FAMI Level 2: A Closer Look At The Spine

Over the past year I have become quietly evangelical about the FAMI workshop, a New York based movement programme.  Their strapline sums them up neatly: where movement meets medicine. In June I spent four days studying with them in NYC. It was mind-blowing: doctors, pilates teachers, physical therapists all on hand for four days of in depth movement education.  I loved it.  When I heard there was a continuation of the course later in the year, I couldn’t resist.

There’s no denying it, travelling thousands of miles and crossing an ocean for a course that runs less than a week is punchy.  To do it twice in six months could be considered the genesis of a strange new education addiction. It’s time away from friends, family, a job I love, and it’s an expensive undertaking. But it was truly amazing and more than worth it.

Here’s what FAMI 2: The Next Layer involves.

What is FAMI Level 2?

FAMI Level 2 is the continuation of the original FAMI workshop hosted at Mt Sinai hospital. Over two days we take the theory learned in the first workshop and look at its application in the context of Pilates.

The best way I can think of describing it is a 360 degree view of movement education: anatomy theory, clinical perspective, physical therapies and direct application to Pilates.

Every year the the course focuses on a different part of the musculoskeletal system. This year it was the spine and taking a closer look at the biomechanics of the spine and various spinal pathologies.  We concentrated on non-specific low back pain, disc herniations and post-op spine surgery. For each we considered rehab principles and programming for each.

There was also the option to arrive a day early and attend a day of Balanced Body Anatomy 3D, a skeleton build of the spine’s muscles onto a model skeleton. This was an extremely helpful reminder of the hugely complex anatomy of the spine before embarking on the movement bit of the course.

What makes FAMI 2 so special is the practical piece. You’re in your Pilates clothes doing the movement and working with other participants analysing their movement.  It’s the bread and butter of a Pilates teacher.

What do you get out of it?

The most important takeaway from the course is the confidence that it has given me as a Pilates teacher to approach clients with spinal injuries.

It’s the perfect bridge from theory to practical, 5-star movement education. The days include lectures from a physical therapist and doctor and movement programming from an industry leading Pilates teacher. The combined knowledge of the workshop facilitators is phenomenal. They make the information somehow come alive and relevant to you as a teacher and your clients.

I’m also a real stickler for good workshop materials and FAMI doesn’t disappoint. You’ll get a binder full of lecture notes, anatomy information, exercises and programming pictures to take home with you.  Also, they follow up the course with a video of all of the exercises covered.

Where is FAMI 2?

FAMI 2 is hosted at the Kinected Pilates studio in Chelsea, NYC.  It’s a bright and airy, fully equipped space.

The studio space is integral to the course. It’s a very practical few days and we spent a lot of time looking at programming for populations with various spinal limitations. And we used lots of the Pilates equipment: reformer, cadillac, chair and mat as well as small props like the theraband.

Where do you stay?

Obviously as I’m based near London I needed to consider accommodation. Kinected was extremely helpful in recommending places to stay for the duration of the course.

Whenever I travel for a course, I always stay within walking distance to minimise travel stress. I chose to stay at the Hilton in the Fashion District but there are loads of places to choose from.

The location of the studio is super cool and there are loads of workout places, eateries and shops nearby. I had an amazing few days of exploring the surrounding area. Chelsea Market and Yogamaya studio were two of my favourite finds.

Just as an aside, the location of FAMI 2 is way cooler than FAMI 1. If you’ve done FAMI 1 and are sitting on the fence about whether to do FAMI 2 because it’s a bit of a trek, bite the bullet at do it.  You’ll have a blast whilst you’re out there.

Who is it for?

Understandably, most of  the people on the course were Pilates teachers. The course is written in the language of Pilates. The exercises have their origins in Pilates. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, how many years you’ve been teaching or how much you know about anatomy.  Everyone learned a lot. So don’t let inexperience (fear) or experience (ego) get in the way.

If you’re a yoga teacher, massage therapist or other body worker then still consider it. I met yoga teachers on both FAMI 1 and FAMI 2.

Should I go?

YES! If you have the time and resources and have a thirst for information and education then most definitely you should go. Who wouldn’t want to collect CPD points in NYC? I’m hoping to make FAMI 2 an annual event – I’m looking forward to studying the shoulder in 2020!








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