Review: Aquabase Floating Exercise Mat…..aka The One Where Helen Falls In the Lake

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I was very excited when I first saw about Aquabase a few weeks ago. The idea sounds fun. It’s a large floating exercise mat upon which you do various exercises like yoga or toning moves. The theory is that the instability of the water causes you to wobble about therefore engaging more muscles and making your workout harder.


I could probably have handled this….

The Experience Doesn’t Start Well

When they invited me to the media class to test it out I leapt at the chance. I was instructed to turn up at the entrance to the Serpentine Lido by 6.30pm – I left home 2 hours and 10 minutes earlier to ensure this would happen.

Cue, epic failure of travel involving late trains, a longer walk than I thought, and my not knowing where the entrance to the Serpentine Lido was and ending up on the opposite side of the lake – and tempting as it was to swim across and get there on the time, the net result of walking all the way round the lake instead was that I arrived 15 minutes late and the class had already started. No worries, said the team, there’s another one afterwards – do that.

I watched the first class, picking up pointers – lots of people fell in which made me feel better if I did – but it looked okay.

Lots of stretching, squats, lying on the mat etc, etc, then they all stood up and did some squats and upright stuff before hitting the mat again.

When our time came there were four of us – feeling brave I hit the water first, only to unleash a torrent of F words a sailor would be proud of.

It was, erm, let’s use the words rather chilly……However, I paddled out to my mat, manage to drag myself on (in a manner which I think looked rather like one of the performing walruses at a water park) and was happily balanced on my knees.

At this point, I was joyous – I had cracked it. I was a balancing genius. Excellent.  

When the instructor arrived, he mentioned that as it was getting colder he was going to get us moving…..we were to stand up on the mat by putting one foot forward then kind of jumping up.

Right now imagine someone doing that, rapidly followed by the sound of a scream and a large splash….that would be me.

I was in the lake within 10 seconds – brilliant.

At this point cue lots of random floundering while I waited for my contact lenses to realign themselves (remembering at this point that maybe wearing contact lenses in a lake full of duck poo was a really bad idea) and then got back on the board.

By this point, everyone else was standing….I tried again. Nope, not happening.

aquabase floating exercise mat

People who are much better at this than me!

No worries, I thought I’ll just wait until we do some lower down stuff, I’ll get my balance soon it’ll be fine.

And it Got Worse

We did some mountain climbers – excellent. Now, jump up again, said the instructor.

By this time, the cold water had caused by entire right foot to lock in a spasm meaning I wouldn’t have been able to stand up even if I had the balance of Oksana Baiul.

After a few minutes of this, I was getting really cold, and frankly, a bit upset. Yet again, I’m the crap one at the back who can’t do anything (check out my post on my exercise insecurities here) – I admit, I get this in every class. but most of the time talk myself out of it, start laughing and just keep going, but I was freezing, loads of people were looking at us, cameras were being pointed in our direction – and I just wanted to go home.

So, I’m afraid to say that’s exactly what I did. I hopped off the side, back into the lake and headed for shore! Sometimes you have to learn when things aren’t for you.

It’s a shame as the people who’d done the first class had all had a brilliant time – so, I think if you get the right class it’s still a great idea.

I think I just ended up in a session doing too much too soon.

It definitely does work though – I reckon I was on the board 5-10 minutes and by the time I got home I could tell I’d worked my butt simply by trying to balance on my knees.

I think, I’d like to try it again somewhere warm – if I hadn’t been so cold I think I’d have been keener to stick with it, happily floating about on the fitness equivalent of a lilo until we got to something less, erm, standy! As it was my part reptile temperature system just couldn’t cope.

If you’re braver than me though you can find more info at

If you do try it, the top tip for staying dry (which obviously I ignored totally) is staying in the middle of the board and keep your centre of gravity low (apparently).

Oh and wear more clothes than you think you’re going to need. I was in a singlet and shorts – I might have done better in a long-sleeved top and leggings.

I also really don’t recommend contact lenses in that lake! this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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