Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Conscious Personal Trainer’

In The Looking Glass

Posted by terrepruitt on June 13, 2016

In Nia we teach facing a mirror with our backs to the students.  The mirrors help me stay connected to the class.  I can look in the mirror and make eye-contact with someone.  I can peruse the room and see what is going on.  It is different from the way it used to be when I took Jazzercise so many moons ago.  The teacher faced us and would do mirror actions.  When the class went left the teacher would actually go to his right.  When we went right the teacher went to his left.  When we moved forward the teacher also moved forward coming toward the class. When the class moved back the teacher would go back.  The teacher facing the class allowed for face-to-face connection.  The other day I was teaching a class and I was doing the “mirroring” and as I was pausing in the movement, I realized why I didn’t like “mirroring” as much as teaching with my back to them.  I couldn’t share my sensation.  I could not teach what I was sensing.

I think part of what makes Nia so joyful and fun is that the teacher is having fun.  We are taught to be in our bodies and dance.  We learn routines, but if while teaching the music motivates us to do something off from the choreography, that is fine.  We get to play.  We get to sense what is happening in our bodies and share it with the class.  Then the class gets motivated to dance what is in their bodies . . . their individual body.

When I was paused in that stretch I wanted to tell them what I was sensing and have them explore their bodies sensation, but I couldn’t.  I had to pause and adjust my mind and my words because we were not bending the same way.  So, yes, I could say, “side” leaving out which side, but it felt less authentic because we were not experiencing the same side.  Silly, I know, but it was a thought that popped into my head as I was teaching.  Sometimes there are no mirrors available in the classrooms I am assigned to teach in, so I have to teach facing the class and that is fine, but I really like having mirrors.

Also, I notice that when I am facing the students even when I used left or right or even use a landmark in the room . . . there are some that pause for a second in confusion.  They are looking at me and seeing me do the opposite from what I am asking them to do and you can just see the internal struggle in the face.   This is especially the case when instructing twists.  Twists are already a little challenge for the brain so when the arm goes up and around and the leg goes up and around, crossing over the mid-line of the body, the brain really likes to see it as the body is to do it.  The mirrored way really has people all twisted.

While we don’t have really complicated steps in Nia, it seems like the students learn them faster when they can see exactly how it is to be done.  They don’t have that extra brain work to do of adjusting for left and right.  They see my left foot going over to the right side and they get it.  It takes a lot to see the right foot going towards them and over to the left while I am telling them to take their left foot front and over to the right.

It is nice to dance without the mirrors sometimes, as I wrote about in my post Mirrorless Inward Reflection.  For some it helps them be less concerned about how they look while they are dancing.  It can allow people to be more introspective.  It can enable people to connect to their own Conscious Personal trainer.  It is a good thing and definitely something I / we can do when we do not have access to mirrors, I just happened upon an insight recently and thought I could share.

Do you like to take classes with mirrors?  Do you find it easier to follow when the teacher has his/her back to you?

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Mirrorless Inward Reflection

Posted by terrepruitt on July 15, 2014

I teach Nia at Community Centers in San Jose.  One of the things about community centers is they are for the community.  During the summer that means that they are kid central.  It is amazing all of the programs they have for kids during the summer.  It is so great to see the centers doing so much to keep the kids learning and active during the summer.  What a full community center sometimes translates to is regularly scheduled classes get shuffled around.  I was given about six months notice for this summer’s shuffle.  So our Nia class was prepared.  I had been telling them since January.  Then I put up a notice in June.  So we were aware.  It is a huge blessing that we just get moved to another room and not to a different time or cancelled altogether.  I am grateful that we still get to have a class while all these summer camps and kid fun is going on.  It is working out to be one week a month.  Last month the room we were moved to had the portable mirrors in the closet so we were able to roll them out and use them.  Today the closet was full of tables and chairs.  The mirrors were nowhere to be found.  The center is on what used to be a high school campus.  So it is very large and spread out.  I wasn’t certain that 25 minutes would be enough time to let someone know about the situation, find the mirrors, and move them all the way across the campus.  So we did Nia without mirrors today, using the opportunity to focus inward.

I have done Nia without mirrors before.  In fact I posted about it in my post Nia In The Mirror when I was teaching in San Carlos.  That is one reason when I started working at the San Jose Community Centers I was so impressed with their portable mirrors.  In fact I thought I did a post about them because they are sooooo cool.  (Well, I don’t see one, so that will probably be my next post!)

In a Nia class the teacher stands with her/his back to the students.  One way we connect with our students is eye contact in the mirror.  A Nia teacher can turn and face the students.  In fact, it is recommended at times to do so to change things up and to connect in another way to the students.  We even practiced it in the Blue Belt Intensive.  So it is up to the teacher to teach facing whichever way s/he wants.  Generally though we face away from the students.

Facing away makes it easier for some people to follow since we are moving the same side of the body and going in the same direction as opposed to the mirror image as was (and possibly still is) done in Jazzercise.  What I find is that I learn the routine SAYING it as if I am teaching with my back towards the students so for me to turn around I would be saying go left as I move left and we would not be dancing in mirror image.  So to turn and face the students while we are doing a dance that moves front or back or laterally is a challenge for me.  Especially when it is a new routine.  And right now, I am somewhat learning a routine.  In a routine there is usually a song or two where we are not moving left or right so we often face each other than.  I was able to do that today, but some I did with my back to them.

I think dancing without a mirror every once in a while is a good thing.  It helps the students dance with themselves.  The moment I found out we didn’t have mirrors I knew our intent and focus.  I set the focus to be the Conscious Personal Trainer, with the intent of being fully aware of and sensing your own body’s movements.  Without the mirror to distract us I thought it would be a great opportunity to focus more on one’s own body.  Without the mirror we don’t see ourselves nor the other people.  Without a mirror the possibility to draw ones attention in and keep it in seems better.

So, of course, I was very happy when one of my students said that dancing without the mirrors made it different.  It did allow her to focus more on her movements.  She said she was less distracted with the other students.  Yay!  I like that it worked for her.  I like that we were able to do it different, but we still danced and had fun.  I am very blessed to have such great students that can just go with the flow and DO Nia!  It is nice to have “no mirrors” give us the opportunity for something different.

When you take a lead-follow exercise class do you prefer the instructor FACE your or face away from you?

 

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Nia Really Is For EveryBODY

Posted by terrepruitt on July 3, 2012

I often get e-mails and phone calls from people who say they have injured themselves and they ask if they can do Nia.  Well, I am not a doctor and I don’t know the extent of their injuries, but I explain to them one of the core philosophies (if you will) of Nia.  You do what YOUR body can do.  EveryBODY is different.  EveryBODY has something going on in their body and something going on in their life.  EveryBODY will be different every day.  So we encourage everyBODY to do what they can.  Of course, depending upon the injury, people should check with their physician and be cleared for aerobic activity and movement and when they get to class how much they do is up to them.

It is important to remember that each individual is responsible for his/her own body.  When someone has had a recent injury it is very important to remember to be their own Conscious Personal Trainer (CPT).   It is up to you to move in a way that is healthful.  You are the one that knows the extent of the injury and you are the one that has worked with a medical professional to be healed.  So here is where you really get to be aware of your body and do only what it can do.

I’ve also posted before about the levels of intensity.   In Nia we say that there are three levels of intensity and Nia teachers demonstrate three levels, but really there are many, many, many levels due to the fact that everyBODY is different.  My level one (which is deemed the lowest level of intensity) might be someone else’s level two.  My level three could be someone else’s level two AND in addition to that, it could change the very next day!  EveryBODY has different levels of intensity.  I might take BIG steps to the side, whereas the person right behind me might take little steps, and the person next to her medium steps, and the person behind him HUGE steps.  We all move in our own way.  It is up to each individual participant to do what works for them at that time.  If there is an injury involved maybe the level that used to be intensity level one, has now changed to level three intensity.  It could take some time for the body to adjust and heal and get back to its original levels of intensity.

Nia believes you do what your body can and by doing what you can you will feel good.  And when you feel good you will realize that you can do a lot.  So the next time you do it you might do more, then the next time more, then the next time—might be a rough day, you might do less—and Nia rejoices in that.  It is important to do what you can at the moment you are doing it.

I always encourage Nia participants in my classes to play with different levels.  I also encourage them to try new things, to not always do the same move they are comfortable with.  This could be something that one is required to do if they have injured a body part.  Any injury sometimes can be a chance to grow in other areas.  It doesn’t have to be a stopping point.  So I encourage people to keep moving – if they can – so, yes, people can do Nia if they have been injured.  As long as they have been cleared to do so by a doctor.  If they are fit to move Nia can easily be adapted to help them move in their new state and get them back to dancing with joy.

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Conscious Personal Trainer

Posted by terrepruitt on June 8, 2010

In Nia you are your own CPT.  In some circles that stands for Certified Personal Trainer.  In Nia it stands for Conscious Personal Trainer.  You are responsible for your body, its movements, and its health.

If you were to hire me as your Personal Trainer you would complete a Health and Behavior Questionnaire.  We would discuss it, along with your health concerns, and your goals.  We would work together to create a fitness plan that would help you reach your goals.  We would have one-on-one sessions so I could observe, coach, and assist you when necessary.

In a class setting there is no Questionnaire that we discuss.  We have not discussed all of the things you want to address and the things you want to work on.  We have not discussed your concerns at length.  A class setting is different than a one-on-one personal training session.  You know your history your goals and how you feel at that moment.  It is up to you to set your pace and intensity level for that class.

It is up to you to be your own coach.  Be aware of what is going on in your body so that you can make adjustments to your movements.  It is up to you to do it in a non-judgmental way.  You have all of the information:  your fitness goals, your health history, your behavior history, how you feel that moment, you know your own energy level, and the status of your emotions.  It is up to you to tune into all of that and to use it to receive the work you need at that moment.  Move your body in a way that brings comfort. 

Every day might be different, with each kata it could change as I have stated before when talking about the different (Intensity) Levels of Teaching, there are different levels of doing.  As you move and you become more aware of how your body moves and what you sense as you move you will be able to tweak it so that you are able to move in comfort, but also reach the goals you have.  You will become an experience conscious personal trainer.

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