Mastering The AQUA Technique With Emma Galland


When you hop into the pool at AQUA, you will definitely find your way. Some of it will be instinctual, while our instructors will certainly help you learn the positions and moves as well as the ways to hold your body. They’ll also help you modify positions if you’ve had an injury, simply want to do another move or are pregnant.

But what can we learn from a Master AQUA cycler? Emma Galland, Certified AQUAMETHOD® Trainer, is here to share the watery wisdom…


Before we jump into the interview with Emma, get to know her a bit: Emma is, among many things, a Certified AQUAMETHOD® Trainer as well as an AADP Board Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. She’s a Trained Functional Nutritionist and works as a personal trainer one on one and in groups. She’s also a yoga instructor and has worked with antigravity yoga, Broga yoga, and Mad Dogg spinning. Her list of credentials is impressive and inspiring. Plus, she brings all of that knowledge to the water!

As Emma says, she “will show you how to approach change confidently and plan for a long and healthy life by, firstly, understand how your body works, bringing your health back into balance and increasing your confidence and longevity with mindful AQUA workouts.”

Emma has been with AQUA since its inception, co-developing class formats and training AQUA instructors. You can learn more about her here

If you’re completely new to AQUA, what are some of the things you should know before you take a class? And, what can you expect?

You don't need any pre-existing experience with water or cycling to Aquacycle! Simply consult with our Front Desk Team to find the AQUA format that would fit your needs best. You'll need to wear a bathing suit which provides support as well as plastic or rubber shoes to protect your feet (which AQUA can provide).

Your body will be immersed in up to 4 feet of water, but your head stays above water! Always ask an instructor to help you with your bike set up. The height of the saddle should reach the top of your hip bone.

As for the front and back of the saddle, the knee cap should line up with the ball of the foot of your front leg; when this leg is bent, both feet are leveled horizontally.

The handle bar should be set at a comfortable distance so that neither your back nor shoulders are reaching and you have plenty of room for your legs.

Can you tell us a little bit about the four positions on the bike, and how someone might master each of them?

There are four riding positions in AQUA cycling.

Position 1: Seated on the saddle

Position 2: Standing with hands on the narrow handlebar right in front of you.

Position 3: Standing with hands wide and at the tip of the longer, higher handlebars, with your hips hinging at 45 degrees.

Position 4: Seated in the water, behind the saddle, with your feet strapped in the pedals pedaling.

There are many more ways to move your body, and our instructors will coach you on the variety of movements.

What’s the main thing to remember while you’re in all four positions?

The most important thing is to conserve alignment of the spine in all four riding positions. You’ll want to breathe evenly in all four positions, diaphragmatically (or, throughout the workout. At AQUA we take form seriously and never compromise it for the "cool factor.” AQUA is cool enough!

Let’s say you come to AQUA pretty regularly and you’ve got the positions down fairly solidly. What is the secret behind perfecting your technique?

Practice, practice, practice! Be conscious about everything: How you pedal (is it a locomotion-like movement or a piston up-down stroke? The former — like a locomotive — is the correct way of doing it.

Be mindful of how each movement starts and ends, noticing the positioning of your hands, shoulders and head. Also, perfect your breath. The better you breathe, the better your form (and vice versa).

If you're hunched over during the crawl position, your breathing will be shallow. If you pay attention to breathing evenly and fully, your torso will naturally rise and find alignment to maximize breathing capacity.

My advice is to back off the intensity until you can maintain an even breath at max intensity. You cannot breathe well and display force and energy with poor form.

What are some things even a frequent AQUA lover shouldn’t be doing? We all fall into habits, so what are some things to be mindful of?

Ride mindlessly or compromise breath and form in the name of “the burn.” I promise you that the burn will be exponentially stronger if your form is right. In fact, the better the form — the harder the workout. You actually engage way more muscles while maintaining alignment.

Do not push through if something hurts. Tip: If the front of your knees hurt, your saddle is likely too forward or too low. If the back of your knees hurt, the saddle is likely too far back or too tall.

What are some pro-AQUA tips outside of positioning and alignment?

Hydrate before, during and after your workout. We recommend 40 oz of water in total — just around this workout (which is at the top of your hydration target for the day). We sweat a lot in an AQUA workout although we don't realize it because of the water!