Mind and Body Transformations

We joined the gym, both of us.  We’re not yet in a regular routine of workouts, but we’re making progress in that regard.  In awhile, when my wife awakes, we will make the trek over to the center where it’s located.

My wife will do the routine recommended for her by one of the trainers…a little treadmill time, followed by short workouts on a number of machines, each exercise designed to strengthen a specific set of muscles or improve general stamina and tone.

I will do some time on a treadmill, then will experiment with some machines, attempting to avoid personal injury and embarrassment.  Unlike my wife, I have had no one teach me about the machinery, not yet. Having had all of two weeks’ experience with a gym membership, almost twenty years ago, I have virtually no knowledge of the equipment and how to use it.

Yesterday, we went to the center to participate in an hour and a half of NIA, variously known at non-impact aerobics, neuro-muscular integrative action, or imply NIA.

Here is what one website says about NIA:

Generally Nia is taught to groups of 10 or more people and does not require any equipment. Some of the benefits include an increase in the pleasure of living in your body, help with weight loss and maintenance, improved muscle tone and strength, more endurance, a better ability to deal with stress and stay calm, improved posture, better concentration, a happier emotional state and much more.

Based on both Eastern and Western philosophy Nia, or “Neuromuscular Integrative Action,” helps to heal the body, spirit, mind and emotions. It is a fusion of many different movement forms including Yoga, Tai Chi, Jazz, Duncan, Modern, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Feldenkrais and The Alexander Technique.

Designed to be both therapeutic and fun it is set up similar to the martial arts with belts awarded for progress and mastery starting with white and proceeding up to black. Those at the highest level are considered to be Movement Medicine Healers.

The leader of the “class” is a black belt from Austin, Texas, Julie Wylie.

Part of the reason for all this activity, aside from wanting to feel more fit, arose from my visit to the dental hygienist for the first phase of teeth cleaning and related oral improvements. Before beginning the session, the hygienist took my blood pressure; it was high, much higher than the last time I took my own blood pressure measurement.  She advised me to take it again when I got home. “If it’s still this high, you should see your doctor.”  I took it.  It was high.  I took it again.  It was high.  I took it again. Ditto.  The last time I had high blood pressure, I was able to get it back in the upper normal range by changing my lifestyle: better diet, exercise, laying off the booze, etc. So, I have embraced this new effort at mind and body transformation.

But, back to NIA.  I was one of about three or four  men in the group of around 40 participants…definitely the youngest male, though there were women in the group in their forties.  I think I was the one person in the group who, after the 90 minute session was complete, was drenched in sweat.  I did feel pretty good, but I was sweating like a pig after dancing and moving to a mix of fast-paced Eastern music with some hip-hop thrown in.

I am, to put it mildly, less than enthusiastic about an activity involves the possibility of progress toward becoming a Movement Medicine Healer.  The flyer our instructor distributed, which offered the possibility of attending a five-day session designed to teach participants to become NIA instructors; the cost, only $1599 or thereabouts.  I become even more skeptical of sharing the wonders of a magical healing process that charges that much for the first in a long series of training processes that lead toward the summit: Movement Medicine Healer.  With that said, though, I can well imagine that this activity can have very definite health benefits; better tone, more strength, better range of movement, etc.  So, who am I to say that the people involved as leaders of the process are only in it for the money? You be the judge.  Here are the progressive stages of achievement in NIA, and the cost of training in each stage (not including hotel and transportation, where required):

White Belt: $1599
Green Belt: $1599
Blue Belt: $1599
Brown Belt: $1599
Black Belt: $1599
First Degree Black Belt: $1599

For only $9594 (plus tax where applicable) and necessary travel and accommodations, one can become a NIA First Degree Black Belt.

I think I’ll pass. But, if given the opportunity to participate in a class again, without cost, I’d do it. For now, though, my mind and body transformation will avoid, to the extent possible, causing my bank account to hemorrhage money.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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