone needing to workout for rehabilitation purposes)
- Relaxing (go at your own pace)
- Truly a fitness spa experience with hydromassage & the use of special water oils
- Expensive — average price for one 30-minute session is about 30-35 euros, and monthly subscriptions typically cost about 60 euros and are limited to a period 6 months
- Could get boring doing it alone, unless the bike is equipped with a TV, music or permits you to read something while exercising (which will probably mean more €€€)
Where to go :
18 rue Marbeuf
Petit plus : 25 euros/session during happy hour from 9 am to 12 pm and 3 to 6 pm on weekdays and from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturdays
4, rue des Ecouffes
Petit plus : Offers individual or duo-size cabins, so you can go with a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, family member; 50% off each session for students under 26 years
Aquarama Club Centre Aquabiking http://www.aquaramaclub.com/
22 rue Jules Valles
Petit Plus : This place offers a coach to guide you through the session, if you prefer.
Group aquabiking classes : Just like cycling, zumba, yoga and any other collective course, aquabiking can be a great way for you to surround yourself with other motivated fitness fans. The number of group aquabiking centers in Paris is on the rise, so if you are looking for a way to stay in shape with your girlfriends, this is a fun, novel way to do so.
- Social aspect
- Guided workout with a trained coach
- Forces you to keep up — could be more intense than individual sessions, or at least might be easier for motivation
- Less expensive than individual aquabiking sessions — comes out to around 25-30 euros for a 45-minute class, so it’s more bang for your buck; even cheaper at public pools that offer aquabiking classes
- Fixed class times you have to reserve in order to ensure a spot
- Early hours for public pool aquabiking sessions (7 or 8 am)
- Higher difficulty level (but in the end, it does you good! So consider it a cloud with a silver lining)
Where to go :
Aqua By http://www.aqua-by.com/
82, rue Notre Dame de Nazareth
Petit plus : Good hours, open from 8 am to 10 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 9 pm on weekends, with classes offered on the hour; offers a bio juice bar and global tea selection
Aquabikettes & Co www.aquabikettes.com/
31 rue de Mogador
Petit plus : Offers the possibility of private group reservations — fun idea for a girls sporty/relaxation weekend; bright, colorful déco & surroundings for a ‘girly’ ambiance
21 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine
Petit plus : Salon space equipped with hairdryers and flat irons to re-beautify yourself after a session; more ‘design’ — housed in the former workshops of Jean-Paul Gaultier; tea and water bar at your disposal for post-session refreshments
Whichever option you decide is best for you, aquabiking in Paris is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to get in shape fast or maintain his or her figure. It incinerates calories, burning about 500 calories per session (subject to vary, depending on weight), and you likely won’t feel any soreness the next day. Besides, if 30 to 45 minutes on a waterbike is that effective while barely breaking a sweat, it is so worth the guiltless indulgence in pastries afterward. Your legs AND your sweet tooth will thank you.
Featured photo courtesy of www.parisiensalon.com