Esther Gauthier, founder of Aqua Studio

By Sharon Feiereisen


Inspired by an aqua cycling class she took in Paris, Aqua Studio founder Esther Gauthier left a successful career in photo production to launch a luxury boutique fitness studio modeled after the same workout in New York City. We chatted with the French entrepreneur to find out about what makes cycling in water unique, her go-to snacks and more.


Best summer getaways? 

Upstate NY – Accord, Rosendale, New Paltz – and the Northfork


Best trip you ever had for your health and fitness and what did you do?

I haven’t done this recently, but I am dreaming of a yoga retreat right now. Anytime we go away though, it is almost always about health and fitness for me anyway. I always bring my running shoes and my yoga mat e. The fitness trip I remember the most is one week of waterskiing in Portugal with my family. Waterskiing is very important in my family. Generation after generation, we all water-ski.


Cycling is a huge trend right now. To what do you attribute that?

Cycling is accessible to a wide public and aqua cycling is even more accessible. Our demographic goes from 16 years old to 80 years old.


How is cycling in water different?

The natural massage that you get from the water while cycling is what makes aqua cycling so unique and the extra resistance of water makes it a high performance workout while being very therapeutic for your body.


What should someone who is unfamiliar with Aqua be prepared for when trying it for the first time?

When coming for the first time, you should wear a supportive swimsuit (I recommend a sports bra with a bottom). During your first class you should be focusing on learning the right postures and perfecting them and engaging your core to keep your body up. It is crucial to learn the smooth pedaling technique to master the art of aqua cycling and push yourself harder. 


Do you think it's important to balance out cycling with something else? 

Pairing aqua cycling with a strength and tone routine such as the megaformer, ballet classes, or pilates is the best combo to our classes. You get an amazing cardio with aqua cycling, which gets your blood flow going, trims off the fat, and burns calories. Then, you sculpt with a pilates class. 


How often do you suggest doing the workout for it to be effective?

I recommend aqua cycling at least 2 to 3 times a week and as often as you like. The beauty of aqua cycling is that while it is high intensity workout, it is also very gentle on your joints and muscles so you could come to class every day if you’d like with no risk of injuries.


What muscles does Aqua work?

It’s a full body workout. That’s the beauty of our cycling classes. You work your arms and core as much as your legs and buttocks. That’s also what makes our classes so unique compared to a regular cycling class. We use the water in a very creative way to work all muscles of the body. 

What’s a typical workout week like for you?

AQUA 2 to 3 times a week, yoga on Thursday morning with Serene Social, running at the park on the weekend, and some pilates classes or megaformer classes here and there.



What are your go-to workout shoes? Accessories?

I like the Nike Free running shoes, but change them out often with my Asics. I like to wear headbands and bandanas to pull my hair back.  


Favorite healthy eatery in NYC?

Sun in Bloom, Souen, and Butcher’s Daughter, 


Favorite healthy snack?

Zen berry and chia seed pudding – they make a delicious one at Le Pain Quotidien.


Guilty pleasure?

Eclair au café (I am French…).


What a fitness myth that drives you crazy? '

The more you sweat the harder the workout'. I remember a test that was made on a crowd of cyclists: an easy cycling class with AC off versus a hardcore cycling class with AC on. Guess which class the students though was the hardest? They were drenched in sweat in class #1 so they assumed the workout was more intense in class #1 when it reality, it wasn’t.

If we looked in your fridge, what would we always find?

Avocado, grapefruit (or fresh grapefruit juice), homemade almond milk, fruits and vegetables which vary depending on the season.


If we looked in your gym bag, what would we always find?

Arnica oil, Pure Pitz deodorant, and Christian Dior Rose balm.


How does maintaining a healthy lifestyle effect your everyday life in a positive way? I haven’t been sick in ages… Considering the amount of stress I go through with running my business, I am often amazed by the level of energy I have. My immune system is strong. I do not get colds or stomach pain very often. The more I workout and eat healthy, the more energy I have. It helps me make the right decisions at work, be more efficient, sleep better, handle the challenges of life with more pragmatism and clarity… It is not always easy to be healthy, but when you understand the impact it has on your life, you can never go back.