In 1983, I was looking for a way to workout and address more than fitness. I wanted something that would provide more pleasure and efficiency in the body, as I had lost the ability to move naturally. I was exercising and moving mechanically. I decided I wanted to regain my body’s natural wisdom and ability to move. I set out to relearn how to move by listening to the voices of my body, and by following the sensation of pleasure versus pain.
The result was Nia, a worldwide movement program that has been changing people’s lives on an international level for more than 30 years. Nia was birthed at the heights of the aerobic boom. The fitness industry took notice to what we were doing, and created an offshoot of our concept, calling it "low-impact aerobics," which was a way of eliminating some of the jumping and related physical issues that developed from traditional aerobics.
Looking back, I'm proud to have influenced such an important movement. Even now, I’m committed more than ever to keep on doing what I love: using movement to heal. In many ways, I believe Nia is still as radical an approach as it was in its early days. I'm not exactly sure why it's not "mainstream" yet, but I do know that at 61 years old, I've discovered it’s the only workout that keeps me feeling vital and happy.
The creative way Nia involves 52 moves for my base, core and upper extremities is key. All parts of me get "worked out." The music is inspiring, with sounds that go beyond a simple beat! The seven developmental cycles of each Nia routine that create a holistic experience, and the variety of Nia's nine unique movement forms stimulates my entire being. Nia encourages me to use my voice. I love how Nia includes the hands and fingers, and how linear, spiral and horizontal motion is integrated into one experience. I learn to use my eyes to move my head. I get this and so much more because Nia is an incredible sensation science.
Sometimes it takes a while for others to catch on to revolutionary ideas. Take yoga as an example; it's 5,000 years old. It definitely took a while to become mainstream. Pilates is 100 years old. Both practices have only become mainstream over the last few years. I’m hoping Nia will become mainstream too. I hope it will attract a large group of people interested in achieving health, fitness, personal growth, and holistic well-being. I'm hoping it will teach us to understand the language of the body by helping us all become "sensation scientists." But even if it doesn't catch on like some of the bigger programs, I’ll still be practicing it.
I’ve come to believe leadership is not mainstream, and that visionary people and cutting edge concepts are not mainstream. Given the time, life-force energy and money, anything can happen. I hope I get to see this happen for Nia in my lifetime. If not, I guess I’ll have to settle for one of the best lives, a kick-ass body at 61, an open and intelligent mind, emotional vitality, and spiritual bliss... all by-products of doing Nia!
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