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History of Balanced Body Training Program
So I'm here with Ken Andelman from balanced body and he's going to tell us about what were the origins of the education program. It was about 2006 and, and um, uh, the plan, the applies road was in kind of a kind of a neat time. I mean it was, it was growing fast now. It was healthy, it was vibrant. Um, but we were kind of in a situation where our competitors that the other manufacturers had education, but we didn't. And, and in to sell equipment, it's, it's, it's a real, it's a challenge cause people don't buy equipment unless you're trained on how to use it. But if they're not trained to use it, they won't buy it. They won't buy it in the search and use it. So it's this big chicken and the egg thing. And so our dilemma was, is that people were coming to us, prospective customers that wanted to come into the applies community and what we were doing and just say, well, you know, call these people that we think are really good educators and they're the first stop place where you go for education. And then they would just drop out of sight. So some did and some didn't. And, and, uh, and in a kind of look to me and in fact that kind of, it really was that our competitors that were offering education and equipment at the same time, we're making it a lot easier for prospective customers that wanted everything handed to them to come to and say, we've got a solution for you.
And so I was kind of, I was worried that, that if we didn't do that, then at some point, um, instead of us being the number one manufacturer Polly's equipment, we didn't have been the last person, you know, within about 10 years or something. So I was kinda concerned. So it Kinda, it made sense to me to be able to figure out a way to offer education and, and, and do it in such a way that we could attract people. But then the big challenge for me was how do we do it and how do we really cultivate all our other educational partners that are out there. They're doing a really good job with education. So we, you know, we've been traveling around many of the educational conferences and we always see your equipment. Um, what's your strategy there? Um, it's really a simple strategy. Um, in order to really have a vibrant, healthy, plys community, we need to have lots of good quality educators out there and, and we feel like we really want to support them so that we can continue to have really good quality people out there. At the end of the day, no matter what we do to go to the plies community, we can't do it unless we have customers that have a really good experience at the hands of a really good instructor and hopefully it, you know, while they're on a balanced body performer.
So our goal is to make sure that people have the best education. And so to that end, as there's other conferences out there, whether we're putting them on or somebody else is putting them on, we do our very best to support those conferences in whatever way that we can so that, um, they can produce really good teachers and they have really good training. Um, it just, it's just better for all of us everywhere. It seems that we meet each other pretty much all of the polarities conferences, you know, why are you so passionate about attending all these events? For me, I know that the one thing that's gonna make this industry survive and prosper is if it's really healthy. And I think conferences are really great places because people come there to learn. It's just really an, a great, great environment to really encourage people to learn.
And also if we create a really good experience for them, then when they go back, they're going to create an excellent experience for the customers. And no matter what we do in, in, in the world of marketing or anything else, the most important thing that anyone can do is to create the best experience for our customer because they're the ones that will go out and talk to their friends and get them to come into the studios and that. So it's really going to build our industry. So from my perspective, what I really like to do is go out there, encourage the other educators out there, encourage any educated that's doing a good job, you know, to, to, to excite their customers so that they'll go out and get into the studio world and grow our market. It's kind of what it's all about.
Nora St. John Introduction
We're here in Sacramento today with Norris and Shaun have balanced body and when she's going to tell us all about their education programs. So I know that Balance Body didn't always do a training.
Can you tell me how the program started and what was the history behind it? I met Ken 1989, uh, when I was working at St Francis Hospital and um, I was always the one, I was the only mechanical one in the group. So I would always talk to Ken about machines that had issues and he'd always tell me his tis joke of the day. And, um, I, I met him there and then in 2002, I was the producer, co-producer for body, mind spirit, which is the first big place conference. And went to cannon said, would you give us $100,000 worth of equipment just because you should? And he said, sure, I will. And that started a deeper relationship. We're really working together on a business basis.
And then once I was done with body, mind, spirit, I said, hey, I've got another idea. It's called plot is on tour. Doing these small regional conferences work together on that and you got to know both me and Al, uh, my husband and partner in this, in this business on that basis. So we work together for plot, he's on tour and that's when Ken started to say, Hey, you know, do you guys think you could do education for us? Do you think that would be useful? How would that work? And at that point, I'd already been teaching a teacher training program since 1999. I'm in the San Francisco Bay area through my studio. And um, and said, sure, I can do a teacher training program. Why not? And so that's how we got hired to do the teacher training program through balanced body. And that's why they decided to bring that on.
Training Program Overview
Can you tell me an overview of the all the education programs that balanced body offers? [inaudible] oh, spidey has a whole range of options from a new instructors taking instructor training programs. Um, we actually have, um, programs for [inaudible], for Coraline, for um, orbit and arc and a lot of contagious [inaudible] modules. We also do a program on bar balanced body bar and an anatomy of three dimensions training program. And we also do a lot of continued education through plot is on tour and lot of [inaudible] workshops and um, a lot of presentations at conferences. What makes the programs of balanced body unique? Well, it's fine.
It's pilot instructor training program is unique in a couple of different ways. We're certainly has a certain focus that other programs don't have. Quite so much of. My particular background is I was a dancer. I was also a biology major. I'm also an acupuncturist and a massage therapist. So I combined some of the science background into the plot is teaching.
And one of the things that is a foundation for me of training the body is understanding anatomy and biomechanics. And that's something that we really like to bring into the program at a lot of different levels. And, um, we, uh, have the, I think the only standalone anatomy program for platas teachers that we offer to any school anywhere. Um, the anatomy in three dimensions, which is a unique and kind of wonderful way for kinesthetic and non book learning people to learn anatomy, real hands on. Curious there. Can you tell me a little bit more about when you say it's hands on? Um, yeah, we literally have a skeleton that's about this big that's sculpted with, you know, most of the anatomical landmarks of the bones and we build all of the muscles on that mannequin in clay. So it gives you a really good idea of Oh, the muscles this long and it's this shape and it attaches here and the one next to it attaches there. And it really helps you to see the, the real three d structure and the relationships of the, the systems in the body. And um, what I say is I've built it probably, I don't know, 30, 40 times by this point.
And there's something about building it yourself that builds an internal model of all those pieces and parts. So for me, it makes problem solving from a anatomical perspective much easier. It's like, oh, there's a problem there, what's happening there? And you can get a good picture in three d of All the muscles where they're coming into, where they're attaching, how they're interacting, and then perhaps have a better idea of how to change a movement or modify a movement or strengthen something, restrict something depending on what your, your internal model is telling you. I think a lot of what people say about our program who've done other programs, they like the, the, the modifications that we really go from pre, pre, pre, PyLadies, um, every exercise you have modifications and challenges for a lot of them. So there's a broad range that we include on every exercise. We include precautions of contraindications and, and you know, sort of, uh, ways to modify and ways to work with different injuries throughout the program.
Um, not so much from a a PT or physiotherapy perspective, although a lot of pts take our program. Um, but more from just a, a lot of our new clients are going to walk in your door and have back pain or neck pain or shoulder pain and here's how you can keep them moving through all those problems. So that's something that we, I'd say as a school emphasize also we are more diverse in our faculty and in our kind of training philosophy. Then most of the other schools, so all of our teachers, uh, most of our teachers have come from somewhere else. So they've come through Pollstar, they've come through Romana, they've come through Bassey, they've come through physical mind. Um, so they a start, they all have different backgrounds that they bring to the way that they teach. So some are more rehab oriented, some are more movement oriented, some are more class oriented. Um, and we like that we really, we really sort of celebrate the diversity of voices within our community.
What is the Training Program Like?
The, I'm interested in training as a [inaudible] instructor. Can you tell me the process by which you do that?
So our program is modular. There's eight modules students can take each module at at, at a time when it's convenient for them and a place that's convenient for them. And we have two mat modules, three reformer modules and three other apparatus modules, trap chair and barrels. And I'm the prerequisite for that is an anatomy module, which students may have taken already as part of previous training or they may take through us, depends on their background. Um, once they go through the weekend modules, there's also observation hours and student teaching hours and personal practice hours that they do as part of their training. They'll often do that at the place where they're doing their training, but sometimes I'll do it at a remote location if they're not near the, the training center. And then once they've completed all of their hours, they'll do a practical and a written test out and they will be a plus instructor.
Does your training program prepare people to take the PMA exam? It does, it does. We were fortunate in that our program didn't start until after the PMA had put out their study guide and standardize a lot of the names. So when we put together our materials, we tried to use their names and make it very clear that we were covering that material in the manual, in the study guide. So it's designed somewhat to, to cover that and other things as well. Do you provide any study guides or other materials to help with the training?
We do. We have detailed manuals. We also have instructor training videos which review each exercise in detail so they know how to set it up, what the modifications are, things to look for. Um, all that's included along with a lot of guidance in terms of how they progress through their observation and student teaching hours. You talk about the observation, how is, how do I get my observation hours if I'm going through your program? So observation hours in the honestly pre-applied is anytime days you used to be, you had to show up at a studio and observe the classes and make notes on the classes that you were observing. Um, we let our students do both in person observation and video observation. Um, again, not to plug plot is anytime too strongly, but because plight is anytime is there and it's really good teachers and you can vet the classes ahead of time. Um, I'll often go through and say, here's a bunch of teachers you should look at in plot is anytime. Um, and I think that really gives them that opportunity to see different styles. Um, done really well, learn different verbal killing and see a lot of, you know, different ways of putting classes together.
Where Can I Take the Programs?
Where do you offer your training programs? Is it just in Sacramento? We have, uh, over a hundred host sites domestically and internationally. Um, host sites are different for us than for some other organizations. For us, host sites are actually locations where a teacher is at a studio. So it's not somewhere where we send a teacher into a studio. It's a studio with a local teacher. Um, so we have a hundred host sites around the world, um, all over the u s a lot of international countries, so lots of options.
The teacher generally works at the host site. It's her studio or his, it's different than I know like for example, Bassi a host side is where a teacher will come in and teach an official Bassey teacher will come in to that host site and teach and then go home. Ours typically are a resident, a teacher, resident, faculty member. If I'm interested in being trained with balanced body, how do I find out if there is a training center within my local community there is on plots.com which is the balanced body website. There's something called the education finder, which lists every class of all the courses that we offer. And you can just go on there and say, I'm in California, I want to see all the [inaudible] classes.
And they'll all show up and you can see where they're all located. There's also list on there of all of our hosts or our host sites or authorized training centers. Um, so you can look and see if one of those is near you and that gives you another opportunity to, to call them up and say, hey, when's the Mac Mt. One coming.
How Long is the Program?
And typically, how long does it take a student to go through all the modules and graduate from your program? It can vary, but I'd say usually it takes about a year cause it's eight modules, which can be offered every month or every three, four weeks or every month, depends on the studio. And then it takes someone to some time to get all of their student teaching hours together then to finally test out. So I'd say it's about a year.
If they complete the whole comprehensive training program. And typically there's a student work during their training program or are they really just full time studying? Um, they're often working during the training program. I mean most students I think these days have ended through another job or have to make money or have to raise a family. So very commonly they're doing the training program and getting their hours and having another job, you know, all at the same time. That's why it takes a year.
What is the Test Like?
When the student has completed the program, how do you test them at the end? You know, what's their final, what's the final graduation process? So the final process for students is to take a written in a practical test. And those are offered either at their local host site or authorized training center or at um, plight is on tour or through me if I'm somewhere in the neighborhood. Um, or they can also do it online or via video I should say.
So some students are, you know, in India or something and can't test out in person. So they'll send in a video. So when it comes, if they video themselves, typically what are you asking them to do? Are they teaching a lesson? What, what, what's, what are they? So our final practical test is a lesson they'll teach a whole hour, 50 minute session to somebody. I'm on all the apparatus and you know, we're looking to see, they know the set up of the exercises and know how to cue them and, or dealing well with the client and are engaged in the process of actually teaching the client and how they put the program together as well. So we're looking at all those things. Yeah. And it's a full, it's a full hour session.
So we can see them in a number of different pieces of equipment. Interesting.
How Many Students Have Graduated?
How many people who have graduated from your comprehensive polarities instructor program over the years? Um, s I bet a thousand have completed the whole program and I'm, it's about 250 a year. Oh, once a student has graduated from your program, what kind of support do you offer them?
So are authorized training centers, provide them with job placement, the local area. They often are the best equipped to understand what the needs are in the local area. And typically once you become a training center, a lot of the local studios will, you know, bring requests in Sandy, a new instructor. Do you have someone who could teach mat and there'll be the best place to do that. Bounce body also has a job board, which is free to the students to look on and see what jobs are posted on there. Um, it's a small fee to companies who want to post on there.
Continuing Education Courses
If I want to stay in good standing with balanced body, do I need to do any continuing education once I've graduated did, in order to continue to be a active involved flight, his teacher, the canoe education is really critical. I'm also to complete a, for students to maintain their certification with the PMA, should they choose to go that route and they'll need to complete 16 hours of continuing education credits every two years.
And those can be through a variety of educators and not just balanced body, but they could be through Stott or peek or some other Pollstar or um, uh, personal training, certifications, lots of different options.
Host Sites and Faculty Training
If I own a studio and I'm interested in having training in my facility, can you tell me a little bit about the process and you know, how I could qualify for that program? So there's two different options. If you own a studio and you want to bring training into your studio, you can be what's we call an onsite, which means that we'll send an instructor to you, they'll train your staff and they'll go away. And then you'll be responsible for continuing the training, moving them on their next steps, doing their observation and student teaching hours. Um, or if somebody wants to become an authorized training center and be a resident faculty member in that host cider in that studio, then what they'll need to do is, first of all, we have to figure out if we need somebody in that area.
We work really hard not to have competing authorized training centers so that there's only a certain number in any area so that everybody gets the appropriate amount of business. And so if there's, we need one in your area, then you contact balanced body, you typically talk to Al Harrison, our director of education and he'll look and see if there's a need. We talked through the background of the person. So to be an authorized training center, the faculty member or to be a faculty member have to have at least five years of instructor training after being comprehensively trained. I usually prefer that, uh, the teachers have had some teaching experience if it, if it's just teaching their own teachers or doing workshops or something because teaching teachers is very different than teaching clients. Uh, and it's also kind of a matter of what their desire is in teaching. Like why do they want to become a teacher? Um, I like my teachers to be really dedicated to that as a, as a task. I want to teach teachers, I wanna move this, this work forward, and rather than just, I need people from my studio to make money.
So I'd rather have them actually want to be teachers. So once they've gone that, then we also have a faculty training program. So once they've, uh, been fitted as you as it were, they apply. And then there's a faculty training program, which is two, six day programs. One focuses on the principles mat and reformer, and the second one focuses on all the other apparatus. And it's a repertoire review, understanding the manuals, understanding how to put programs together. There's a lot of practice teaching that they do practice their presentations.
It's also how you run a training program. So all the logistics of that. And where in the world do you host that? That program? Um, the faculty trainings, we always have ones here in Sacramento. And then we're also do some internationally, kind of an [inaudible] on an on demand basis. This or we're going to Poland. Um, we've done some in some in Singapore a couple of years ago. So it really depends on where in the world we have instructors who need training, who can't get to the u s very easily.
If I'm running your training programs in my facility, does that restrict me from partnering with other training organizations in any way? So this gets a little complicated for balanced body because we offer so many training programs. So for example, we wouldn't want a studio or an authorized training center offering to plots instructor training courses. That just wouldn't work. I think it's just a conflict of interest. It gets confusing. Students don't know what they're getting. So if they're offering our plaza instructor training program, that's the only one they can offer. Um, however, because we offer Coraline and anatomy in three dimensions and other programs that are, you know, beyond PyLadies or an adjunct to polities, those can be offered by anybody. So for example, we have Pollstar training centers that offer the Coraline training courses.
Um, the pole star licensee in Brazil is our biggest Coraline educator there and her whole team. Um, so our, our adjunct courses can be offered anywhere and we often do try to cross lines that way just to keep bridging the gap within the plotters world and keep everybody talking and, and moving forward in different ways.
Other Training Programs
I understand that you offer lots of other training programs outside of polarities. Can you tell me what those are? So the three that we currently offer, we call the abcs. So anatomy in three dimensions, which is an anatomy training program, um, balanced body bar, which is, you know, an upright bar based group exercise class to music and the Coraline, which is a piece of equipment that's not dissimilar to Pleiades equipment and involves a whole series of exercises that are mostly done up, right, that involve balance, coordination, strength. Um, and a really great adjunct in this case to out plotters or a great standalone modality depending on what your needs are. And in those training programs, are they as comprehensive as the party's program or are they shorter to become a certified in bar or call line?
Uh, it varies. So anatomy in three dimensions as a standalone typically done as a three day, two or three day course, I'm covering the shoulders to the knees. If you want to cover the whole body, it's more of a five day course. Um, the bar is just a one weekend training program with additional hours and a final test out the Coraline is a three weekend training program. Again, plus additional hours and a final test out.
Core Align Training
So I know that one of the additional training programs you offer is Coraline. Can you tell me about the equipment and the program?
So we're going to start with just a little bit about the equipment and where it came from. There is a physical therapist named Jonathan Hoffman who was playing with this in his studio in Israel and started to do both physical therapy and group classes. On it. And he brought this to us literally in like a windsurfing bag on the airplane and laid it down and we started playing with it. And, um, people bring us stuff all the time, honestly, and a lot of the dislike, you know, useful, not useful, but this was one of those pieces of equipment that had so many options that were so clear, so quickly and so many valuable uses that we really, you know, took it on and started to run with it. The Coraline itself is this unit here with just this platform, that platform and these two carts. Um, it's a little bit like a reformer carriage in that you've got, you know, resistance from one end that is, uh, in this case an elastic resistance, not a spring, but it's still progressive, not, not static. And it can be used in standing and in, um, prone working every feed out of your hands and all kinds of different things can happen here.
And what we discovered was the Coraline is fantastic for developing upright balance, postural support, strength coordination, all of those pieces. And, um, what we've discovered in use is that it's been really great to add to either a plot is practice is kind of an additional piece of the [inaudible] circuit if you will, or the plot is plus a circuit, if you will. Um, it's a really nice way to take all the plots, principles and move them up into standing. It has also been used a lot in physical therapy centers to Rehab after a hip injuries, knee injuries. We have a clinic up in Montana that works a lot with skiers and runners and a lot of high end athletes and they use this all the time for them to get them back to, you know, ski condition or running conditioner, that kind of thing. It comes with, uh, the Coraline itself. And then this ladder is essential to act as a support for a lot of the exercises. This is a freestanding ladder, so it just hangs out in the middle of the room.
This can also be mounted to a wall if you have wall space. Um, training on this. It's um, a three module training that's three weekends plus additional teaching hours. And the first module focuses on exercises standing facing the ladder. So kind of basic beginning exercises. And then the second one is a lot more standing work. Um, and then the third one is a lot of different configurations of the equipment so it can be attached to this end. It can be attached to that end. It can be attached to both ends.
So lots of ways that you can arrange the resistance, um, in the cards. Uh, we found it to be a nice addition, uh, to really enhance, particularly for a rehab environment or a high level sports performance environment. It really I think is an excellent addition to Palladio's. We often say it's a little bit of a missing link that gets people from supine and city and, uh, up to standing, um, with some resistance and a lot of the same principles. So it's been a really great addition to a lot of studios. Some students using it as a group training, uh, [inaudible] Street, uh, called carp.
ADM in Oregon has developed a whole group exercise training program on it, which is fantastic and it's really nice, nice way to get people up and fit and moving. So do you find that when people do it in the group setting, it's a substitute or a compliment to reform a group classes? Is it the same type of market? It's this, it's a similar market because it's a big piece of equipment. It's an equipment based class, which tends to be a little bit on the more expensive side. Um, so there's that demographic challenge, um, but it also attracts a trex a lot more men. Uh, the first time that we had this at a booth at a big trade show, usually plot is booths are about 90% women. This time it was like 80% men.
So men just walk onto this and that. They're totally comfortable there. It feels like something they're familiar with. So we found it really attracts a lot more men, which is a nice demographic to get into a plotting studio and, um, and a lot more athletes, or I would say it expands the demographic in that range more than an age. [inaudible].