Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 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 / yoga / Personal Training!

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  • My Bloggey Past

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Posts Tagged ‘Jazzercise’

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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Try Something Other Than What You Want

Posted by terrepruitt on February 17, 2016

I know I have said that if you are trying an exercise class go at least three times before you decide you don’t like it.  Have you seen me say that before?  I think that in order for you to decide you honestly don’t like it you need to try it at least three times.  I think there are enough factors in a group exercise class that you have to experience it more than once to make an educated decision.  I also think that sometimes what you want is not what you need, so you might want to step out into the unknown.

As I said there are many reasons not to like a class, if you think it is the instructor, don’t condemn the whole modality.  If you go to a Jazzercise class and the instructor runs around the room shouting encouragement at individuals and that is not your style, try a different teacher.  If the Zumba teacher only plays one type of music instead of sticking to the Zumba formula, try a different teacher . . . but it doesn’t seem fair to you nor Zumba if you claim you don’t like Zumba.  If you can, it is really nice to give that instructor another chance, but time is short and so sometimes that might not be the answer.  Every teacher has her own style and it might not be one you like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t like the exercise.

Also keep in mind that you are only seeing one routine, and those change.  If you go to a Nia class and think you don’t like it, try it again because the routines can be vastly different.  It is good to check out the different routines.  Also, find an appropriate class for your level.  If you take a circuit training class and it is too difficult try a different one or talk to the teacher.

When it comes to yoga, though, I would like to suggest a way to find the appropriate yoga class for you.  Try the opposite of what you WANT.  If you want to lie around on cushions in poses for 5 minutes at a time, try a more active class.  If you want a super aggressive active fast-paced class try a restorative class (lying around on cushions).  If you want gentle yoga try a class that you think might be tough.  You might walk out of class thinking, “Wow!  That was great.  I never would have thought.”

It could be that while you are in the class you are thinking that you wish the torture would end.  And by torture I mean, if you are a very active person and you want to be in a power yoga class and you take a restorative class and are having to lie still for ten minutes . . . that can be torture. If you just wanted to lie around on props and you are having to hold your left leg up for 45 seconds while twisting to the right and grabbing your right foot that might be torture.  But with the right teacher you will be able to do the yoga that is being taught in the class and you will walk out saying, “That is exactly what I needed.”

There are so many different types of yoga and yoga is only regulated when it is trade-marked and there are licenses to teach otherwise yoga class definitions vary.  Classes with the same names can vary greatly.

I am not saying to go to a class that is way beyond your level, but I am suggesting to try something you may not have normally thought of doing.  As I said, you might end up getting what you really need when you don’t go after what you want.

What type of yoga do you normally do?  What classes have your tried?

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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?

 

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

Adding More Noise To The Mix

Posted by terrepruitt on June 10, 2014

We have sounding in Nia . . . where we make sounds as we are dancing.  Plus people are always invited and . . . in my class . . . encouraged to sing.  I’ve written several posts about sounding and put them in their own category under Nia.  (Click here for the link to those posts)  Although I do not think of making sounds as being regulated to Nia, I just have them as a sub-category under the category Nia.  I think sounds are appropriate to make during other exercises and workouts.  One that always comes to mind when people seem to need convincing of making noises and exercising is martial arts.  Once I remind them that “Hi-Ya!” is a common sound, they seem to relax into the idea a bit.  As I probably have mentioned before, I remember it being an unspoken rule that you didn’t make noise while you are doing Jazzercise, lifting weights, or working out at the Lady Spa.  Could have been ideal that it was unladylike to make noise.  I don’t know, because I never remember being told NOT to make a sound, I just know that no one did it.  It was almost as if even breathing heavy was taboo!  One reason I love Nia:   breathing and making sounds are encouraged.  But I think of these sounds as helping with the flow of oxygen and energy.  I think of them as stress relieving and joy bringing.  So when I was flipping through Yoga Journal and came across an article titled “How To Be Fearless” I thought, “Huh?  Interesting.”  Mark Moliterno, an opera singer and yoga instructor has paired yoga with voice to create YogaVoice.

This reminded me of one of Nia’s instructors who created Kivo® The Kinetic Voice . . . which is – according to her website – “a vocal practice that uses the whole body. It is designed to harness the power of vocal vibration and movement as transformational tools that unlock energy, activate your true radiance and empower you to go out and create the life you were born to live.”  So . . . back to the article when I looked at the chart within the article I realized that the pairings were for more than just overcoming public speaking jitters as the subtitle read.  It was for a list of different areas.

Just as we know certain sounds to be related to certain chakras and feelings, you probably also know poses are related to certain chakras and feelings.  When sounds and asanas are paired up they can be very beneficial.  I would bet many of you are familiar with “OM” as a yoga chant. Different sounds and different mantras can be used.  The information on the YogaVoice websites leads me to believe this is different from chanting while doing yoga, there are indications that it goes beyond that.

I just love that more sounding is coming into the workout.  Since I believe there is a lot more to sounding — a lot more benefits can be reaped than just breathing — I love movement forms that stem from sounding or that incorporate it.

Do you believe the is benefits to making noises while working out?  Do you make noises while exercising?

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, PiYo, Gentle Yoga

 

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

The Right Shoe

Posted by terrepruitt on September 26, 2013

Today after Nia Class a Nia White Belt and I were talking.  We were talking Nia over coffee and a friend from her past happened by.  So she joined us.  She was coming from Jazzercise and so, of course the conversation turned to us sharing some information about Nia with her.  She sounded as if she was willing to try it but also as if she was never going to move away from Jazzercise.  I love that she is moving.  I think it is important that people exercise and one of the ,best ways to ensure that is to find something you like or better yet — love.  I appreciate that there is so much out there for people to participate in.  Of course, I would love for you to come to my Nia class.  I would love for you to love Nia.  I think it is great because it addresses the BMES, but not everyone likes that in their exercise.  In the course of our conversation she said she tried Zumba, but it didn’t work for her that well.  She had already mentioned that she takes it easy on her knee so I felt justified in recommending the correct type of shoe.  I often hear people don’t like Zumba because it hurts their knees and it often has to do with the shoes they are wearing.  In Nia we dance bare foot.  We do not twist on our foot or scoot, we pick our feet up off the ground.  When doing a dance exercise or a fitness class, like Zumba the need for shoes is apparent.  In Zumba there is a lot of twisting, shuffling, and sliding.  You need the right shoe for that.

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, PiYo, Gentle YogaExercise sneakers, tennis shoes, cross trainers, and running shoes are not the correct shoe for doing Zumba or any type of dance that requires shoes for that matter.  An exercise sneaker or tennis shoe has what you want in regards to cushion, construction and support.  A cross trainer has even more support in the shoe because with cross training you are moving forward, backward, side to side, and even up and down. So the shoe itself is made to support your foot and keep it secured in the shoe.  And running shoes are great for the cushion.  They cushion your step and help absorb the shock of your foot landing on the earth.  So these types of shoes are great, the “upper”, because they are built for impact and moving in different directions, but it is the sole you do not want to dance on.  These shoes are made for traction.  They are made to stop you from twisting and sliding.  When you are playing tennis, doing cross training, or running you don’t want to be slipping, sliding, and twisting around.  So the soles are made to keep that from happen.  I mean, have you seen some of those soles?  They look like tire treads.  Great for outdoors.

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, PiYo, Gentle YogaNow a dance shoe, say a jazz shoe or a ballet slipper is perfect for dance.   Without all of the cushion and support that is an athletic shoe they are usually light and easy to lift and move in.  The bottom of the shoe has material that allows you to slide and glide, spin, turn, and twirl on the dance floor.  Perfect for moving to the music and getting your groove on.  And THAT is the kind of sole you want.  Something you can twist in.  Something you can slide in.  Something that won’t stop you foot dead as you dance across the floor.  But then again, those shoes have the SOLES you want, but not the support.  Since you are doing cross training type of motion (forward, backward, side to side, and even up and down) you want that type of support.  And it would be nice to have some cushion too, huh?

Well, do your knees a favor and do not do Zumba in tennis shoes, cross trainers, and running shoes.  And do your feet a favor and do not do Zumba in a jazz shoe or a ballet slipper.  What you need is a dance sneaker.  Someone, somewhere – I don’t know the origin of them – decided to combine the two.  Brilliant.  Someone added the support, cushion, and comfort of an athletic shoe to a sole that can slide and glide.  Whew!  This is genius.  This will help save your knees and other joints!

I know Zumba has a brand of shoe that has a great dance sole, I don’t know about the cushion and support of the shoe.  I bought Capezios because they don’t have a sole over the arch so they allow for the foot to really move.

Since you are investing in your health and wellness by going to a dance exercise class, please take it a one step further and splurge for those dance sneakers.  They don’t have to cost more than $50.00, and you will be saving yourself so much more in the long run.  You will be allowing your body to move with greater comfort on the dance floor.

What do you think?  Do you think a shoe that allows you to slide a bit is better for dancing?  Doesn’t it make sense to have a dance sneaker?

Posted in Zumba | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A Look Back

Posted by terrepruitt on February 7, 2013

I found Nia back in 2008.  I was looking for an exercise that was more like dance.  I had several people in my life at that time that loved to dance, but their partners wouldn’t dance with them.  They claimed they would love to do exercise if it was more like dance.  I also had people in my life at that time that were younger than me, my age, and just slightly older and they couldn’t move very well.  They moved with pain and/or it was an extreme challenge for them to balance and just a mixed bag of things.  I believed that movement could help some of the issues facing them and many others.  I also loved to dance and thought it would be great to have an exercise class that was dance.  I looked at doing Jazzercise, but I think at the time the franchise thing (or however they did it/do it) was not something I wanted to do.  And back then Zumba was not yet the rage and I had thought it was ALL Latin music (I know better now).  I remember I came across a website that was talking about Trance Dance.  So I researched that a bit.  That sounded interesting, moving your body in your own way to music.  But the information I found said that you kept your eyes closed and/or were blindfolded while dancing and someone would watch to make certain people didn’t injure themselves.  That part and the fact that some sites stated there actually was a form of “Trance” that people entered into kept me from wanting to do that.  But somewhere there was a mention of Nia.  So I tried to find all the information I could on this Nia.  Back then it might have even been NIA.  I don’t remember when it changed and even now some places still call it Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  It has gone through a few name changes, but at present it is just The Nia Technique or Nia.

It IS non-impact aerobics and it IS Neuromuscular Integrative Action, but the name is Nia and it no longer “stands” for anything.  And in the four years that I have been doing it and learning about it, it has changed.  It was originally created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas in the early 1980s from a desire to help people exercise in a different way, a way that addressed more than just the physical body.

When I joined Nia there were really starting to talk a lot about the next phase of Nia.  You see, even though Nia remains true to the original concept of a Joyful workout, it does change and it does grow.  Anything that wants to survive has to change or at least be flexible enough to endure the change that happens around it.  Nia changes, they change the way they deliver training from the routines to the intensive — so the continued education changes. Nia’s training material is phenomenal.  When you read through a newsletter or a manual or listen to a conference call you can sense the care taken in creating the material.  It is nice to be a part of Nia.

It is interesting.  It is amazing to see how far Nia has come and how much is has changed in the short time that I have been a teacher.  The roots of Nia are still there they are just always finding new ways to share it.

As with any an all certifications I have earned I did my research beforehand.  It is important to know how much the initial training cost and how the licensing and/or certifications works.  It is important to know about continued education and re-licensing or re-certifiying.  I liked everything I saw about Nia.  It took me four classes before I decided to invest the time and money needed to teach.

I took the training in December of 2008.  I started teaching in February 2009.  I have been teaching Nia ever since.  I have had the same Monday and Wednesday class since February 2009.  I have had other classes at other studios and gyms on different days and different times.  At this writing I am teaching Nia five times a week in San Jose – not including subbing dates.  I have three classes for the City of San Jose; a Tuesday morning and a Tuesday evening class.  I also have a Thursday evening class.  My schedule is update regularly on www.HelpYouWell.

I took a second Nia training in November 2012.  I just finished posting my way through the #13 principles of that belt (Blue Belt).

I am excited to have so many opportunities to share Nia with people each week.  As I said, I have five classes and as I said things change.  So when you are ready to join me in one check my site to confirm time and place and all those details.  I would like for the number to grow.  Just as Nia is growing, in leaps and bounds and for the better.

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

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Confessions Of This Nia Teacher

Posted by terrepruitt on August 4, 2012

I have a confession to make.  It is one I might have even confessed before.  I know I have done it before.  It is easy for me to get caught up.  I want to please people.  I want the supervisor to know that I am working to keep the students IN the class.  I want the students attending the class to like it and want to be there.  When you are a substitute instructor leading a different format than is usually taught it is very different from when you are teaching a class of the expected format.  Many people are taught that cardio – aerobic exercise – is extremely fast, high impact, and difficult so it is very hard to change that mindset.  I was asked by someone who understands both the fact that cardio does not have to be extremely fast or high impact and that people are trained to think it is, if I could do Nia a little higher because people expect cardio to be a specific way.  So caught up in wanting to give the students what they are accustomed to getting I put together a routine . . . kind of rushed . . . that didn’t have ALL the elements that a Nia class normally has.  It was not good.  It felt “off”.  I was trying to make Nia something it is not.  Nia is not Zumba.  Nia is not Cardio-Sculpt.  Nia is not extremely fast, rushed, and high impact.  Nia is not Jazzercise.  Nia is not UJAM.  Nia is not all of or any of these other names that there are for classes that are fast, rushed, and high impact.  Nia is an amazing practice.  Nia is a great workout.  Nia is a wonderful cardio dance exercise.  And I need to stop trying to make it be something it is not just because people are used to cardio a specific way.

So I did a routine that didn’t feel right to me.  I thought I would get up the next morning and do the same routine for the class I was asked at the last minute to sub, I was going to try to “bring it” to the students.  As I was getting into bed a little agitated from the “not feeling right class”, it washed over me like a refreshing revelation . . . . DO NIA!  Duh!  Bring “IT”, and make that “IT” Nia.  I got caught up and in my trying to bring the students what they are used to, I didn’t allow them the richness of something new.  The richness of Nia.

Now, I want you to understand that the Nia Technique creates wonderful routines and all we teachers have to do is learn them and teach them.  But we are also allowed to use other music, make up our own routines, mix and match the routines they have created, and make up our own katas.  Of course, we need to follow the Nia class formula and the seven cycles which contain the traditional warm-up, move it, and cool-down.  I also think when creating a routine/class – in general – it should be balanced; as an example not all songs/movements should be lateral ones or forward and back ones, there should be a mix of movement and the 52 Nia moves.  I create routines from Nia routines all the time.  So it was not the fact that I put songs together that created the not feeling right routine, it was ME.  It was ME trying to make Nia something it is not.

I need to center myself.  I need to stick to what I know and not try to give people the class they are used to.  I KNOW Nia is amazing and awesome and does need to try to be anything it is not.  I KNOW THAT.  I just get caught up.

Another point I want to make is, I am not saying those other formats are bad.  In fact, I like some of the other formats I have tried.  One of these days I might even teach another cardio format.  I am saying Nia is Nia, it is not any of the other formats and I need to remember that and let it stand on its own.  I need to remember to trust Nia and allow it to touch the people it needs to touch and let the others attend the other dance classes.  I need to remember that when I am asked to sub a class I am going to sub it with Nia and not try to make Nia be what that class usually is.  I keep thinking to myself, “DUH!”

Thank you for letting me confess and do a public face-in-the-hand-plant!

Do you EVER do that in any section of your life – try to make something be something else even though what you have is just perfect the way it is?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Do Me A Favor, No, Do YOU A Favor

Posted by terrepruitt on July 14, 2012

I have a huge favor or request.  I know I have mentioned it before, but I don’t think I have done a single post on it, but recently I, myself, was confronted with this situation so I really want to make a serious plea.  I am going to go out on a limb and say this is a plea for many fitness instructors/dance exercise teachers.  If you go to a class and you don’t like it, please, please, please try it at least two more times.  If you are ok with the instructor, but the class is just not that good in your opinion, give it another chance.  There are a million reasons why you might not like that particular class on that particular day.  It could be the routine or exercises you were doing that day so ask the instructor when s/he will be changing to a new one.  Or it could be the music, so, again talk to the instructor.  Maybe ask if the class you just experienced was the norm or the typical class.  Sometimes instructors decide to change it up and try something new but after taking it to the class they might decide they didn’t like it either.  So ask.  Also ask the other students.  Don’t give up on something after just one class.

If taking three classes from the same instructor sounds like a waste of time and money to you, try a different instructor.  We are all different and we strive to represent the brand/technique/practice to the best of our ability, but we also add out own style and it could be that the style is not something that you connect with.  It could also be — if you don’t like the class — that the instructor is not necessarily sticking to the program.  You might enjoy the class with an instructor that is more closely following the idea of the fitness brand/technique/practice.

I had been to a few fitness classes recently and I felt some elements that I believe should be included in this type of class were missing. Plus in a couple of classes I felt as if it was not all that the brand promised.  But I attended a few more classes with different instructors and I began to see a big difference.  I also took it upon myself to become educated a bit in the type of class and now I understand why I like one class over the other.  One instructor was following the program more closely than the other one and it actually is more enjoyable.  I actually went to four or five classes with three different instructors.  I walked out of one class saying, “Dang, I really hate that.”  Whereas the other two I thought, “Now that is what it is all about!”

So if you walk out of a class thinking you really don’t like it, that is ok, you obviously didn’t like THAT particular class, but it could be the brand/technique/practice wasn’t represented correctly.  So try again.  Maybe the instructor was having a bad day.  Yes, it is our job to instruct and hold a good class, no matter what, but . . . c’mon we are only human.  Sometimes we just have “off days”.  There are all types of reasons to give an instructor another chance.

I know I have mentioned this before, but if I HAVE done an entire post on it before and I am repeating myself I apologize, but I really feel strongly about this.  Because, as I said, twice I walked out of a class saying, “No way!”, but then the two other instructors showed me a “Yes way!”

Now keep in mind that I am not just talking about Nia, I am talking about ANY class you try; Zumba, Jazzercise, Barre Fitness, Turbo Kick, whatever.

If you end up giving it a good try and still end up not liking it at least you will have burned some calories in the process.  But I bet if you were drawn to the class in the first place you will end up finding a class and an instructor that you like.  Just don’t give up after the first class, do yourself a favor and keep at it and you’ll end up finding something to allow you to gain all the benefit of an exercise workout.

Have you ever gone to a class and not gone back because you didn’t like it after only one class?

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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? 

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Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence

Posted by terrepruitt on March 15, 2012

While Nia is not yoga nor is it a yoga class we do borrow from Yoga.  We borrow some of the ideas and sometimes some of the poses. In one of the Nia routines we do the Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II).  We do it both static where we just rest into it and we move in it, we bend our bent leg more and sink into it and come up.  Then we do the Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), then a version of the lunge, which depending upon your body could be a variation of the Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or the High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or the Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) – all without the backbend.  Then we straighten our leg into the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana).  With these poses we are using a lot of muscles.  The muscles can be challenged in strength, stability, and/or flexibility.  It all depends are your body at that moment.

When we do the Warrior II pose in this Nia routine the arms are extended out to the sides, opposite from each other, the hips, torso, chest, and shoulders are facing the mirror/front, while one of the legs is bent at a 90 degree angle and the foot is in line with the arm.  The other leg is straight and the foot is slightly turned with the toes pointed toward the body and the heel pointed away.  Of course participants have the option of having the foot at a right angle, but for this dance it is led with a slight angle.  Even with that slight variation it is working the glutes (all of them), the thigh muscles:  inner, outer, hamstrings, and the quadriceps, and your calf muscles.  And for some, like me, who have a habit of scrunching the shoulders, it works the rhomboids while holding up the arms and keeping the shoulder blades down and pulled back.  This is true for many yoga poses, that is why it is so great for encouraging straight posture.

Then for our Extended Side Angle Pose the arm, on the same side as the bent leg, is lowered, forearm to the thigh, the opposite arm is raised towards the sky and extended to a position that puts the arm next to the ear.  There are options to stay in this modified Extended Side Angle or to move to another modification by removing the forearm from the thigh and placing that hand on the earth next to the inside arch of the foot.  With this pose the primary work is in the bent leg.  It is another pose that works the hamstrings and thigh muscles.  Through the back of the straight leg and all along that side of the body there is a wonderful stretch, which is greater and more wonderful the better the body is as keeping the shoulder blades down and the back straight (not leaning forward).

We then move into a lunge with many options.  As with all movements in Nia the responsibility falls on the participant to decide what it is their body is able to do and needs to do at that moment.  We start off by placing the hands on the ground and straightening the foot on the leg that was straight in the Extended Side Angle Pose to be parallel with the foot on the bent leg.  Then gently bring the back leg down resting the knee on the ground.  As I said, many options so many places to go from here.  One can stay here in Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or do a moving lunge by moving up and down, or go to High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or come into an extended Warrior Pose I (Virabhadrasana I) with the arms up but with a parallel back foot and a straight back.  Here the body receives the benefit of a lunge no matter which one the body does.  If doing the extended Warrior Pose I like pose, the glutes and thigh of the bent leg are getting a great deal of work, while the straight leg’s foot parallel to the other foot results in a slight change in the muscles being worked and stretched than with the angled foot position of a traditional Warrior I.  The inner thigh gets less work while the work and stretch shifts almost entirely to the back of the leg, the hamstrings and calf.  The arms extended up in the extended Warrior Pose I allows for work in the spinal extensors, deltoids, lats, and traps . . . . basically a lot of muscles in the back, including the ones that keep your shoulders down.  With the crown of the head reaching towards the sky abs get a stretch too.

Moving from whichever lunge was done to the pyramid where the bent leg is straightened and the crown of the head is reaching over the leg while back is straight and chest is on or close to the straight leg.  Of course, variations are offered and participants do what is right for their body to remain in the sensation of Joy.   With this pose the sensation experienced is a great stretch.  The leg to which the head/chest is close to get the largest stretch in the back.  If the body is active with the leg and working to keep the knee cap up then the quadriceps will be engaged.  The spine gets a nice stretch because the crown of the head is being reach over and down.  The back leg might also feel a stretch in the hamstrings if the body is like many people’s and has tight hamstrings.

This is a small yoga-like sequence that we do as part of the cool down cycle of one of the Nia routines.  Again, since Nia is not a Yoga class there are many options and variations that are offered that might not be part of a yoga class teaching strictly yoga.  With all classes whether it be Nia, Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise, whatever, the goal should be to give your body what it needs at that time.  Bodies are constantly changing so the needs do too.  The idea is not to force the body into a pose, but to allow the muscles and bones to sink into the pose, finding strength and flexibility along with openness in the joints and that constant sensation of Joy.  This is a little review of movements that are Yoga or are very similar to Yoga, to explain some of the muscles we use in Nia.

Can you see how Nia can improve strength, stability, and flexibility?

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