Philip Wilber’s story begins when he had to give up his hobby of playing golf due to a frozen shoulder. At that same time, three of his best friends died. The idea of death got him thinking that maybe there was more to moving than just hitting balls. He searched for something heal all the wounds, internal and external (like we all do when faced with loss.) The thought of moving his body got him into a yoga class. The yoga teacher went on a trip and had Nia teacher, Ann Paquin, sub for the yoga class. Ann taught Nia for the next four weeks.
Ann says, “I met Phil nine years ago when I was subbing Nia for an ongoing yoga class at the Senior Friendship Center. Phil and others in the class joined me. After several months, Phil shared with me that the way we moved the joints in each class helped him recover quickly from recent shoulder surgery. He was happy that he no longer needed anticipated surgery on his other shoulder. He easily connected with the dancing and the joy. After this, Phil recruited friends and neighbors to take Nia. Eventually, Phil was taking five Nia classes a week and participating in Nia jams and demos”
Philip now takes Nia six times a week with three different teachers. He rarely misses a class. Philip is 86 years old. He is also a Nia White Belt graduate. He was struck by Nia’s point of view about life, “Through Movement We Find Health,” and he feels that it’s an important aspect of his work”
Philip’s own words:
“I had a ‘frozen shoulder’ during the previous year from a bad fall. I did not get any relief from many doctors and various therapies. In fact, my other shoulder began to pain me too. After four weeks of Nia, my pain and stiffness went away. I have always enjoyed dancing. The music diverted my attention from pain to gain. I am very proud to say that I am 86 years old and still going strong."
Other teachers of Nia have noticed his energy. Nia teacher Kathy Oravek said, “Philip connects to the music and moves in a way that suits his body, his emotions, and spirit.”
Nia teacher Becky Holahan said, “The male energy he gives to the class is so much needed. A certain song can come on and he can turn into a puddle of emotions. For me, he's a mentor and a father figure. Often, he stays after class and we recapitulate.”
Philip even teaches his teachers new things. Philip told Becky, "You don't have to talk so much.” Becky said, “That was my BEST Nia class so far!” And the best part is remembering Nia is about pleasure, laughter, and fun. “No one has a better Buddha belly laugh than Philip. He is dear to me and everyone in Nia,” said Becky.
All of us at Nia thank Philip for being an inspiration and a reminder that age is only a number, but laugher, movement, and health is eternal.