The year is young, and that New Year’s Resolution workout plan still holds loads of potential. The Daily has found the parfait way to kick it into high gear: New York Pilates. The reformer-style studio has a come one come all attitude but is serious about technique. It doesn’t hurt the Soho space is super chic, and the instructors are friendly experts (and nice to look at, too). Founder Heather Andersen tells us more…
Tell us a little bit about yourself, please!
I grew up in Oklahoma and trained as a classical ballet dancer, and ballet pretty much defined my teenage years. As far as Pilates, I’ve been practicing since my teens and teaching since 2006.
So what made you open your first Pilates studio on West 3rd?
There wasn’t really a studio where you could go take a great reformer group class, so I made it. I wanted to create a studio with a young, downtown vibe and awesome reformer classes all day, and a place where everyone could be themselves. I also wanted to be able to curate the teachers and staff.
What’s the concept behind New York Pilates?
It’s a contemporary Pilates studio. We have leveled classes, so we can accommodate the very coordinated or someone with less experience or injuries. We care a lot. We teach proper alignment and healthy use of the body, which also helps to prevent injury.
What spurred the decision to expand into Soho?
The West 3rd St. location has been open for more than two years, and the class area is pretty small with limited spots. We were maxed out during peak times, and wanted to be able to give people more spots. Plus, Howard St. is my favorite block in the city!
Tell us about the space; how did you find it?
We looked for a long time. I had tried to rent the space a year earlier, but the landlord told me it was occupied. In actuality it had been vacant for almost 10 years—the most recent business in the space was a less-than-savory massage parlor that was shut down for lewd behavior. My husband Brion, who runs Rivington Design House, and I did a massive renovation from floor to ceiling. He designed the entire space including the built-in components and all of the decorations.
How is the studio making its mark downtown?
We do strength training, focusing on alignment and healthy use of the body. Our instructors have certifications that require 500-plus hours including thorough anatomy training. Fitness is definitely on trend, but I’m pretty sure that strong abs in an injury-free zone will always be in style.
How did you find the instructors?
I do a ton of auditions—a resume can be very misleading. The most important thing is that they understand the body, anatomy, injuries, and are passionate. Personality is also important. I require instructors to be kind, caring, and emotionally generous. They need to be cool, too. It’s a tall order.
What are the classes like?
Reformer I is intro level, focusing on the basic principals of Pilates…but don’t let the name fool you! When you take the time to do things right, it will leave your abs burning. Reformer II moves faster, with more complex exercises. Abs Arms Ass is a fast-paced intermediate class that hits all the “trouble” spots. Core Cult is our fastest paced class and uses a jumpboard to get the heart rate up. Reformer III requires a solid understanding of technique, using advanced choreography and exercises not usually taught in a group setting.
There’s a big difference between mat and reformer classes. Could you explain?
First off, the reformer is just more fun! Mat work has the same underlying principles, but doesn’t have the resistance/assistance of the reformer. The reformer has this beautiful glide to it that makes you feel like you’re swimming and has thousands of variations of exercises so you never get bored. Mat work is super important for when you’re traveling or can’t make it to class, and many of the exercises can be transferred from one platform to the other.
What’s your least favorite way to work out?
I really dislike running. Brion loves running…that means there is some major compromise. I get through it with cute outfits and good music.
Arguably the number one New Year’s resolution is to work out…What’s your advice for following through?
You have to do something you really enjoy, that exercises your brain as well as your body and can become a lifestyle. You can’t exercise only as a means to an end; it has to be a ritual that you crave and are devastated when you miss. You have to love it. I love it.
Who is the person you would like to visit your studio?
Jane Fonda, the OG raddest fitness bitch. Still such a babe. I’m sure she would approve! She loves Pilates.
New York Pilates
25 Howard St.
New York, NY 10013