June 22, 2012

Nia: Where Dance Meets Fitness. ~ Jenny Block

I’m not going to lie to you. I hate to work out, and I hate the gym.

I don’t like all of the competition and the stealthy looks. I don’t like the pain, regardless of the gain. I don’t like using the machines that other people have sweat on. And I don’t like feeling inadequate no matter how much I lift the weights, spin the bikes or tread the mills.

I do, however, like to stay in shape. And therein lies the problem.

I used to do Jazzercise. But that got boring and quickly started taking a toll on my knees and ankles. I’ve done a lot of power walking. But no matter how scenic the location, that can get tedious too. There are only so many playlists to play and so many trails to walk. I was ready for something new.

So after the millionth time passing a studio with a sign that included Nia in its offerings, I decided to check it out. I had heard of Nia. Sort of. I heard it was something about dance, which I love, and something about fitness, which I needed.

Nothing to lose, I figured. But at that moment, I had no idea just how much I stood to gain.

The studio was full of all kinds of people; mostly women, but a couple of guys too. There were all ages and sizes. All sorts of attire, from yoga clothes to flowy pants and tops. The teacher, who turned out to be Jule Aguirre, looked one part athlete, one part friend, one part spiritual guru.

As the music started to play, Jule invited us to literally step-in to the class. I was swept away from that moment on.

You know that feeling you have when you go somewhere and feel like that’s where you belong? When you do something that your body simply seems made to do? When you meet someone who you have no idea how you lived without before?

That’s what Nia felt like to me. It felt like coming home.

Nia is a dance/fitness class. It can help you lose weight. It will definitely get you in shape. And, it will get you centered and focused. It’s a tall order. But it’s true.

Nia is comprised of 52 moves that are drawn from the dance, martial and healing arts. That means punching and kicking, spinning and reaching, stepping and bending. The dances are choreographed to terrific music. Best of all, to my mind, “no pain no gain” has no place in Nia.

I’ve been practicing Nia for more than two years. Every time I do it, I feel surprised that I actually, finally like exercising. I have made some of my closest friends in my Nia classes. And whenever I am away for too long, my body starts to crave it. I can’t think of any better sign that I’ve found something I’m made to do.

It makes sense, really. Co-founder Debbie Rosas designed Nia to work with the body instead of against it. As a fitness pro, she saw her instructors and students getting injured and bored after too many aerobic classes. She knew there had to be a way to improve the body without harming the body. That’s what Nia does. And wherever you are in terms of fitness level, Nia will meet you there.

You don’t have to be a dancer to do Nia.

But I’ve loved to dance ever since I was a little girl, and Nia certainly gives the dancer in me the chance to come out to play. The funny thing is that in the very same class there are people who are into tae kwon do and yoga and hardcore training. That is, until they came to Nia.

They may still want to do those things. But they don’t have to. Because, just like Nia feeds my tiny dancer, Nia also feeds their inner-warrior, their sacred meditator and their fierce personal trainer.

It’s funny. There are all kinds of misnomers out there about Nia—that it’s not really a workout, that it’s hippie dancing, that it’s only for old ladies, that there’s incense and scarves involved. All of those things are wrong, of course. I’m just relieved that I didn’t let them get in the way of me trying it out.

I have to say that I can’t imagine where I would be—body, mind and spirit—without Nia.

Nia has given me a great backside and an equally appealing outlook on life. It’s an exercise class that became my lifestyle practice. Who would have thought?


Jenny Block is a writer and the social media strategist for Nia Technique. You can find her work across the web. www.jennyonthepage.com and connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OneNiaGirl.






Editor: Cassandra Smith

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