I discovered Nia in 2004 after I’d joined the gym in an attempt to stay in shape. I’d just given up smoking, and didn’t want to put on weight. I disliked the gym, and going there was always a drag for me. That all changed when I found Nia! I remember being on the rowing machine (yawn!) when a friend popped out of the exercise studio and told me about this class that she’d just done. I’ll never forget her words: “I feel like I could float home!”
Fast-forward to today. I no longer have a gym membership, and haven’t been into a gym since that day (other than on the rare occasion for a special Nia class). I’m now a studio partner in Studio Kairos (the hub of Nia in Johannesburg, South Africa), and have taken the Black Belt training. Nia has become a way of life for me, and exercise is no longer the drag that it was back then. I’ve always loved to dance, and doing it for mind-body exercise is the best gift I have ever given myself.
Nia is a fitness art that builds strength, agility, flexibility, and grace in the body and mind, bringing about transformation on many levels beyond the physical. It delivers a cardiovascular, whole-body workout, drawing as it does from the disciplines of martial arts, dance arts, and healing arts. Practiced barefoot to music, Nia is self-guided, adaptable, and safe for any fitness level, from reticent beginners to highly fit athletes. Most of all, Nia is exhilarating and fun!
In Swahili Nia means “with purpose” – and that’s how Nia teaches people to move, and to live.
Studio Kairos has continued its Nia classes on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while managing the admin for these classes, I’ve chosen to dance more often than I was able to with my busy work schedule. I’m a proofreader, and run a recruitment company as well. All I’ve had to do during this time is make a few tweaks here and there, and I’m still dancing.
I’m lucky to have ADSL Wi-Fi at home, but I noticed that the signal in my lounge wasn’t perfect. Easy solution – a Wi-Fi range extender to reach those places in my home where the connection wasn’t perfect. I bought a TP-Link device from Takealot, and it cost me about R400. Problem solved!
Nia classes are lovingly crafted and use what’s known as the ‘seven-cycle format’. It starts with setting a focus and intent (what you place your attention on), stepping in (leaving all distractions behind), the warm-up phase, get moving (where you really get your heart rate going), cool down, floorplay, and stepping out (transitioning into your next activity).
I live in a very small house, and my space for moving is quite limited. I don’t let this stop me though – I’ve just moved my lounge furniture around so that there is a bigger space to move in. I am now able to get moving and cool down safely in the space that I have. No problem!
Nia choreographers mindfully choose soul-stirring music when crafting routines, and the songs are then licensed with the original artists. Nia has been around since the 1980s, so there are many routines that teachers can learn and share. When taking a Nia class, you can be sure that you’ll be dancing to all kinds of beautiful music, with carefully crafted choreography.
The music is a big part of the class for me, and I’m currently using my laptop for classes, so it was important for me to buy an external Bluetooth speaker. That way, I’m able to increase or decrease the volume without relying on my laptop’s maximum volume (which isn’t the best). I chose a JBL Flip 3 speaker – also from Takealot – which cost about R1,300. My second best purchase during lockdown!
I also chose to use my laptop for Zoom as I read somewhere that it’s better than a mobile phone or iPad. My next purchase will be a cable that connects my laptop to my TV so that I can take the class on a larger screen.
When I’m on my Zoom class, I close down all other applications (Outlook, all web browsers, and any other apps that could be sharing the bandwidth). I also turn my phone onto flight mode, and switch off the Wi-Fi and mobile data. I don’t want any other device to be using precious bandwidth that could be better spent on my Nia class!
South Africa has been in lockdown since the end of March, which makes it four months of online Nia classes. I dance most days, and have never been in better shape, both mentally and physically! While I miss our Nia studio desperately, and can’t wait to get back there for classes with my community, I’m grateful that I have been able to make these tweaks so that I can continue my Nia practice.
It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world. – Nelson Mandela
For Nia classes through Studio Kairos, you can visit www.niagp.co.za, call me on +27 83 657 3377, or send me an email (email@example.com). If you’re a Discovery member, please include your ID number so that you can earn 100 points per class attended.