Esther Gauthier is the owner of AQUA Studio, the first & only aqua cycling studio in New York. Born & raised in Paris, she grew up watching Woody Allen movies and episodes of Friends, obsessing over New York City, thinking that one day, she would call the city home.
She realized her dream of moving to NYC in 2007, and years later, made a return trip to her native Paris where she happened to attend her first aquacycling class. Yes, aquacycling. The strangest part was that the workout had taken Europe's fitness industry by storm, yet hadn't made it to the fitness-obsessed United States. Esther made the formal introduction of aquacyling to New York, and opened AQUA Studio on Franklin Street in Tribeca in April 2013.
(Photo: Charles Billot)
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Work in Progress”
What can’t you travel without?
Sunglasses & crème de rose lip balm from Dior.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Upstate New York. Long walks in the woods and cuddling in front of the fireplace with my fiancé, Aaron Griesdorn.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC?
Mosey around The Village with Aaron, and end up at Freemans around 6 or 7 pm – the only time Freemans is quiet. We sit at the bar in the back. He drinks a French 75, I drink a glass of red wine, and we share an artichoke dip.
If you could choose one person to show you “their New York City,” who would it be?
Patti Smith – but we would have to travel back to the late 60’s, which is the New York City I want to see.
What are your favorite NYC restaurants, and what do you order there?
The greek salad or vegetarian couscous from Café Mogador, the cheeseburger from Dudleys, the chicken pad thai from Lovely Day, the schnitzel from Edi & The Wolf, the verde sandwich from Bikinis, and the pho bo hanoi from Viet Café in Tribeca.
What are your go-to spots in NYC for drinks?
I love Elsa, Third Man, and The Wayland.
What are some of your under the radar must-do recommendations for NYC visitors?
Explore Williamsburg and Greenpoint – have dinner at Moto under the subway tracks and go to the Brooklyn Flea. Order a Sabarsky Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) at Café Sabarsky or have a tea on the top floor of the Museum of Art & Design. If it’s nice out, go to the Met rooftop, walk around the Central Park Reservoir, take in the view at Rockefeller Center, walk on the Highline, and bike ride up the Hudson River all the way to the George Washington Bridge.
What are some of your favorite NYC stores?
WHOLE FOODS. Sounds silly, but I could spend hours in this store and spend a fortune. Last night, I was going there to pick up ginger only for Aaron and ended up spending $90 on raw honey, yogurt, cacao nibs, granola, herbs, and spices. And I love The Strand. It’s the same deal – you can spend hours and tones of money there… I love books!
What music are you listening to these days, and who are some of your favorite musicians?
Right now I’m listening to a lot of SBTRKT, Chromatics, Foster the People, Angus and Julia, Destroyer, Owlle, and some of my favorites are King of Convenience, Bon Iver, Fleetwood Mac, and Billie Holiday.
What album or song would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC?
“New York” by Cat Power and the album “Simple Things” by Zero 7 bring back many memories of my first years in New York.
When you think of NYC, are there any particular memories that immediately come to mind?
The first time I stepped foot off the plane at JFK, when I was 15 visiting the city. I was so happy to be here that I cried. Then, crossing the Williamsburg Bridge and seeing Manhattan gave me shivers. I knew that one day, this would be home.