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Guest blog: Nia Technique - All of the ahhhh and none of the ow


Posted by Jenny Block of One Nia Girl under Dance on 27 September 2012 at 11:00 PM

Jenny Block found herself in a fitness lull, when it came to trying new things there was one which caught her eye - Nia - the new dance sensation which is taking off globally! Jenny's letting us know why Nia has changed her life and why you should give it a try:

The soundtrack to A Chorus Line often plays in my head. “All I ever needed was the music and the mirror and the chance to dance for you.” I’ve always fancied myself a dancer, and I have a few professional gigs under my belt. But, let me be clear here, I was no Martha Graham or Twyla Tharp. So, sadly, like so many childhood things, dancing got put aside. So much so that even when an occasion for dancing would arrive, like a wedding or fundraiser, I wouldn’t even bother to dance. It suddenly seemed silly.

That might explain why every time I drove passed Move Studio in Dallas, where I live, I just kept on driving, despite being intrigued. “Nia,” it said on the sign, alongside pilates and yoga. I had no clue what it was really. But I had heard rumors of flowy, twirling, “woo woo” women connecting with their inner goddess. Not for me. But when I found myself looking for a way to exercise that wouldn’t bore me to tears and hurt me more or as much as it would help, I decided I would try it out. What did I have to lose? 

Not a thing, it turns out. But I certainly had a ton to gain. 

It wasn’t what I expected at all. Maybe it was the unfamiliar name. Maybe it was just that I didn’t know anyone who did it. Or maybe it was just because sometimes new stuff freaks me out a little. (Although it certainly doesn’t stop me from trying it!) But once I tried it, I loved it. Literally, the minute class started I knew it was for me.

Nia is a cardiovascular dance/fitness class that draws from the dance, martial, and healing arts. It completely eschews “no pain, no gain” and is based on 52 moves, but it also has lots of room for doing things in what fitness guru and Nia co-founder Debbie Rosas calls, "your body's way."  It focuses on stability, agility, flexibility, strength, balance, and conditioning, offering your body all of the requisite conditioning and cross-training.

Basically, it’s real fitness without all of the punishment, offering your body everything it wants and needs without the pain factor. Bottom line -- It’s a fun class with moves that anyone can do to music that makes it impossible to stand still. The best part is that it will get you in great shape without you even realizing how hard you’re working.  Nia is all about moving with intention and listening to what your body wants instead of beating it up for no reason other than “the teacher says so.”

Oh, and did I mention it is ridiculously fun and that I’m in the best shape I’ve been in years? Nia has done so much for my body, including toning my arms; strengthening my legs and core; and tightening my middle and backside.

At the risk of scaring you off, the other part of Nia that I’m drawn to is the fact that it is a body/mind/spirit practice. No, there are no candles or incense burning. There is no scarf swirling or speaking in tongues or anything otherwise New Age or “woo woo.” There is, however, a mindfulness to it that makes it an ideal source of meditation; an intensity that makes it a powerful workout; and focus that makes it an empowering spiritual practice. 

When I do Nia, I can tune into what I need whether it’s some quiet, some affirmation, some sunshine, some sweat, whatever. Practicing Nia helps me check in with myself, take better care of myself, and, ultimately, be my best self.

Nia has made me, and thousands of others, happier and healthier. There are more than 2500 teachers around the world and those who do Nia swear by it. I won’t lie. It’s not an easy thing to describe. It’s one of those things you just have to try for yourself. And sometimes it even takes a few classes to make it click.

It can be hard to let go of what we have long considered the only way to exercise. But what Nia has to offer makes it worth it to strip off your shoes, try something new, and listen to all of the information your body is offering you. We have to relearn what it means to get a great workout. Feeling like we’re wrecked is not the key to true, long-lasting fitness. Feeling strong, balanced, and fearless is.

Perhaps Rosas herself says it best when she explains:

“Anyone can get a workout with Nia. Why? Because we use the whole body as a whole, not as parts. Because we move through levels and planes, moving closer and further away from the ground. Because we use the voice and nine movement forms that address the conditioning of the most important part of a body; the nervous system. This is exactly what an athlete does. They train using the body, their body, based on its design and function, which is precisely what we do in Nia. We follow the body's way.”

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