Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nia Jam!

I love dance exercise. Give me chassé and some jazz hands and I’m thrilled. So it’s been fun to give Nia a try at my health club, Prairie Life Fitness. Last Friday night I joined in a “Nia Jam,” where four instructors took turns leading a packed class.

Our Nia instructors getting ready to teach at the Nia Jam.

How do I describe Nia? A variety of music transports the class from the jazz club to the dance club to the beaches of Jamaica, mon. The moves are fluid, easy to follow and low impact. It’s a different way of moving your body and it feels so good. Take a look.

Nia was created in San Francisco, by Debbie Rojas and Carlos Ayarosas, two fitness professionals who were tired of the “no pain, no gain” philosophy of exercise. They wanted to develop something that felt exhilarating, healing and supported the mind-body connection found in yoga or tai chi. There are no burpees here.

Holly Nastase, one of the instructors at Friday’s class, has been doing Nia for 22 years. She says Nia reflects “the body’s way of telling us how to move.” The spine is curved so we “dance the spine” in a way that reflects the spine’s natural shape.

Because Nia is low or no-impact, it’s done without shoes, which always feels great after a long day in heels. Every class has a focus and participants are instructed how to zero in on a specific goal, such as improving agility or exercising the joints.  Core conditioning is always part of the class. It's a gentle routine, perfect for any fitness level.

            “The focus helps you direct your attention on a specific area, how you move and how you feel” Holly explained. “You can learn a lot about your body and yourself in Nia.”

Nia emphasizes cardio fitness, flexibility and balance. It’s not a workout that’s going to leave you drained and shaking. But you get your heart pumping and afterwards, you feel energized. Ready to head for the cafe and a glass of wine. 

Have you tried Nia? What did you think?

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