One of the best things about being a Pilates teacher is the opportunity we have to keep learning about what we love. There are so many courses and certifications available now which is great but it can be hard to know how to invest our time and energy.
Earlier this year I went to NYC to attend FAMI, one of many anatomy courses on the market. I’d heard it was one of the best ways to develop my understanding of anatomy and movement and I wasn’t disappointed.
What is FAMI?
FAMI stands for Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries. It’s a four day course designed to give movement pros a deeper insight into anatomical science and injuries that affect so many of our clients. Most of the participants were Pilates teachers, but we also had a few yoga instructors and massage therapists. The facilitators and lecturers were MDs (medical doctors) and physical therapists.
What happens on the course?
On each day we covered a different area of the body:
DAY 1: The back
DAY 2: The upper extremity
DAY 3: The lower extremity
DAY 4: The pelvic floor
The days are intense. They run pretty much 9-5 with minimal breaks except for lunch. You begin with two academic lectures. Then every day after lunch we went into the Gross Lab for a few hours to study cadaver prosections. The day finished with a practical application of what we learned back in the lecture theatre. On the third day we had a working lunch as we constructed the muscles of the hip out of clay. On the fourth day we had a mock exam at the end.
It is an exhausting few days. I wanted to sleep for a week at the end of it.
Where is FAMI?
The course is held at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mt Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The main campus sits next to the Upper East Side to the south, Spanish Harlem to the north and Central Park to the west. The location is pretty cool and you get some time at lunch to have a wander round if you’re new to the area.
The hospital is an important feature of the course, in particular because of the lab work undertaken. The Gross Lab is considered by many to be the crown jewel of FAMI. It’s not often you have qualified doctors talking you through cadaver prosections. It’s this bit of the course that gives you the X-ray vision you wish you had when you teach.
As a side note on the Gross Lab and cadavers, it’s not actually gross or creepy. I still enjoy eating meat, even though people warned me I’d be put off for life! The smell of the lab takes some getting used to but there are face masks if you want one. They give you gloves to touch the specimens which you are encouraged to handle.
What were the best things about it?
Here are some of the things I loved the most about the course:
1. It’s intellectually rigorous.
The last time I thought so much was at law school. This is not an exaggeration or a joke. The lecturers and physical therapists encourage you to think for yourself which is great. The Pilates industry frequently gets crushed with dogma and ego, so giving us the tools to think rather than just do is extremely refreshing.
Also, they give you great notes with case studies to take away and work through yourself so you really get to grips with the materials (don’t worry – they give you the answers too).
2. You’ll meet cool people.
One of the things I love about travelling alone is the new people you meet. The people at FAMI were so friendly and you all have at least one thing in common – you love learning about movement. Everyone is engaged and enthusiastic and whilst everyone is cool, no one is too-cool-for-school.
If travelling alone is not your thing then get in touch with @movementintellect. Anneke has previously organised group trips to FAMI and may have some planned for the future!
3. It’s a great excuse to go to NYC.
I don’t think I need to say any more about that one.
4. The Gross Lab
This was an amazing experience. Seeing how the body works from the inside, getting close up to the spinal cord, holding a brain. It’s pretty awesome. Add to that the expertise of the doctors on hand to explain it all to you. That was super cool.
Where do you stay?
You need to organise flights and accommodation yourself. As it’s NYC, this is pretty easy and if you shop around you’ll get decent deals. I stayed in a tiny independent hotel on the Upper East Side. There’s loads of accommodation in NYC but I chose somewhere close to the hospital so that I could walk every day and didn’t need to rely on public transport or taxis. Other people who travelled from abroad stayed in aribnb accommodation.
Was it worth it?
100%. FAMI an intense learning experience. These become rarer and rarer as life goes on. When they do come along, they are precious. If you’re a Pilates teacher who is considering going, really do try and build it into your continuing development programme. It will be time, money and energy well spent.