Sunday, April 18, 2010

Class #88 Nia Saturday 9:15 a.m. (Susan)

After Barbara’s cycle class I run to my office, shed my sopping bike shorts and put on my yoga pants for Nia. There’s something about dancing in shorts that just isn’t right and I’m not going to compound the distraction of my rhythm impairment by displaying my overly skinny legs. There’s not much juice left in these legs either but as Scotty on Star Trek might say “I’ll give it all I’ve got Cap’n.”

One of the unique aspects of Nia is that it’s designed to be done barefoot. I’m not sure what the original intent of that stipulation was but it turns out that barefootedness is beginning to make a name for itself in running circles

There’s a movement afoot (still on the fringes no doubt) to discard overly cushioned shoes and run barefoot or with minimalist foot covering like the Vibram Five Fingers, a sort of glove for the foot. It seems that heavily cushioned, high tech running shoes encourage a heel strike first running style that some believe causes foot and leg injuries in runners. The barefoot aficionados counter that our bodies evolved to run without shoes, which requires a completely different, midfoot strike, running style. The jury is still out on all this but if you’re interested (or bored) check out this article about the benefits of barefoot running:

Vibram Five Fingers

But I digress. Nia, as I was saying is intended to be done barefoot, however there’s no rule against covering the feet and in today’s class I notice, almost half the participants are wearing shoes. I’m a purist though – no shoes for me. It’s sort of freeing to feel your feet in contact with the ground, I’ll just have to see if it makes anything sore tomorrow.

Susan likes to use the same routine for about eight weeks so that regulars can learn it really well. Once you know the basic steps it’s easier to embellish things and “make it your own”. As it turns out, the first Nia class I had with Susan on Feb 23, was the first time she unveiled this routine that is now nearing the end of it’s run. Having only seen it once, it is surprisingly familiar and much easier for me to pick up than I would have imagined.

For almost every movement, Susan shows a level one (easiest), two, or three (hardest) version so that everyone can practice at their own pace. Level one moves are always low impact (i.e. no jumping), whereas the more advanced levels move faster and often involve joyous leaps and bounds. I usually stick in the middle range of difficulty but admire the flourish of the level three folks.

At the end of the day, Nia is dancing and for that reason I appreciate the fact that it’s done with the lights down low. There’s sort of a tribal feeling to a Nia class and since we can’t dance to the flickering light of a bonfire at least we can avoid the glare of fluorescent lights.

Both before and after class, several regulars come over to tell me how much they enjoy Susan as a teacher. They all say that she invests a lot of herself in the class and they appreciate it. It’s pretty clear to me that Susan loves teaching Nia and she’s good at it too.

Susan Garrett (once a Red Raider.....)

I’m happy to report that there are two other men in class today – both regulars. I actually think that most men could master a Nia routine after doing it a few times. C'mon guys - give it a try!

All together there are about twenty in class today. The winner of the $25 gift certificate is Lee Cress.

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