HIITing the water in Antalya at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort
By Nilufer Atik
The story of Jesus walking on water is perhaps one of the most famous religious tales ever told. But while it’s unlikely any of us ordinary folk will someday be able to tread the waves on foot, we can now workout on them. Thanks to a clever little creation, those who’ve grown bored of burning calories in the studio or gym can now head for the pool instead.
FloatFit is the latest exercise craze to hit the UK and will be launching at London’s Dolphin Square Fitness Club this month. Unlike other O2-based workouts, it focuses on using the surface of the water to challenge the core and stabiliser muscles, providing a tough cardio and conditioning session that would rival any aerobics class. Using a special responsive exercise mat called an Aquabase, participants are taken through a series of high intensity moves like burpees, press ups, squats and jumping lunges, as well as yoga poses, all while battling to stay on the floating mat.
It may not sound too tricky, but trying to maintain your balance (not to mention dignity) while the Aquabase rocks from side to side on the water is by no means easy, as I discovered when I visited the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa resort in Turkey recently, where classes are being offered exclusively to guests.
Situated on a private, white sandy beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Belek-Antalya, this five-star paradise prides itself on offering all things sporty. It boasts several pools, including a heated outdoor pool, wave pool, and family pool, three football fields designed to meet FIFA standards, a world-class tennis facility, with five clay courts, a private beach with an array of water sports, outdoor table tennis, darts, basketball, gym facilities and classes, and, of course, Turkey’s first and only golf course allowing nighttime golf with 18 floodlit holes. With eight bars, seven exquisite restaurants, a theatre and state-of-the-art luxury spa to boot, there’s no chance of ever getting bored here.
But my priority when I arrived at the opulent, marble-covered lobby of this 553-room haven was to head to the adult pool and sample FloatFit for myself. So, after being shown to my room – a spacious, modern, yet elegant accommodation with glorious views from a sunlit balcony – I quickly donned my swimsuit and made my way to the class.
Floatfit instructor Pascal Landman and his wife Bianca were raring to go and explained that we’d begin by ‘getting used to the boards’ before doing a ‘gentle’ High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session. Gentle? I’d never known HIIT to be gentle before. But true to his word we didn’t start off doing anything too vigorous. We began on all fours, rocking the boards from side to side, to get a feel of what the platform felt like. Attached by only a single clip to a long rope running the length of the pool (to stop the boards floating away), there was little keeping us still.
But that’s the idea behind FloatFit – to get used to being unsteady on your feet. The instability of exercising on a board balanced on water is what makes this workout, created by fitness trainer Leila Francis Coleman though company Aquaphysical, unique.
“Trying to maintain balance works muscles at a deeper level than a pure aerobic workout which targets superficial muscles such as biceps,” explained Pascal as he urged us to rise to a standing position on the boards. “The continual movement of water requires both the core and stabiliser muscles, which don’t often get used in other forms of exercise, to work together and grown stronger.”
I felt like a baby pulling myself up for the first time as I wobbled to my feet. But in just a few minutes I got used to the swaying sensations beneath me. The Aquabase has a marking in the middle to help you find your centre of balance, plus a slip-proof surface to help you stay on. Nevertheless, it’s one thing standing and another squatting and as we proceeded to go from upright rocking into static squats, I fell off twice, crashing into the water bottom first.
The planks and press ups that followed weren’t too demanding. I found it easier to stay on with my bodyweight spread out a little. Amazingly, I managed to master the burpees too, even attempting a few jumping ones (although admittedly the jumps were only about a centimetre high). The hardest exercise was lunging. The second I tried to move one leg forwards I felt like I was balancing on an unset jelly and plunged back into the water.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks, isn’t it?” I laughed red-faced to my neighbor, who seemed to be performing jumping lunges with the ease of an acrobat.
“Ah don’t worry, I’ve done this before,” she reassured me.
Practice certainly does make perfect with this class. The Aquabase uses the natural buoyancy and fluidity of water to align the body, improving balance, strength, and flexibility, so the stronger these three get, the better you become at staying on board.
I proved this the following morning when I took part in a second, more intensive interval training class. I only fell off once and managed several rounds of mountain climbers, side planks and even a few jumping squats. Although slightly out of breath following the 30-minute session, it didn’t really feel like I’d exerted myself too much at all. With the sun beating down on me, the gloriously cool water lapping at my feet, and funky dance music blasting out of the speakers, it felt very much like a fun holiday game rather than a HIIT session.
Don’t be fooled however. It takes a lot of core strength to exercise on an Aquabase and the next day I could definitely feel it in my abdominals, as well as glutes. It hurt to sit and cough.
“People often don’t realise how hard they’ve worked until they wake up the following morning,” Pascal had warned me.
There are great fat-burning benefits too. The routines are said to zap around 400 calories in half an hour – much more than you would in a 30-minute toning class. And for those who prefer more low intensity forms of exercise, there is FloatFit yoga too.
The great thing about sampling the workout at a luxury, all-inclusive resort like Regnum of course was being able to reward myself for my efforts afterwards. Amazing food is a given in Turkey, but here there are a variety of cuisines, from Italian to Brazilian, and a main restaurant that serves such a huge selection of buffet-style food virtually 24/7, a whole army couldn’t get through it. I tucked in, sampling the delicious Turkish soups and pastries, safe in the knowledge that I’d earned the extra calories.
Unlike most all-inclusive resorts, everything is included in the price at Regnum, even the mini bar and chocolates from the patisserie. It’s only extras like massages and treatments that cost more. And with the kind of service you’d expect only to be given to Royalty (there are even butlers on hand to clean your sunglasses for you) you get the best of both worlds – activity when you want it and the opportunity to kick back and really relax when you don’t.
AquaPhysical’s FloatFit classes are currently available for guests at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort (www.regnumhotels.com). For more information about classes in the UK, go to www.aquaphysical.com.
Address: Kadriye Mahallesi, Kadriye Bölgesi, Üçkum Tepesi Mevkii, 07500 Serik /Belek/Serik/Antalya, Turkey
Phone: +90 444 6 423