Many years ago Kathy Wolstenholme sat with Carlos and I in Portland, Oregon asking to become a Nia trainer. She wanted to take Nia to Cape Town, South Africa. This was a place so far away from my reality I had to look at a map to get a feel for where she, and her partner David, were going. “How brave of her,” I thought, “how adventurous of them both to think so big.” Carlos and I agreed to work together to give Kathy what she wanted in hopes of bringing Nia to the underprivileged. We also agreed she and David and Nia would explore the feasibility of creating an alliance between South Africa Virgin Active Health Clubs, where Kathy and David Wolstenholme were teaching. The hope of using Virgin Active to visibly leverage Nia and Kathy more quickly in South Africa seemed like a great idea. This was in 2002. Nia had about 700 teachers and a handful of trainers. We were dreaming big.
I have always believed to fully realize potential we must become dreamers as well as doers. Often dreams are little more than fantasies, but I see dreams and fantasies as doorways into new realities. South Africa was a dream and now it is a thriving reality of which I am proud to have been part. I hold deep gratitude to Carlos, Kathy, David, and all of the people in South Africa who have planted seeds that are sure to grow for generations to come.
The power we have to work together, collaborate, and cooperate and to creates the kind of magic that changes people's bodies and lives all over the world.
Here is Kathy in her own words:
Older and Wiser with Nia in Cape Town
by Kathy Wolstenholme
“It’s winter in Cape Town, and I’m giving in to the urge to hibernate. I decide to clean out cupboards, specifically the ones filled with old Nia books, videos and memories. Just for grins, I put on an old routine by Debbie called ‘The Dance’ –with songs from George Michaels’ album ‘Older’ (aka: ”Do you think I’m looking older?”)
Low and behold, a few minutes into the workout, I see myself again, the real me on film! I forgot that I was at Studio Nia in Portland for this filming during my Brown Belt. Back in the late nineties, I constantly changed my hair, and in this video, I’m a brunette with a bare midriff and elegant posture.
In the video, Carlos has long hair and a sparkle in his eyes, and for a moment I reflect on all that has transpired in the 15 years since, especially his bittersweet retirement. I keep moving.
Debbie establishes the focus for this routine and speaks of the simplicity of steps and stances and the quietness of working in the stance where the body comes to a place of pause and stays until you feel like you’re not going to move again. She acknowledges this and says, “This allows me the opportunity to feel in my body and how I’ve been moving the energy; and it also gives me an opportunity to ground the energy again.”
I haven’t seen this routine for many years, yet I sense intuitively that I need a bit of diva, a bit of Debbie. I also take note that in class today, serendipitously, we danced to ‘old’ Tina Arena, Celine Dion, and Lisa Stansfield. I had the class focus on patience, inspired by waking up this morning and seeing an Egyptian goose gliding over the surface of my pool at sunrise.
”Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson. That quote has always conjured a picture in my mind of ducks on water.
We need GRACE today, that particularly female brand of patience. Highlighting the pause in Nia, stopping a motion, holding a stance just a millisecond longer, or taking a step a millisecond later helps us develop patience.
We are fed the special skill called “pause” in Nia, and its pure juice to our nervous systems! I believe this has given me patience in life, a deep down serenity that events happen with perfect timing.
Today watching Debbie, I acknowledge the patience I’ve gained on and off the Nia field and the forgiveness and understanding that I know we have to find on a daily basis for others and ourselves.
There’s a Special K commercial at the moment that says, ‘Exercise is not about what we have to lose (weight) but about what we have to gain.’Patience? Grace? What could be more important to us right now?
I’m off to practice what I preach. I’ll be with family and friends for six weeks in the USA. All I can say is, “Wish me luck and keep the home fires burning!”