Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia! THREE group classes a week!

    Tues, and Wed 9 am

    Thurs 8:45 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia and/or Personal Training!

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • My Bloggey Past

  • ******

    Chose a month above to visit archives, or click below to visit a page.

Posts Tagged ‘stability’

I Don’t Like Fish, But I Like This

Posted by terrepruitt on October 30, 2014

I love twists. The folding, bending, twisting poses in yoga. Right now I’m thinking about Ardha Matsyendrasas or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. This is the one where one leg is folded or bent and the other leg is over it and you’re twisted.  Twists can be challenging, but you can often find a level of execution that you can relax into.  And as with all poses the more you practice it well, the more you can twist as you gain flexibility.  Some twists – depending on the supporting factor – can be good to practice strength and stability.  Twists are good for flexibility and digestion.

I prefer to start this pose sitting on one hip (I’ll use the left hip in the example) with my feet to the (right) side.  Using the clock as we do in Nia, sit in the middle of the clock, with the left knee at 12 O’clock.  Reach with the crown of your head to the sky.  Lengthen the neck – create space between the ears and the shoulders.  Open the chest.  Draw the shoulders back and down.  Let those shoulder blades slide down the back.  Lift the ribs off of the hips.  Gently bring the right knee up and the right foot over the left knee to rest with whole foot on the floor at about 11 O’clock.  Use your left hand to gently hold the right knee as you twist your torso to the right.  Keeping the posture that you set up before you brought your right leg over the left (lengthened spine) allow your right hand gently press into the earth behind you . . . a few inches from your right buttock.  Both hips remain on the floor.  With your posture intact relax into it for a few breaths, then untwist, and bring your feet back to the right side.   Then switch your feet to the other side and proceed on this side.

That was the gentle version.  Stay with this until you are comfortable and confident that you can retain the long straight posture through your entire back and neck before you add the rest of the pose.  The additions could be using the crook of your elbow to hold your knee more snuggly up to your rotated torso.  The supporting hand would land on the floor more towards the center of your back as you increase the depth of the twist.  As you twist further you might find your right foot past the 11 O’clock position, straying towards 10 O’clock.  Find your comfortable place, keeping the whole foot on the ground.

A deeper twist would be to place the left elbow (keeping with the original example) on the outside of your right knee.  Your left hand could even rest on the left knee.  With this the supporting hand would land on the floor perhaps just a smidge more towards the center of your back as you increase the depth of the twist or not.  This is a different type of intensity but it might not take your supporting hand that much further back.

There is even a further step where you can thread your left arm (keeping with the original example) through your right leg under the knee and the right arm behind your back so they can link up.

There is also a way to decrease the intensity and that would be to straighten the left (keeping with the original example) leg.  It would remain active.  As in you would gently press it straight out and down.  Hip, knee, ankle and toes in alignment, with knee and toes to the sky.  The straight leg version can be used with any of the aforementioned “holds” (hand holding knee, crook of elbow, elbow on other side of knee).

This twist really helps with flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles.  I think of it as one of those “pretzel-y” yoga poses.  I have experienced that it is best demonstrated with my back toward my students so they can bend, twist, turn, and hold the exact same sides.

Do you know this pose?  Do you practice this pose?  Do you like this pose?  How do you feel after you do this pose?

 

 

Posted in PiYo/Pilates/Yoga | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sometimes I Call It The Star Pose

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 2014

I like this pose, Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose).  It is an easy pose.  It is one of those asanas that can be used in so many places in a yoga routine.  It can be used in the beginning to allow you to “come into your body” and start the process of concentration.  It can be used in between other poses, either to rest or reset, or to allow for an easy transition.  It can be used at the end.  It can be used to help practice awareness and learning sensations in your body.  I often use it as part of the cooldown in my Nia classes.  It is basically something almost everyone can do.  Sometimes it might present an initial challenge for some needing help with balance, but after a bit it becomes easy.  I like it.  It is very versatile.

Generally no matter when or where in the routine this pose is placed in my current yoga classes we do not hop into it.  We step into the wide stance.  The feet are beyond the width of the shoulders.  If we have come from a mountain pose then we continue with our reaching, lengthening, relaxing, and lifting, but if we are stepping into this from another pose then we check our posture.  We want to reach with the crown of the head to the sky, lengthening the neck – creating space between the ears and the shoulders, we allow our shoulders to relax and our shoulder blades to “drip” down our back, we lift the ribs off of the hips, and lift the knee caps by activating our thigh muscles.  The feet – in the wide stance – are parallel to the edges of the mat and each other.  The chest is open.  Arms are stretched out to the side, elbows and hands are at an even height with the shoulders.  We are reaching for the opposite walls.

Standing there you open your chest and create space in the joints.  Reach up to be taller and reach out to be longer.  The head reaching up, the arms reaching out.  Feet are firmly planted, weight is evenly distributed over the entire foot (both feet), toes are spread.  Here is where you sense the strength and stability while opening.

This pose is traditionally done from the mountain pose with hands at chest level, finger tips touching in front of the heart center.  Then when you hop your legs into your wide stance you put your arms out at the same time.  In order to be “gentle” we step into our Utthita Hasta Padasana.

Many yoga poses are challenging.  Many test strength, many test balance, many test flexibility.  The ones, like this one might be very easy so the possibility that they are over looked and not practice in many yoga classes could be very high.  But it is the easy asanas where sometimes we learn the most.  We learn to take a moment to sense the body.  What does it feel like to stand wide, reaching and lengthening?  What is the sensation in my bones?  What is the sensation in my muscles?  Can I open my chest any further?  Can I make my arms longer?  Check into these sensations.  Allow yourself to learn and become familiar so that you can do more challenging poses with the body knowledge you have gained from the easier poses.

Do you do this pose as part of your practice?  Do you do this pose in the yoga class you attend?

 

Posted in PiYo/Pilates/Yoga | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nia’s Five Sensations, Well, Two and One Fourth

Posted by terrepruitt on May 29, 2014

Aaaahhhh!  I did it again.  I do it all the time.  I see things on Facebook that I want to look at but I don’t have time or when I see it is it not the right time to look at it so I open it in another window.  Then I can watch it, read it, do it (whatever) days later.  But then I forget who posted it.  This is a Nia video so I know that one of my Nia friends posted it.  It took me days to get around to watching it.  Then once I did watch it I was soooo disappointed.  It is a video of Carlos Rosas (NKA Carlos Aya-Rosas) at a conference talking about the 5 Sensations of Nia.  As he is talking I start looking at the time left and I keep thinking, he’s not going to make it.  I kept HOPING he would, but I kept thinking, he is not going to make it.  He didn’t.  He was halfway through (or so it seemed) his talk about Mobility when the video stopped.  Sad face.  That is why I was disappointed.  I was sad because we don’t get to hear all five sensations.  But . . . watching the ones he did get through are well worth it.  It is just a bummer that we didn’t get information on all five.

I am not sure what year it is, but you will see that they are being referred to as Debbie and Carlos Rosas.  Which I always thought that eventually they were referred to as Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.  But that is not the point of this post or the video I was just trying to see if I could have an idea of what year it was, but again . . . not that important because the information is tremendous.

The information is very helpful no matter when it was recorded.  Carlos first walks you through some things you can sense.  He connects them to the 5 Sensations.  If you’ve read a few of my posts about Nia you might be familiar with my belief that Nia takes everyday things you are familiar with and probably aware of and connects it to Nia ideas.   If you watch this you can get an example of them doing that in the time from 2:45 to 7:00.

After the initial connection to the five sensations, the first sensation Carlos defines is Flexibility.  He describes it as energy moving out.  So not just stretching, but energy moving out.  Then he talks about Agility.  He describes that as a quick start stop.  He uses the adjective “explode”.  This is a very entertaining part of the video.  Carlos is a very funny speaker.  Then he gets a few minutes into a mobility.  He describes that as continuous movement.  He talks you through a bit of it, then the video stops.

Even though we only get to see two sensations and a portion of mobility it is still great information.  I am not giving you too many details because I want you to watch it.  It is so much better from the creator than from me just typing what he is saying.

This was posted by Nia, in addition to watching this video you can go to the Nia Channel on Youtube (click here) and see other videos they have posted.  Also, you can go to NiaNow.com and watch recordings of classes.  From the home page scroll through the pages and you will find videos of Nia classes.  You can dance right along with Debbie and other trainers!

I invite you to watch the video and participate with his exercises to connect you with the sensation of Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Stability, and Strength (this is the first portion I mentioned).  Then stick with it for even more connection to Flexibility and Agility.

 

Well, what do you think?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In Nia We Travel

Posted by terrepruitt on November 14, 2013

Nia is a cardio dance exercise that I teach.  It is more than that, but that is one way to describe it.  One of the ways it is more than that, is, it is a practice.  If you chose to treat it like a practice, as one might treat yoga as a practice, one would become aware of Nia’s 52 Moves.  There are 52 moves that get choreographed into the Nia Routines.  One of the moves is Traveling in Directions.  This is a great move for many reasons.

One reason Traveling in Directions is great is because it is very easy.  Another reason it is great is because it is very adaptable and can be used in almost every song and in every routine.  The main way to travel in a direction is to simply walk.  Using the Heel Lead technique just walk forward, then change the direction you are walking, then change the direction, etc.  With the simplest of forms you look where you want to go before you move in that direction.  So before your feet actually start going a different direction — LOOK.  There is a little bit of thinking involved because we look before we go.  Allow your arms to move freely.  Step confidently in whichever direction you choose to look.  Move your body as a whole.

The Nia Technique book states:  “Practicing Traveling in Directions keeps your body agile for moving through space in all directions, able to change direction with ease.”

When we use this move in our routines we have a lot of fun playing with it.  The move really is as easy as stated, the fun comes when changing directions quickly.  You can be the leader of your own movement or sometimes you are being directed by the teacher.  This makes agility one of the Nia sensations we practice with this move.  Moving one way then quickly stopping and going another way.  Stopping, changing, starting.  Varying the speed at times will allow for additional Nia sensations such as strength and stability to come into play.

When Traveling in Directions on your own you become aware of the direction you want to go, then you look, then you go.  As I said, there are times when you might be listening to the direction of the teacher, which would still mean you would need to become aware of the direction you want to go, but when being told where to go your body’s reaction is quicker.  There is a quick look then a move in that direction.  Less thought is involved for you as the participant because someone else thought of the direction you were going to go.

Often when this move is done in a class, quick thinking, quick moving, and quick reacting are additional skills that receive attention because we are dancing with others on the floor so we might have to switch our trajectory quickly to avoid a dance floor collision.

Modifications of the traveling can be done by going backwards or sinking low or even rising high.  So many ways to travel in directions.  All of them are great opportunities to try out the Nia Sensations, the more you do, the more ways you move your body.  If you want you can even skip.  Skipping in different directions adds a new dimension to the move.

Sometimes this move is choreographed into the Nia routine with specifics and sometimes is allowed more of a Free Dance.  However it is added to the Nia workout it is a wonderful way to dance.

How would you Traveling in Directions to your current favorite song?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Finding Balance In The Gate

Posted by terrepruitt on September 14, 2013

In Nia we have the five sensations that we dance and move with. I always feel that one of them is a personal favorite of one of the co-founders of The Nia Technique. I think that Debbie Rosas really loves stability. I imagine she loves them all because she does a superb job of ensuring they are all included in a each Nia Routine, but sometimes I just get this feeling that practicing balance is her favorite. It could be because sometimes stability, being balanced, requires flexibility and/or agility and/or mobility and/or strength. So you can practice and play with all of the five sensations when practicing balance. In yoga there is at least three of the five sensations we experience in Nia. In yoga there is flexibility and/or strength and/or stability/balance. In the Gentle Yoga class I am teaching I really like to put a huge emphasis on balance. I think balance is very important and yoga is a great way to practice it. There are many poses in yoga that are balance poses. Not all of them are standing poses.

One pose I really like to use for enhancing balance is the Gate pose. This pose is a kneeling pose, somewhat.

In the gentle yoga class we start on our knees. Up off our calves, as in we are not sitting on our legs. Then we lean forward and over to one side, say the left. We lean forward to the left placing both our hands on the ground in front of the left knee. Then we swing our right leg out so it is pointed out to the side. The heel of the right foot is aligned with the left knee or slightly in front. The right foot is flat on the ground and the toes are pointed away from the body. We then lift up so we are kneeling on our left leg with our right leg posed out to the right of our body. Then the left arm comes up reaching straight over the head. Palm towards the right. The right hand is palm up resting on the right thigh. If stability and balance is achieved then those that are comfortable lean over to the right, allowing the right hand to rest lower on the leg, at the shin, not the knee. If comfortable we turn the head to gaze past our left arm. All the while the crown of the head is moving away from our body and the tail is moving in the opposite direction. We are lengthening our spine. The shoulders are being drawn back and down. Even though one arm is up we still keep the space between the ear and the shoulder open and large. The same with the side we are leaning towards.

Whether you are staying up right or leaning over to the side, keep your body from leaning forward. Stay in the pose for a few breaths. After you perform this pose on one side, do the other.

Parighasana, the Gate pose, is a nice way to pursue balance.  The foot that is out can be adjusted to a parallel (to the body) position if that allows it to be more comfortable or stable.  Or the foot can be lifted leaving just the heel on the ground.  The depth of the side bend is always a point that can be adjusted for the individual’s needs at the moment.

I love all the poses in yoga that allow for balance practice.  I think this is a great post with which to practice balance.

Are you familiar with the Gate pose?  Do you like this pose?

Posted in PiYo/Pilates/Yoga | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What IS PiYo?

Posted by terrepruitt on July 9, 2013

I am very shocked and somewhat embarrassed that I have had this blog for over four years and I have never written a post explaining PiYo™.  PiYo is a combination of Pilates (Pi) and Yoga (Yo), brought to us by Chalene Johnson.  Chalene is the creator of Turbo Jam®, Turbo Kick®, TurboFire®, Hip Hop Hustle®, and ChaLEAN Extreme®.  These programs are put out by either Beachbody or her company, Powder Blue Productions.  With PiYo the idea is to combine the two mind/body practices in order to appeal to a large audience.  Pilates and yoga are somewhat similar to begin with, both have a component of connecting the mind and the body in conscious movement.  Both have ideals on breathing and breath.  Both are a way to improve flexibility, stability, strength, and balance.  Depending on which type of yoga practice there could be agility and mobility involved as in Pilates.  Now this might sound familiar if you know about Nia.  In Nia we have the five sensations flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability (FAMSS) which we play with in our dance.  In PiYo the same sensations can be experienced.  The manual states:  “PiYo is considered a ‘Western’ approach to the practices of mind/body fitness.”

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia   workout, Nia, Zumba, PiYoI believe that many people think yoga has been “Westernized”.  Since there are so many types of yoga there might not always be a spirituality in the yoga class or chanting, meditating, or even the Sanskrit terminology.  That is true with a PiYo class.  It is more about the physical with an awareness.

PiYo combines yoga breathing and Pilates breathing.  In general a yoga pose is done with yoga breathing and a Pilates exercise is done with Pilates breathing.  Of course, students are encouraged to breath in a way that is comfortable to them and that works with their individual body, the aforementioned is just a general guide.

The PiYo class follows the tried and true module of a typical exercise class.  There is a section for warming up, a section for general strength and balance, a section with more of a focus specific area of the body (say a core, upper body, or lower body), then a cool down and relaxation section.  While yoga poses could meet all the requirement of each section and Pilates exercises could also, it is often the case that each section will have a majority of one or the other.  Although, you might be like me and think that there is such a huge cross over it is difficult with some moves to claim it is only a yoga move or only a Pilates move.  While I am certain the move did originate from one or the other practice specifically it seems as though currently there is a huge cross over.  That is one reason why I think Pilates and yoga marry ups so well.  They can be considered very similar.

So throughout the class there will be yoga poses and Pilates exercises.  It is up to the instructor and the make-up of the class as to whether the yoga poses will be held for a measured amount of time or done in a flow.  No matter which is chosen it will be a sequences of poses.  Whereas the Pilates exercises are done in repetition.  Generally sequences of repetitions.

A PiYo class is allowed the freedom of design.  As mentioned there is a class format, but then the way it is carried out is dependent on the instructor and students.  The consistence of a PiYo class is that it is for the body and the mind using both yoga poses and Pilates moves.

Do you practice yoga?  Do you practice Pilates?

Posted in PiYo/Pilates/Yoga | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Knee Sweep – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on August 30, 2012

Now, I know that I’ve been doing the knee sweep a lot longer than I have been doing Nia.  So it is true that Nia’s 52 moves are not necessarily unique to Nia, but they are part of the core of Nia.  You will find a large portion of Nia’s 52 moves in every routine.  There are correct ways to do them, but Nia allows for the body’s way and also, I believe Nia allows for the move to be incorporated into the dance.  For instance, The Nia Technique book states that the starting position for a knee sweep is the sumo stance.  I am sure that I have done a knee sweep from a sumo stance at one time, but the first dance that pops into my head where we do the knee sweep it is not from a sumo position.  But the by the book (oh, yeah, that reminds me, “BUY THE BOOK!” :-) ), anyway, the by-the-book version of the knee sweep starts from a sumo position, complete with arms in ready position and everything.  Then the body rises as you come up on one leg bringing the other leg up with a bent knee.  The knee crosses the midline of the body, the opposite hand “pushes” the knee out.  The knee swings out so the pelvis is open.  Then the leg comes down and the foot lands on the earth.  That is the knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves.

The book does not indicate that when your foot comes down it is in the toes-to-the-front position, but that is how I teach it.  I don’t want my students landing on their foot with their knee out to the side.  If we are just doing knee sweeps as an exercise, maybe I would have them do that, because they would be aware of the torque in their hip, but probably not.

When I was first doing this move in Nia I was trying to do it as the book shows and as many of the people on the Nia instructional DVDs do and as the instructor does (whether it be Debbie Rosas or Carlos AyaRosas).  And that was with the knee out to the side very wide.  REALLY opening the pelvis.  But when I did that I noticed a “something” – I don’t know what it was, but it was something – in my lower back.  So I decided that opening my hip that wide and having my leg out that far was not MY body’s way, so I do not do that.  I share with my students that I found the comfortable spot to be about as far as my forearms can reach.  I “glue” my elbows to my sides and hold my forearms out to the side.  As far as they can go is as far as I allow my knee to go.  That is what works for me.

Some of the time that we are doing the knee sweep it is at the end of a “up-two-three-four (knee sweep), back-two-three-four (knee sweep)”.  So that would not allow for the sumo position to be the start.  Other times we are standing upright.  As I said, I am sure I have done it from the sumo position because I bet it is in a routine I am not thinking of.  But the ones I am thinking of it is done from a walking or standing position.

The amazing thing about the knee sweep is that it calls for the knee to cross the midline of the body.  So that means that if you were doing a left knee sweep (with your left leg) your left knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  If you were doing a right knee sweep (with your right leg) your right knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  It is a great thing when your limbs cross the midline.  It helps stimulate the brain.  So there is a reason in many exercise routines and cardio classes that we have you do “cross overs”.

The knee sweep is one of those moves that requires balance.  Since at one point you are standing on one leg, you will be able to improve your balance or practice what you have.  Also the moving of the leg helps with that stability.  Standing on one leg helps with strength and opening the hip helps with mobility and flexibility.   The knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves does a body and brain good!

Are you familiar with this move?  Have you done it before in your exercise class?  Did you give it a try?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Faking It Is Easy

Posted by terrepruitt on August 28, 2012

My husband and I used to dance.  We danced “Country Western”, we did the two step, the cha-cha, the waltz, and the west coast swing.  We liked to dance.  I sometimes would fake it though.  Yeah, I would.  We would go to a lesson and they would show us a move.  We would practice it during the lesson then usually there was a dance party after.  We would join the party.  My husband would always DO THE MOVE WE JUST LEARNED.  I would say, “Ack!  You’re doing the move we just learned!”  And he would look at me with a look that said to me, “Of course, Silly Woman, that is why we are here.  To learn stuff and then actually DO IT.”  But for me the time spent in the lesson was never enough to actually learn it.  Even though the leader’s part is much more difficult than the follower’s, I still couldn’t get it in one lesson.  So a lot of the times I would fake it.  And by fake it I mean, that if you were to look at my feet and KNOW where there were supposed to be, you would know my feet were not correct.  I could move in a way that if you were just casually looking you would think I was doing it right.  I would always make sure I was facing the right direction so you wouldn’t really know my feet were not doing the move correctly unless you knew the move yourself!  Since most people don’t stare at your feet the entire time I often got away with it.  I was good at faking it.  Faking it was easy in the fast songs.

Eventually I would learn the move correctly, but there were some moves that took me a long time to get.  Then somewhere along the way we decided to compete.  I mean, competing really is the only way to know if you are really improving and to spend all that money on lessons and not improve can be a silly thing.  So we decided to compete.  Do you know what that meant?  No more faking it.  I mean the whole point of competition is to have someone look at you and judge — among other things — your feet.  So I had to stop faking it.

I am learning a lot as I sub for different exercise classes.  I recently subbed a class and I was reminded of the faking it.  It is easy to fake it in some classes.  Let’s say Zumba for example, I’ve posted before about how Zumba is all agility (I have since learned otherwise, but I will reflect on that in a post at a later time).  Zumba is the fast start and stop.  Move stop the move and move the other direction, move stop, move stop.  The full range of motion is usually not achieved, you are moving to another move before you really get to finish the first one.  Start, stop, start, stop, start stop.  It is easy to fake.  The fast dances were always easy for me to fake. The good thing about faking it is you are still moving and that is good in a sense.  Even if you are not doing the move correctly you are moving and burning calories and often it is so fast the casually observer or someone standing next to you is not going to notice.  I think this is one of the things that people like about Zumba . . . you are moving and dancing even when you are faking it.

It is the slow dances that are difficult.  With Nia it is not as easy to fake.  With Zumba a move could be hopping from one leg to the other.  With Nia we might actually balance on one leg.  No speed to it, just lifting one leg off the ground and standing on one leg.  Strength and stability.  No faking.  I always invite participants to use a chair, a wall, the barre, or even their other foot, but either way you cannot FAKE standing on one leg.  Sadly, I think for some, not being able to fake it keeps them from joining in the joy of Nia.  The judgment from themselves is so great that they can’t let go and just do what they can because what they can do is not blurred by the start and the stop.  What they can’t do is not blurred by speed.  And they don’t give themselves the chance to learn how to do the moves.  They don’t allow themselves the time to get the muscles in a condition where they can move slow and controlled.  Faking it is easy, it is actually doing a move slow, controlled, and correctly where the difficulty comes in.

When I take a Zumba class I know I fake it often because I don’t know the move so I concentrate on being at the right place and/or facing the right direction at the right time.  Eventually I get the moves . . . well, most of the time.

I know this is my opinion, I don’t really KNOW, but it is coming from a place of judgment based on some things I have seen and heard.  You know I am always trying to figure out the differences between Zumba and Nia and why people like them.  And recently this was a thought because of something I heard and observed . . . the speed, the faking, the judgment.

Do you fake until you make it in your exercise class? 

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Another Zumba and Nia Comparison

Posted by terrepruitt on June 30, 2012

I teach Nia.  I have been teaching Nia for three and a half years.  Not as many people who I talk to have heard of Nia as have heard of Zumba so I am constantly being asked the difference between Nia and Zumba. Since I am often asked I am often thinking about them and comparing them. First, they are actually the same in that music is played and participants dance to it.  Second, in both the instructor leads the participants through the various dance moves.  Third, participants of both claim they are both fun. One difference is Nia is an experience in five sensations, Zumba seems to concentrate on one.

The experience is such a big part of Nia we actually call them the five sensations of Nia.  I have posted about them before (FAMSS).  They are the sensation of flexibility, of agility, of mobility, of strength, and of stability.  In a Nia class your body will move in a way that allows you to sense the energy moving out and away.  You will bend and stretch to play with flexibility, either retaining what you have or improving upon it.  There are moves in the routines that require the start and the stop.  The movement that is agility could be done with our feet, our arms, our hands, our bodies, our heads or a combination of body parts but we sense the start and the stop.  With every routine there is a lot of mobility, some routines have more than others, but all of them that I have experienced have a lot.  With mobility it is just the same as agility in that it could be a body part that is moving or our whole body.  Whatever the case there is a lot of movement from each joint that helps create a healthy joint by allowing the fluid to move to it and within it.  Then we also play with strength.  We might squeeze our muscles sensing the energy moving in as if the bones are being hugged by the muscles.  We might do squats or sit-ups, punches and/or kicks, but there is time where we play with strength.  I say Nia is very big on balance because we do many moves that requires us to be stable.  Many of our moves are balancing on one leg, could be a kick, could be a stance, but it requires stability.  Moving from one move to the next often requires us to call upon our stability.  In a Nia routine we experience all of these sensations.  I’ve reached the conclusion that Zumba is primarily agility.

In Zumba the moves are always fast.  So it is a constant state of start and stop.  The only sensation I sense while doing Zumba is agility.  Fast start, fast stop . . . .  even when there is a stretch where your muscles are yearning for a second to move to their fullest length, it is a fast stretch that does not allow for the muscle to be fully stretched.  Doing a full hour of agility is not a bad thing at all.  It can be fun and it can produce a lot of sweat.  And many of us are programmed to think that sweat equals a good workout.  I think that if you are adding Zumba to a stretching program that has some balance practice in it that is great.

I am also a believer that there are a lot of things that compliment Nia too.  I actually think that if you like Nia and Zumba and you are able to do both that is a nice combination.  You get two different types of cardio.  One that is a workout in the sensation of agility and one that can move you through more use of the entire body to get that heart pumping.

I really believe that whatever gets you moving is GREAT.  I think that you have to like what you do in order to make it a constant in your life.  So Zumba, Nia, Jazzercise, U-Jam, yoga, kickboxing, bootcamp, weight training, whatever works for you is great.  Do what you will do!  That is the key!

It is that I am always asked about the difference between Zumba and Nia that I am always thinking about it and this was my latest thought after I did a Zumba class.  I think I posted before about how I am left wanting to extend and finish my moves in Zumba and it dawned on me that it is the sensation of agility that is predominant in Zumba.  Some Zumba classes I have attended do take a song to stretch at the end, but not all of them.  So I guess it depends on the instructor.  Nia instructors are encouraged to infuse their classes and the routines with their personalities, so I am sure that every Nia class has a few differences too.

Both Nia and Zumba are great cardio workouts.  It just depends on what you want to do during your workout and what you want to get out of it.  Do what you will do!

So, what is it that you do? 

Posted in Nia, Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Build it Big

Posted by terrepruitt on February 24, 2011

In Nia classes we have the opportunity to experience flexibility AND mobility AND agility AND strength AND stability. Depending on the starting point we can either be increasing or maintaining.   I also believe it is good for people to participate in a weight training program. I believe it is good to use weights to keep strength or build strength. I think having muscle strength in important. Most people do not have to concern themselves about getting big and bulking up. I have heard women say they don’t lift weights because they don’t want to do either of those things.

First of all, as a reminder, weights are not the only way to build strength, any type of resistance can work muscles. Depending on your starting point different things can be used, for example body weight alone without the use of weights is a great place to start. The use of resistance bands or tubing can be a great way to work muscles without having to deal with storing the weights. Working with weights (resistance) is a great way to stave off the aging process.

I think it might help people who are afraid of building big muscles to know how it happens. Basically if you want to build big muscles you have to work really, really, really hard at it. It doesn’t happen from going to the gym two or three times a week doing a few exercises at 8 repetitions each. Hypertrophy (muscles getting bigger) occurs when heavy weights are lifted in a specific way . . . more than the average person is going to lift (75% to 85% of what you can absolutely lift), more exercises than the average person takes time for, and with less rest time than most people take in the gym. It really takes work and concentration. It is very stressful on the body and people often don’t like to be sore. The type of lifting required to cause hypertrophy is not something the average woman is going to do. Doing 8 to 12 repetitions of a few exercise two or three times a week will enable your muscles to stay toned or it might even build some strength, but it will not make the muscles really big. If you want to increase your strength add more resistance or more reps.

What could actually happen if you start working with weights is the shape of the muscle might adjust and it you might think it is bigger because you actually start sensing it. I would recommend you measure your limbs with a flexible tape measure before you start a weight regimen. After a couple of weeks measure again, see if there is actually an increase in size. I’ll be waiting to hear . . . .

Posted in Training and Exercise | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »