Aquafitness centre the first of its kind in Dubai

Kara Martin 12:33 05/06/2014
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  • Something new: Aquabiking has proved to be a huge success in France.

    Stay out of the heat and combine your loves for swimming and cycling with our new favourite summer fitness trend, aquabiking.

    Dubai’s only aquabiking centre is L’atelier Aquafitness, a place which proves biking can be done in the water.

    Speaking to Sport360°, founder Karima Rahali-Sebti was happy to explain how she discovered the concept.

    She said: “I’m very sporty and do everything from pilates to yoga to swimming classes, but I wanted to discover something else and it was my sister who recommended aquabiking. I discovered it in Paris about five years ago, and when I arrived to Dubai I didn’t find it.

    “At that time I got pregnant and thought maybe I can take a break from my career as a financial analyst and do something for myself, and so I decided to bring this concept here and share it with all the other women in the UAE.”

    The French may be fond of it but apparently aquabiking was invented by a physical therapist in Italy and geared towards the rehabilitation of injured athletes and ballerinas. Today, it’s all the rage as a fitness trend with proven quick results.

    “It’s a full body workout, it’s high intensity but still low impact, making it suitable for everyone,” Rahali-Sebti said.

    “If you’re a really fit person, you’ll still get a workout because there are different levels of intensity and the coaches have different choreography all the time. If you’re a little bit older and don’t want to go to spinning classes, this is great.

    “Or if you are injured, it’s suitable for you as well as there’s no impact on your articulation, your joints, your back because in the water your body weight is divided by two. I am pregnant right now and still doing it. It’s helping me a lot, as it takes the weight off.”

    “That said, with the natural resistance of the water, you’re working a lot harder when compared to land exercises.”

    Twelve times harder, actually, with 500-700 calories burned per 45-minute session. Naturally, we had to give it a whirl and headed over to L’atelier Aquafitness.

    As the name suggests, L’Atelier Aquafitness is a very stylish, private facility made somewhat in mind of ladies who lunch.

    Ladies simply wear swimwear (no baggy clothing) and are given complimentary water shoes for their first class (you must bring your own from then onwards).

    Classes cater to no more than ten people, so everyone gets the attention of the coach.

    An aquabike is stationary in the water offering three different levels of resistance, managed by a wheel of propellers between the seat and handlebars.

    It’s already different from your typical spin class in that you remain cool submerged in water, but what’s even quirkier are the different cycling positions.

    Position 1 is seated, 2 is standing while cycling, 3 is a thigh-quaking standing with bent legs and cycling, and position 4 sees you hanging off the back of the bike, gripping the seat and pedaling – a killer on the gluteal muscles.

    You can also pedal backwards on an aquabike, which our coach put to good use too, enabling us to work muscles we wouldn’t usually work by cycling normally.

    This is a full body workout as the upper body is also accounted for in the routine with light weights and resistance bands, placed off to the sides of the pool for everyone to grab while on their bikes.

    You can even do a searing tricep/bicep dip series, pulling yourself up out of the pool from its ledge and back down into the water repeatedly.

    As with any proper fitness class, you do a warm down stretch to finish, but the end of my experience had the added perk of laying back in the pool for a couple of well-earned lazy minutes before the next batch of clients came through.

    It’s easy to see how one can trim down fast aquabiking.

    “If you continue coming twice or three times a week you begin to see the results very quickly, and they’re amazing,” insisted Rahali-Sebti. “In about a month, with generally healthy eating, you’ll see great changes in your body.

    “Also, one great thing about aquabiking is that it reduces cellulite because you’re benefitting from a massage in the water while you work, sort of like lymphatic drainage.”

    As a ladies-only class, it really doesn’t get better than that, does it?

    What: Aquabiking
    Where: L’atelier Aquafitness, Villa 667A, Al Wasl Road, Safa 1
    When: Classes run hourly from 08:00 everyday
    Cost: A Discovery Class costs Dh125, and following this, single classes are Dh155, with packages available that work out cheaper.
    Contact: 04 338 8323, or visit