February 2012

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live on the move Dancing to my own Beat Finding my groove in Nia By Meagan Parrish Where to go: Currently Melt is Madison's premiere We're about halfway through an hour-long session of Nia when instructor Mona Melms gets right to the heart of the matter. Catching her breath after a fi ve-minute stretch of spins, shuffl es, sinewy snake arms and fl oating steps across the fl oor, she knowingly asserts: "And that's why you can't describe Nia." As a writer, my ears perk up at the chal- lenge. It's a fi tness craze rooted in move- ments found in familiar activities such as yoga, jazz dance and martial arts. And when you put all that together, you get something that's, well, pretty hard to describe. I didn't have to fi gure it out alone, though. I was at Melt, Melms' downtown fi tness studio, with a group of my BRAVA friends. Our goal was to try something different. Rather than getting together to have a drink or grab dinner, we were getting together to move. It's a message rooted in the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women movement's mis- sion to help women be active while having fun. In honor of February being American Heart Month, we were here. We began simply enough. Making our way through a few easy stretches remi- niscent of yoga, I felt right at home. But once we got moving (and we were sweat- ing pretty quickly), it didn't take long before we were exploring movements that felt completely new. Th is isn't to say it was intimidating. As it turns out, Nia is all about self-discovery, and there is a freedom in the movements to help you achieve just that. Along the lines of Zumba, a Latin-infused dance work- out, the goal is to simply dance and con- nect with your body without dwelling on The Dish on Nia What to expect: Something you've never tried before! What makes Nia different is not only the melding of fi t- ness styles and dances, but also the freedom to express the movements in your own way. The experience will be unique and uniquely yours. 16 BRAVA Magazine Who will love it: Newcomers to fi tness who want a non-intimidating way to get in the swing of things. If you're looking to target both body and mind (and even your emotional state), this will be right up your alley. Your body on Nia: Expect to breathe hard. You can modify movements to fi t your mood, which makes it welcoming to all fi tness levels. No matter which path you choose, you'll strengthen the whole body and get your blood pumping, too. February 2012 Fitness with friends: Countless studies show that for many, the key to staying on track with a fi tness regimen is group exercise and, particularly, working out with friends. Next time you're heading for a work- out, make it a social date. technique. As silly as it sounds, if you feel goofy, you're probably doing it right. And in the midst of that, you burn some serious calories. An hour of sassy walks and jazzy steps, sweepy arm movements, pelvic thrusts and lots of fl oating to and from the fl oor, and our muscles were burning. But with ethe- real music playing and the ever-energetic Melms grinning, we boogied and panted our way through the session quickly. Fumbling through any new activity is always awkward, but having friends in tow helps. Any time I felt silly (which was most of the time), laughing at myself and letting go was easier in the company of friends do- ing the same. And though Nia may not be easy to de- scribe, what I can say is this: It's seriously good fun. place to practice Nia. But you can fi nd other classes rooted in physical exploration and interpretive dance movement at studios such as Main Street Yoga and the Tai Chi Center of Madison. Photo by Shanna Wolf

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