How I Dipped My Toes Into the AquaCycling Pool Right After Surviving Never-Ending Buffet Cruise

I’ve been away for the past week and a half on a wonderful cruise through the Caribbean with my husband. We went to a few ‘standard’ cruise destinations (St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic), and although I’ve visited all the islands previously on independent stays, I found the experience wonderfully fresh.

The difference? I’m paying more attention to my body (in a good way!) and my health. The buffet/grill/specialty restaurant food choices are abundant and overflowing with sugar rushes and bloat inducing sodium, so I went in with the resolve to make my meals as healthy as possible for the majority of the time, and indulge only enough so as to not feel deprived. We also introduced ourselves to the gym early on in the cruise (aka- 1st day) and got spa passes in order to spend more time detoxing and relaxing than stuffing.

My biggest advice to not feel guilty after a long indulgent journey: choose meals based on how you want yourself and your body to feel. Soft-serve and desserts are never ending, so are sugar crashes, crashes, and breakouts if you choose to go that route. Just because you’re on a cruise doesn’t mean that you have entered free pass zone. You’re still functioning in the same manner as you were on land.

First thing that always went on my plate whenever I was at the lunch or dinner buffet was a mixed salad with raw vegetables, then I went on a lookout for steamed mixed vegetables, next was a serving of multigrain bread, followed by a lean protein. For breakfast I often stocked my plate with fruit and plain yogurt before reaching for other things. If you want dessert afterwards, feel free to get a side of fruit and something indulgent. No need to go sugar-free, it just makes you crave more sugar.

My best friend at the on-board gym? The rowing machine. Nothing like being on a big boat, looking out the front window and rowing away. I passed by all the treadmills and elliptical machines in favor of this full body workout that works your butt, core, and arms, while maintaining an elevated heart rate for cardio. I often alternated between rowing machine and weight machines (upper body). Capping off the interval training was more free-form interval in the aerobic studio alternating between Bosu ball mountain climbers, leg lifts, push ups, crunches, and some barre exercises.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and active vacation. We kept our excursion fairly active, with a sailboat race in St. Maarten, a speedboat and snorkel in St. Thomas and a hike/bike/kayak excursion in Dominican Republic (we wound up in Playa Rincon, where I stayed on a previous DR trip- beautiful scene).

Naturally, all the water activities left me wanting more time in my bathing suit. No such luck in NYC considering there was another bout of snow 2 days ago (middle of April!). Next best thing: indoor pool, specifically, AquaCycling Studio. I left my bathing suit unpacked and signed up for a class at Aqua Studio in Tribeca, NYC. I’m generally not a fan of cycling. I like feeling the endorphin rush at the end, but the intensity kills me. I can take it in short bursts, not in a committed 3-4x a week hour-long type way. Thankfully, the appeal of ‘splashing’ around in water sounded more fun than the burn in my thighs and lungs. So, I packed my La Prairie creams and Molton Brown body lotion (+ oil for my hair, for chlorine and all) and trained down to Tribeca for my first class.

The instructor gave an explanation of the four different positions: sitting and normal pedaling is first, second position is up from the seat and hands on middle bars, third is leaning forward and hands on outer bars, fourth is off the seat, holding on to the back of the seat and leaning back. There is no resistance on the bikes, so the only resistance is from the water and how quickly you pedal. We went in interval bursts and incorporated wading arm movements (hands cupped for extra resistance) while pedaling. The class felt easy on the joints and didn’t leave my lungs burning, except for the chlorine in the air.

One kink- my pedal strap broke in the middle of one quick burst. I called the instructor over and she placed me on another bike. Unfortunately, strap broke on that one too. I asked if I was doing something wrong, fearing my superwoman strength is no match for the measly bikes. The instructor explained that the straps get stripped easier since they’re in the water. Phew, my strength is still under control.

Overall, highly recommended and fun class! Vogue was onto something.