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Exercise your body actually craves

Through a combination of dance, martial arts and mindfulness, Nia tones your body while transforming your mind.
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It’s funny how something so big can be going on and yet it remains a secret to so many. Well, the secret is getting out, and exercise that your body actually craves has been continually practiced in Nevada County for the last 11 years. What is it you ask? It’s called the Nia Technique – or just Nia for short – and it has helped more than 250,000 people in over 51 countries get in their body and get healthy.

Nia spoke to me from the moment I stepped in. When my family moved to Nevada County in 2007, I was looking for a new type of workout, one that would not just be physical. One that would also challenge my mind and even the ability to express what I was feeling. After having three kids, I needed something that would be different and that I could stick with year after year.

My mentor, Linda Burquez, invited me to do Nia with her. I had no idea what she was talking about but I was game if it meant a fun new way to workout. Little did I know that I would soon fall in love not just with Nia but with a new community of people that have fallen in love with the exercise movements and were getting lots of practice at self-care.



What is Nia?

Nia is a barefoot workout, practice, and lifestyle that has been pioneering the benefits of holistic fitness through non-impact aerobics since the mid 1980s. Nia is a fitness class that any body and every body can do regardless of age or size or ability. It was co-created thirty years ago by fitness pros Debbie and Carlos Rosas who were tired of seeing their teachers and students get injured and get bored. Nia won’t hurt you. And Nia certainly won’t bore you. In fact, Nia is exactly what your body craves.



Now you are probably thinking, how can your body actually crave exercise? For many people, working out is seen as a chore. The Nia Technique was created as a more meaningful, expressive way to get an exercise workout. It’s based on 52 moves that draw from dance, martial, and healing arts.

What does that mean? It means your body will love doing it, it wants to do it, it knows how to do it. Nia puts no pain, no gain to shame. There’s no reason to hurt your body while you’re trying to ultimately help your body. That simply doesn’t make sense. And all of the moves are done to music that you simply won’t be able to resist.

The five main benefits of Nia are flexibility, breath, pleasure, senses and self.

– Flexibility: allows for an increase in range of motion that leads to greater physical power and comfort.

– Breath: you will feel improvement in the way you breathe and speak from the use of vocal expression.

– Pleasure: A dynamic workout that stimulates the nervous system in a healthy way that leaves you feeling refreshed and relaxed. It is fitness that is birthed out of pleasure and joy rather than effort and pain. Senses: you will experience movement that arouses the senses, the child within, the inner athlete, warrior and the dancer from within to expressively come out. Self: you can create a deeper connection to self that comes from developing a loving relationship with your body.

Diana DeMarco discovered the joy of Nia three years ago when she stepped into her first class with me.

“I found my mojo and got my swagger back through practicing Nia with Aimee,” she said. “I feel so lucky to have a world-class teacher right here in Nevada County who inspires, challenges and supports me to develop a deeper sense of balance, greater strength and stamina, and a joyous connection to our community”.

In my 11th year of teaching, I feel that the best part of Nia is sharing it and seeing how quickly my students can get in shape physically, mentally, and, yes, even spiritually. I like the continuous challenge of new movements for my mind and body. I love how Nia develops my nervous system and teaches it to react and remain calm. I love moving energy collectively in a group. I love seeing people laugh and smile as they workout. I like watching men, women, kids of all body shapes, sizes and condition learn to find the joy in simple movements. I love watching people when they “get it” (a move or piece of the work). Witnessing the transformation and healing in others is a genuine gift of being able to teach this technique.

For me, it has never been just a workout, rather a lifestyle that enables me to build capacity in all aspects of my life. One minute, my class is boogying to an 80s hit, another they are laughing about attempting a new move, and the next they are finding deep satisfaction in shouting out their martial arts moves, learning how to sound from their belly. Every single class is a different experience and it has taught me how to love my body and my life. It was the first time in my life that I looked forward to working out.

In one hour, students could experience so much variety in learning and using nine different movement forms: jazz, modern and Duncan dance, Taekwondo, Aikido and Tai Chi, and Feldenkreis, the Alexander Technique and yoga. My students get an incredible cardio workout where each person defines their own level of fitness they want to achieve, and everyone leaves feeling recharged and sensing their life force, their chi.

Mindy Sealander, a longtime student, loves doing Nia many times each week.

“I stretch and move in ways I did not know were possible for a person over 45,” she said. “After four years of attending Nia I think I might be close to achieving the splits, something I could not even do as a child.”

Whether you want to do the splits or not, what’s your plan for getting your mojo back in 2019? Give your body, mind, emotions and spirit something it will crave and can enjoy for a lifetime. Will you join me on the dance floor today? Nia is here to stay.

Aimee Retzler is a licensed black belt Nia Technique teacher and has been teaching classes for over 10 years. Nia classes are offered at Shine Collective, 578 Searls Avenue in Nevada City every Tuesday and Wednesday with Aimee and also Thursday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. with Allison Rivers Samson. For more information, email Aimee at niawithaimee@gmail.com, join her Facebook group, niawithaimee or call 415-265-8447.


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