Continuing Education: Fast Track or Transformational Track?

by Madeline Black

August 9, 2017

Every year, we all participate in workshops to elevate our work to better serve our clients, to be inspired, and (hopefully) to increase our value. Continuing our education brings us up to date on new research and provides expansion of our repertoire. Education is costly in terms of our time and our money. And it is important to be able to realize the value of that investment by having the ability to implement, effectively and with confidence, what was taught.

I raise the question about the amount of time spent in workshops and weighing the benefits. The benefits are relative to what a teacher wishes to learn. Is it choreography only? Or is it learning a script for cueing? As Eve Gentry said, “Are you a conveyor belt or a teacher?” In a workshop lasting two or three hours, it is not likely the experience provides enough practice time, nor allows for the teacher to embody the work. I am not speaking about a workout session. I am speaking about education that brings the teacher into a different place in their work. This only comes from more time spent with the continuing education provider, practicing with guidance, asking questions, exchanging ideas and having a supportive experience.

To be a teacher, one must be able to see the vast number of possible strategies people perform when moving. It is being able to identify the preference versus non-IMG_6532preference movement patterns. Then using this information to verbally cue, with hands-on guidance to direct the movement and facilitate change in the client’s body – choosing a sequence that best serves the client in that moment because you can see how the body’s tissue tension is inhibiting their movement potential. The movement may appear the same, such as footwork. However, is the sequencing from the feet to the spine a functional one? No two people move the same way. If they do not move the same way, then their musculature is not engaging in the same pattern. Strengthening poor patterns does not serve to improve the person’s movement potential. Guiding the client to make a conscious shift in the patterning will strengthen a healthier functional pattern. This will actualize their movement potential in life, sports and activities they enjoy. This is the depth of the physical work in Pilates and the magic that transforms people.

Teachers who are aligned with my message know that a deeper experience helps them improve their teaching and thereby increases the impact on their clients.


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Madeline-Headshot2017-683x1024 Madeline Black has distinguished herself as an international leader in movement and exercise education. She has been known as the “teacher’s teacher” for over 25 years. Madeline’s first comprehensive book, “Centered, Organizing the Body Through Kinesiology, Movement Theory and Pilates Techniques”, which defines the synthesis of her approach to movement training was published in 2015. Madeline presents regularly in over 20 countries and for conferences such as Pilates On Tour, and Pilates Method Alliance. She is regular teacher online for Pilates Anytime and Fusion Pilates EDU.

What sets Madeline’s teaching apart is her emphasis on clear instruction. From her lecture demos, to her hands-on work, to her educational and supplemental materials, participants leave her workshops immediately able to integrate her ideas and concepts into sessions with their own clients. She draws inspiration from a vast knowledge of anatomy, fascia research, biomechanics, and energy work, which has lead to an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to Pilates, yoga, and GyrotonicÒ.  Madeline’s accessibility, articulateness, commitment to Pilates, and decades of experience, make her a beloved and sought-after instructor.