There's nothing quite like doing a happy baby pose and wondering if you're going to roll right off your mat and into the water.
We've been eying this new(ish) fitness class at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for a while now. Basically, you're doing yoga on a gigantic paddle board in the middle of a pool. Yes. It's a lot of core strength.
Called Glide Fit platforms, these larger-than-a-yoga-mat foam boards keep you afloat during your flow. They're supposed to facilitate something called "aquatic-based stability training." AKA your muscles will shake a lot. And then you will probably lose your balance. And then you will get wet when you plunge into the pool.
We all loved this class. You'll work hard, fall in and laugh a little. What's better than that?
• Angela is a fairly active mama in her early 40s. She tries to hit the gym at least three times a week (ok, ok, it's usually like once or twice) where she runs on the treadmill, lifts weights and takes classes. She loves the post-workout zen she feels after a good sweat session.
• Johanna is in her late 20s and gets by with 20-minute workouts every morning. Don't be too impressed. She keeps her pajamas on and lunges and crunches to YouTube videos while binge-watching Netflix. Every now and then she goes for a run and remembers she hates running.
• Irene is an active mama in her 30s and basically demanded she was included in this workout because she has been wanting to try yoga in the pool. She is a fairly experienced yogi, going to classes a couple times a week. She bikes frequently and has spent the summer swimming laps.
On the studio
Johanna: You're working out at the pool, so you could almost forget that you're working out. Almost. The boards are so enormous that getting them into the pool, lined up and tethered to the lane lines was basically the warm-up to the workout.
Because it's a pool, you don't have the place to yourself. There were lots of kids splashing around and chattering during simultaneous swim lesson and day camp activities. Also, there was one lap lane in front of us, and every time someone swam by, I prayed that I would not choose that moment to lose my balance and epically splash them.
It did get loud a few times, and Savasana didn't make me want to fall asleep because there was just too much noise around me. Not bad, just not soothing zen if that's what you're looking for. But again, you're at a pool. And it's glorious.
Angela: The swimming pool at the Jewish Community Center was our studio for this workout. It is lovely. The water temp is perfect, which is nice because you're probably gonna fall in AND you have to get in the water to tether the boards.
Like Johanna said, you do share the pool, so it's not quiet yoga, but it's a small price to pay to workout in a beautiful pool during summer.
There are only six boards, so get there a little early to get a spot.
Irene: The JCC's pool is clean and large. I was surprised by how big the boards are and how stable they are once you've hooked them to the lane lines. You aren't going to float around or crash into anyone else.
We went on a cloudy day but I could see how it might be hot and miserable in the full sun in July. Pro-tip: Wear cheap, comfortable sunglasses that you don't mind taking for a dip in the pool.
On the class
Johanna: I expected yoga on a paddle board to work my core, but I was surprised by how much the instability challenged my shoulders and legs. During downward dog and plank poses, I felt my arms working way more than usual. And a simple lunge knocked me off balance enough to send me flailing into the pool (don't worry — you'll want to fall in, especially if it's hot).
I fell into the water twice throughout the class; once because of the aforementioned lunge and again because I was laughing at Angela and Irene because they had just fallen in the water. And here's what I learned: Laughter is not a good way to maintain your balance. If you want stay afloat, keep your eyes on your own mat.
Angela: OMG guys. It's hard. But it's also REALLY fun!
The boards are large and if you evenly distribute your stance, you can remain semi-stable, until you start moving through vinyasas. Just going into warrior pose was enough to throw me off balance. I had a really hard time holding any of the lunge poses on the paddle board.
My muscles seemed to be working much harder, too. I noticed that my quads were trembling and my arms definitely felt the planks more than usual. I think my run tonight is gonna feel extra hard.
I will say that during land yoga I do focus more on my breathing, whereas in this class my concentration was on my balance. I guess that's not really a bad thing since my focus is still on that moment and nothing else, which is kinda the point. Being present.
The instructor, Courtney, was really nice and gave us good tips for trying to keep our balance. We did this fun thing where we made waves by standing on the boards and shifting our weight from one leg to the other to show us that the boards won't tip over. I felt like a kid. :)
I fell in once and was kinda jealous when Johanna fell in a second time. This is the one workout where falling is kinda rewarding. I also loved the fact that NONE of us were graceful (sorry guys, it's truth), so there was no feeling self conscious holding poses.
Irene: I do yoga twice a week but I had no idea what to expect going into this. It definitely challenges you to think differently about the poses. My weakness is usually balance poses and doing ANY pose on a floating board turns it into a balance pose. Standing up into Warrior 1 was ridiculous and I immediately fell into the water. Don't worry it was refreshing and not too embarrassing.
Also. I wore running shorts and a shirt over my bathing suit but I took them off because you have to get all the way in the pool to hook up your board at the beginning. That meant I was doing downward dog in my bathing suit in front of an entire pool of lap swimmers, life guards, swim instructors and kids. It was a good exercise in being confident and kind to myself.
Would you go again?
Johanna: YES! This was so much fun. This didn't leave me feeling peaceful and faintly drowsy like after a normal yoga class. Instead, my muscles felt worked and my heart felt full after an hour of wobbling around on my board and laughing with everyone else trying to keep their balance.
Plus, there's just something so comedic about trying to strike all of these graceful poses when you can barely stand up straight. Normally, I try to emulate poise during a yoga class (ha ha). But that's just not possible when to even get up on your board you have to hoist yourself from the pool, flopping whichever limbs possible onto the board. It was absolutely splashtastic.
Angela: YES! I think this is my favorite workout we've done together. I definitely got a workout and, like Johanna, I loved that we could all laugh at ourselves (and each other, not gonna lie) while attempting to practice yoga.
It was really fun and such a great start to the day. I wish there were more places offering this class.
Irene: Yes! This was so fun and I'd like to try it again now that I know what to expect. I really want to try some balance poses on the board. It was really fun to do yoga in such a different way.
What: Glide Fit Aqua Yoga
When: 9:15 a.m. Tuesdays
Where: Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road
Cost: $25; $20 members. Since it was our first time taking the class, we were able to try it for free using a guest pass. Just ask at the front desk.
More info: Click here