NYC Seminar in May

Hello, All!

Before I post my next article, I just want to share with you that my next set of 3-day seminars in May is coming up this May 16-18, 2014. Here is the information:

TVW Intensives

 

3-Day Seminar in NYC in May
Please Join In! 
 
May brings another 3-Day seminar to NYC…I would like to invite you to join in!

This 3-Day is all about getting and keeping clients. Here’s the information:

True Teaching Tools to Get and Maintain Clientele from Day One Onward – Intensive with Shari Berkowitz
18 PMA CECs!!  
May 16-18, 2014  
Teaching is easy when you have the right tools.  A client will be your client for a very long time when s/he makes the physical changes s/he desired.  Learn how to make sure that every first session is successful.  Gain confidence in knowing what to do and what not to do with the best tools possible.  We will study what works and remove what doesn’t, understand what First-Time and Beginner clients really need in order to stay and move forward.  Getting and Maintaining your clientele takes teaching the correct actions correctly the very first time…not just the exercises, but the choice of cues and the way you behave and interpret the behavior of your clientele.  This is a remarkable seminar that will support a lifetime of Pilates teaching!

Objectives:
1- Provide tools for teacher to confidently teach first timers
3 – Enhance teaching skills with applications of education in Pilates teaching
4 – Help create more confident teachers with a scientific rather than simply intuitive education
5 – Expand teaching vocabulary
6 – Understand how people learn
7 – Encourage confidence in teaching through education
8 – Provide ability for longevity in teaching career
9 – Provide tools and resources for answering questions and handling difficult situations in the studio

This is open to all teachers of all styles. It is weekend #2 of The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives. All weekend seminars are open to anyone who is interested even if you’re not interested in the entire program.

Please know that you are welcome to join in for one 3-day weekend at a time and even add in its corresponding 4-month set of homework.  Just ask and I will gladly include you in any way that is possible.

To register or get more information, email me: info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

Thank you!

- Shari

April 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Buttocks – Seemingly Every Fitness Person’s Favorite Subject…

GluteusMaximus

Dearest Fitness Fans…You’ll please forgive me as I am about to share something that will shock and appall:
Getting bouncy buns, strong buttocks and a lifted bottom doesn’t come from what you think it does. It 100% does not come from squeezing your seat, buns, butt, buttocks or tusch. All that squeezing you’ve been doing…it ain’t doing what you think. I know you’ve been told by people with gorgeous back sides that this is “The Way”. You’ve seen dancers with bottoms to astound. You’ve seen boxers with buns of steel. You’ve marveled over carved bums of seeming marble on your capoeira master. However, my fellow fans of fit…when they all tell you they got it by squeezing their seats (or any of the aforementioned terms)…they lied. Not intentional lies…but…perhaps that makes it even worse.

Why? Why do people think that squeezing your seat is going to get you a great seat? (Yes, I’ll go with seat or buttocks…the rest are rather crass [butt is crass] or childish [tusch or tuschy...as much as I love Yiddish, no one with a tusch is posing on the cover of Sports Illustrated and none of my powerful clients who own half of your country and mine have "tushcies". They have backsides or buttocks or seats.] I’ll go with seat, buttocks or backsides.) It’s funny to me how many people squeeze and squeeze and tell you to do so…but they do not have enviable backsides. Hmmm…if this works so well…why aren’t their buttocks so glorious? And why haven’t you thought about that?

Curious…no?

Yes.

Now, not every fitness trainer is going to look like an Adonis or the female equivalent (what is that…Athena?).  That is not the goal. And please let’s recall that what is en vogue in this generation is perhaps anemic looking to another. So, may please agree to be  working towards fit, strong, healthy and able…and have fit buttocks as part of that package.  Still, I ask why doesn’t everyone who says to squeeze and those who do squeeze have sensational sit-upons (appropriate to body-type)? Why isn’t it working for you?

Because it doesn’t work.
Sorry.

NO SPOT TRAINING

First, I must share with you that there is not such thing as “spot training”. You cannot craft the perfect set of buttocks by squeezing them or working them alone. You are an organism and not a mechanism. So, you work as a whole. We can’t just work your buttocks alone. And that squeezing in each exercise is saying that you can.

In truth, you never have to squeeze any muscle to get it to work or strengthen or look fit. What you do have to do: actions that use those muscles in their primarily and secondary ways. It’s that simple, really. And it takes your whole body to allow that to happen. All the better!

Taking the buttocks for our primary example, but this relates to all muscles and muscle groups, let’s consider what the buttocks are in the human body. They are gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. And what do these muscles do as their primary actions? (I say “primary” because all muscles work all of the time. Yes…all of the time. Even your resting muscle tone (RMT) is not complete inactivity. [That is what death is...complete inactivity.] However, all muscles work all of the time with primary actions, secondary, terciery and so on. Based on where they are and the desired action they either assist in mobility or stability of a joint in the action. And every single muscle in your body is actually working for that to happen. There is no agonist and antagonist as our old biomechanics has led us to believe.)

So you can’t get great buttocks by squeezing them.  Simply, you must work the entire body and allow the glutes do their actions naturally.  That’s how it works.


OVERDOING BREAKS DOWN RATHER THAN BUILDS UP

If you do squeeze your buttocks constantly in all exercises, it actually causes more harm than good.  This can hurt you.  You see, when you squeeze your seat/sit bones/narrow your sit bones, etc., you are actually causing  a tremendous amount of compression of  hip joint/ball & socket/acetabulofemoral joint, the sacroiliac joint, L5-S1…and it simply does not look good.  As I asked in a seminar a couple of weekends ago:  When you look in the mirror at your bare buttocks and squeeze…does it look good?  I ask this because I know how we all are.  We all look in the mirror and check out what is or is not working.  Tell me, especially the ladies…what does it look like?  Nothing good.  If you have some cellulite and most women and even men do…it accentuates it, doesn’t it?  So, just common sense and the visual tell you that it doesn’t work.

So…why does everyone say to squeeze and worth those glutes?  Because it’s an easy muscle or muscle group to get into in that fashion.  It’s not actually that easy to train, but it’s easy to squeeze.  It must be entirely accessible as “fight or flight” muscles.  If you were crouching in the cave and a saber-toothed tiger/cat came your way, your gluteus maximus will help you leap up, run and climb.  However…it would already be strong because you’d been climbing, walking, running, swimming, squatting in life all of the time.  Sitting on a chair actually aides in deterioration (atrophy) of the gluteals.  So…they are not as easy to access as they once were.


TEACHER TO TEACHER
Here is what I just wrote to a colleague who asks for a true understanding of what to do with our glutes.  She says she now understands completely.  I hope you will, too.  Here it is
“Glutes.  It’s not an eternal question to me.  It is quite clear.   Like everything else in the human body, we must seek efficiency.  And muscles ought to work with effort only when needed.  What I mean by this:  
 
All muscles work all of the time.  Even when you don’t think so.  
That is The Truth.
And all muscles assist in all movements.  Even when you don’t think so.
Also The Truth.
There is no agonist or antagonist no matter what books say that there are.  If people still think this and think this way…they are ready to study more.  Modern biomechanics is well beyond this.  If we worked this way (agonist/antagonist) we would certainly fall apart.
 
However, there are primary movers.  If you straighten your leg/extend your knee…indeed the quadriceps are the primary movers.  They instigate this motion.
 
As for the glutes or gluteus maximus in particular…it must work…but it’s primary movement is not to squeeze.  No no no.  Like all muscles, it should have excellent RMT (Resting Muscle Tone).  What are the primary actions of the gluteus maximus?  This anatomists are correct:  “Extension of the femur from the flexed position in the hip joint; lateral stabilization of the hip and knee joints; external rotation of the femur” (a quote from the reliable source of Wikipedia.  No…really…Wikipedia is great for this sort of stuff…straight anatomy.)
 
Now…gluteus maximus is best for external rotation of the femur when in extension because it’s primary action is really extension.
 
It is a superficial muscle, true?  Not deep.  Have we a more deep muscle or set of muscles that we must concentrate on?  Yes yes yes yes (I don’t want to type it more, but yes to an infinite degree):  Quadratus Femoris, the Obturators and the Gemelli.  Study them and then it will be clear why our community of Pilates teachers are confused about what the feeling at the “sit bones” is. That everyone says “squeeze your sit bones”.  Do not squeeze your sit bones.  Hug your darned heels together with legs ideally parallel and together (heels and big-toe knuckles/bunion knuckle) so that these muscles can train and eventually you can live your life with true parallel (as normal people should be) with incredible strength from deep muscles.
 
IMG_0124
Now…back to gluteus maximus…it’s best in hip extension.  That doesn’t mean just when your leg is behind you, but it works when you are going up any level…like a stair (going up front) or seeming like it (press down front).  Any time you are trying not to let your hips flex while kneeing or standing…that’s gluteus maximus (kneeling chest expansion, thigh stretch and arm circles) are great examples of this.  Any time you lift your hips/pelvis in an exercise, it’s the action of hip extension even if your legs don’t actually go behind you like Shoulder Bridge Prep or Full, Jackknife, The Roll Over, Short Spine, Long Spine, Overhead, etc.  Even keeping your legs level with your pelvis when you are lying prone (on  your stomach) in a swan preparation, in Pull Straps in 2nd Long Box and so many other things…that is the active resistance of falling into hip flexion…and your gluteals do that.
 
And do you have to squeeze your buttocks to do this?  No no no no no no  (to the infinite degree)…they are the only muscles that can do it.  So you just have to unconsciously ask them to do it and they engage only in the degree that is needed.  You just have to send a signal that you want this action of the bones to occur and the correct muscles work.  If it doesn’t happen, the muscles aren’t strong enough.  That doesn’t mean you squeeze them.  That means you have to find an easier exercise to train the action.
 
NEVER SQUEEZE YOUR SEAT.  Of course, if you want to impinge your sacro-illiac joint, jam your lumbar spine, force your femoral head into your acetabulum or many other things.  Then squeeze all that you want.”
WHAT DOES SHARI DO? So…what do I do for myself?  How have I crafted my own backside?  (This feels silly to even discuss…) Do I do as I say or do I do something else?  The Truth…The Truth…I have not squeezed my buttocks for years and years and years!  I remember feeling like I was the queen of squeezing it!  Boy, oh, boy, could I get people an myself to squeeze!  Ohhhh and I could even refine it to just the sit bones.  Wow!!!  But…now that I have studied and know the down side of it…now that I see the better results on my clients and on myself…I simply do not squeeze.  I allow my gluteals to engage when they need to.  I don’t try to release them if they are doing their job.  I just made sure, by my stable pelvis and action of my lower abdominals and back muscles together that my glutes can extend my femur in the hip or take me out of hip flexion.
I often guide my clients sharing in an exercise like The Half Roll Down on the mat:
“From your lower abdominals, rotate your pubic bone upwards.  Keep that action/connection as you roll your pelvis backwards.  You’ll feel your glutes engage…but recognize how you don’t squeeze them…they just do it on their own?”
or Shoulder Bridge Preparation on the mat:
“From your lower abdominals, rotate your pubic bone upwards.  Keep that action/connection as you roll your pelvis upwards.  You’ll feel your glutes engage…but recognize how you don’t squeeze them…they just do it on their own?”
We don’t want to relax our buttocks.  (Yes, I know I used to teach that well before I knew better.  I should hope we all learn even more over time.)  That was in the back-lash of wanting to not squeeze the glutes, etc.   Now…I know…you want them to engage when they’re supposed to.  They do it on their own.  Our bodies are extremely efficient and work when given the correct environment.
Can I go on and on about this?  Yes and I shall…in another article.  However, this is enough for you to chew on now.  Please comment on this.  Ask questions and read the comments.  And join me in face to face (even via computer) discussions.  I do promise to share more!
Sessions:
Would you like a session in NYC or via Skype/Video Conference?  Email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
Upcoming Workshops:Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

January 31, February 1-2, 2014 – NYC, NY, USA (NYC Intensive Weekend #1 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
February 21, 2014 – Hamburg, GERMANY
February 22-23, 2014 – Vienna (Baden), AUSTRIA
March 7-9, 2014 – Vicenza, ITALY
March 21-23, 2014 – Boston, MA, USA (Boston Intensive Weekend #2 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
April 24-28, 2014 – London, ENGLAND (awaiting confirmation)
May 3-4, 2014 – Miami (Coconut Grove), FL, USA
May 16-18, 2014 – NYC, NY, USA (NYC Intensive Weekend #2 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
June 1, 2014 – Rhinebeck, NY, USA
June 7-8, 2014 – Austin, TX, USA
June 20-22, 2014 – Zurich, SWITZERLAND
July 18-20, 2014 – Boston, MA, USA (Boston Intensive Weekend #3 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
Mid – August, 2014 – Long Beach, CA (Long Beach Intensive Weekend #1) – (awaiting confirmation)
 
September 19-21, 2014 – NYC, NY, USA (NYC Intensive Weekend #3 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
October 24-26, 2014 – Rhinebeck, NY, USA (Rhinebeck Intensive Weekend #1 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)
November 21-23, 2014 – Boston, MA, USA (Boston Intensive Weekend #4 – Please join in for this one seminar or all)

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives:
Boston begins: November 15-17, 2013
NYC begins: January 31, February 1-2, 2014
Long Beach, CA likely begins in mid-August 2014
Rhinebeck, NY likely begins at the mid-October 2014

email info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com for information!

Workshops at your studio?

Sure…just ask: info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and I’ll be glad to discuss the details!

If you have any questions about Pilates, injuries, biomechanics…just email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com I will always work to get you answers.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
- Shari Berkowitz
The Vertical Workshop
Pilates Teacher Blog:
http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.wordpress.com

December 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm 15 comments

Workshop Update – Boston November 15-17…

TVW_LOGO_497 copy JPEG

A quick update for those who have expressed interest:

I’ve opened the first seminar weekend of The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives in Boston, MA and NYC, NY to anyone who would like the seminar even if they are not going to do the full intensive program.  It’s 3-days, 18 PMA CECs.  Here’s the information:

 

November 15-17, 2013 in Boston, MA, USA…and January 31, February 1-2, 2014 in NYC, NY, USA…

3-Day Seminar on Biomechanics, Biotensegrity and Biodynamics of the human body as a functional whole with applications to Pilates.
FULL BODY INTEGRATION with Shari Berkowitz
18 PMA CECs
$720
You’ve had a lot of continuing education, but none of it…none of it is comprehensive. I mean…you get a lot of information, but it’s all bits and pieces. Are you able to apply it all? Really? While the entire Pilates Teacher Intensives is to rectify this missing an essential element in Pilates continuing education, this first 3-day seminar “Full Body Integration” must be the basis for all that we do. What is your perspective on the human body? How much does it align with how the human body really works? How do you tie it all together with a true education and apply it to your actual teaching of Pilates? How do you take your education and make it all make sense?

In “Full Body Integration” you will learn the modern biomechanics: Biodynamics and Biotensegrity. Biodynamics is my theory of human physical movement and dysfunction. I am a biomechanics scientist and theorist in addition to being a Pilates teacher. I spend the majority of my time, in fact, developing ways for people to really understand how the body works at it’s best and help people return to their most able states why dysfunction occurs. Pilates is an exceptional method to return a body to health…but only if we understand how the body works and make sure what we’re doing in Pilates coordinates with that.

We will explore and study:
Biodynamics (by Shari Berkowitz) and Biotensegrity (by Dr. Stephen Levin)
Functional Anatomy of The Human Body with specific detail on:
The Spine
The Pelvis
The Shoulder Girdle
The Legs
and…
we tie it all together…because we’re not just bits and pieces…we are organisms
Apply this knowledge and actions to Pilates Teaching…no matter what style you teach.
Your perspective is everything. Please let me guide your education and understanding with “Full Body Integration”.
If you can’t do the entire Intensives…come do “Full Body Integration”!

Register by emailing me at info@theverticalworkshop.com

It will be an amazing 3-day weekend!!!
- Shari

http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

October 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm 3 comments

3 PMA CECs for “The Music of Pilates”!!!

The Music of Pilates

The Music of Pilates – 3 PMA CECs

I have wonderful news!!! The PMA has accepted “The Music of Pilates” for the full 3 PMA CECs!

It was a special process for this one because they have never accepted an aural workshop before. However, this one is special…extremely special. They have fully accepted it and I’m thrilled!

With that…please check it out at www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com
1 – Read the full information on “The Music of Pilates” and listen to the FREE Introduction track.
2 – Listen to a FREE track of “The Saw”.
3 – Order it for Mat and Reformer for 3 PMA CECs or Mat Only (no PMA CECs.)
How will you receive the PMA CECs? Simply email me requesting the evaluation:  info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
I’ll send it to you.  You fill it out and send it back to me.  If your evaluations shows that you did, indeed, listen and absorb this workshop…I’ll send you your PMA CE certificate.

“The Music of Pilates” Information:

The Music of Pilates is a continuing education workshop that you listen to and both speak and workout to to practice.

It comes with 3 PMA CE credits if you take the evaluation.

Mr. Pilates created a rhythm for each exercise. These rhythms are different for each exercise. They highlight the action of the exercise to direct the specific purpose. When you work with Mr. Pilates actual rhythms…the exercises come to life!

This is a sincere workshop with learning and practice modules. You will certainly come away from this at-home/at-studio workshop with a new set of tools making your and your clients’ experiences easier.

Teaching should be fun and effective…
The keener your tools are…the stronger your teaching and the more your clients change for the better!

How does it work?

1 – You download it to your computer from http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com (go to “The Music of Pilates” tab).

2 – If you want, transfer it to your Smartphone, iPod, iPad/Tablet, etc.

2 – Play it on your computer, Smartphone, iPod, iPad/Tablet, etc. Just like you would music.

3 – Module 1 – Introduction
Module 2 – Learning -
You learn the purpose of each exercise in the mat and reformer order in the typical “Advanced” list of exercises.

You learn the rhythm and accents that Mr. Pilates created for each exercise.

You learn how to count each exercise and teach them in rhythm
You listen and can do the exercises in rhythm.

Module 3 – Practice -
Separated into 2 sections, Mat and Reformer, you can physically do each exercise to the rhythm, listen to or speak out loud each rhythm through the Advanced order. You can pause the workshop at any time to change springs on the reformer and then keep going.

This helps embody the rhythms.
Of course…not every exercise is for every person, so feel no pressure to do it all. However, learn the rhythms so you can teach them.

4 – Request an evaluation and receive 3 PMA CECs. Email info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

If you have any questions…drop me a comment here!  Or email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com however…comments are helpful to all…so drop a comment!  Thank you!

*****

Now…here’s what else is going on:
The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives…
The Pilates Teacher Intensives begin in Boston: November 15-17 and New York City: January 31, February 1-2!

Please read all about them at www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com under “Teacher Intensives” tab.
Or check out the information packet here: The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives Information Packet (Boston and NYC)
The first seminar weekend (those dates listed) will be open to all and everyone.  If you are not able to do the full Intensives…come do the first 3-day seminar weekend.  It is 18 PMA CECs!  

Full Body Integration: Functional Anatomy and Pilates Applications Intensive with Shari Berkowitz
18 PMA CECs
3-days:  $720 (Included in your tuition for participants of The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives)

You’ve had a lot of continuing education, but none of it…none of it is comprehensive.  I mean…you get a lot of information, but it’s all bits and pieces.  Are you able to apply it all?  Really?  While the entire Pilates Teacher Intensives is to rectify this missing an essential element in Pilates continuing education, this first 3-day seminar “Full Body Integration” must be the basis for all that we do.  What is your perspective on the human body?  How much does it align with how the human body really works?  How do you tie it all together with a true education and apply it to your actual teaching of Pilates?  How do you take your education and make it all make sense?

In “Full Body Integration” you will learn the modern biomechanics:  Biodynamics and Biotensegrity.  Biodynamics is my theory of human physical movement and dysfunction.  I am a biomechanics scientist and theorist in addition to being a Pilates teacher.  I spend the majority of my time, in fact, developing ways for people to really understand how the body works at it’s best and help people return to their most able states why dysfunction occurs.  Pilates is an exceptional method to return a body to health…but only if we understand how the body works and make sure what we’re doing in Pilates coordinates with that.

We will explore and study:
Biodynamics (by Shari Berkowitz) and Biotensegrity (by Dr. Stephen Levin)
Functional Anatomy of The Human Body with specific detail on:
The Spine
The Pelvis
The Shoulder Girdle
The Legs
and…
we tie it all together…because we’re not just bits and pieces…we are organisms
Apply this  knowledge and actions to Pilates Teaching…no matter what style you teach.

Your perspective is everything.  Please let me guide your education and understanding with “Full Body Integration”.

Again…if you can’t do the entire Intensives…come do “Full Body Integration”!

Register for Boston and/or NYC  by emailing me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop

More Continuing Education Workshops:

Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

Fair Haven, NJ: October 20
Purchase (Westchester), NY: November 3
Birkerød (Near Copenhagen), DENMARK: November 8-10
Boston, MA:  November 15-17

Keep your eyes open for 2014 dates coming very soon!
January in NYC – January 31 and February 1-2
February in Austria near Vienna/Wien and Hamburg, Germany
March in Italy near Venice
May in Miami, FL, USA
and so much more!

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives:
Boston begins: November 15-17, 2013
NYC begins: January 31, February 1-2, 2014
email info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com for information or here’s the info packet: \The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives Information Packet (Boston and NYC)

All the very best,

- Shari Berkowitz

October 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm 10 comments

Pilates Disagreements

Well, I suppose it’s time for me to write this. I thought I was going to write about the buttocks or knee stretches today, but…when I saw the number of searches for “Pilates Disagreements” that led people to this blog…I knew that I had to write this first. The buttocks and knee stretches will have to wait.

This is an opinion piece. You certainly don’t need to think the way that I do or agree, but please do remember to be kind if you wish to comment your disagreement. Be an adult. Be a teacher, healer, human. Yes…be human. And do read…digest…think.

When I first started teaching Pilates, I was so excited! (Those who know me know that I am still extremely excited!) Specifically, I was excited to be with other people who just want to help! Help people feel better, stronger and able. There were many options for how I could do this. Before choosing Pilates, I was considering being an orthopedic surgeon, a physical therapist…but Pilates seemed a way to help people in a day to day organic way. It is. And I was thrilled with my choice. Until…

Until I realized how much horrendous in-fighting there was. I was shocked. Disappointed. Horrified, even? What had I entered into? I was disgusted. How could people under the guise of teacher be so petty? Fighting over differences of how to do The Tree or what the name of an exercise is or who has the right to call themselves a Pilates teacher? I saw such disreputable behavior that I became embarrassed to be in this community.

At the time, I had also recognized my own elitist Pilates upbringing. I was taught to believe that the only Pilates was the style that I was doing and that the rest was horrific and should not even be called “Pilates. I was taught to believe that the only apparatus to work on was the one I was working on and the rest was a waste. I was taught to believe that the people who would teach these other styles and work on these other apparatus were bad people. I was taught these things.

Being the good little girl that I was, I listened to my teacher who held herself above all others. I believed what she believed. Until…

Until I spent time with these horrible people…and found they are nothing close to horrible.
And saw the supposedly horrible things these horrible people were doing…and found out that they were also nothing close to horrible.
And worked on this supposedly horrible apparatus…and found out that they, too, were nothing close to horrible.
They were different…
Is different horrible?

Could it be possible…could it be possible that there might be good people doing good work on good apparatus that is different than what you do? And…could it even be possible that maybe some of them might be doing great work…maybe even somethings that I could learn from? Is it possible that I’ve been taught to be close-minded?

You see, there was this time I was partially paralyzed. I would lie in my physical therapy office with electro-stim on or ice or any number of things…there for a long time outside of the owner’s office where I would hear him on the phone talking about some intense lawsuit he was part of. It was early in this lawsuit that I later learned was “The Lawsuit”. The conversations were supremely heated. I could do nothing but lay there (paralyzed) and listen. Why wouldn’t I listen? It was all that I could do. And wonder what the heck was going on.

Sure enough, I learned, when I was training to teach that this lawsuit was still going on and it had to do with that particular man I had heard believing that he should have the rights to the name “Pilates” and that Pilates was just one thing. People moan and moan that this man or, rather, they say “We”…”We lost the lawsuit!”

What was lost? Something that didn’t belong to anyone at all anyway. What is “Pilates” but a made up name. Mr. Pilates himself didn’t even call his work “Pilates”. He did “Contrology”. That is what ought to have been solidified as something that Mr. Pilates created. And what people who say “we lost the lawsuit” are doing and teaching is rather different than what Mr. Pilates did anyway. (It is…take a look at archival footage and you will see how different it is from what you do.) So…what’s the big deal? And look how it’s divided everyone…a bunch of people who promise to help are all fighting over stupidity.

Yes…I did just judge and call it stupidity. Because you see…I have given myself the gift that most people who still squabble about this stuff have not…I have taken sessions and workshops and had tea, drinks, lunch, dinner with so many teachers who teach differently than I do. Who have had different training experiences. Who were on the “opposite side” of “The Lawsuit” and you know what? They are all fantastic people. (Of course, there are lousy people, too, don’t get me wrong.) Do I have to agree with their version of The Short Spine? No. Do I have to agree with anything? No. But maybe I will see that they are helping other people. Maybe I will see that they are smart and thoughtful. Maybe…

And maybe those people from “the other side of The Lawsuit” will find value in me. Maybe we all can find value in each other.

I guess what I’m getting at…is what are people disagreeing about? Why can’t you just go do your thing and do it well. Didn’t the Pilates world actually expand into super-popularity during this time of “The Lawsuit”? Doesn’t our diversity help the public at large because not everyone reacts positively to the same thing. We’re all needing different styles of personalities to “connect to”…maybe even different personalities of exercise. Why is your way the only way? Really? Really. Why do you think your way is the only way. Narcissistic, don’t you think?

And…I know some get really upset that some teachers don’t know the difference between what Mr. Pilates created and what someone else did. Well…is that really your problem? It’s so very not your problem. Why are you spending energy on something that doesn’t actually matter?

And some get upset that there are others who don’t believe that what they do has value. Is that really your problem either?

Why not just stick to what you’re doing, explore your education, be a critical thinker and remember why you came to Pilates in the first place?

I recall that I came to Pilates because I wanted to help people feel better and stronger. It just so happens I was in a particular studio and learned a particular style that was available to me. I make decisions every day that inform how I will teach. I continue my education in many different ways…outside of Pilates itself…and use that education to inform my Pilates teaching. I try to meet as many different people as I can and explore their different thought processes…in and out of Pilates. I encourage you to do something of the sort for yourself.

You can’t really teach anything of consequence if your experience is limited.

Yes…that is an educated judgement. You simply have nothing to share if you have not explored outside of your small box. Indoctrination does not a teacher make.

A little kumbayah, my friends, in the sense of “can’t we all just be friends?” What’s the big deal anyway? It’s time to stop demonizing “the other”, see our similarities and appreciate differences. Picking “the other” apart is simply ridiculous at this point. Grow up. It’s just a sign of lack of confidence. The people who do that in the on-line forums…I know them well…as charlatans (great word for “Faker”). They don’t know what they’re doing in the first place. They attack out of fear.

People of all styles of Pilates all around the world…just practice, study, learn, accept and grow.

Kumbayah!

***As always…if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you and share with our colleagues! and…

Below is info on:
The Music of Pilates downloadable workshop
Workshops
Pilates Teacher Intensives in Boston and NYC!

Workshops – Sessions – Downloadable Products…

Download Workshop:
Please take a look at THE MUSIC OF PILATES. It’s an aural workshop and manual of Joseph Pilates’ actual rhythms for the mat and reformer exercises. These rhythms and accents will make your teaching more effective and your clients’ experience much easier.

Though this is using Joseph Pilates’ rhythms…this work applies to all styles of Pilates. It’s universal.

In this workshop, you will learn…
1 – the value and purpose of each of the Mat and Reformer exercises at what is commonly referred to as the “Advanced” exercises
2 – the rhythm and accents that Mr. Pilates coordinated with these exercises
3 – the purpose of those rhythms and accents
4 – how to count the rhythm of each exercise
5 – how to coordinate the counts with each movement of each exercise
6 – how to teach in rhythm and create a successful workout

We all need tools to make teaching and learning easier…this is a great one!

More information: http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/html.showcase.php

Want a free sample? http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/html.showcase.php

(And…you will see a link to it all in the sidebar of this blog)

 

Upcoming Workshops:

Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

Fair Haven, NJ: October 20
Birkerød (Near Copenhagen), DENMARK: November 8-10

And more to come in 2014 including Austria (near Vienna) in February, Italy (near Venice) in March, Miami, FL in May and so so so much more!.

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives:
Boston begins: November 15-17, 2013
NYC begins: January 31, February 1-2, 2014
email info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com for information!

 

Workshops at your studio?

Sure…Just ask: info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and I’ll be glad to discuss the details!

 

If you have any questions about Pilates, injuries, biomechanics…just email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com I will always work to get you answers.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
- Shari Berkowitz
The Vertical Workshop
Pilates Teacher Blog:
http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.wordpress.com

September 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm 49 comments

The Lock Down: Abdominals…How Much and Which Ones to Engage?

by John Mayo

by John Mayo

You’re a good girl. You’re a good boy. You do as you’re told and even more. You’ve made a supreme abdominal connection and you can keep it. But…are you maybe doing too much? Is it possible to engage your abdominals too much?

Yes. Yes it is. Like in the Efficiency articles (see Efficiency Part 2:  Only As Much As Is Necessary) it is important to do only as much as necessary. No more. No less. Why? How? How can someone like me who appears to be an over-achiever to the max actually say this? Because it can’t be about over achieving. It has got to be about doing exactly what is needed at exactly the right time. No more. No less. Just right.

Let’s not waste any energy at all. In the effort to balance…that means conservation. Efficiency.

So…you’ve been told to…

  • Scoop more!
  • Pull your abdominals in deeper! Deeper!!!
  • Close your ribs! Keep your ribs in!

Well…how about only make the abdominal connection that is necessary to either stabilize or mobilize the torso…the ribcage or pelvis and what’s in between (the lumbar spine and abdomen)?

Think about that:  what little do you need to do to accomplish the task at hand.  That’s not being a “slacker”.  Again, that’s being efficient.  Energy is limited.  That’s The Truth.  We must conserve.  In which case…

When you do The Hundred…how much do you need to pull your abdominals in and up? And which ones do which?
1 – Are  you so stuck on the upper abdominals and “closing the ribs” that you have shut off your diaphragm, but you still can’t really lift your upper back (curl your chest up) because your lock-down on your diaphragm has locked up your thoracic spine?
2 – Are you even connected into your lower abdominals to stabilize your pelvis against the weight of your out-stretched legs?

….not to mention…your abdominals play a crucial role in your movement or seeming-stabilization…but not the role you think they do. They are such thin muscles…not what you would imagine at all. They are not like glutes or quads or psoas or iliacus. They are thin like a summer top or a pair of support-hose. They can’t do what you think they are supposed to be doing…what you were taught they are to do. They merely assist. They aide in intra-abdominal pressure helping to give support to the entire trunk. Consider the support to the spine, now. That support allows the back muscles to work efficiently. In addition, abdominal engagement (TA and IO and ExO) pull on the thoracolumbar fascia thereby “stiffening the lumbar spine for greater efficiency of back muscles, too!

Abdominals are not the major heavy lifters you might think they are. Consider them more as  “efficiency instigators”.  They help keep your innards relatively supported so that other muscles can be efficient.  That’s awesome!

Or what about in exercises where the abdominals are the movement motivators…like in The Saw?  In the most broad sense…the rectus abdominis (along with gravity) draw the spine and torso forward into forward flexion, the external obliques and all upper fibers of the abdominals as a group (along with mid and upper back muscles) twist the upper torso while the internal obliques and all lower fibers of the abdominals as a group (along with lower back, hip and leg muscles that connect to the pelvis) twist the pelvis to seemingly stay stable.  How much purposeful action of your abdominals (all) do you need for this exercise?  Are you looking for a gut wrench or for support and mobility.  Right…support and mobility.  With that…see how little you need to use of each muscle…and seek how many muscular actions you can recognize

You see, the very common thought that “the abdominals do everything in Pilates”…is a sincere misunderstanding.  Most often, your abdominals are working to help stabilize the trunk so that your legs or arms are more efficient.  Or are working to help the back muscles be efficient.  Sometimes they are primary mobilizers, of course…but…no one muscle or muscle group does anything.  All muscles work all of the time.

Yes…all muscles work all of the time.  In which case no one muscle or muscle group needs to overwork.  However, we seem to think that the abdominals have to work more more more more.

So, that brings me back to the lock down…

by John Mayo

by John Mayo

How will you or your clients breathe if you lock down your abdominals?  All of your abdominals either originate or insert into your lower ribs.  Your diaphragm also originates at your lower ribs.  In fact, your transverse abdominis and your diaphragm actually interdigitate.  That means…they are utterly connect.

Now, Pilates people often instruct clients to “close your ribs”, “knit your ribs together”, “pull your ribs in” or some such thing.  Pilates instructors are taught to see ribs poking out in the front as a bad thing and to clip them together.  In my article “Those Pesky Ribs Poppin’ Out All Over The Place”  I talk considerably about what this is and how to honestly and effectively address the imbalances of the ribs you see.  There is no need…absolutely no need to close, knit or pull in ribs because if you do…you limit your lungs from expanding.

When you inhale, many muscles attached to the rib cage contract causing and expansion of the chest cavity.  Expansion is the key word here.  Then the diaphragm contracts…dropping down towards your abdomen.  You see…your rib cage must expand…expand.  Not close, knit or pull in.  Otherwise you cannot take in the appropriate amount of air.

Therefore…because your diaphragm contracts and actually lowers down…you must not lock down your abdominals because then you cannot allow your diaphragm to work.

Respiration

Respiration

Who cares?  You’re looking for great abdominals…you can’t let go of your abdominals?  Well…you’ve got to care.  Without your diaphragm getting it’s full effort and movement…you have a weak diaphragm which is of far greater concern than weak abdominals.  You must be able to take in enough oxygen to live!  And breathing is what does that.  Great inhalations with movement of the abdomen are necessary.

I can hardly tell you how many Pilates teachers tell me that they’ve found out that they have weak diaphragms.  If you are locking down your ribs and abdomen and only doing “lateral and back breathing”…then you have a weak diaphragm, too.  Yes, I did discuss this briefly in “At Long Last…The Pelvic Floor Article” and I will discuss the mechanics of breath more in the future, but though you’ve been taught not to breathe into your abdomen…you must.

And…of course, when you can’t inhale because your diaphragm is being hindered, a major signal is sent throughout your nervous system telling you that you are not OK.  The lock down on your respiratory system that you’ve created puts you in the same state as full-on anxiety.  So, when we lock our abdominals and diaphragm…we increase the state of anxiety and create tremendous imbalances…that we were supposed to be balancing in Pilates.  Hmm…

That means…we go back to:  The Hundred:  How much abdominal effort do you really need to stabilize your torso (including pelvis) while your legs are extended and uplifted and arms are pumping up and down…while you breathe?  Right.  Not as much as you’d think.

You fear that you or your clients will lose their support and hurt your back if you don’t hold your abdominals tightly while you inhale?  I know you’ve been taught that; however, that’s not the case.  It’s amazing how much support you actually have quite naturally if you have a full inhale.  You see…if you allow your ribs to expand and your diaphragm to drop upon engagement (“allow” because these actions happen naturally if you don’t hinder them), then your thorax fills with air creating great internal support.  You have all of the support that you need.

Consider how much support a balloon has. images-3 When empty of air, it’s floppy.
When it has a little bit of air, can you squish it around?  Yes.  Not much support.  How about when you blow it up with a lot of air?  More support?  Yes.  A lot of support.  Same thing with your torso when you fill your lungs up with air.

It’s that simplistic.

So…pull your abdominals in and up only as much as you need to either stabilize or mobilize and still be able to inhale!  And it’s primarily your lower fibers of your abdominals that can stay pretty strong to help “stabilize” your pelvis against the weight of your outstretched legs.

Now…a full inhale can only really happen if you have a sensational and full exhale…and that’s where your greatest abdominal effort can come in!  Hooray!  At long last in this article we get to engage engage engage!!!  A powerful and complete exhale will allow for an effortless and full inhale.  But which abdominals and how much?  Well more of your lower and middle fibers of your abdominals, actually.  If you initiate from your upper abdominals as anyone who closes ribs does, then you actually cut off your exhalation.

Goodness.  This means that we have to have a real mind-body experience…and encourage our clients to have one, too!  And…that means every move of every repetition of every exercise.  Hmm…Pilates gets more and more awesome, doesn’t it?!

Enjoy the great effort of doing great Pilates!

- Shari

***As always…if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below.  I’d love to hear from you and share with our colleagues!  and…

Workshops – Sessions – Downloadable Products…

Download Workshop:
Please take a look at THE MUSIC OF PILATES. It’s an aural workshop and manual of Joseph Pilates’ actual rhythms for the mat and reformer exercises. These rhythms and accents will make your teaching more effective and your clients’ experience much easier.

Though this is using Joseph Pilates’ rhythms…this work applies to all styles of Pilates. It’s universal.

In this workshop, you will learn…
1 – the value and purpose of each of the Mat and Reformer exercises at what is commonly referred to as the “Advanced” exercises
2 – the rhythm and accents that Mr. Pilates coordinated with these exercises
3 – the purpose of those rhythms and accents
4 – how to count the rhythm of each exercise
5 – how to coordinate the counts with each movement of each exercise
6 – how to teach in rhythm and create a successful workout

We all need tools to make teaching and learning easier…this is a great one!

More information: http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/html.showcase.php

Want a free sample?  http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/html.showcase.php

(And…you will see a link to it all in the sidebar of this blog)

 

Upcoming Workshops:

Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

New York, NY: August 4
Austin, TX: August 24 & 25
New York, NY: September 17
Red Hook, NY: September 21
Boston, MA: September 22
Warren, VT: September 28 & 29
Fair Haven, NJ: October 20
Birkerød (Near Copenhagen), DENMARK: November 8-10

And more to come in the fall/winter 2013…but this is a good start.

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives:
Boston begins: November 15-17, 2013
email info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com for information!

 

Workshops at your studio?

Sure…Just ask:  info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and I’ll be glad to discuss the details!

 

If you have any questions about Pilates, injuries, biomechanics…just email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com I will always work to get you answers.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
- Shari Berkowitz
The Vertical Workshop
Pilates Teacher Blog:
http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.wordpress.com

August 16, 2013 at 2:53 am 8 comments

The Music of Pilates is here!!!

At long last, I have a continuing education workshop that you can purchase online and do at your leisure: THE MUSIC OF PILATES. It’s an aural workshop and manual of Joseph Pilates’ actual rhythms for the mat and reformer exercises. These rhythms and accents will make your teaching more effective and your clients’ experience much easier.

Though this is using Joseph Pilates’ rhythms…this work applies to all styles of Pilates. It’s universal.

In this workshop, you will learn…
1 – the value and purpose of each of the Mat and Reformer exercises at what is commonly referred to as the “Advanced” exercises
2 – the rhythm and accents that Mr. Pilates coordinated with these exercises
3 – the purpose of those rhythms and accents
4 – how to count the rhythm of each exercise
5 – how to coordinate the counts with each movement of each exercise
6 – how to teach in rhythm and create a successful workout

We all need tools to make teaching and learning easier…this is a great one!

More information: http://TheVerticalWorkshop.spinshop.com/

Want a free sample?  http://cdn.topspin.net/api/v3/player/204430

The Music of Pilates

The Music of Pilates

All the best,

- Shari

July 29, 2013 at 9:45 am 2 comments

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Workshop Download – The Music of Pilates

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Workshops

Full info listed under "Workshop Calendar" at www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

April 25-27, 2014 - London, ENGLAND

May 3-4, 2014 - Miami (Coconut Grove), FL, USA
May 16-18, 2014 - NYC, NY, USA (NYC Intensive Weekend #2 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

June 8, 2014 - Rhinebeck, NY, USA
June 20-22, 2014 - Zurich, SWITZERLAND

July 13, 2014 - NYC, NY USA
July 18-20, 2014 - Boston, MA, USA (Boston Intensive Weekend #3 - please join for this seminar or all of it)
July 25-27, 2014 - Austin, TX, USA

August 22-24, 2014 - Long Beach, CA, USA (Long Beach Intensive Weekend #1 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

September 13, 2014 - NYC, NY, USA
September 19-21, 2014 - NYC, NY, USA (NYC Intensive Weekend #3 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

October 17-19, 2014 - Chicago, IL, USA
October 24-26, 2014 - Rhinebeck, NY, USA (Rhinebeck Intensive Weekend #1 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

November 21-23, 2014 - Boston, MA, USA (Boston Intensive Weekend #4 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

December 5-7, 2014 - Long Beach, CA, USA (Long Beach Intensive Weekend #2 - please join for this seminar or all of it)

In the works...
September or October...Denmark and Sweden...
December...Spain

Long Beach, CA Intensives begin in August 22-24 2014 and Rhinebeck, NY Intensives begin October 24-26, 2014! Go to the "Teacher Intensives" section to read all about it. Or download the information packet in the "Downloads" section. of the website: www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com

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