7 years ago by

Out of everyone at the studio, I think it’s probably the case that I’m tied to my desk most during the day. Brie & Erik are constantly out shooting, Elle is running around to appointments, you get it…we’re busy people! Except for the occasional meeting I can regularly be found in my little nook, answering e-mails or on the phone, making very serious business calls which I’m certain a more upright stance would benefit. And, I really don’t mind, but I sit in the weirdest positions and I know (from all of the countless research that’s been published in the last few years, gosh it’s exhausting to keep up with this stuff!) that all of this sitting I’m doing— strange, almost contortionist like shapes—isn’t good for me. 
But then I started doing pilates. And by doing pilates, I mean I’ve become a complete and total addict. A pilates junkie!
Garance has hopped on the pilates bandwagon too, and now not a day goes by at the studio that we’re not talking about pilates. One of the most noticeable differences both Garance and I have found is that our posture is improving, and I’m sitting at my desk a little straighter than I was before. 
In an effort to get all of us sitting and standing a bit taller, we decided to ask Heather, one of my pilates instructors and the owner of New York Pilates (the most beautiful pilates studio ever!! I’m almost mad that I’m giving it away, but it’s too pretty not to share) a little more about how posture and pilates work together, including a few simple exercises to help with the core.
heather anderson posture garance dore photo
Heather Andersen, New York Pilates Founder   

They say sitting is the new smoking, how bad is it really to sit at a desk all day?

Sitting is definitely bad for you, although I don’t think it is nearly as bad as smoking. The health risks for sitting are both postural and stagnating circulation (the reason it is said to be worse than smoking). Turns out, leading research says that all you need to do is stand up for a few minutes every hour and to do light exercise. You don’t have to run a marathon or cross fit in order to stave off the heath risks of sitting, just get your water cooler on (Pilates is great too!).

Is having good posture enough to help combat the problems you can develop from sitting so much?

Good posture is essential for the health of your spine and hips. People usually think about posture as just “standing up straight”. It actually means maintaining your spine’s natural curves, which requires body awareness, strong trunk muscles (read: abs & back muscles) and a healthy amount of flexibility.

Do you think things like ball-chairs and walking desks really make a difference? They seem a little much.

I haven’t been impressed with ball chairs. The idea is that the ball chair is instable, which makes your abs work during the day. What I have found is that people still slouch, but then they are using muscles to hold a slouched position, which is ultimately worse for your body.

Standing desks are great, especially for someone with low back issues, it really helps resolve the psoas* tightness that pulls on the lower spine and assists with lower trunk strengthening, just by standing – so cool!

*The psoas is an important postural muscle that attaches your spine to your leg

We’ve also read about posture bras. Have you heard of them? If so, what do you think?

It is much more beneficial to work on shoulder and pec flexibility and strengthen your upper back. Then your body naturally does what the brace was doing for you.  These are fundamental elements you will learn in any good Pilates class.

How is Pilates related to posture?

Pilates builds core strength (which is way more than just your global abdominals guys!) teaches body awareness and stretches inflexible muscles, all essential for great posture.

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

The Stretches!

These kinds of stretches are most beneficial after a work out, to help maintain long term flexibility changes and lubricate joints in the spine and shoulders. Half of healthy posture is flexibility and the other half is strength of the back and abdominals, so this is the perfect follow up to a strength focused pilates class.


heather anderson posture garance dore photo

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

Pec Stretch

Begin facing the wall and extend arm on an upward diagonal placing hand onto the wall. Then rotate your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch through your pectoral muscles. It is great to do the pec stretch after the pec release since the release addresses the fascia and the stretch addresses the muscle.


Pec release with ball 

Place pinky ball in the nook where your clavicle and your shoulder meet, then lean into the wall to apply pressure. You can gradually roll down towards the under arm to release the pec muscle. A tight pectoral muscle can pull the shoulders forward, so regular release work is a great addition to healthy posture.

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

Extension Stretch with Roller

Using an exhale press down through your hands and engage your low belly, lats and upper back (NOT NECK) muscles to roll yourself up as high as you feel comfortable. If you feel any discomfort in your low back roll down a little bit (decreasing your range of motion) and engage low abdominals more deeply. Take two breaths at the top, then roll back down. Repeat about 20 times. This stretch & strengthen exercise stretches the abdominals while engaging and strengthening the back extensor muscles (all the muscles you need to stand up straight). These guys really need to be strong!

Perfect Posture

Spinal Twist

This classic stretch is wonderful for decreasing overall tension in the back by increasing flexibility in the diagonal abdominal and back muscles as well as lubricating spinal vertebrae. All of which spell a healthy spine and postural system.

Chest Stretch

With both hands interlaced behind the back draw shoulder blades all the way together. This is another great chest opening stretch.

Neck Stretch 

Look diagonally downward, then place hand onto head to create a gentle traction. You should feel the stretch in the opposite side of the neck. Tight neck muscles are a component to unhealthy forward head posture and shoulders that stay permanently lifted. Stretching can help those shoulders drop back down to a healthy position.

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

heather anderson posture garance dore photo

Heather wears white top by ADAY and taupe pants by Outdoor Voices

Shot on location at New York Pilates, Soho | 25 Howard St.


Add yours
  • Article très intéressant, c’est vrai que la passe beaucoup trop de temps assis ….

    Amélie – Charles Ray and Coco

  • i love the articles and especially the pictures! :)


  • Sylvie G.C. April, 5 2016, 9:19 / Reply

    I know it has little to do with Style, rather a lot with Love & Life, but I thought it might be of interest (& substance) :
    Écrit, réalisé et produit par une française.
    Go see it!

  • I love pilates more because it’s not aggressive like gym..and it works the Total body.i prefer working with the machine …
    I believe that body and mind should be worked together..so you have to do something you enjoy…
    Yael Guetta


  • Well, this story and the photos definitely make me want to do pilates! :)


  • Love this post! I need to find a pilates studio near me!

  • Monika April, 5 2016, 9:49 / Reply

    I have never tried pilates! I need to try it!

  • $39 a class? I rejoice in your prosperity. How about something for those of us who can’t afford that? Even something as banal as a pilates cd recommendation?

  • Hi J!

    I started going to NYP through ClassPass, which is a more affordable way to try the studio and a bunch of other places!
    It’s different than pilates, but at home I sometimes do the Ballet Beautiful videos which can be downloaded via iTunes.
    x Emily

  • carlsbad April, 5 2016, 10:12

    I’m stealing “I rejoice in your prosperity.” Great line.

  • Ekaterina April, 7 2016, 6:17

    It’s true, pilates isn’t a cheap workout, especially in a city like New York. But assuming you go to studio with well-trained instructors, it really is worth it. As others have mentioned, there are other options if reformer classes are cost prohibitive. One option is to try out different studios through ClassPass. Another option is to simply do mat pilates at home, which can actually be more challenging – I believe Joseph Pilates created the reformer to help those with injuries strengthen their muscles, as they otherwise couldn’t do the mat workout. You can buy DVDs to help you get started with an exercise sequence, or simply look up videos on YouTube!

  • génial, merci ! (et quel fessier !)

  • I regularly practice sport using DVDs. I would love to add Pilates to my Routine. Garance told in a previous post about a DVD that her sister was using. Could you give us the reference of that DVD please?

  • Seconded! I went to my first Pilates class recently and LOVED it, but it’s a little rich for my blood, so I would love a do-it-at-home option. I’ve done all the YouTube Pilates videos so many times I have them memorized, so a new DVD would be great!

  • thanks for featuring real women, with real bodies, working in fields apart from the fashion world. it’s refreshing

  • I wanted to comment on Heather body, and how happy I was to se a strong body, with big muscles, ans not the regular newYork skinny type.

    But sorry, the “real” body, “real” women is out of place. Skinny bodies are real skinny girls are real women. The only problem with skinny is that this is the only bodies portrayed by fashion and entertainment.

  • I am with you on Pilates. Luckily, in my little French town classes are only €9 apiece. I’ve gone for two years and really feel a difference–especially since I started going a second time each week for the past five months. It isn’t until later that you appreciate what you’re doing–bad posture leads to back trouble. It might not kill you but it can make life miserable.
    It’s important to learn with an instructor because you need to be corrected. My instructor won’t take more than 8 people in a class, or it becomes too difficult to monitor everybody’s moves.
    I went to the Ecole du Dos for a while for back trouble, and it was very helpful (and very similar to Pilates). I stopped because of scheduling conflicts, and did the exercises on my own. Back trouble eventually came back despite the exercises, so I returned to the Ecole du Dos–and discovered that over time I had been doing the exercises a little more and more off. Being corrected is important.
    Heather really has a Pilates butt–nice and round. The other good thing about Pilates is you get long, lean muscles and curves in the right places.

  • I just love love love when you show women who are athletic and bit on the curvier side! Heather is absolutely stunning and radiant!!

  • Ana @champagnegirlsabouttown April, 5 2016, 11:22 / Reply

    Pilates and ballet sorted out both my posture and lower back and abs muscles, which were in a disastrous state as I’ve been slouching all my life. Now I do Pilates via online Instructor Live which is a great affordable option.

  • jesus christ, that woman is a goddess!!!

  • Pilates is the best kind of physio and priceless for those with muscle imbalances.
    The key is to find a good instructor.

    If you’re looking to try something at home you can watch John Garey’s YouTube video’s:

    The New York City Ballet Workout book is also pretty effective.

  • So interesting! I’ve tried Pilates and Yoga, thanks for the exercises and lovely photos :)


  • This is great! I have a hard time actually going to pilates/yoga classes in studios because I had back surgery (spinal fusion) years ago and I have limitations on how I can move and bend… but I’m always looking for exercises to do at home to strengthen my back and core. Exercises are easy to find online, but stretches not so much, so thanks for these!

  • Posture is so important you are right. It give so much elegance to a woman.
    Love the pictures :)

    x Sophie

  • Joke B April, 5 2016, 3:26 / Reply

    Check out Dynamic Pilates videos on YouTube – 30 or 45′ of Pilates exercises. I’ve followed Pilates courses for years and now practice following these videos which is in terms of exercises and freedom where to exercise ideal.

  • C’est très similaire au yoga ! Beaucoup de positions sont les mêmes.
    Pareil depuis le yoga, ma posture a changé drastiquement !



  • Moi aussi je suis à fond dans le yoga et pilates et je sens la différence! C’est génial!

  • Article très intéressant!Je fais de temps en temps du pylate j’adore c’est une autre manière de travailler son corps et sa travaille bien les muscles en profondeur!


  • Great post!
    Mademoiselle Coconath

  • Lisa Walker April, 5 2016, 7:17 / Reply

    I have to say, there were so many things I loved about this post. I loved the personal voice– feel like I know Emily and want to read more! And loved the subject (great Q&A) and Heather! I immediately started the stretches, feeling inspired by her style, grace and beauty… Thanks!

  • Pilates sounds so tempting now, I have never tried it and I have really bad posture from sitting on my desk all day drawing! I recently purchased an easel so I can stand when drawing and I find that really helps but sometimes it can become a bit tiring since my back muscules are a disaster! Can’t wait to try pilates and see the difference! Thank you for sharing this post, Heather looks so beautiful and healthy!


  • AMELLE April, 6 2016, 3:02 / Reply

    Coucou Garance,
    Je consulte très souvent ton blog que j’adore…
    Je vais enfin découvrir NYC dés le 15/04/2016 et ce pendant 10 jours !!!!
    Aurai-tu des conseils à me donner, des adresses beauté, shopping, restaurants ?
    Merci beaucoup pour ta réponse.

  • Ana Leonor April, 6 2016, 4:58 / Reply

    Loved this story so much! Very insightfull and I love that everything is so well explained! And she’s beautiful + strong = perfect combination.

  • María April, 6 2016, 7:24 / Reply

    I started practising Pilates like 5 years ago. I’m 53 now, and I can tell you how I have changed, body and mind… And you can work as hard as you can!!!

  • Great post dear! :)


  • J’Adore cet Article merci pour le partage du Pilates, c’est une discipline très proche du Yoga en fait !

  • As long as you get moving (excersise once a day), stand up once in a while. Walking is a great excersise for circulation, even better: briskly walking (cheap and fun). peolple should really take consideration in how much iphones and computers have made our lives totally sedentary, time flies when you are in social media!


  • Pilates (and specifically New York Pilates) has changed my life! I rarely (or never…) worked out and started trying different studios via classpass. It’s quite expensive if you purchase classes a la carte so I eventually decided to invest in a monthly membership at NYP.

    I find that:
    a) I feel great investing in healthy behavior – particularly a good pilates studio that has made me more body aware and helped with recurring back and knee pain. I occasionally try out other “cult” fitness methods and have found that I can identify potentially harmful exercises for my body and modify accordingly. This particular studio feels especially attuned to pushing yourself at a safe level.
    and b) paying a monthly membership fee motivates me to attend class more regularly.

    Lastly, Heather is an inspiration!

  • As a person who’s extremely un-athletic, this seems like a great option, and the stretches look easy enough to do on my own!
    Something I really don’t use as often as I should, but my office has desks that move up and down, so that I can work standing up, which should definitely help with circulation issues – definitely something to think about for the studio!

  • In my experience standing tall and walking tall encourages people to treat you with significance. I found that fixing my posture enhanced my personal and professional life.

    Confidence and confident body language is at the top of attractive qualities for men and women. When I fixed my posture women began flirting with me more, and my partner got a bit jealous.

    The problem with straining to have a confident posture is that it’s exhausting, because you have to use muscular and mental effort to maintain good posture.

    The best way IME is to do daily exercises so that the muscles required for good posture strengthen, and good posture become something that you don’t have to think about and just happens. If you are interested in the program, here it is: http://myposturefix.net/forward-head-posture-fix-program-by-rick-kaseji-review/

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