My Nia Story — Nia Teacher Janet Kaufman

I'd like to share my fitness history with you which is a testimonial to the healing benefits of Nia.

I have always loved exercise and began playing tennis competitively in high school. If it wasn't for the joy I felt playing tennis and the camaraderie of the team, I wouldn't have fared so well the rigors of the private school, Head-Royce. Exercise lifted me out of depression. Once in college at the University of Oregon, I began jogging in the rain which also became the remedy for the emotional turmoil of an undiagnosed mood disorder. Throughout my 20's and 30's, I continued with jogging, cycling, kickboxing, and other high-intensity athletics until my neck, hips, and knees began hurting all the time. I saw a physical therapist to address the hip and knee pain. He pointed out the difference in my leg lengths and advised I stop exercising and start wearing a lift in my shoe.

Fortunately, I didn't take his advice. I could have been born with this asymmetry but after consulting with an orthopedic surgeon, I realized that this discrepancy originated from an early childhood trauma to my femur which had caused one leg to grow longer than the other. You see, when I was 5 years old I had a large bone tumor in my femur which caused severe pain and would have continued to grow without surgery. The tumor was removed, the bone was grafted, and I was put in a body cast for months. Despite the success of the surgery, I limped with pain until I was 8. Although my parents took me to the doctor to address the lingering pain, they had no explanation and just advised I take baby aspirin.

Fast forward to my early 40's, still very much wanting the health benefits of fitness, not to mention the benefit to my mental health, I needed to find a way to exercise that didn't hurt. I had a very wise chiropractor who was regularly adjusting my neck at this time. He said, "You know Janet if you weren't such a type A exercise fanatic, I would advise Yoga and Pilates, but I don't think you have what it takes." Smart man, I had to prove him wrong!

This was how I discovered the healing arts. Yoga improved my flexibility and helped me slow down. Pilates improved my posture and core strength. Then one day, I walked into a dimly lit room at an athletic club in Lafayette, California for what would be the biggest surprise of my life.

It was a Nia class. I was completely out of my comfort zone and very self-conscious... and yet as "weird" as this all seemed, I had to admit, I really liked it. Could I shimmy back then? Hell no. But I did like it so much that I rearranged my schedule so that I could always make it to that one Nia class. And guess what? I didn't wear a lift. I danced barefoot. I had no pain in my neck, hips or knees. And talk about emotionally cathartic! A year later, I wondered If I would love Nia as much as a teacher as I did as a student. The answer was yes...and is still a resounding yes! Do I miss jogging? Not at all.

Dancing through my life,

Janet Kaufman, Nia Black Belt

www.niajanetkaufman.com

www.nianow.com/niasite/san-francisco-bay-area