water workouts

Swimmers follow the movements of instructor Fabian Rodriguez on the pool deck at an aqua kickboxing class at Equinox Palos Verdes. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / July 26, 2012)

Rodriguez is an engaging instructor, pacing the sides of the pool and demonstrating the moves. Part cheerleader, part drill sergeant or coach, he keeps it moving. If he finds you talking or goofing off, he just might blow his whistle at you. But you need that, right?

Cost: Free with membership at Equinox Palos Verdes. Aqua kickboxing classes also at some YMCAs, including YMCA of the Foothills, http://www.ymcafoothills.org.


If you're bored with your landlocked yoga practice, there's a cool, wet alternative: H2y0ga.

This hourlong underwater yoga and Pilates hybrid, developed by instructor Sue Gisser, will challenge your balance; tone your arms, legs and core; and calm your mind — once you get the hang of it, that is.

Even experienced yogis will find the most basic yoga poses challenging because the water adds resistance and makes it that much harder to maintain balance without shifting or sinking.

When taking one of the more challenging classes, the Rockabye, a nighttime power-vinyasa combo, I spent a good part of the class chasing my Pilates ball around the bottom of the small pool as it kept slipping from between the soles of my feet during the Zen frog leg press.

Equally difficult was the upward dog yoga move, as it was done balanced between two pool noodles. Those who had taken the class a few times seemed to manage the tools with much more ease.

Gisser gives plenty of coaching on form and alignment, but she says it's better for novice water yogis to start with the more basic Flows Afloat vinyasa class, which teaches the fundamentals in a relaxed way, before moving on to the twisting Detox Aloft and more challenging Power and Rockabye classes, which incorporate the Pilates ball and more strength training.

These more difficult classes really bring the burn, but because you are submersed in a saline pool, you really don't feel how hard you've worked your arms and your core — until the next day, that is.

Cost: $7.50 for the first class, $15 thereafter at Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy, 5870 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, http://www.lennykswim.com.

Long Beach Hydrobike class

For those who want a water workout without actually immersing, there's hydrobiking. The owners of Long Beach Hydrobiking offer a spin class every Saturday and Sunday morning.

Instead of pedaling in a studio, you're spinning over the water on a bike frame attached to two pontoons with an underwater propeller as you meander around the canals of the Naples area of Long Beach.

The hourlong class is really more of a group tour than a sprint, especially since the bikes don't really go more than 7 mph, even when you're giving it your all.

"You can make it as easy or as hard as you want it," says Jonathan Tinsman of La Crescenta, after stepping off his water bike. "It was fun."

Still, as a gym regular, he would have liked a little more structure to the class.

Instructors here say they see students of every ability level, from hard-core spinners to retirees taking a tour before a mimosa Sunday brunch at one of the dockside restaurants.

As Tinsman pointed out, there's not a lot of direction or coaching to speed up or slow down, just a couple of folks along for the ride making sure you don't get stuck or lost. It's not quite as rigorous as your typical spin class, but your studio class won't offer a cool ocean breeze, beachfront real estate and the occasional sea lion, like the one rolling around in the bay next to our group.

Cost: $30 at 110 N. Marina Drive, Long Beach. http://www.lbhydrobikes.com.