Madeline Black talks about Centered

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Long Island, New York. I loved dancing as a child but was not given the opportunity to train until I was in high school. I began professional lessons in New York, Boston and then at Skidmore College where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Dance. I danced professionally in a modern dance repertory company that toured the United States and Europe. The company structure was changing and I wished to land in New York City to further pursue my dance career. I was hired to work at the Eastside Sports Medicine Center in New York as a trainer. It was this experienced that led me into the field of movement education, sports training and manual therapies. I dove deeply into studying and practicing bodywork therapies, Pilates, yoga and Gyrotonic. I moved to San Francisco and opened the first private Pilates studio. Pilates was not known and had a very small community. As the industry grew, my teachings became in demand and the doors opened throughout the world. “Centered” is a culmination of my teachings supported by science.

What made you write the book “Centered”?

I had written numerous manuals and handouts for Pilates training over the many years of teaching. Teachers have repeatedly asked me if I had a book. Handspring Publishers contacted me inquiring if I was interested in submitting a book proposal. They provided me with the nudge to write “Centered”

In “Centered” you talk about Integrative movement practitioner. Can you elaborate.

I studied for 10 years with Sharon Wieselfish-Giammetteo who was a DPT in Connecticut. She had developed a body of work called Integrative Manual Therapy. Sharon developed an integrated approach of all manual therapies, cranial, lymph, circulatory, musculoskeletal and more for treating people with all sorts of aliments and dysfunction. I understand that movement can cause dysfunction from all the systems of the body not just myofascial. I integrate these concepts and techniques into a movement protocol. An example is using positional releases for the diaphragms to allow for more spinal motion. An integrative movement practitioner understands how all the body systems impact movement and blends techniques to optimize movement for the client.

You also discuss proprioception. How can movement therapists integrative it in their practice?

All movement requires proprioception or you couldn’t move without great thought. Proprioception is always present unless you have a major problem, which is rare. It is important to train proprioception after an injury or as one ages. The movement therapist can bring the person’s attention to feeling the texture of a prop, or Pilates apparatus such as the foot bar. Also, drawing the client’s attention to the eyes during the movement. This helps stimulate the nervous system to change proprioception. Try standing on one leg and focus using your peripheral vision to balance. Training the client to move on different surfaces such as carpet versus a wood surface is another way to train proprioception.

 You recently bring up the topic on fascia. What’s its relevance to Pilates?

Our living body is a whole connection of many systems that are not in isolation of one another. We dissect and analyze the body in isolation to learn. Movement is all of these systems functioning together. Fascia is part of this whole. Without muscles, fascia would not be able to function and the same with muscle. We call it musculoskeletal system when it is really myofascialskeletal system. I just made that one up. It is relevant to Pilates because we are strengthening and mobilizing the body to move better. It requires we understand this whole system, its function and cause of dysfunction. From this understanding, we can design a more effective session.

Which part of the book do you like most?

I love the opening of each chapter, the Contemplative Awareness. I wish to draw the reader into an introception place prior to reading more technical information. I love to think of the body as a metaphor for our lives.


Centered sets out to define a scope of practice – the integrative movement practitioner. Available at

The practice encompasses:

  • An understanding of the body’s movement potential
  • Analysis of the available movement in the body by identifying holding patterns caused by dysfunctional movement in the individual
  • Changing restrictions through techniques such as muscle energy, innovative Pilates set-ups on the apparatus and hands-on work
  • Developing a whole body approach for strengthening and brain imprinting exercises to reinforce a new way of moving
  • Self practice and continued education