Nia Workouts: A Non-Impact Exercise!

nia workout

A Nia workout will help you if you are bored with your usual gym workout and ready to try something new? Then this new fusion-type fitness method may be just what you’re looking for.  It promises to get you fit, help you lose weight, AND align your mind, body, and soul in a total sensory-body experience! If you’re ready for a new experience then here’s what you should know about…

Nia – A Whole New Fitness Experience

It’s a little like dance, a little like martial arts, and a little like physical therapy.  It’s called Nia and it aims to empower people of all ages, shapes and sizes by connecting the mind, body, emotions and spirit to achieve fitness.  If you want to gain mastery of the Art/Sport, there are even 4 different color belts you can aim for similar to those gained in martial arts.

Created in 1983 by 2 dancers, Debbie and Carlos Rosas, they saw the non-impact body movements of Nia as a way to heal the body as well as nurture the spirit.  It stems from the body’s own natural way of moving based on its natural design.  It relies more on sensation of what feels good while moving rather than forcing, unnatural mechanical movements that strain the muscles.

People who have taken Nia classes report a feeling of ‘floating with freedom’ and just being able to let go of stress and just go with the rhythms of the music and the movements.  They feel that the training is both ‘life expanding’ and ‘life altering’ and use the words ‘intoxicating’, ‘euphoric’, and ‘magical’ to describe their experience.  And that’s just the spiritual side of Nia.

On the physical body side, Nia practitioners say it will help you lose weight, re-align your body, relieve nagging aches and pains and sleep better.  Many practitioners of Nia claim that it has helped them lose massive amounts of weight, balance hormones, and minimize menopause symptoms.

On the mind’s side, Nia’ers claim that it burns off stress, relieves depression, builds confidence and makes it possible to feel more joy in life.  Nia practitioners offer a community of support, encouragement and friendship comprised of both men and women.  Many Nia experiencers have gone on to become Nia teachers as well.

Nia is done barefoot to “soul-stirring” music of different types for about 55 minutes.  It is inspired by the martial arts and progresses in stages.  You begin at the White Belt level where you discover the simple joy of movement and getting closer in touch with your body.  Each successive belt color training takes you through the 5 body and life “competencies” for health and vitality: philosophy, science, anatomy, music and movement.  You’ll be taken through the 7 Cycles of Nia in which you experience “movement, music and magic”, as their promotional website states.

Nia’s 52 different body moves correlate to the main areas of the body – core, upper and lower extremities.  It teaches the basics of somatic conditioning, integrating interval training with whole body movement.  So, everyone from an inexperienced beginner to an experienced athlete can gain something from Nia training as there are 3 intensity levels.  As you progress through the levels, you progress through refining and expanding skills, gaining deeper self-awareness and connection to your body, and how specific movements make it feel.

In addition, a Nia workout has 9 different body movement styles taken from Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, jazz dance, modern dance, Duncan dance, yoga, Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais technique.  The movements aim to balance form with freedom and encourages practitioners to personalize/adapt their own movements for greater pleasure and comfort.

Where To Find Nia Workout Classes

If you feel that you’re ready to experience something completely new in fitness, there are Nia workout classes across the country.  You can find classes in your area, find Nia-music to purchase, or download, instructional videos, and clothing for Nia practice on their website (see references below).

A Nia workout is designed to move your body in its own natural manner and rhythms.  It allows people of all sizes and shapes to move in ways that are beneficial to each person rather than one-size-fits all movements on exercise equipment.   Nia teaches you to pay closer attention to how your mind and body integrate to produce purposeful as well as relaxing movement.  Nia is a good way for people to stay flexible, build muscle and bone strength, as well as get rid of stress and boost your brain power by learning something new and completely different.


Ronald Blankstein, M.D.

Ron Blankstein, MD, FACC, FASNC, FSCCT, FASPC is the Director of Cardiac Computed Tomography, Associate Director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Program, Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Training Program, and a Preventive Cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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