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Meet the founder of AquaCycling, NYC...

posted on Friday, 25th July 2014 | find under Tamara, Fitness, Nutrition
AquaCycling is the latest fitness trend to take the New York workout scene by storm. Attended by athletes and celebrities alike, the premise of the workout is a spin class that takes place in a pool, with the water adding extra resistance to enhance the body-sculpting benefits.

Brought to the US by French entrepreneur and fitness-lover Esther Gauthier, it was a chance encounter with the class during a trip to Paris that first introduced her to this innovative workout, and inspired her to bring it to Manhattan. Sweaty Betty sat down with Esther to find out all on her background, the class itself, her favourite post-workout foods and her weekly fitness regime.

You first tried AquaCycling in Paris, what was your first impression of the class?
I loved it! I thought combining the benefits of water and cycling was such a brilliant idea. It was love at first spin.
What made you decide to bring AquaCycling to NYC? 
When I took my first class in Paris, I was living in New York and I had never heard of the concept. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I am always looking for a good idea to develop. After the class, my head was spinning and it became clear that I needed to bring this concept to New York. That night, I started working on my business plan. I was determined.
What were your clients' first reactions to the class?
The opening of AQUA Studio in TriBeCa was an experience my team and I will never forget. There is nothing like seeing people discover something new. During the build of AQUA Studio, we kept our concept secret. Only selected guests were invited to the soft opening, and we had a small launch with an exclusive for NY Magazine and VOGUE. We wanted to take our time but the word spread much quicker than we expected and within a week, the buzz had begun. Eye Witness News, Good Morning America, New York Times, The Today Show; all the big names were knocking at our door for interviews and trial classes. It was such an intense time. We were receiving so many phone calls and our customers were totally stunned by the concept. They all wanted to try it!
What makes AquaCycling such a fantastic workout? 
The beauty of AquaCycling is that it is an intense cardio workout with high-efficiency for weight loss and calorie burn, but that is also very safe and gentle for your body. At AQUA, we often say, "Your body will thank you for it". 
The water massages your legs while creating a very powerful resistance, and the lymphatic system is drained during the class which helps to eliminate toxins and cellulite. The water keeps body temperature cooler which allows you to push yourself harder; burning more calories and building endurance. The lack of impact in the water makes it the safest choice for your joints. AquaCycling is also a full-body workout; the class we have designed works the arms and abs as much as the legs. Finally, as the water is so therapeutic, you leave the studio with a clear mind and a deep sensation of happiness. 
Have you always been active? Talk us through your weekly workout routine…
I have always been active; playing sports has always been part of my weekly routine, even at an early age. Tennis, water-skiing, dancing, swimming, French-boxing… I have done a lot. I started practicing yoga when I was 17, and love to run and go hiking.
Nowadays, my weekly routine includes AquaCycling 2 or 3 times a week. I recently started SLT (a combination of cardio, Pilates and strength training) too which I think compliments AquaCycling perfectly. I regularly run along the East River Park, and do yoga every Thursday on the rooftop of the James Hotel with Serene Social.

Image credit: @esthergauthier 

Before opening AQUA studio, you were a fashion photographer. How did you find the transition from fashion photography to the fitness industry?
The transition found me, I would say. I think it is very interesting how life sometimes brings you the best for yourself. I loved working in the fashion world but I was also ready for a new challenge and while I didn't realise it at the time, wellness, health, nutrition and conscious living were becoming more and more important to me. When I started AQUA, I met so many incredible and inspiring people. I think it is more about wellness for me than it is about fitness. It is more about leading a balanced life; this is what we want to bring at AQUA.
How important do you see the role of nutrition in leading a balanced life?
Nutrition is definitely a big part of my life and also a big part of AQUA's future. AQUA Studio's ambition is to become a wellness platform where customers can not only get a good workout, but also learn about how to balance their lives; change their diet, sleep better, allocate time for themselves, etc.

My mom introduced me to healthy eating and quality food. She always favoured the best produce from the Farmer's Market, but is only recently that I have started to learn more about diet, plants and power foods; mostly thanks to the help of my amazing AQUA master instructor, Emma Galland. Emma is a wonderful health coach and nutritionist and meeting her has been a blessing. I love eating healthy food and I love how delicious it tastes. However, I am French so I still enjoy a good glass of wine paired with some delicious raw cheeses!   

How do you fuel your body pre and post-workout? 
I often make smoothies at home. I learned from Emma that smoothies were high in fibre compared to juices, plus they are so easy to make at home. I often make smoothies with 2 spoonfuls of Zen Berry (a power food created by Emma) which provides all the nutrients you need for the day. I am also obsessed with homemade chia seed pudding topped with mango or raspberries. 
The vibe at Aqua Studio is more like a spa than a traditional fitness studio – do you think this is important to promoting overall wellbeing? 
It was really important for me to create an 'AQUA Experience' that is different from the typical fitness studio. I wanted it to be an escape from the stress of the city. Our customers arrive at the studio stressed out from their day at work, but they always leave with a big smile on their face. The key elements for us at AQUA are a cosy, chic and homey environment + dimmed light + a comfortable sofa + peaceful music at the front desk + small and caring team. 

Think AQUA sounds perfect? So do the Sweaty Betty team! You can read all about their training session at the studio here, PLUS join the Sweaty Betty team for an amazing event at AQUA Studio on July 28th - full details below.

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