From 1972 to 1983, Debbie Rosas operated an exercise business in the San Francisco Bay Area known as the Bod Squad. In 1983, a series of sports related injuries prompted her, and one of her trainers, Carlos AyaRosas to research and develop an alternative method of aerobic exercise and strength training aiming for safe, non-impact, bodymind based movement. This led to the establishment of the Nia Technique.
She met Carlos AyaRosas at one of her fitness aerobics classes. He was hoping to get fitter to gain an edge in his upcoming tennis tournament. After taking a few classes, he approached Debbie about a job – teaching was what he had always wanted to do. Debbie gave him a routine to learn. Five days later, he came back ready to throw in the towel on his tennis pro career. The entrepreneur inside of me told me I should hire him – so I did.
One day, out of the blue, Debbie decided to call a friend who was a martial artist, in the hopes of learning more about the belt system. He invited her to the Dojo where he practiced his craft. Excited and not sure what to expect, she asked Carlos to join her.
From that day on their lives changed dramatically. When they arrived at the dojo the martial artist asked them to take off their shoes. He then told them to "move." As they began doing jumping jacks and leg lifts, he shook his head. "That is not moving. You have forgotten," he said.
It was through martial arts that Debbie realized she could incorporate new energy patterns and movements into class. From that day forward she never wanted to put her shoes on again to workout. She also took on the radical idea that working out didn't have to hurt to get excellent results.
At that time, the widely accepted health mantra was, “no pain, no gain.” Together, Carlos and Debbie rejected that notion and defined a new approach to wellness – one that broke away from high-impact aerobics, repetitive movement and mind-body separation. They spent the next 13 years creating Nia together.
This catalyzed a tremendous shift towards fusion fitness. Rather than obsessing over physical results, Nia tuned into the needs of the body, mind, spirit and emotions. Athletes, dancers, casual exercisers and gym-haters alike began to embrace the movement lifestyle because it felt good. It was exhilarating, not guilt-driven; expressive instead of one-dimensional. Healing, not exhausting. Nia ultimately forged the category known as mind-body fitness today.