pr Fitness Classes

Fitness classes are only the beginning of Ed Center choices

Date: September 24, 2014
by: Molly Schechter | Contributing Writer

There’s a Longboat Key phenomenon that happens annually right after the tourist traffic finally fades because kids are going back to school and right before the car carriers start to unload their seasonal shipments. It is the arrival of the humble-in-appearance but ever so rich-in-content catalog from the Longboat Key Education Center. The cover blasts a slogan conceived long ago by Executive Director Susan Goldfarb’s late husband, Richard: “Like college, only better!” The artwork is an hourglass shape of stacked type, a graphic list of the amazing array of learning opportunities for the coming season.

The Ed Center, as it is lovingly and locally known, has been an outstanding, and as far as we know unique, feature of life on Longboat Key for nearly three decades. Laura Taubes, a retired educator from Scarsdale, N.Y., founded it in 1985 with the mission to provide learning and enrichment to keep the mind active and the spirit young. It wasn’t long before she hired Goldfarb to help with marketing on a part-time basis. One of the fringe benefits of that job was yoga classes, taught by “Yogi Ed” Schetter. When he became ill, Goldfarb became the yoga teacher — a role she continues to play to this day. Taubes kept the Ed Center going for 10 years, then she persuaded Goldfarb to take it on as executive director.

“The school became my passion,” Goldfarb says. “Everything I ever studied culminates in it.” That turns out to be a lot of territory. Goldfarb earned her degree in honors English from York University; she also holds diplomas from the University of Toronto (theater technology), from the Sorbonne in Paris (French language and civilization) and from the Ontario Conservatory of Music. Her yoga credentials include teacher training from Sivananda, Kripalu and Iyengar plus a YMCA instructor’s certificate in physical fitness.

The Ed Center catalog reflects all these interests and much more. Fitness classes are what first drew my attention; there has been yoga since day one, and there are other options, including qigong and Nia. Art classes, too, are offered every season, and other favorites repeat as well, including a women’s group on Fridays and popular film courses that sell out year after year.

Goldfarb works hard to keep the catalog fresh and estimates two-thirds of classes are new each year. Where do the ideas come from? She cites multiple sources.

“Because we’ve been around so long, a lot of people approach me with ideas,” she says. “I have an advisory board that acts as talent agents; they are out there in the community and bring me ideas and recommendations. Students do, too. Plus, there’s my personal reading about what’s going on in the community and the world.”

The result is a smorgasbord of learning opportunities from a lecture on “Ukraine — Update and Overview” to “Curious About Your Animals’ Thoughts,” from “Reconsidering Capitalism” to “Baseball’s Greatest Moments.” The catalog takes 56 pages to describe the courses, which are two, four, six or eight weeks, one-time lectures and workshops.

The offerings are divided into three terms: fall, from Oct. 20 through Dec. 19; winter, from Jan. 5 through Feb. 28; and spring, from March 2 through April 24. Yoga classes are eight for $104 for nonmembers; $88 for members. Most other courses average a little more than $20 per session for nonmembers and a little less for members.

Becoming a member of the Ed Center, which is located in the Centre Shops, has advantages above and beyond lower prices. For starters, all members receive their brochure by first-class mail in mid-August, at least three weeks before anyone else. This can be significant; more than 500 people attend something at the Ed Center every week in season, and many popular classes sell out. The basic membership that gets you the catalog early is $60 per individual or $85 for a couple. The Ed Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, so memberships are tax deductible; higher levels include additional perquisites. The details are in the brochure, as well as on the website, You can also view the brochure online and download a PDF, or you can request a hard copy via email to You are almost certain to find something you would like to know more about.

New Classes For the Fall Term

Movies — Art Of The Black & White Film
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Nov. 20 through Dec. 19
Price: Members $75; nonmembers $85
Instructor: Kathie Moon
Description: This class will view and discuss four obscure, modern black-and- white classics from the last 30 years, directed by filmmakers from across the globe, including director Patrice Leconte (French), the Taviani brothers (Italian), American indie director Kim Jarmusch and others.

Cine-World Film Festival Seminar
When: 10 a.m. to noon Mondays Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, and Friday, Nov. 14
Price: Members $55; nonmembers $65
Instructor: Kathie Moon
Description: The Sarasota Film Society’s annual Cine-World Film Festival is the best seven days in Sarasota for cinema; it offers a fabulous smorgasbord of excellent films straight from the Toronto, New York and Cannes film festivals. It is a “must see” for film buffs. Students will be assigned to watch six carefully chosen films at Burns Court Cinema. Discussions will follow at the Education Center.

Florida Gardens Gone Wild Workshop
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 15
Price: Members $20; nonmembers $25
Instructor: Lucy Beebe Tobias
Description: Whether you pot in containers on your condo balcony or have a spread with room to grow, you will learn how to create containers with a personal touch and bring water magic and butterflies to your yard at this workshop. Tobias will also tell engaging stories about gardeners who bond with their piece of Florida and suggest places to go for inspiration. There will be demonstrations, hands-on participation and takeaways.

Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer since 1996. She has a specialty certification in older-adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals I and II and Power PilatesTM Mat Certifications. She teaches Pilates mat classes and “Joy of Stretch” yoga classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center from November through April.

E-mail her at