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HealthWatch: Move Over, Water Aerobics, Here Comes Floating Yoga

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It goes by various names: Water yoga, pool yoga, floating yoga.

It combines yoga-type moves done on a floating mat.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports, it looks deceptively simple, but it's a real workout with benefits for your body and your brain.

It's an exercise that requires strength, balance and a bit of humility.

James Simpkin is trying out something called "FloatFit" for the first time, switching up his normal fitness routine of weights and a treadmill.

''When you see people do it, it's 'Yeah, I could do that,'" Simpkin said. "But when you actually do it, you're like 'OK, let's try to get down and up at least once without falling in the pool.'"

It's kind of like yoga on water, Gomez reported, but there's nothing zen about this workout.

'It's high intensity interval training. It's half an hour. So we just make sure to keep people moving, on and off the board, in and out of the water," said FloatFit Instructor Hamit Buhara.

The class is filled with moves like planks and squats that are done on an inflatable mat. The base offers more support than a pool float - but not much.

Thighs burning, calves shaking - one by one people fall into the pool, Gomez reported. Even those tumbles into the water burn calories as you work to get back on your float. Fitness experts say you'll gain more benefits from a routine done on water than by doing the same exercise in the gym.

"It's a massive workout. Even just standing without any movement whatsoever challenges the stability of the body so much," Buhara said.

James says while it's certainly challenging, he finds it fun trying to keep his head above water.

"You need to shock the body, and this was a shock to my body," Simpkin said.

In addition to the strength and fitness you get from floating yoga, you're improving your balance. A number of serious scientific studies have found that balance training can actually improve memory and cognition, Gomez reported.

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