It’s hard not to have a crush on Heather Andersen. She’s beautiful, bubbly and man oh man–that butt! We caught up with New York Pilates founder to find out how she got into pilates, what it was like to open her own studio and her tips and tricks for beauty and style.
Tell us about your background—how did you get into Pilates in the first place? I grew up as a ballerina and modern dancer, Pilates was a normal part of my training and day to day life. It wasn’t until I was around non-dancers that I realized it wasn’t mainstream and that most people don’t even know what it is!
What are the biggest benefits of doing Pilates? Pilates is core-centric and resistance based strength training. There is a huge focus on alignment and healthy use of your joints, so you become super strong with low risk for injury. Benefits include improved control of your body, deep neurological connections, coordination, stabilization, stretch and balance. It doesn’t really matter what your into–pilates will help! NYP’s spin on pilates is that we designed our style to work for the modern person–someone who explores disciplines, whether that be spinning, running or crossfit. We are constantly evolving to meet the needs of our customers and what a fast paced New Yorker needs to compliment their exhausted or non existing active life.
Also–it will make you better in bed – what do you think all that pelvic floor activation does?!
How is reformer pilates different from mat? First off, the reformer is just more fun! The mat work uses the same underlying principles in the design of the exercises, however there is no resistance/assistance that you get with the reformer. The reformer has this beautiful glide to it that makes you feel like you are swimming.
What are your personal favorite moves? I love any kind of planking variation and am notoriously obsessed with butt work! (So lunges, side lying butt work etc. anything to keep it perky!)
How long had you been doing Pilates before you wanted to open your own? I have been practicing Pilates since my teens. I had been teaching Pilates for 8 years before I opened the studio. I’ve never been too fond of rules (I was the ballerina who shaved my head) so I wanted a place where I could be myself–and a place where others could be themselves too.
What was the biggest challenge in opening NYP? The biggest challenge in opening NYP was…opening NYP. I had spent many years as a team player, so the transition to being in charge and responsible for everything and everyone was a head-trip for sure. When opening the first studio, my husband/business partner, Brion and I did everything…seriously. Transitioning from talent to management is a very challenging thing. People often do not realize that running the business is not the same as teaching and that adjustment took some time. Securing funding, getting bank loans, signing a lease. I had been working and saving for years so taking that leap of investing in myself was scary but I knew I could it.
What is it like working with your husband? Brion has a completely opposite skill set to mine, so it is incredibly wonderful to have that yin and yang. He is responsible for the beautiful design of our studios and great website, plus all the marketing materials. We work together and operate as a team–which in and of itself is a skill and takes a lot of practice and certainly not for everyone. I love being able to bounce ideas off of! We were both performers in our early twenties (he was a drummer) so we both know how to operate as part of a team but are both comfortable in the spotlight.
What sets New York Pilates apart than other studios? New York Pilates brings the private session experience to the classroom. We have a wide range of class levels so we can challenge a super strong advanced client in a reformer III or Core Cult classes for those looking for a faster pace. We can also accommodate injuries and take the time to really explain the technique in a reformer II class. New York Pilates goal is to make a home for all who want to be a part of our dream. We created the studio to be a safe space that can kick your butt if you’re up for it or if you just want a cup of tea and to stretch out while glancing at the new Cindy Crawford book (which is amazing, by the way). Our staff is incredible and we work so hard to find the best teachers.
What are your favorite activewear brands? Currently jamming on Koral, Outdoor Voices and old school dance wear companies like M.M. Stevens and Sansha.
We also need to know your favorite places to shop—we are obsessed with your earrings and the decor in NY Pilates! Well, the decor at NYP is all Brion. We walk around NYC and take in inspiration from everywhere and our travels. We very much see eye to eye on design and combined have a very modern–yet romantic, dreamy aesthetic. He had a real vision inspired by Mexico and are wedding there, so he wanted to keep it handmade or purchased directly from sellers on the Internet.
As far as my earrings they are from Still house (amazing store in the east village I am obsessed with) or Maria Tash. Both make very modern designs in fine materials and gems. As far as other clothing I love Assembly and Creatures of Comfort and always find the best crazy shoes at Opening Ceremony. I LOVE shopping, but I’m often too busy to GO shopping! So I squeeze it in somewhere in between my morning Pilates, running payroll, grabbing a coffee from Vita, running to the office, checking in on west 3rd and teaching my class at SoHo.
Go to snacks? Cashews, Greek yogurt (highest fat content available) and seaweed snacks.
Must have beauty products? I use hair products from Olja, which are made from plants and completely chemical and toxin free. I also love face oils from Juno, aloe vera, and Chanel long wear lipstick
Advice you’d give to other women looking to open their own businesses? We started NYP on our own in our late twenties and was a big change going from partying to payroll. It’s a huge undertaking (LIKE HUGE), so make sure you have support, money saved up, friends on lockdown–did I mention money saved up? If you are not good at something, hire or partner with someone who is good at it. Do something you love because you will be doing it 24/7 (as Brion’s dad always says). But make sure you take time for yourself or you will go insane. Take vacations even if you cannot, workout even if you have no energy, eat well even if you have no time, and–always make time for your friends and family. Most importantly, remember to have fun!
What is next for you and NYP? There’s always room for more!! A training program is in the works so we can guarantee the highest quality of instruction. I care so deeply about teaching intelligent body mechanics, movement, etc. We are really excited about some new tech that will take Pilates into the 21st century. We’ve built such a great platform and our goal is to now make it even better.
What does health beauty fitness mean to you? To me beauty and fitness absolutely equal health–physically, mentally and emotionally.
Sweet or Savory? Savory
East Coast or West Coast? East, duh!!!
Lips or Eyes? Lips
Sparkling or Still Water? Still
Smoothie or Juice? Juice
Yoga or Pilates? Pilates, obvs!!
Coffee or Tea? I’m a coffee fiend
Text: Ava Donaldson