If you’ve ever been to a Pilates class, there’s something that usually sticks out about the instructor: the elegant, graceful steps 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 Estée Lauder partner, Heather Andersen, knows the story better than most: After a couple years of dancing in professional ballets in New York and Portland, a recurring ankle injury led her to reformer-based exercising, where she eventually found her calling. While living in Portland, she started working the front desk at Pilates and Gyrotonics studios in exchange for the free classes she found necessary to rehab her ankle, and it was there that an instructor told her she should teach.
“When I started doing my Pilates certification, it completely transformed my dancing by teaching me proper alignment, by creating balanced strength,” says Andersen. “I think it’s so easy to look at the shape of a movement versus understanding the biomechanics of it, and you just have so much more power when you are working in really healthy biomechanics.”