Nia Teacher, Trainer, & Sacred Athlete of the Year

Every year we honor key individuals across the global Nia community who exemplify what it means to embody and share Nia as a fitness, wellness, and lifestyle practice. We're excited to announce the 2012 award winners, and invite you to join us in celebrating these inspiring individuals. So without further ado, read on to hear what Nia Founder and Co-Creator Debbie Rosas has to say about Nia's 2012 award winners!


Kelle Rae Oien

Teacher of the Year - Kelle Rae Oien

There are many great Nia teachers across the globe. When I think about the word greatness, several key attributes come to mind. Great teachers strive for excellence. Learning is their passion. Teaching is their gift. Mastery is their commitment. Knowledge is what motivates them to live into their potential. This year, we honor a great Nia teacher, healer, and community-builder. Nia's 2012 Teacher of the Year is Nia Black Belt and Trainer Kelle Rae Oien. Whether she is teaching in Santa Fe, Bali or Brazil, Kelle creates an experience that is joyful, magical, and memorable. As a rolfer, her knowledge of the body and Nia is shared with intelligence and impeccability. Kelle supports her local community with over twelve Nia classes per week, monthly workshops, and retreats to deepen her student's Nia experience and somatic knowledge. Her latest endeavor has been helping to build community momentum at StudioNia Santa Fe as well as being a contributing choreographer to one of Nia's newest routines, Fly! She has also been very busy changing bodies and lives as one of Nia's newest White Belt Trainers. Kelle is the ideal role model for what it means to share Nia with ease, elegance, and a high degree of skill. Congratulations Kelle! May we all aspire to this level of greatness.


Winalee Zeeb

Trainer of the Year: Winalee Zeeb

Every year for the past several years I've honored a Nia Trainer who exemplifies and embodies what I imagine to be the promise of Nia. The easy promise of Nia is a stronger and more versatile body, cardiovascular conditioning, increased flexibility, and improved health. The elements not so easy to deliver, such as joy, heart, transformation, and healing are only possible when the work is shared by someone who has dedicated their life-force energy and consciousness to expressing their unique spirit through the work. The form of Nia is beautiful. And yet, it is only an empty form until one brings themselves fully, honestly, and lovingly through the work. Teaching classes is one level of sharing Nia. Training is a whole other level that involves, as they say in the martial arts, "going to the mat," time and time again. If I've learned one thing from the martial arts, it's that Aikido - harmonizing conflict - is the way. Nia Trainers quickly learn this to be the most important tool for blending with the multitude of personalities they train. There are some things you can teach, and then there are those elements that are just naturally ingrained that make a person great. They're called love, compassion, and the willingness to stand for peace and harmony no matter what. It's that big heart, the one some people are just born with. This is the heart of the individual we honor this year, Nia Black Belt and Trainer Winalee Zeeb. Winalee's gifts are bountiful. Her love, grand. Her joy, profound to the point where you almost wouldn't believe it to be real, and yet it is. It's with deep gratitude and appreciation that we honor Winalee as Nia's 2012 Trainer of the Year. May she inspire you to expand your heart and share your joy even when you think there is none left.


Ann Christiansen

Sacred Athlete of the Year: Ann Christiansen

When the term sacred athlete first came to me it was only a pair of words. I remember feeling that the message of a sacred athlete had something profound for me to discover. Knowing nothing about what it meant to be an athlete, much less what the word "sacred" meant, I set out to discover the meaning of these words. Along the way, I remember looking at athletes and wondering what it was they had that drove them to master their art, succeed, and win. Overtime, I realized what they held was a relationship to their sport as something sacred. Everything they did was performed with intent, 100% commitment, and an attitude of winning. I took this knowledge and applied it to the vision of a new archetype for humanity. I visualized every human being pursuing the path of the sacred athlete, playing the game of life on the field of life, and dedicating themselves to winning. What is the game to win? Living a healthy, purposeful, and meaningful life, one that unfolds and reveals one's greatness. It was no surprise to me that I would attract a sacred athlete to be my teacher and guide. As the first recipient of Nia's Sacred Athlete Award, it is with great honor that I award the integrity, mastery, and 100% dedication to being their best to Nia Black Belt and Trainer Ann Christiansen. Ann represents the "gold" to reach for. While I will never attain Ann's level of athleticism, she has empowered me to become the very best sacred athlete I can be. Let us celebrate her and in her light, step into our own greatness as sacred athletes.