Recently, one of my newer Nia students, Sandi, sent me the piece below. It seemed that Sandi had been reflecting on her developing relationship with Nia and wanted to share her thoughts with me. I was so appreciative of Sandi's willingness to share her experiences that I asked if I could share them with all of you. She agreed.
Here's Sandi at the Nia Poker Run held at 3
locations along Lake Ontario in June 2009.
She happened to take 1st prize at the event!
Before we get into her amazing piece, however, I want to tell you a little bit about Sandi. I met Sandi about 6 months ago when she came to her first Nia class at The 918. Like me, Sandi had a less than ideal relationship with exercise growing up. In her adult years she avoided physical activity until meeting a very special personal trainer 8 years ago.
Her personal trainer introduced Sandi to a sustainable fitness program that ignited a new relationship with exercise. Fast-forward 7 1/2 years to the time when Sandi was introduced to Nia. She was curious but hesitant having never done dance or hard core aerobics in the past. But she came that first week, returned the next and has kept coming back since. Here's her story.
What I like about Nia
~*~ Sandi Jones ~*~
I like doing something good for my body. As I age, it becomes more important to take care of my body. Over the years, annoyances cause real pain and they add up. The prospect of living through decades of increasing pain is unpleasant so I’m motivated to do something about it. When I’m doing Nia, I know that I’m making my body stronger and healthier, and that’s a good thing.
I like achieving. Even though I'm nowhere near getting all I can and will get out of Nia, there is at least one thing that I do better or find easier than before in almost every session. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when that happens. I also enjoy the small victory every time I simply convince myself to go and do it, especially first thing Saturday morning, or after a heavy work day. I also feel a sense of accomplishment when I make the effort to keep moving or raise my arms higher (or whatever) when I know nobody would care if I didn't. I know I could have done less but chose not to and I can pat myself on the back for it.
I like the variety. I like it for different reasons than most people cite, though. For me it isn't about being free from the monotony of repetitive routines. I actually like repetition in my exercise routine (see next paragraph!) But I know that the variety is good for my body. It works and stretches many different parts of my body in a lot of different ways – including ways I’ve almost never moved in my whole 45 years, and I can feel the good it does. With the routines leading me through a variety of movements, I don’t have to think about whether I’ve worked this muscle or that one. I can just do it.
I like the repetition. Amid all the variety, there is plenty of repetition and for me that’s comfortable. There is calmness in repetition, when it’s a movement that I can do (or one I’ve modified to make easier). Repetition makes it easier for my body to learn to move. When a routine introduces a combination that I know from before, it helps build my confidence and lower my stress as I learn to “see” what’s coming and I can relax my mind a bit more.
I like when it feels like dancing. It doesn’t happen often yet, but occasionally when I’m going through the movements in a class, it feels like I’m dancing as opposed to just exercising time with the music. It seems to happen when we're doing steps that are not complicated and feel more natural for me than others. It also helps when there are specific arm and hand movements to guide me, a pleasant break from trying to imagine what I could possibly do when she says “your way”, or “dance it”. It really helps when I know the music – whether it’s something I know like a Michael Jackson tune or something I’ve gotten to know through Nia, like Michael Franti. Every once in a while, when all these things line up, it feels like I just might be dancing.
I like the music. When I go to Nia class, I never know what the music will be. It could be cool jazz, hard funk, bouncy celtic, new age, pop or ballads. It might be artists I know or artists I don’t know. Through Nia I’ve discovered new favorites and gotten back in touch with old favorites. One thing all the music has in common is that I like it. Coming to Nia is like having my own personal DJ for the hour, one who knows what I like and surprises me every time.
I like the supportive atmosphere. It’s easy enough to take a healthy mindset into any gym or dance class. It’s another thing entirely to find healthy mindsets in there and keep yours. My trainer’s private gym was always a comfortable place because it was small and the clients were all struggling with some sort of physical challenge. Nia classes feel a lot like that – maybe because the practice includes healthy, judgment-free attitudes as core principles, or maybe because the people I do Nia with are like that.
I like the variety of people that I wouldn't get to know otherwise. Like many busy people, I have friends, family and colleagues but there are strong similarities among them. Compared to the range of lifestyles, experiences and outlooks you’d find with a random cross-section of people, the folks in my life share a lot in common. Nia is a chance to encounter people who have made very different life choices and look at the world in many different ways. It’s refreshing to talk to them and get to know them, and I’ve made several friends through Nia that I wouldn’t have ever met without it.
I like showing others like me that they can do it. After only a couple months of Nia, I felt so strongly about this that I volunteered to take part in a public Nia demo on a stage in downtown Toronto. I wanted to show the old, unfit, fat, awkward, nerdy people in the audience that Nia something they could actually DO and feel comfortable doing. For those who know me well, it was nothing short of astonishing how comfortable I felt going on stage. Not too many years ago, I’d burst into tears at the mere thought of entering a gym, or trying to keep up with someone who walked fast. My trainer helped me get past it and work out at my own pace, but the idea of a Nia class was still very scary when I started. I got over quickly, though, and in a few weeks I felt like I’d always been part of the Nia family. I felt compelled to promote Nia every chance I got, and the opportunity to be on stage and give others hope and that trumped my fear of “going public”. I was on a mission and I was driven by the notion that my being up there might give somebody else the courage to try. Now I’m a regular fixture at Toronto public Nia events and my Facebook page is full of Nia action shots.
Want to connect with Sandi to find out more about her Nia Journey? You'll find her here on the Nia Moves Me website (a site for those who have been touched by the magic of Nia).