How Heather Andersen traded her ballet sneakers for a Pilates reformer

If you’ve been to a Pilates class before, something the instructor will usually notice: the elegant, graceful steps that are reminiscent of a prima ballerina. And that’s because many Pilates and New Wave fitness instructors are often retired dancers. New York Pilates founder and 2019 partner of Estée Lauder, Heather Andersen, knows the story better than most: After a few years of dancing in professional ballets in New York and Portland, a recurring ankle injury led her to reformer -Based trained, where she finally trained, she found calling. While living in Portland, she began working at the reception of the Pilates and Gyrotonics studios to get the free classes she felt was necessary to rehabilitate her ankle. There an instructor told her to teach.

“When I started taking my Pilates certificate, it completely changed my dancing by teaching me the correct alignment and creating a balanced force,” says Andersen. “I think it’s so easy to look at the shape of a movement instead of understanding biomechanics, and you just have so much more power when you work in really healthy biomechanics.”

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