Workout GIFs: 3 Game-Changing Pilates Moves

It's as easy as 1, 2... Heather Andersen of New York Pilates breaks it down.

Pilates. If the word alone conjures contrasting images of complicated-looking torture devices (ahem, Reformer) and willowy, lithe instructors replicating the same moves with the most placid of expressions pasted on their faces, you're not alone. In fact, as we entered the studio of one Heather Andersen, also known as the studio owner and HBIC of New York Pilates, a stream of questions instantly came through our mind: how is she doing that ...thing with her legs? How is her hair so long? Is the world trying to tell me that if I finally start Pilates this year, I'll look like that too?

"New York Pilates teaches contemporary pilates rooted in exercise science and physical therapy," Andersen explained over e-mail. "The idea is to 'kick your ass' as much as possible without risk of injury—it's intelligent, mindful and safe. It requires you to do more than hard exercises, but to think about HOW you are doing them. Instead of doing 300 inefficient sit-ups, you learn how to use your muscles and do half as many reps with double the results." As if Andersen's taut and toned limbs weren't quite enough to have you convinced on their own, right?

But Andersen wasn't born with a nuanced knowledge of all things Pilates and killer abs—it was her earlier dabbling in dance that got her hooked. "I love how Pilates increases awareness of alignment and functional use of my joints & muscles. I got into Pilates as a way to improve my dancing (I grew up in ballet and danced professionally) and although I no longer perform professionally, I am much stronger and better than I ever was before." And while spot reduction has long been debunked altogether, she also swears it's just the thing for a flat stomach and a #belfie-worthy behind (in other words, it's only a matter of time before your Instagram feed is dominated by post-workout legging selfies). "Pilates is good for every 'problem spot'—and especially good at giving you a flat, strong stomach and a perky round butt. Both support your low back and keep away aches and pains. Did I mention it makes your butt perky?"



As for how to fit Pilates into your routine? Andersen say it's all about incorporating it into an existing routine—assuming that you, ahem, have one—or ensuring you get enough in should you go it solo. "A session here is one hour—I recommend three times a week if it's your primary source of exercise. If you are doing other activities, such as CrossFit, yoga, cycling, boxing, etc., I recommend doing Pilates at least once per week. It will help keep you balanced and give you an edge over your competition by teaching you about biomechanics and functional movement. Soon everyone will be eating your dust!" Not very zen, but we'll take it.

And despite our assumptions to the contrary, even Andersen has an ambitious laundry list of resolutions to kick off the new year, too. "I'm getting married, and although I exercise a ton, I definitely want to stay fit and make sure I don't get stressed and gain any weight! My [other] resolution is to really take my time and enjoy 2015. The studio grew so much last year, it was a whirlwind! I want to keep making NYP the best it can be, and really enjoy having made a place where I'm obsessed and want to go everyday." Couldn't we all use a little more of that?


Side Planking Excellent for lats, obliques, abductors (aka side butt).... Read More

Side Planking

Excellent for lats, obliques, abductors (aka side butt). Be sure to keep your hips lifted high and not dropping down (like mine are here!)


Hip Stretch One knee bent in front, the other directly to... Read More

Hip Stretch

One knee bent in front, the other directly to the side.  Try to release your seat all the way to the ground.



Cross Cross with Ball The ball assists in spinal flexion so... Read More

Cross Cross with Ball

The ball assists in spinal flexion so that the abdominal are targeted without straining the neck.  The ball should be placed in the mid back anywhere from bra strap height to the lower ribs. The lower the ball the more challenging. Keeping spine flexed the while time (do not let your back "arch" or extend!) bring one knee into the chest and rotate the ribs bringing opposite elbow toward the knee to add deep oblique work.

Photography, Bek Andersen; Art Direction, Brion Isaacs