Posts tagged ‘Pilates apparatus’

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives are HERE!

TVW Intensives

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives are here!

What you’ve been waiting for…and me, too!  I’m very excited about this!

Comprehensive continuing education fully integrating new knowledge with your current work and lifestyle. For teachers of all styles of Pilates.

Please read the Information Packet to learn all about it:

The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives Information Packet

Of course, if you read it and have questions…simply email me at or drop me a note in the “comments” section of this blog.

It begins in Boston, MA, USA on November 15-17, 2013. There will be 5 weekends of seminars…it’s all in the packet.  That is why on Sunday, September 22, 2013, there will be an information session that you can attend at Pilates Back Bay (who is hosting the Intensives).  We’ll have sessions, a workshop and an information session.  Email Pilates Back Bay to register:

TVW PTI Boston 2013-15 Flyer

Other cities? Coming soon. Please read the Information Packet and when other cites are set, I will announce and you will know all about it (Of course, out-side of the USA host sites will likely have a different tuition.  Also, this is the 2013 start date tuition.) In addition, email me your interest and location if you cannot attend Boston’s intensives. I will make sure I inform you of future locations.

Again…the Information Packet:
The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives Information Packet

Again…if you have any questions after reading the Information Packet, just email me at or leave your question in the comment section of this blog post.  And join me at Pilates Back Bay on Sunday, September 22, 2013 for an information session on the entire program.

Thank you!

– Shari


**** Here are upcoming continuing education workshops and session information:
Full details are on my website under “Workshop Calendar”:
New York, NY, USA: August 4, 2013
Austin, TX, USA:  August 24 & 25, 2013
New York, NY, USA: September 17, 2013
Red Hook, NY, USA: September 21, 2013
Boston, MA, USA: September 22, 2013
Warren, Vermont, USA:  September 28 & 29, 2013
Fair Haven, NJ, USA: October 20, 2013
Birkerod (Near Copenhagen), DENMARK:  November 8-10, 2013
Again, full information on all of these continuing education workshops is on my website:
Would you like to host a continuing education workshop at your studio or suggest a host studio?  Email me at or comment below and we’ll discuss.
I’ll send out word in a short while, too…but The Music of Pilates workshop is now available for download/purchase.  You can find it on  under the tab “The Music of Pilates”
Thanks for taking the time to read!
– Shari Berkowitz
The Vertical Workshop
Pilates Teacher Blog:

July 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

Gym Mentality: How to Win Over the Gym Pilates Client

A gym full of Side Plank - 3. pilates and body mind konvencija Zagreb, Croatia (photographer unknown)

I don’t doubt that there will be many people who disagree with me, but I think the issue in “winning over” the gym client lies in the hands of the gym owner and staff, the gym Pilates studio manager and the gym Pilates teacher.  The issue is not the gym client.  The client responds however he or she is taught to respond by the gym, manager and teachers.  I’ve heard a lot of talk over the years about the struggles of teaching in gym.  I think these struggles are possible to overcome.

With that, I’m not saying it’s not a tough nut to crack, but it can be done!

First of all, it’s important for a gym/club that has Pilates to actually know what Pilates is, value it and advertise it to its clients.  If a gym is going to have Pilates, it must find it worthy.  It seems that many see Pilates as an awful nuisance that ought to be hidden in the back corner of the basement or the farthest reach in the upstairs.  Some gyms are thrilled to have Pilates, know what it’s about, want to have their clients benefit from it, know that it is a draw for clients, etc.  A lot of gyms want the cache of saying they have Pilates, but don’t promote because they don’t understand it and think that it will conflict with their personal training.

Those gyms that think it will conflict with their personal training unfortunately don’t see the bigger picture.  They only see that a client can afford 3 personal training sessions a week.  If 1 or more of these training sessions goes to the Pilates studio, then some gyms fear there are fewer funds available for the personal trainers in the weight and other fitness areas.  They are more willing to have mat classes than Pilates studios with sessions.  And then dismiss the studios if they have them.

How do you get around this closed way of thinking?  You’ve got to work really hard to educate the general manager and owner of your gym.  Don’t be shy.  This is your passion and your job.  Your livelihood!   You’ve got to go talk with them and then give them Pilates sessions.  Yes, free sessions, but it will pay off in the long run!  And you’ve got to be a great Pilates teacher.  You’ve got to know how to teach strongly to men and women and vigorously as it was designed because that actually does fit in a gym setting.

A lot of people have the mistaken notion that Pilates is stretch class or yoga and feel that it is too light to be considered a workout that satisfies a gym person.  Maybe that’s because that’s how it’s being taught:  light and airy.  Remember that Pilates was created by a man for men.  A German man for German men.  It’s Contrology that was created by a German man for German men.  And you know what?  (Forgive me.) The way that Contrology has been turned into Pilates is, indeed, often too light and airy and not going to appeal to men who run a gym and therefore men who go to a gym.  Pilates exercise are often taught with the flair of a dancer or the peace of a yogi, but that was not the initial intention.

So, you’ve got to be able to teach Pilates the way it was intended:  as a strong workout!  You’ve got to be physically strong, teach with confidence and command, use lower registers of your voice and have the through line of solid, muscular workout in each session.

Go to the owner and general manager and teach them the way Mr. Pilates intended!

It’s actually the Pilates studio manager at the gym who needs to have the strength to go to the owner and general manager.  And he or she has to truly be the type who is more than just a Pilates teacher, but a leader.  Not a leader because she likes the title, but a true leader who knows how to work with people, create a healthy atmosphere, coral clients of the gym into the studio, excite the gym’s personal trainers about Pilates and more!

The Pilates studio manager has to be able to put together a presentation that shows the true value of Pilates to the gym and personal trainers.  She has to demonstrate the value to everyone and not give up.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard a manager complain about the gym and how they are so terrible!  If you don’t feel you can do anything about and are unwilling to truly do everything under the sun, then get out and give the job to someone who can do something.  Until then, do everything you can to make it happen for your studio!  Believe in Pilates and get them to believe it, too!  With that, if you really, really have tried everything that you can imagine and they still won’t value Pilates, but are insistent in having at the gym, I also suggest getting out because you are in a losing battle with people who will never value what you hold so dear.

As for the teachers, I share the same sentiment:  Believe in what you do and do it really well and you will have clients.  You must not teach “Pilates-lite”, as I call it, which, as I mentioned before can be mistaken for yoga (which I love and practice on my own, but is not Pilates) or stretch class or dance (I am a dancer, so I’m not knockin’ it).  Again, you must teach with the strength of a man as though you are teaching men even if you are a woman teaching women.  The entire Method comes to life and light if you do.  If you teach flowery and dancer-like as though every person is delicate, then Pilates does not belong in the gym and they are correct.  Men, you have to watch out for this, too.  Just because your client is a woman doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need strength.

It’s all about strength!  Pilates is a strength training program.  It strengthens your body and mind.  You’ve got to “dig in” with  your teaching.  I’ll repeat:  You’ve got to be physically strong, teach with confidence and command, use lower registers of your voice and have the through line of solid, muscular workout in each session. The moment you notice yourself being light and dainty (this is for men as well as women), you have to replace it with strong and commanding.  That doesn’t mean harsh, angry or rude.  It means strong.  Command with kindness.  Light and dainty belongs elsewhere…not in a Pilates studio whether it be in a gym or a dedicated Pilates studio.

You can train your gym clients in the gym Pilates studio very successfully.  You have to be strong and confident with both management and clients.  Pilates teachers are highly specialized personal trainers.  That’s what we are.  Go in there and train your clients!

****Please take a moment to comment on this blog or just say hello!  I am grateful that you’ve read this post and perhaps have read other posts of this blog.  I’d love to know who you are, what you think, what you need in this Pilates world.  Comment, ask questions, etc.  Thank you!!!****

June 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm 19 comments

Pilates Apparatus – So many different manufacturers. Can we teach on anything?

(I’ve owed Troy this blog for nearly 2 years…maybe longer!)

Every year there is another Pilates apparatus manufacturer putting out another line of equipment, stating that this is better, more progressive, less expensive, longer-lasting or whatever else they want to say to get you to buy their apparatus.  Marketing, man, marketing!  So, what’s the truth?  How do you know what works and what doesn’t?  How do you pick and does it even matter?

Ultimately, any apparatus can work if you know what you’re doing.

From my perspective, ideally, one would use Pilates apparatus that is closest in design to Mr. Pilates’ actual apparatus doing Mr. Pilates actual exercises in the manner in which he intended.  This is how you will get the greatest results from Pilates.  That’s pretty simplistic.  As I always say, that doesn’t mean it’s easy…just means it’s straightforward.

In the current world of Pilates, we have  many variables.  Mr. Pilates’ method of Contrology has been played with in every manner imaginable.  Equally,  his apparatus designs have been retrofitted and redesigned in countless ways.  This is pure observation.  Not judgement.  I think we all can agree on this.

What is out there in terms of apparatus?  Well,  you’ve seen it all:  Pilates designs by Basil, Gratz, Peak Pilates, Balanced Body, Stott Pilates, etc.  If you Google search “Pilates Equipment” there are an outrageous number of names that come up…in every country!  Most people work on what they were originally trained on.  It’s comfortable for them.  It’s “feels right” for them.  There are great debates about one being better than the other.  I’m bored of the debate.  Just use what you like and use it well.

I am fortunate to have been exposed to many different apparatus manufacturers as I guest teach in studios and present at conferences.  I have found that it is possible to teach Pilates on every apparatus that I’ve worked on.  Whether it’s teaching “Classical Transitions of the Advanced Reformer” on Balanced Body’s decidedly non-classical apparatus the Allegro or Gratz’s very classical Reformer.  It all works.  Now, some work better than others, but it all can be done.  It depends on what you’re looking for in an apparatus and in the Pilates session.  You need to know what you need…what your clients need.  If you’re teaching classical Pilates, then you ought to be teaching on a classical apparatus that allows you to do the exercises in the manner in which Mr. Pilates intended keeping all actions long with the ability to resist strong springs and do full classical transitions (minimum motion with maximum flow).  If you’re teaching classically on the reformer, but can’t take the footbar down with your feet after The Hundred…in absolute pure thought, you’re on the wrong apparatus.  However, in reality, can you still teach effectively…of course!  It’s just modified now, and you must remember that.  If you’re trained in a more modified version of Pilates; more for physical therapy, and are used to working on a reformer with different spring strengths or ropes and risers.  You’ll find that your method’s exercises may not work easily on a classical reformer where the springs are all the same strength and the leather straps are not adjustable.   Does this mean you can’t do your method?  Absolutely not!  You must learn the apparatus that you’re working on and adjust it to your needs.

Too many new teachers say to me, “I can’t work at that studio!  I can’t work with type of reformer!”  I say, “You can’t or you don’t like to?”  Anyone can work on anything!  It just depends on how hard you’re willing to work.  Ideally, the apparatus supports our style of teaching.  Ideally the teacher can focus her/his efforts on the client’s needs and not spend too much energy making the apparatus work for you.  Let’s not waste our energy.  Again, ideally, buy and use what works for you!  But you need to work!  Please don’t allow the apparatus at a particular studio keep you from either accepting a job or  renting space there.  You can work on anything!

What do I prefer to work on?  Pilates Designs by Basil and Gratz.

Why?  Because I am a classical Pilates teacher.  I teach only Joseph Pilates’ actual exercises in the order that he designed them to be done with his intention that every client get a balanced workout of the mind and body that is appropriate for him/her that emanates from core strength.  With that, I work on apparatus that is as close to Mr. Pilates’ actual designs as I can.  While training and teaching with Romana Kryzanowska at Drago’s, I had the pleasure of working on some of Mr. Pilates’ actual pieces.   Along with several wonderful accessories, we had one of his Cadillacs/Trapeze Tables, a High Chair and a Wunda Chair.  Therefore, from my perspective, I always want to work on apparatus that feels as close to the feel of Mr. Pilates’ actual apparatus.  I trust that Mr. Pilates, a true genius, designed his apparatus with great thought.  I trust that the width of the Cadillac/Trapeze Table was purposeful.  I believe the height of the Wunda Chair in relation to the length of the pedal was mindful.  I am certain that strength of the springs on the Reformer was necessary.

If you’re in Croatia and someone is making great apparatus out there that suits your needs…get it there.  If you want to order from Basil, he’ll ship it to you!  If you’re in Southern California and can pick up Balanced Body straight from a conference at a mark down and that’s what you love to work on…fantastic!  If your brother is a a carpenter and is going to make you a Trapeze Table from scratch…great!  Just make sure you’re working on safe apparatus that does what you need it to do.

And…make sure you are well-educated so that you can safely and effectively work on anything.  That doesn’t mean that you will like working on anything, but you ought to be able to do it.  How ridiculous would it be for me to walk into a conference workshop of 100 teachers all waiting to learn the Super Advanced Reformer and for me to say, “I can’t do it” because the apparatus is not classical?  I prepare myself by spending time with the apparatus before I teach on it and then present to my workshop.  I may have to give these teachers notes about how the exercises or transitions must be different because of the apparatus, but I would not say that for any other reason than keeping the integrity of Mr. Pilates’ work.  When I teach at a studio that has 3 different manufacturers apparatus and I’ve got a group of 5 teachers taking the session (yes, this has happened more than once), I had better know which apparatus does what as well as be able to guide my clients through the workout appropriately.

What you must not do is make excuses.  If you find that you cannot teach on an apparatus, again, it’s your education that is lacking.  What shall you do?  Take a session with the most senior teacher in that studio.  Make sure the focus of the session is learning the value of that apparatus and how to adapt it to your teaching.  Ask the manager of the studio if you can work yourself out so that you can get used to their apparatus.  Then, when you’re working with your clients, you are prepared.  If you do not like the apparatus, please do not share your thoughts on the apparatus with your clients.  Please be generous to the owner of the studio and respect her/his space.

As always, work with the best available to you.  Study with the best teachers available to you.  Practice a lot.  Be open to working in different situations on many different styles of apparatus.  I just closed my studio in L.A. and moved home to NY.  I now find myself honored to be practicing out of several of my friends’ studios.  Each week, I’m working on Pilates Designs by Basil, Gratz, Balanced Body, Peak.  Each  I work out on 4 different manufacturers’ apparatus!  And guess what?  They all work!  I’m getting great workouts and am grateful for my friends’ generosity!

*****Thank you for reading!  Please write comments and ask questions!  Your comments are insightful and may spark something for another reader and me!

If you have a topic you’d like me to blog on…please let me know!


March 30, 2010 at 1:30 am 79 comments

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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