Nia (fitness)

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Nia is a non-impact physical conditioning program. The Nia Technique was founded in 1983 by Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas in the San Francisco area. Nia combines martial arts and dance arts in a workout set to music.


From 1972 to 1983 Debbie Rosas operated an exercise business in the San Francisco Bay Area known as the Bod Squad. In 1983 a series of sports related injuries prompted her to research and develop an alternative method of aerobic exercise and strength training focused on safe, non-impact, bodymind based movement. This led to the establishment of the Nia Technique. Nia Technique Head Quarters moved to Portland, Oregon in 1991 and is currently overseen by Debbie Rosas, CEO.

NIa Classes[edit]

Dance Fitness - Nia dance cardio fitness classes are taught by instructors licensed in the Nia Technique. Each class includes mindful movement guidance and somatic education; class cycles include warm-up, sustained non-impact aerobic conditioning, strength training, cool down and stretching. Nia Fitness classes are taught using a broad variety of music, including pop, electronica, jazz, Latin, New Age, Indian and hip hop. Nia Classes employ 52 basic movements and techniques that draw on a combination of Jazz, Modern and Duncan Dance styles, Tai Chi, TaeKwonDo and Aikido; and the bodymind healing arts of Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique and Yoga.


Nia Technique started a proprietary music label NiaSounds in 2001 producing their own CD’s and music downloads. Home workout DVD’s are produced and sold under the company’s brand Nia Technique. Nia also has their own line of workout clothing NiaWear created in 1993.


Nia offers a series of training intensives in 50+ hour segment formats. The courses cover topics of somatic theory, philosophy and movement practices with an emphasis on sensation awareness. Training format includes classroom style somatic education, discourse, experiential anatomical research, movement, and meditative visualization.


As an aerobic and strength training practice, Nia provides well documented beneficial cardio vascular health, body toning, stress reduction, weight loss, effects of physical exercise on memory, endorphin production, relaxation and has many cognitive benefits and positive effects on the brain. Nia also has documented influences on the brain including increased levels of important neurotransmitters and their corresponding effects: Dopamine-increased sense of pleasure and lessening depression; Serotonin-increased learning capacity, improved short term memory; Norepinephrine-increased energy, motivation and long term memory retention; and Glutamate-providing greater mental focus. Recent studies comparing the effects of mindful exercise forms, like Nia and Tai Chi, show neurological benefits not achieved by other exercise styles like weight training and stretching. These benefits are particularly helpful for seniors and people with motor skill impairments like Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients. Benefits reported by PD patients practicing Nia include improved balance and mobility confidence, fewer falls, increased strength and endurance, improved ability to vocalize and a greater sense of body-mind integration.


2005, The Nia Technique, (Three Rivers Press)


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