Get to know Shari &
The Vertical Workshop
When you truly understand what you are doing…it’s nearly effortless and always fun!
The Vertical Workshop is the leading provider of Pilates education. What makes it so special is the brains and heart behind it and the desire to share education with all styles of Pilates…to all who wish to learn.
Shari takes the Classical repertoire (the order, rhythm and emphasis on full body movement) and combines it with a deep knowledge of how the human body actually works. If you want to go deeper and think critically than Shari is the teacher for you!
We are living in an era of information overload, bombarded with Instagram tricks, choreography and hyperextension ... Shari's work is so valuable because it's what our clients actually need! Smart, compassionate and fun ... she is the voice of reason!
Owner of Truro Pilates
Truro, Cornwall, UK
Shari Berkowitz is the founder/creator of The Vertical Workshop. She is a Pilates Teacher of Teachers, biomechanist and ergonomist. She travels the world teaching teachers of all styles of Pilates, though her vocabulary of exercises is classical. Her ability to cross over the boundaries of style in Pilates comes from her remarkable understanding of how the human body works, how people learn, how the apparatus works… She has an unusual ability for taking the most complicated concepts and turning them into simple nuggets of information that you can immediately use.
Prior to her Pilates life, Shari performed in musical theater. A successful singer, dancer and actress, she performed across the stages and screens of the world. Her Pilates practice and education began in NYC during the last 6 months of a 1.5 year period of physical therapy in her recovery from partial paralysis. You can read about her story From Paralysis to Pilates here: [INSERT link to PDF of Pilates Style Magazine article]. Once Shari found her passion for Pilates had overtaken her love of performing, she started The Vertical Workshop.
Though Shari’s Pilates vocabulary is classical with Romana Kryzanowska training her to be a Pilates teacher and then as the Power Pilates Director of West Coast Education and Lead Teacher Trainer for many years, Shari firmly believes that all styles of Pilates can give rise to effective work! We all share the same goals for our clients even if the way we get there is different. She does not support the conflicts between the different styles in Pilates. Shari works to create what she calls “A Community of Help” that crosses over the divisions of style.
The Vertical Workshop as a brick and mortar studio opened in Beverly Hills, CA in 2004. Shari owned and operated it running a teacher training program alongside the studio’s regular client workouts. The Vertical Workshop’s blog, The Pilates Teacher Blog, launched in 2008. In 2010, Shari closed the studio to move back to NYC (romance was calling). That is when The Vertical Workshop took to the road and the internet.
The Vertical Workshop thrives around the world in the many teachers who take continuing education workshops and webinars, sessions and classes in-person, live-stream or recordings, read The Pilates Teacher Blog and now train in The Vertical Workshop Comprehensive Teacher Training and Bridge Program. Wherever you are in the world, you can always access the education you need and desire.
The Vertical Workshop is shared by some of the greatest and dearest teachers in the world. Join us as we continually work to learn and share…and have a good time while doing it! We take the work seriously, of course, but we do not take ourselves too seriously!
Q and A with Shari
Q: What drives you? What makes The Vertical Workshop different?
Shari: Answering questions…and understanding!
When I was a student of Romana’s I was frustrated that she wouldn’t and couldn’t answer my questions about the human body. I understand that that wasn’t her forte…but I needed someone who could and wanted to answer my questions. I searched and couldn’t find anyone in the Pilates world who could. In which case, I knew I had to figure it out myself and then share with everyone else.
It’s from this that The Vertical Workshop became the place where you can go to feel safe asking questions and know that you are getting evidence-based answers. Ones that work. That’s for any question you have. Whether it be the questions of why The Elephant on the reformer is called The Elephant, has a rhythm of 1 count out and 3 counts in, is on 2 springs…or the 50 other questions you might have about that exercise or the countless questions you may have about Pilates, the human body, teaching tools…etc… We do not stop researching until we can answer your question with real information that you can use.
Q: You do something else that is different. You apply IAT. What is that?
Shari: IAT stands for Intrinsic Actions Technique. This is a method that I have developed that help everyone harness her/his natural physical potential. I know that sounds kind of corny, but everyone has greater physical potential if s/he only knew how to access it. That effortless seeming movement we see in an elite athlete…that amazing basketball player, that glorious ballet dancer…what do they have that you don’t? Access. The Vertical Workshop weaves IAT into the work. Taking Pilates to the next level of accomplishment. Giving you access to your physical potential.
Q: Why should we even care about how the body works? Isn’t it all just about how it feels?
Shari: Our clients and students deserve more than intuition to guide their Pilates. Often your intuition of how the body works is wrong… I feel the need to apologize, but it’s that straightforward. Intuition is a great place to start making discoveries, but it is not a final place of education and information. From our intuition, we can start a path of research that leads to a well-supported set of information…answers.
Now, I don’t expect anyone to become a research scientist like myself. As a biomechanist and ergonomist, I have an unusually broad and detailed perspective of all that we do in Pilates. These are my passions and I don’t expect them to be anyone else’s. However, a sincere education in the anatomy, physiology and physical biomechanics is essential in crafting a solid teacher training program from an apprenticeship program to continuing education. We are happy to provide that in The Vertical Workshop. We don’t teach our clients any anatomy or biomechanics…but we know it. And that makes all the difference.
Q: You refer to joy, care and fun in The Vertical Workshop? This is not what most people talk about with Pilates. What’s the deal here?
Shari: When you really understand something, it’s simple. What we have in The Vertical Workshop is so clear and simple because it’s thoroughly understood. When we understand…we can play and enjoy! We can work hard, be serious and enjoy at the same time. When we are confused, we don’t get to enjoy ourselves. Our goal for our clients, apprentices and teachers is clarity and joy as we achieve our goals. Sometimes the goal is simply to have fun! Other times it’s to get rid of pain! Other times to accomplish The Knee Stretches Knees Off. No matter what it is…if we as teachers truly understand it, then we can teach what is necessary…and then…it simply is successful and fun!