Building A Pilates Empire with Heather Andersen

Upon arriving at the New York Pilates studio in Soho, I was directed by a peach-emoji sign to head up a flight of stairs and slid two frosted panel doors open.

The doors revealed crisp white-washed wood floors glowing against white brick. The studio showcases a clean aesthetic with touches of playful flavor from a vintage ‘Buns of Steel’ workout books and Andy Warhol polaroids, to sprinklings of crystal quartz.

I sat down with Heather Andersen, the 30-year-old founder and pioneer of the beloved pilates studio to discuss the beginnings of New York Pilates and what it takes to be a young woman in business. Heather is in incredible shape, evident of her years as a trained dancer with over fifteen years of practicing pilates under her belt. It comes as no surprise that she professionally performed with Ballet Oklahoma and Polaris in Portland, after training with Steps and the American Ballet Theatre’s summer program in New York, all the while teaching pilates on the side of course!

While pilates has long been thought to be your mom’s workout, Heather has revamped its image with contemporary classes that are soundtracked by uplifting indie beats. New York Pilates’ core purpose is provide high quality classes in a cool, downtown environment. Fast forward three years later after opening in 2013, the establishment now occupies two studios (soon to be three) after quickly becoming a cult workout in the New York fitness scene with features in WWD, New York Observer, Well+Good, and The Coveteur, amongst others. Read on for our one-on-one chat with Heather below!



What is your educational background?

I was trained at the Kane School, a program that is run by Kelly Kane. [The Kane School is a rigorous training program combining the classic principles of Pilates with a modern, clinical perspective on the human body.] Kelly used to own renown a studio which she sold — it is now known as Kinected


How do you differentiate yourself in the market?

We are extremely contemporary and cater to a younger client. Our instructors all have therapeutic training so if someone needs specific help is in a class, they can give them a modification. Our intention is much more athletic. We first opened our doors in 2013 and fast forward three years later, we now own two studios (soon to be three), employ at least 30 employees while also offering apprenticeships to newbies in the field.


Aside from pilates, how do you stay fit?

I like doing lots of things like ballet class, yoga, running and of course – pilates!

“You just have to be very tenacious and if someone doesn’t take you seriously, you can’t let that bother you.”


Do you have words of wisdom for young women creating their own path?

You have to be really focused. Really focused. I think being a young woman in business is very interesting, because people take you less seriously. I’m sort of a wacky person so going into a business meeting, I always felt very strongly about not putting on a tie and trying to present myself like another business owner. I’m not going to put on a pencil skirt and heels. Unless…


That’s who you are!

Totally. You just have to be very tenacious and if someone doesn’t take you seriously, you can’t let that bother you. No problem. I’m going to keep talking to people until I can get this done. So, just be focused and tenacious. It’s the only way.




Photographer: Marissa Fey
Makeup/Hair: Andrea Mazuera
Stylist: Amanda Ho
Production Coordinator: Jen Batchelor (Wellthily)
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