World Peace Pilates on the 12th of November 2016


I don’t usually advertise any classes or workshops as a blog…but just a quick note that on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 2pm NYC time (check for your time zone), I will be teaching a live-streaming mat class for anyone in the entire world who wants to join in! Studio S Pilates asked me to do it and I happily agreed! It’s worth sharing here where you all are such a special worldwide community!

The world is an interesting place…especially right now! There is so much conflict in the entire world and even in the world of Pilates. Why not spend a bit of time together just enjoying what we all have to share?! Our common interests and passions!

That is what World Peace Pilates class is all about!

It’s a 1.5 hour session. A 55 minute mat class and then 30 minute question/answer session. You can send questions ahead to Sunni Almond who is hosting at: or bring them out in the moment that day!

For registration, go here:

It’s only $30 and a complete tax-write off!

World Peace Pilates-cize with me on the 12th of November!

I hope to see you there!
– Shari

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session!

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at

November 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Finish It Strongly!


Finish it strongly!

The most important repetition…
Which  is the most important repetition? The first? The second? The last?
Is this a trick question? Is the winning answer “All of them are equally important?”
Well, I guess that is the perfect answer: All of them are equally important. However, today I want to discuss the one that everyone dismisses. Perhaps the most important…
The Last Repetition. The Final Repetition.

Yes. That final repetition in your set. You do three, five, sometimes ten repetitions. What happens to that final repetition? Often times…it fades off into nothing-ness. Not a real repetition. It gets lost like the end of a sentence. Does anyone care about The Final Repetition? That last repetition?

Perhaps after this little article you will!

Repetition Number One

Now, the first repetition of an exercise sets the stage. The teacher sees what the client has taken from previous sessions, previous exercises of the day, previous cues. The first repetition is the starting zone that lays the groundwork for all other repetitions of that exercise. From the first, we know what to cue and where to progress this exercise in the limited number of repetitions for that exercise in that session.

If we’ve got those three, five, sometimes (rarely) ten repetitions, we must gather a lot of information from that very first repetition and apply that to how we cue our client in repetition number two.

Repetition Number Two

Here’s your chance, Teacher! You pull out the stops! You’ve observed that first repetition and all that has ever come before and you’ve got a cue. (Just go with one cue…let’s not go overboard and drive our client’s crazy with more than they can handle in the moment.) You’ve got the most important cue relative to the moment and the arc of your client’s physical journey. You say it loud and proud!
She gets it or doesn’t.

Repetition Number Three

If this isn’t your final repetition…then you’ve got more time to refine. A different way of saying the same cue if she didn’t get the action you were hoping for in repetition number two. Perhaps a different cue if she did get the first one! Maybe it’s a hands on cue. And you can keep cuing like this through the second to last repetition…

What ever it be…you are building and developing to…

The Final Repetition

A remarkable thing seems to happen in The Final Repetition. Strangely, after all of that good work in repetition numbers one, two, three…five, sometimes, nine and ten…after so much good…so many of our clients drop off in the middle of it. And what do we as teachers do? Apparently we let them. I see this with teachers all over the world. I teach those teachers in session and I see arms drop down out of Pull Straps II  (The T-Pull) before the end of the repetition. I see half of a Short Spine. I see a sloppy final Double Straight Leg Stretch/Lower-Lift…and just about every exercise you could name…that final repetition is a throw away.

I remember talking with a quite famous teacher and he told me that we do five repetitions because most people drop off on the last repetition… we teach five so they at least get in four solid repetitions.

Well, that didn’t sit well with me. Why would we have one repetition that is a waste of all of our time? Your time. My time. Wasted.
Why not do all repetitions  as though they matter? Because they do, you know.

I decided to eliminate the drop off on The Final Repetition. I would work for it in my own workouts and I would get my clients to work for it, too. I just added this little phrase:
Finish it strongly!

That’s it! That’s all it takes! During the last repetition right before your client wants to fall herself and give up…say “Finish it strongly!” And do you know what happens? Your client does! It’s gorgeous!

Every exercise must have a strong beginning, full middle and complete end!
Finish it strongly!

My goodness, my colleagues…it’s only three, five and sometimes ten repetitions. We can all pull out that final repetition. We can do it! The whole point of limited repetitions in Pilates is to keep our clients focused on the exercise so that they can do a few or handful of great repetitions and never have those lousy wasted repetitions we see so often elsewhere. Right.
So…let’s get them making the most of those repetitions. It’s only three, five and sometimes ten.
Of course, there often needs to be a follow up to the now special phrase “Finish it strongly!” For example, Pull Straps II that I had mentioned earlier. Everyone wants to drop her arms before the exercise is over. I say “Finish it strongly! Keep your arms uplifted!”
Yes…that simple to say. Difficult for your client to achieve and that’s exactly why the workout just stepped up to a different level! No matter what the level of your client. No matter what the ailment or combination of ailments…Finish it strongly! Relative to the client’s situation.

Another example, The Hundred on the mat or the reformer or…anywhere. Oh, it looks great for those first several breaths. When you get to the last breath “Finish it strongly! Keep pumping your arms! Give a full exhale!” Now we have The Hundred rather than The Ninety.

Or The Push Through on the Cadillac/Trapeze Table. Of course, that last one just seems like a throwaway…or…”Reach the bar up higher from the lift of your spine! Finish it strongly!”

Or any exercise: Side Kicks on the mat. Mountain Climb on the wunda chair. Swan on the Ladder Barrel. Press Down Front on the High Chair. And so on and so on. Every exercise has a last repetition…make it count!

Watch yourself in your own workouts. Watch your clients and listen to your teaching. What do you say? What is your energy? Do you trail off or do you stay with your client?
Make the most of every moment!

It’s a gift you give to yourself! Finish it strongly!

Enjoy teaching!
– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session!

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at



June 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm 7 comments

Is there a doctor in the house? What is your job and what is not your job?

What's Your Tool?

What’s Your Job?

Well, I thought I’d be writing an article on something completely different today, but I will share that with you next time. It has become more and more obvious to me that we need to discuss Scope of Practice. I know, I know…it sounds boring…but, as usual, I will attempt to make it a non-boring subject! Let’s go!

What is your job? Really. As a Pilates teacher, what is your job? What are you?
You are a personal fitness trainer.
A personal trainer of an extremely refined “phylum” of exercise.
You are not a physiotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a massage therapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a psychotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are an exercise trainer in the modality of Pilates. Whatever style of Pilates.
You are extremely valuable in that role. Pilates proves itself over and over to be a very good form of exercise, especially when applying a quality education in functional anatomy/kinesiology to the movements/actions/exercises.
Physical activity/exercise is essential to the health of any human being.
You are valuable by encouraging healthy physical activity.

(Why is Shari saying this like that? What’s she getting at?)

It seems that both clients and Pilates teachers are starting to think that a Pilates teacher is something other than a high-end and very specialized exercise trainer. Just because we craft our sessions for the person in front of us; just because we can work around nearly all injuries and ailments; just because Pilates can often support a person’s system so well that healing occurs when nothing else seems to work…this does not mean that you bear the responsibility for fixing anyone.

Let’s make that clear: Your job is to exercise people working around their injury or ailment. Not into it. You do not fix or heal anyone. Hopefully, the work you do creates an environment (simply by providing a safe place for movement) that allows this person to be more healthy as an organism and that supports the opportunity for healing in an ailing area or system. You do not fix or heal people.

Why Pilates (and other movement modalities) seems to make this possible…?
That’s another article all together and the focus of my life’s work. (Join me in The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives or stay tuned for many more things…)
For the moment, let’s stick to this.

It seems as though Pilates teachers are feeling a lot of pressure to cure ailments. Your client has osteonecrosis in her knee. I see people all of social media forums asking what to do. I get emails asking what to do. I’ll tell you what to do: Work around that knee. Only do movements, exercises, ranges of motion (ROM) that will not even spark a bit of pain. Strengthen the rest of the body and work around that knee. Pick what exercises, versions of exercises, physical set ups and settings on apparatus to make sure that poor knee doesn’t have a negative experience at all. Choose wisely what to do and what not to do.
And that means you do not tell your client that you can “fix” her knee. You will not use Pilates to help heal that knee. You might say “Because in Pilates we work around your ailing joint, avoiding it at all costs, and strengthen the rest of your body so well, it appears that your body will have a better chance at healing itself.” You see…your client will heal herself. Or she’ll get an operation or go to physiotherapy or get an injection or live with the pain. But you cannot claim that Pilates is going to fix her.
Let’s play out another scenario:
Your client comes to you with a rotator cuff tear. Whether this is a new client or a client you’ve been working with for some time what do you do?
Right. You avoid that shoulder girdle and shoulder joint in the workout. You find out what  ROM of the arm this client has where there is no pain and work within the parameters of…no pain. Indeed, you ask if he has gone to the doctor, physio, etc. You ask if he is getting any treatment and doing any other exercise. Then you create a workout that works around that area. Is it going to be a lot of legs and lower torso exercises? Sure. Not ideal and imbalanced? Sure. And that has to be OK. Do you go in and try to teach this person good shoulder girdle mechanics? Not if the shoulder is injured and in pain. When this person is healed up enough to mobilize his shoulder girdle, then you can address the shoulder girdle mechanics, but…just avoid the area at first. Your job is to give this person a workout working around the area of injury.

It’s tempting, I know it is! It’s tempting to try to heal this person. However, you simply do not have the qualifications for it AND AND AND…it appears that very often just working around a joint really does help a person heal! I mean it! It’s holistic.

Now, the thing is, the Pilates teacher community is one of the most wonderfully giving groups around. We just want to help! We feel so deeply for our clients and want people to feel good…but the pressure that I see building up in the community is unnecessary and damaging. Release yourself from this pressure. It’s not your job to fix people. It’s your job to give them amazing exercise around their ailment so that they can perhaps heal themselves…which is better than you trying to fix them.

I will strongly encourage you to learn about each ailment your clients come to you with. You must educate yourself on whatever they bring your way. Why? So that you can figure out how to work around it. One way to learn? Google. Yes, our good friend Google. Then you have to be wise about what you’re reading when you search an ailment. Please just learn about the pathology. The anatomy of the ailment. Great websites for lay-people http//
National Library of Medicine:
Mayo Clinic:

Learn about the ailment or injury, take the pressure off of yourself and work around ailments.

Your job as a Pilates teacher is amazing! You are good enough and great enough doing what you do as a very high-end specialized personal trainer. You train people’s bodies to strengthen and heal themselves! Goodness! Pilates teachers are great!

***Do you need help figuring out how to work around different parts of the body or ailments? Reach out to me! I will teach you! I’ll share my tried and true, well-worked guidelines of how to educate yourself and work around anything! (That’s what my Injuries, Ailments and Imbalances  as well as my Mysterious Aches and Pains workshops are all about.) We can work in workshops or private workshops on Skype or video conference. I’m glad to help.

Any questions? Just ask!
Enjoy teaching!
– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session!

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at

February 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm 11 comments

Your Favorite Client




Do you have a favorite client? Who is this client? What do you love about this client? How do you treat this client?

Was your answer: “My favorite client is Me, of course!”?
Hmmm…why not? Why is your favorite client someone other than you?

Alas, I will share a guilty pleasure of the past with you that taught me a valuable lesson: Some years ago, my grocery store checkout people kept telling me that I looked like this model from America’s Next Top Model. I mean so much so that they didn’t believe me when I said that I wasn’t her. Now…this is pretty funny considering that I am outrageously short to be one of those ladies. We might think it’s funny for other reasons, but I will just pretend that it is possible to mistaken me thusly…

In any case…of course I got curious about this show and started watching it. I think this was Season 3. It is a ridiculous show. I mean horrendous…except for the fashion and this one tip (or maybe two) that I actually learned from it. What’s so ridiculous and horrendous? Do we really need to see a bunch of massively emotionally messed up girls wearing stupid clothing, fighting and complaining about their blessed lives? No…still…

When asked who she thinks should win this particular season of America’s Next Top Model, this one hopeful participant said something akin to “I think Leslie should win. She is incredibly photogenic…” and some other things. Well…don’t you know that the judge practically handed her derrière to her and said something like this “Why would you be in a competition and not choose yourself as the winner? How can you succeed if you don’t think you’re able to win? You just lost the competition for yourself because you do not believe in yourself!”

And there it was.
From America’s Next Top Model.
Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places.

OK…what was so interesting? It’s that we have to want ourselves to succeed. This woman couldn’t possibly win if she didn’t consider herself the absolute winner already. If you think someone else is going to win…someone else will. If you don’t think you can be the frontrunner…you cannot be.

Now…how does this relate to Pilates. Especially since those who know me know that I do not believe in competition. I say “Competition exists, but we do not have to be competitive”. In our world of Pilates, people always fear competition. Why? There are plenty of clients out there for all of us.

So…how this relates to Pilates is about how you think of yourself in Pilates…and how you treat yourself in Pilates. How you answer the question “Who is your favorite client?” is everything. If it’s Judy at 5pm on Tuesdays or Mark 3 times a week at 12noon…
Anyone who comes 3 times a week;
My celebrities;
That sweet older gentleman;
That young ballerina;
The football player;
The lady with diabetes and heart disease…
then you’ve got to reassess.
It’s got to be you. You must be your own favorite client.

Who should get the best workout of the day? You.
Who should get 3-5 sessions per week? You.
Whose injuries and ailments should heal because of Pilates? Yours.

Schedule in your workouts
Teach yourself with clear goals. You’re workout is FREE! Do it!
If your method doesn’t seem to help you balance out…ask for assistance from someone’s that does. I will help you! Just email me!

When you teach any other client, it’s always best if you have already had the best you can give…because you’re your own favorite client. That also means that you must treat yourself well in a workout. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Work yourself out at your own level. Not some suppose’d teacher level. Meaning most teachers are not Super-Advanced or even Advanced. Could you be? If you’re consistent in your workouts and have a clear plan of development, then one day, but what if you’re not, right now. What if you work yourself out at the right level for you…like you would for your favorite client…who is now you?

So…that’s all I have to say about this. Really, it’s quite simple. Shift your focus of who is the winner; who is your favorite client. Why shouldn’t it be you? Why couldn’t it be you?

– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session!

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at

December 22, 2015 at 5:34 pm 20 comments

The Best Pilates Teaching Tool: What Once Was Elusive Is Now Available to Learn and Use!

The Rhythm of Life... The Music of Pilates...

The Rhythm of Life…
The Music of Pilates…

I knew what I was learning. I knew how special it was and simply assumed everyone else both learned it and saw the value in it, too. Growing from client to student to teacher, I realize, of course, that not everyone picks up on the same aspects of anything. It’s this way in all of life. Pilates, too!

What I’m talking about is the greatest tool we as teachers can use to help our clients and help ourselves in the Pilates session or class. It’s the rhythms of each exercise. I thought it was utterly obvious to everyone how vital the rhythms of each exercise in Pilates are…but it seems that most people did not recognize this. Some never heard them at all. Some discounted them as unnecessary, some couldn’t pick them up by rote and just tossed them out, some did pick them up but  cannot verbalize it to share.

You see…nearly all movements in life take on a rhythm…a pattern of beats within a particular segment of time. Whether it be a song, your heart beat, your walk, your speech, how you sweep the floor of the way you stir your coffee or chew your gum…let alone how you dance, lift weights, etc. We develop rhythms to help us be efficient in the way that we do these actions. Rhythms are consistent in the pattern and there are accents that highlight certain aspects of any action.

Now, each Pilates exercise is a set of repetitive movements; you do a series of repetitions or sets. With that, the pattern of accents, the rhythms ought to be consistent from one repetition to the next and, if we’re wise, they should highlight important parts of the accent helping us connect into the purpose of the exercise. They should assist and challenge.

As I teach people of all styles of Pilates all over the world, I find it interesting to see how very many styles do not use rhythm as this special tool and how even the style that I was trained in seems to have lost track of these rhythms. Yet at the same time, teachers and instructors of all styles share their frustrations of teaching a session or class…and it is clear to me that rhythms would help them. One of the great frustrations is keeping clients moving while they cue into the exercise. And keeping clients together in a group class. They say that it’s difficult to keep your clients working at the same pace. That often people stop when you cue. That you can never really get them “going”.

Does this resonate with you?


What I suggest is to discover the appropriate rhythm for each exercise. Teach rhythm as soon as you can in an exercise. If it’s a new exercise, the first repetition is really just the technique of an exercise. That is what body part is moving and where it’s moving to. By the second repetition of a new exercise, you can flow right into the rhythm of the exercise. That is the muscularity and feeling of the exercise; the accents, the drive of the workout (at the appropriate level for the client…of course it is different for all people). If an exercise is not new, but one your client does all of the time, after you call out the name of the exercise, just start the first repetition in rhythm already. Get your clients flowing into the way you are desiring.

With that, you must teach in rhythm for a few repetitions before you can leave that rhythm and start teaching out of the pattern. you see, if you set the rhythm strongly, then your clients will keep going even if you are quite…another great tool: Silence! However, silence is only useful if it’s supported silence. That means that the rhythm has been taught and kept, the cues are strong and necessary and your clients are “getting it”! So, speak in-rhythm for a few repetitions before you talk out of rhythm.

You keep clients moving by setting the rhythm!
You keep multiple clients moving together by setting the rhythm!
You drive the workout (at the appropriate level) by setting the rhythm!

Exercises practically teach themselves if you set the appropriate rhythm! Again, the accents in the pattern of beats in the repetition will challenge or support the body during the movement. Fast movements challenge stability. Slow movements encourage and support stability; they teach stability so that you can mobilize elsewhere.

It’s very tempting to make all exercises rhythm-less. Slow and smooth and all the same. We often feel that our clients can “get” the exercise better, but the truth is that they are not challenged by the movement when it is all slow and silky. It is predictable and easy to stabilize against…because there is no “against”. Life happens quickly and suddenly. Our actions in Pilates are to prepare us for the actions of life. It is rather unpredictable. We must play with different scenarios. Rhythms and the ensuing tempos (speeds) helps us!

It makes life so much easier! Teaching is easy with the right tools! Teaching is fun with the right tools! The pressure is off if we use what we have available to us!


For me, I teach Joseph Pilates’ exercises. He happened to created a particular rhythm for each exercise. He was very specific about it. In fact, I have interviewed many of his former clients and they have told me that rhythm was more important to him than breath. Yes! Rhythm! Once the rhythm is set, then the breath happens by itself. It’s remarkably efficient!

Whether you teach Joseph Pilates’ exercises or not, each exercise you do can be done to a rhythm that highlights and supports the client, the teacher, the movement.

Now, I mentioned tempo a moment ago. Tempo is the speed at which you do the pattern of beats or accents. You can do something fast or slow or anywhere in between…that is tempo. The time. Rhythm is that pattern of beats.

Let’s take a non-Pilates tune: Happy Birthday. Sing it in your head (our out loud) Don’t rush…imagine you’re singing it for a good friend…
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Pilates…!
Happy Birthday to you!

There is a pacing to it. There are accents (some parts are smooth and some are sharp).
You use your voice or the sound to keep the listener engaged.
You use your pitch (high notes or low notes) to high light different sections showing importance!

You could sing it fast or you could sing it slow.

Now, you could use this for The Hundred or Short Spine…but it is not the right song for The Hundred. It’s not the right song for Short Spine. It would do…but it’s not just right is it? Would it be great if you sand The Hundred Song? The Short Spine Song?

This is what I call “The Music of Pilates”. It is the music you create with your voice to sing the song of the exercise. Sometimes you sing it quickly. Sometimes you sing it slowly. You sing it just enough that your client ultimately sings it to her/himself. She hears the music in her head whether she is with you in the studio or at home practicing. And yes, yes, we want our clients to practice at home on their own. We must encourage their independence.

Here is an example of The Backstroke and The Teaser on The Reformer. This is a video of my recording of “The Music of Pilates” downloadable workshop I will “talk” more about just below:

Originally, I had planned on writing this article for America’s Independence Day because this tool is all about independence. Your clients will still need you, but not to count, not to remember the exercise and certainly not not not to keep moving with the desired accents that make the exercise the exercise!

“The Music of Pilates” comes out of your mouth and plays into the speakers of your clients’ ears! It is some of the most beautiful music ever!

Again, it makes teaching effective and fun!
It makes Pilates easier to connect to and do!
It makes difficult things supported and easy things easier!


So how do you learn this? Can you just pull it out of thin air? Well, I do believe the way to learn it is to hear these rhythms over and over again and embody them (do the exercises to them). They become part of you and then you can teach them. However, most people don’t know how to teach them so where will you access them?

A couple of years ago, I went into the recording studio and created a very special recording called “The Music of Pilates”. It is a 3 PMA CEC workshop that you listen to. You don’t watch it. You listen to it. You learn by listening. You practice by verbalizing and by doing the exercises to the sound of my voice. What I’ve recorded are the Mat and Reformer at what are commonly considered the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced exercises of the classical repertoire.

You will learn the following:
The intention of each exercise
The rhythm for each exercise
Why that rhythm
How to count that rhythm
How to verbalize/teach that rhythm

The Music of Pilates

The Music of Pilates

There are 3 modules:
Module 1: Introduction of why rhythms are important and how to use The Music of Pilates

Module 2: Teaching/Learning Module. This is where you will learn the following:
The intention of each exercise
The rhythm for each exercise
Why that rhythm
How to count that rhythm
How to verbalize/teach that rhythm
…and there is time to pause and practice.

Please listen to this audio clip from Module 2 of Backstroke on the Reformer:

Module 3: Practice Module
In this section, you either verbalize or exercise through the full matwork and then the reformer work. There is no pausing for teaching like in Module 2…it is just the work out. We do full repetitions of each exercise in full rhythm and flow. They are the advanced tempos (speed)…so…it’s a workout! Some people are shocked to see that the Advanced Mat is 18 minutes long. And then I say: Yes,  yes it is! It’s not a teaching moment for you for your clients…this is your practice where your focus, your theme is rhythm and flow!

Again, tempo is speed and you can always play with tempo by slowing an exercise down or speeding it up…but for the purpose of this program I’ve created…it’s rather brisk! Enjoy! Work yourself up to it!

And then there are the PMA CECs. If you would like to take the evaluation after you’ve gone through the recording…email me at and I will send you the evaluation. You fill it out and email it back to me. I check it over and offer suggestions if needed and send you the 3 PMA CE certificate!

To encourage purchase of this so you all can use this special tool, I’m setting a special price for a limited time of $50 for “The Music of Pilates” rather than the normal $99.

Now, again, it’s a downloaded workshop that you listen to. There is no visual. This is an important aspect of the learning. We often think we’re visual learners. Sure, part of you is. However, you must be a kinesthetic learner an aural learner and more.

Please go to this page on my website:
Listen to the samples and then go to the link to purchase.
Want to just purchase, go directly to

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!
****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session!
****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at

August 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm 2 comments


Google Search Images Result for "Expectations"

Google Search Images Result for “Expectations”

I’m not sure if this article get’s filed under “Life” or “Pilates”. Or is this one where it is “Life Lessons from Teaching”? Likely this last one.

Life Lessons from Teaching: Expectations.

Whether your a Pilates teacher, professor, personal trainer, doctor, parent or, well…any human who works with other humans…we all develop expectations. Expectations are our imagined desired outcomes of any interaction. Expectations are our “goal-setting” plans whether they are realistic or not. Ah…there’s the rub! Expectations are best developed when they balance the reality of the situation and possible outcomes or results; however, especially as an American, often our expectations are not congruent with the results. What to do? What to do?

So many teachers reach out to me with their frustrations over their clients. I recognize this frustrations. Perhaps you will, too:

Why can’t my client do this exercise?
Why isn’t my client advancing after this many sessions?
My client isn’t making the lower abdominal connection! What’s wrong with her?
My client is still hurting after all of this time!
My client doesn’t work hard enough!
My client won’t stop talking to do the work!
My client only wants to stretch!
My client…
My client…
My client…

Your client has goals.
You have goals.
We have to align our goals together.

Let’s consider why your client comes to Pilates. Why do people come to Pilates?
To get fit
To help their aching back
To get better posture
To get that “Pilates Body” (Whatever that is!)
To be better in his sport (golf, tennis, skiing)
To get rid of chicken wings of the arms
To get a lifted bum
To get a flat stomach

Know your client’s goals. Remind yourself of his/her goals before each session. Work…work to help her reach an attainable version of her goals…relative to what else she does or does not do in life; relative to how viable these goals are; relative to commitment and desire.

And what about you? What are your goals in teaching?
To earn money
To help people
To do something you enjoy
To do something that is active rather than sedentary
To have a flexible schedule
To be able to have Pilates all day every day

Know your own goals. Remind yourself of your own goals before each session. Then seek to satisfy your goals within that session and each day.

Now, I think we can clearly recognize that our clients’ goals and our own goals are for the most part quite complementary. However…we have to make sure we keep it that way. Sometimes, especially in the teaching field (Pilates, PT, school/university, parenting) we want more for our clients (students, patients, children) than they want for themselves. Or…different. There are times, absolutely, where we need to encourage our clients to want more for themselves. However, that must be within reason and relative to what they already want for themselves. For example, we think a client can do The Teaser. She thinks it’s impossible; however, when she finally gives in and gives it a try, she realizes that it was possible all along! She didn’t trust herself and then she gave into her trust in you and then learned to believe in herself more! These are great moments. However…what I’m really talking about are the unreasonable expectations that I listed above when you want your client to be more advanced, more connected, more driven, more something than they want. The frustration builds in you! You know what I’m talking about! You get almost angry at your client and find her lazy or unwilling or difficult. What if…what if she is really just different from you? What if she is a slower learner? What if she is just weaker than you had expected? What if she is more uncoordinated that you realize? What if she doesn’t care as much as you do?

You see…that’s the reality. Very often our clients do not want the same thing for themselves as we want for them. And you know what? That has to be OK. That has to be 100% OK. We have to alter our expectation to be appropriate for the client in front of us. Of course we will encourage. Of course we will push a little bit more than a client would push themselves. That is our job. But we cannot change a person.

Now…this is where we get to Life Lessons via Pilates:

Each person develops at her own rate.

One person will be a beginner for 5 sessions and then race on!
Another person will remain a relative beginner for her entire Pilates career.

One person may lift her vertebrae apart from each other the moment you cue it!
Another person may take weeks and months.

One person will learn the names and set ups of each exercise on each apparatus quickly
Another person you might have to repeat it time and time again.

And this is how it goes. Everybody progresses at his or her own rate. It is we, the teachers, who must adjust our expectations.

So, your client doesn’t have the drive that you want her to have. That has to be just fine. You’ve got to find the value in what she is doing. Remember her goals. Remember before every single session what her goals are. Just keep working toward them with her…rather than against her.

Your client came for a while, his back got better and then you never saw him again. It’s easy to be frustrated. Why not be glad for him that he received what he needed? Remember, his goal was to just get his back better so he could go back to golf. Remember, your goal was that he stay as a client 3 times a week for the rest of forever. Oops! Inappropriate expectation.

Check in before each day: What are my goals?
Check in before each session: What is my client’s goal?

Do you keep client cards? Client cards are papers for each client that lists what exercises your client does, when she learned each exercise, your client’s ailments and your client’s goals. Refer to your cards.

Balance your expectations. The folly of man (one folly) is an inability to reconcile reality with imagination. Keep your expectations high for yourself and appropriate for others. No one is you. Your client deserves to have her goals considered. Gosh, you’ll have a much better time teaching and your clients will have a far better time learning if you keep it in balance.

– Shari

If you have any comments or thoughts, please do share them below!
And please check out the sidebar for Workshops I’ll be giving around the world. Remember, you are welcome to come to the seminars for all of The Intensives, one at a time, a la carte. They are open to you. You need not do the entire Intensives program if it is not possible for you!
Also, reach out for Skype sessions, consultations, Q&A.

info@TheVerticalWorkshop is where you can find me!


March 18, 2015 at 10:12 pm 24 comments

Abdominals. Spine. Why? and Biotensegrity.

Transverse Abdominis at The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives - Pilates Back Bay - 2013

Transverse Abdominis at The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives – Pilates Back Bay – 2013

Don’t you think that there’s a lot of mixed information out in the blogosphere about what to do and what not to do with abdominals? A lot of people saying that this or that action is bad, but very little information on what is good and what to do instead of the bad actions. Agreed? I’ve stepped back over 2014 and written very little; however, it’s time to step back in.

Let’s get into the abdominals: The necessary actions of the abdominals for all exercise/movement/life modalities…including Pilates (the focus of the blog). Which abdominals to focus on, How and why.

You see, a lot of focus on the abdominals, abs, powerhouse, core in Pilates and other exercise modalities, while well-meaning, miss the point. Even in Pilates of all styles it’s been breezed over, in my estimation. Yes, even the ones where some amount of biomechanics or functional anatomy education is present. If the abdominals, abs, powerhouse, core is so important…it must be the number one focus with true understanding and a devotion to cueing it both internally in yourself and to your clients. Pilates instructors are remarkably well-meaning, but the focus ends up getting dispersed to too many areas of the body before the most important actions are accomplished. Please let me share how it goes:

The inner workings of our bodies, the mechanics, the biomechanics, is based on chemical reactions and appropriate tension of soft tissues. If we just think on the musculoskeletal (including fascia, of course) system, that means that for us to move appropriately (in the desired ways) all of our most commonly recognized soft tissues (fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones) must have the right amount of inherent/built-in tension to be able to do the task they are required to do. The balance of and integrity of tension in our bodies is called biotensegrity. (See the marvelous website of Dr. Stephen M. Levin A healthy body moves and stabilizes (a form of movement) in all aspects via exchanges and alterations of tension in soft tissues in 3 dimensions. Long gone are the days of considering our bodies as full of levers, pulleys and springs with directional forces along the muscle, ligament, tendon, bone directions, balanced out with 90 degree angles like proper physics or mechanics. The living-body’s mechanics is not like that at all. That is how mechanisms work. We are not mechanisms. We are organisms. Our soft tissue comes in and out of all points in every aspect of our bodies in 3-dimensions. Everything literally connected to everything else with the remarkable elasticity of fascia and more. You’ve heard much about fascia over the past handful of years (it is December 2014 as I write this) and you will hear far more in the future. As analytic tools develop we will learn more and more. With that, take note: it is an inner web of 3-dimensional support that connects all parts of our bodies. Not separates…but connects. A completely reactive and adaptive system of soft-tissue tension. Through this we move, think, digest…everything. When the tension is unbalanced or imbalanced due to injury, movement habits, chemical imbalances and more, then dysfunction occurs on small or big scales Any dysfunction, no matter how small, creates a full-body response…because all is connected. You hurt your second finger on your right hand, the tensional web of soft tissues in your body respond to seek a new balance of tension. However, that new balance requires compensations. Those compensations are relatively unnoticed until an action is required affected by those affected areas. Perhaps from your second finger on your right hand, that has altered the tension through your hand to your forearm. The new tension in your forearm has altered the positioning of your radius and ulna. Not enough to hurt, but when you bend your elbow, there is a little click. No big deal. No pain. Just a slight click. Next week, your neck is tight. Maybe it was the bag you carried or maybe (more likely) it’s that finger and the new click. Then you feel your left PSIS. A little SI joint issue. Then your left hamstring seems tight. You stretch it out. You don’t realize that your hamstring is tight because your left side of your pelvis is not anteriorly tilted and when you stretch your hamstring you are straining it. Your left hip tightens, you get plantar fasciitis in that foot…

And around and around we go.

Life happens and compensations happen all of the time. They must. Still, we must work in ways; live in ways, that afford the ability to return to the most balanced tension. Avoiding complicated compensations that ultimately put us into compressive mechanics where leverage and friction are our only options (i.e. osteo-arthritis). The biotensegrity of our bodies is such that our joints are nearly frictionless. Bones never touch bones. Let’s keep it that way.

Wow…and you thought this was just a “Happy New Year” article! A simple: here’s how you should use your abdominals in Pilates.

How, oh, how do we seek a balance of tension? How do we maintain or return our bodies to quality tensegrity? How do we support our natural biotensegrity? We must seek the source of the tensegrity. In my work, I study the thoracolumbar fascia also known as the lumbodorsal fascia. My efforts are to understand the thoracolumbar fascia…I believe it is an invaluable “source” or center of our biotensegrity.. Never heard of the thoracolumbar fascia? Great! Let me be the first to share it with you. It’s been inside of you all along and it’s time to give it the value that it deserves. I like to call it “The Second Brain of Movement”. There will be far more that I shall share about why it is this, but today we will just start with what is most important for your practice and teaching:

Thoracolumbar Fascia

Fig. 1 – Posterior illustration. Thoracolumbar Fascia is represented by the white arrow head at the lumbar spine and sacrum. Then the shaft of the arrow up the spine to the cranium. Image from 3D4medical Muscle System Pro III

Where is the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF)?
The posterior and most superficial part of the TLF has been on every muscle chart you’ve ever seen, but most people have never mentioned it. (See Fig. 1) A primary portion of it is that while arrow-head you see connecting the lower thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacrum. This area is referred to as the thoracolumbar complex (TLC…and, boy, could it use some more TLC!) that goes from lumbar spine to sacrum all the way under the ischial tuberosities. Now the complete TLF goes all the way up the spine into the cranium and is three-dimensional into the anterior portion of the lumbar spine, at least.

Our primary concern with be the TLF at the lower thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacrum. You’ll see why in a moment. (Though it’s more TLC, you’ll see that I’ll refer to it as TLF as most do.)

You can see on the posterior side of the body in this illustration (Fig. 1) that multiple muscle groups connect into the TLF. You can see the gluteus maximus (GM), latissimus dorsi (LD), trapezius (T) clearly connect to it. As we delve deeper into it, we’ll see that in three-dimensions (Fig. 2), the TLF has multiple layers where erector spinae (ES), quadratus lumborum (QL), psoas (Ps) and the deepest abdominals (transverse abdominis (TrA) and internal obliques (OI – obliquus internus)) connect into the TLF. Oh…and the lumbar spine including the vertebrae and the discs. Ah…

thoracolumbar fascia transverse cut

Fig. 2 – An illustrated representation of a transverse view of the torso looking down on the cross-section at the L3 level. Notice the multiple layers of the TLF and the muscles that connect directly into it or are connected via the TLF in three-dimensions. Illustration from

So…all muscles (with their soft tissue) that connect into this TLF affect the tension on this remarkable structure of multi-dimensional fascia (with superficial and dense fascia that also includes a remarkable amount of myofibroblasts which actually create their own tension…remarkable!) and the TLF affects all structures that it connects to. Hmm…

A quality balance of tension across the TLF will affect all structures that connect to it and vice versa. Considering that the TLF connects directly to:
gluteus maximus (GM) – leg to pelvis/torso connection
latissimus dorsi (LD)- arm to torso connection
trapezius (T)- shoulder girdle to torso connection
psoas (Ps)- leg to spine/torso connection
quadratus lumborum (QL) – ribcage to pelvis connection
transverse abdominis and internal obliques (TrA & OI) – ribcage to pelvis connection
Lumbar Spine (and the entire spine up to the skull)

And that means that all structures that connect to those affect and create effects upon the TLF and vice versa…


Tension on the TLF

A broad representation of tension from superficial muscles and TLF working together. Green Lines: Shari Berkowitz Illustration:

And why do you care? As a Pilates practitioner why should you care? What does this mean to you? (And why do I devote my entire life the TLF and helping people understand it?!) Because when you make a lower TrA and OI connection, then there is a lateral pull on the TLF. That lateral pull/tension is resisted by the TLF (as all soft tissues resist expansion). This pull against each other creates a stiffness of the lumbar spine. Now, that word “stiffness” is desirable in the biomechanics world though in the fitness world it is considered a bad thing. Stiffness in biomechanics means support, stability, integrity. Something that the lumbar spine often lacks in modern world because the balance of tension is off/askew in modern humans. This is a desirable stiffness. This now intrinsic support (stiffness) from the TLF working against and thereby with the lower deeper abdominals (TrA and OI) allows all other structures that are connected to the lumbar spine to be efficient in either assisting in stabilization or mobilization of the lumbar spine. That means that the ES, QL and Ps can all be more efficient in their jobs! They can either help stabilize or mobilize! GM, LD and T will all be more efficient, too. We want these muscles to work more! We want them to work efficiently!

Often in Pilates we hear “don’t use your glutes”, “don’t use your back muscles” however, that’s not what is needed. We need to use them…but we must set up an environment where the muscles can just work naturally. We must create an physical scenario where our muscles work the way that they are meant to. And not just our muscles…all of the systems in our bodies. I’ll say that statement again as I have coined it and will use it time and again: we must create an environment where all parts of our bodies work naturally. At least that’s how I see it.

Fig. 3 - Illustration of an intervertebral disc. Notice the cartilage from the vertebrae above and below. The cartilage secretes fluid that the disc absorbs. That is how the disc maintains hydration. Illlustration credit: Unknown. My apologies.

Fig. 3 – Illustration of an intervertebral disc. Notice the cartilage from the vertebrae above and below (light brown continuous lines and background). The cartilage secretes fluid that the disc absorbs. That is how the disc maintains hydration.
Illlustration credit: Unknown. My apologies.

Now, all in all, we’ve got to care about space in between each vertebra. We have to take care of our nervous system. (That takes a lot: nutrition, rest, good emotional state and movement.) And what creates that space? Part of it is by the intervertebral discs. And what maintains the discs size and cushiness? Tensegrity (this balance of tension of soft tissues) and movement. (Movement? You thought I was going to say hydration.) What does movement? Directly: Muscles. (Indirectly, a lot of other things.) We care about keeping space between vertebrae for more movement of the spine and, quite importantly, so that the nerve endings that come from the spinal cord can leave easily through the foramen. Hydration of discs only happens with movement as the superior and inferior surfaces of the discs are connected to the vertebrae above and below, respectively. Those vertebrae have a bit of cartilage on these superior and inferior faces that through movement release fluid that is absorbed into the disc. That is how discs get hydrated. All parts of the disc must receive hydration which is one great reason why we need balanced movement of each vertebra segment appropriate to its design (i.e. lumbar vertebral joints can sustain only a limited amount of rotation without damaging shear forces whereas cervical vertebrae allow for and require far more rotation without damage…all within limits, of course). We need forward flexion, back extension, rotation and lateral flexion/side-bending of all joints of the spine. All while maintaining a maximum amount of space between the vertebrae, yet still affording that movement.

That’s mighty refined movement: move while maintaining space. And it has to happen in a flash..all of the time. It’s going to take a lot of practice with the right “Order of Operations” to be able to do that in our modern world that truly does not prepare us to move appropriately. Sitting and looking at a computer or handheld device does not a mover make. Even as a Pilates teacher…there’s got to be more! So…we must practice this sort of movement; this coordination. And that is what Pilates is all about. At least that is how I see it.

Again…how does this apply to you?

When you ask your client to pull her abdominals in…what are you doing and why? How? Which ones? It’s got to be the lower, deep abdominals. The ones that connect to the TLF. So…we need to encourage a lower deep abdominal connection. Transverse abdominis and internal obliques. The lower ones will connect to the TLF. Not the upper. The upper that so many Pilates teachers get caught up in with “close the ribs”, “soften the ribs”, “knit the ribs together”, “melt the ribs”…that is primarily external obliques (OE – obliquus externus). Quite important, but they are secondary to the primary actions of the TrA and OI which are what connect to the TLF that set off a remarkable chain reaction of tension across the TLF that supports the entire body! In a over-simplified statement: the upper abdominal fibers, the OE and rectus abdominis (RA) will be informed by the lower deeper abdominals.

Try this: on yourself, with your abdominals released, place your finger tips on your hip points; your ASIS. Wrap your fingers toward the inner side of them as though you can get in there and feel the inner part of the bone as though you could get to your iliacus (go lightly though and rather superficial) Lightly pull your abdominals in. Do you feel a tug of the tissues under your fingers? Like a theraband/elastic band pulling across from hip point to hip point? This must be accomplished with a stable pelvis; without any movement of your pelvis. If so, that is TLF. Of course, all muscles work all of the time and you cannot isolate any one muscle (you can not isolate any one muscle), but you can do actions that highlight a muscle. And there is TLF. If you don’t feel that tug or your pelvis moved…fear not. That just means that this has to become your focus. How? Not by sitting there with your fingers on your hips trying to make it happen. Rather, when you do your Pilates work, you must seek out those muscles. You will feel them below your navel from hip point to hip point all the way down to your pubis. Indeed, TrA is also above your navel and across your sides to the TLF, but this lower section that connects to the TLF is where you will concentrate your action.

That’s the first action: deepen your lower abdominals. And why? To make a great back muscle connection. Deepen your lower abdominals and separate your lower back bones. Remember this article: “Lift Your Lower Backbones Like Your Life Depends On It…Because It Does“?  If we get that horizontal/lateral tension on the TLF from the deeper lower abdominals (TrA and OI) and the vertical-like tension on the TLF from the muscles of the lumbar spine (ES, QL, Ps) and eventually upward throughout the entire spine, then the tension across the TLF will afford more efficient GM, LD and T and all that they connect with…which means all aspects of our body can be more mobile and able! This is what it’s about!

Well then…how must you cue and “use” the abdominals (which is why I am writing this and why you are reading this):
“Pull your lower abdominals in and up and lift your lower back bones apart” in all exercises at all times.
You see there is no “navel to spine”. That wouldn’t make the correct lateral tension on the TLF
There is no “scoop your abdominals in and up”. That also won’t make the appropriate tension. Though it is a reasonable image when the spine is in light forward flexion. And images are really important. But…it misses the important action of the spinal soft tissues.
There is “no close the ribs”, “soften the ribs”, “knit the ribs” as those would also skip this vital tension on the TLF and always hinders the diaphragm from working efficiently (remember “The Lock Down:  Abdominals…How Much and Which Ones to Engage?“)

It’s likely less stringent and deep feeling at first than you had thought. It’s a muscular, soft tissue and mental coordination that will be light, at first, and develop into something powerfully strong while always remarkably mobile. Like all things: if you get it right away, you simply haven’t gotten it. It takes time to develop. And once it does, freedom of movement with great strength is the result!

How will you develop this? Practice in every single exercise that you do by seeking out that deeper set of lower abdominals on both side (right and left or right left and center) and follow that connection with an upward lift of the lumbar spine. Then keep that going: deepen lower abdominals + lift lumbar spine + deepen lower abdominals + lift lumbar spine + deepen…+ lift…
Until the coordination develops and you delight in the seek to maintain it.

Once the deeper lower abdominals and lumbar muscles pull on that TLF so well that the TLF has great tension to be able to affect those muscles that come at an angle (GM, LD, T)…the entire body can gain efficiency.

This is different than what you’re used to. This is refined. With that, this will be frustrating at first…but will be more satisfying than you could imagine later on. This is the way to achieve your and your clients’ physical goals. First things first. And these are them.

In every single exercise at every level of proficiency: pull your lower deeper abdominals in and up and separate your lower back bones…and all back bones. If you or your client cannot make that lower deeper abdominal connection in an exercise…it is simply not the right exercise for you or your client. That means either a modification is required or eliminate it until that connection develops. Without the lower deeper abdominals, you won’t get to the TLF, the lumbar muscles…and the rest of your body. Efficiency is the name of the game. Nature is efficient. Why wouldn’t we work the way we were designed? Let’s redevelop our natural biotensegrity and our natural coordination or as I refer to it: order of operations. That’s what it’s all about. We’re setting up and environment where all systems of our bodies work naturally. With movement…that means the lower deeper abdominals for the TLF for the lumbar muscles for the rest. Enjoy!

Now…that was a considerable brain-ful. Take your time. Reread. Seek to understand. Practice. And, as always, reach out when you have questions.
– Shari Berkowitz

Workshops: Please see the sidebar with the latest workshop quickest. On (if you’re on the site go to the Workshop Calendar page) you’ll see the full listing and scroll down for full information on all things.

Pilates Teacher Intensives: A comprehensive continuing education program. Please go to (if you’re on the site go to the Teacher Intensives page)

Sessions: Email me at to set up an in-person or Skype session.

Workshops at your studio: If you’d like to host workshops, please email me at

All the best and Enjoy!!!
– Shari

January 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm 40 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at

EVERY DAY at your home:
The Music of Pilates

Nov 2-4 Austin, TX
Dec 7-9 Venice, ITALY

Dec 14-16 Graz, AUSTRIA

February 22-24 Boulder, CO

March Date TBD and Location TBA…The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Training program begins with its mat program!

April 6-7 Phoenix, AZ

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Training program Comprehensive & Bridge

Dates in Atlanta, GA at Studio Lotus Forsyth

Mat Seminar
(Pick one):
March 15-17 – Shari Berkowitz teaches
May 3-5 – Kim Bergonzi or Cheryl Cole teach

Comprehensive Seminars
(You must attend all 4)
– Shari Berkowitz teaches all 4 seminars
Comp 1: May 17-19
Comp 2: June 21-23
Comp 3: July 26-28
Comp 4: September 6-8

June 7-9 Bilbao, SPAIN

Aug 30 – Sept 1 Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Oct 4-6 Louisville, KY


(more soon to be posted with work online, recorded and in person)

EVERY DAY at your home:
The Music of Pilates

Workshop Download – The Music of Pilates

Buy, Info, FREE Sample

Sessions via Skype

Would you like to do a workout, question/answer or mini-workshop session with Shari? Each week, Shari works with teachers all over the world via Skype. Email Shari at


The Vertical Workshop