Recently I have been lucky enough to read a few stories from Nia instructors at BAC, and I am noticing a common theme. Nia makes people happy. For a class which seems to have such a profound affect on its participants it’s one of Canberra’s best kept secrets for an allover workout which doesn’t stress or strain your body, is easily adapted to suit your level of fitness and gives you that buzz that only comes from dancing and spending time with your friends… Jen Guina is one of the fun and fabulous trio who teach Nia with JKL on a Wednesday Night at BAC. Jen has been kind enough to talk about how she came to Nia and why she is so passionate about the benefits of the sport.
My Nia Story – Jen Guina
In my adult life I’ve had a few health issues, nothing too major, but one being scoliosis. For me this meant, although not apparent to the eye when wearing clothes, my backbone curved up in an ‘S’ rather than a straight line and caused a bump in my neck on one side and a small hump on the back of one of my ribcages. This coupled with ongoing muscle tension along one side of my body made life less than perfect. Once in a while I went to my chiropractor to relieve the nagging pain. On one visit there I noticed a small poster on the pinboard in the foyer. It mentioned a holistic dance and fitness class. I’d always loved dancing, not the formal structured dance but just the ‘let it all hang out’ dancing on a night out. I was also searching for something just for ‘me’ – and so I inquired. My chiropractor was the teacher and she invited me to come along whenever I felt like it.
It took me a month or so to finally get around to going to a class. I encouraged a friend to come along with me as I was quite shy to attend by myself. We arrived and noticed a group of about 10 people milling about chatting, taking shoes off and getting ready for the Nia class. We found a place at the back of the group, the music began, and we followed the teacher. To start with the music was slow and flowing, the movements smooth and organic. The next song, picked up the pace a little with different moves, more joyful and rhythmic. The following songs got us moving, smiling and grooving – and at that stage I made a mental note to bring a drink bottle next time! The two final songs wound down and our dance moves softened again to be more yoga-like and restful.
And then it was finished. I felt well exercised with a sense of elation. I was perspiring but being caught up in the enjoyment of the routine it hadn’t felt onerous or boring at all. I was thrilled. I had worked out at the same time as regaining my sense of freedom through dancing. What I didn’t expect was the fun of being in a group, the synergy of all moving together to the music.
Nia became a weekly event for me and my friend. I felt good for it. I felt fitter, more grounded and looked forward to the community vibe it provided. And so I continued. Amazingly my back muscles must have strengthened and as a result my back is almost straight with no neck problems.
I became a great fan of Nia. I think literally everyone can benefit from it. Our bodies are meant to move for optimum health. After two years I trained to become a teacher of Nia. With my friends Kerryn and Laurien I now run classes at Belconnen Arts Centre on a Wednesday evening and at Braddon and Weston. As a teacher I not only continue my path of enjoyment in exercise but gain great satisfaction seeing and hearing participants stories of regaining health, resilience and confidence.
Nia is something I can continue to do into the far off future – as evidenced by one of our class members who is in her 80s! So, I won’t be disappearing soon! I hope to see you at our class sometime. As they say ‘Nia is like chocolate. You can’t describe it, you just have to taste it.’
Thank you Jen for sharing your story with us!
Frequently asked questions about Nia
What is Nia?
Combining dance, martial arts and mindfulness, Nia tones your body while transforming your mind. More than just a workout, Nia is a holistic fitness practice addressing each aspect of your life – body, mind and soul.
How does Nia work?
Nia draws from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. Every class offers a unique combination of 52 moves that correspond with the main areas of the body: the base, the core and the upper extremities. Stiff beginners and highly fit athletes alike can adapt Nia to meet their needs by choosing from three intensity levels. Consecutive trainings collectively explore 52 principles for personal enrichment and professional development. Read testimonials from people of all ages, backgrounds and locations.
What is the science behind Nia?
Nia is based on The Body’s Way, which means using the body’s natural design to improve function. The biochemistry, joint and muscle action are triggered using imagination, music, emotion and vocal sound. Movements work with and against gravity and include: abduction, adduction; flexion, extension; eversion, inversion; dorsal flexion, plantar flexion, pronation and supination; horizontal flexion, extension; rotation inward, outward, upward and downward, elevation, depression, and circumduction. Nia addresses the body’s five main sensations: flexibility, strength, mobility, agility and stability, and focuses on conditioning the body and the nervous system.
How does Nia differ from other “mind-body” programs?
Everything in Nia is perceived, experienced and processed through the body. Nia uses the body to develop Sensory IQ wisdom. The mind is used to imagine, witness, focus and direct attention. The emotions are used to personally engage the individual with activity, thereby creating the coupling effect needed to trigger the mind-body connection. Spirit is used to honor the uniqueness of each individual. Nia uses emotion and sound to condition the body and nervous system. Nia’s teaching style emphasizes internally directed guidance, uses visual and sensory language, user-friendly choreography, that can be adapted to fit personal needs, and includes three stages of learning for all levels of ability.
Who takes Nia?
People of all ages, with varied interests, from all walks of life practice Nia. People who love to move, are passionate about change, and desire a conscious, fun, expressive and pleasurable way to get healthy and fit while enriching their lives.
For more information about Nia zip over to the class info page.