36 Years of Nia-ndering and Counting: A Letter from a Nia Student

My name is Stephen Schneider. I am a 73-year-old psychiatrist in San Francisco, and I am a Nia-nderer.  In 1982 I joined Nautilus of Marin, in San Rafael, California, and sometime that year I made my way into a NIA class, taught then by Debbie and Carlos Rosas.  I don’t recall if it was love at first sight, but here I am, 36 years later, still doing classes 3 or 4 times each week. I figure I’ve taken well over 3000 classes, most of them in Marin County, although I’ve also NIA-ndered in Seattle, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; Boca Raton, Florida; Siesta Key Beach, Florida (an amazing class on the beach with sand like talcum powder), and New York City, where I’ve been privileged to dance at the JCC with Caroline Kohles, NIA’s sacred athlete of the year in 2015.  Whenever I travel, I use the class finder so I can get my NIA fix, and I am always warmly welcomed.

When Debbie and Carlos resided in Marin County, California, they led a Sunday morning class, also dubbed the Advanced Class, because it was 1½ hours.  For over 25 years, this class has been taught by Deborah Walker, NIA’s teacher of the year in 2015.  Deborah is terrific, and there are 4 of us (Mike, Fran, Alice, and myself), who’ve been together on Sunday mornings all these years.

I’ve danced with many different teachers, and want to express special thanks to Cheryl and Tania, who for many years taught classes at my San Rafael gym, and especially France-Laude Godard, whose classes I’ve attended for so many years, and she teaches the instructors during her many training sessions.  Those of you who have danced with her know what an amazing talent she is, and her classes are always special. Thanks also to Alexis, Kimberly, Suzanne, Megan, Julia, Ariana, Yvonne, Rachel, Danielle, Tahiri, Jessica and other teachers whose names I can’t recall.

NIA, as we all know, is a tremendous total body workout, which allows individual expressiveness, and is good for every age group and body type.  Despite 3 spinal surgeries, I still experience tremendous satisfaction and benefits. My mantra is, as long as you keep moving, you keep moving, and as you get older, you move slower and lower but keep moving.  NIA keeps my joints loose, my muscles taut, and my cardiovascular status healthy.  I often enter trance states during class, with eyes closed and my mind appreciating the enormous pleasure NIA engenders.

Furthermore, the other NIA-nderers are always friendly, supportive, and fully embraced in the pleasure of NIA.  I also recall some of the regulars we’ve lost, including Jim and Linda, also from our Sunday class. May they rest in peace and NIA-nder in the heavens.

And a special thanks for Debbie Rosas, who with Carlos created a lifetime of movement (actually physical therapy), for myself and those thousands of NIA-nderers in America and overseas.  I hope I can continue NIA-ndering for many more years, ideally into my 80s and 90s. Good health to all.


Dr. Stephen Schneider