BY CARMEN SIERING
Sometimes you have to try something to understand it. That’s how it is with Nia. I first heard about it from my friend Erica De Santis a few years ago. She said her wife, Jane Fleig, goes three times a week, and no matter how she feels before class, when Jane comes home, she is always smiling. Okay, I was curious. But what is Nia?
Nia first emerged (where else?) in California in the 1980s. It’s a combination of martial arts, dance arts, and healing arts based on 52 moves that, according to the FAQ, will “tone your body while transforming your mind.” Intrigued, I decided to take a class.
Angela Williams, 41, is the only certified Nia instructor in Bloomington. Williams explains that while you initially do take Nia classes, for many people it soon develops into something more. “As you become a student, Nia becomes more of a practice, like martial arts or yoga,” she says.
Jane, 54, agrees. She’s been studying Nia since 2008. “Yes, it’s a fabulous workout,” she says. “But it’s the joy I feel, moving my body. I’ve always loved to dance, but I never felt I had permission to do it. With Nia, I feel like I have that permission. And I love it!”
Moving your body, and being mindful while you do it, is what Nia is all about. “Body awareness is the center of all Nia,” Williams says. “Without that, it’s just another workout. It’s based on anatomy and how your bodies are designed to move. We listen to how we’re feeling and maintain body awareness so that, hopefully, we never get hurt.”
That is one thing I can say about my Nia experience. I worked hard, but at my own pace. I did every move, from dance steps to martial arts–type kicking and punching to relaxing yoga stretches. And while I went home pleasantly exhausted, I was never sore or achy. I also felt good while I was doing it. A little awkward, but I had fun. I have to agree with Jane—Nia is one workout that actually put a smile on my face.
Williams teaches Nia at Enlighten Wellness Yoga, 4001 E. 3rd St. For more information, visit Nia Bloomington on Facebook. *