Combining elements of yoga, martial arts and dance movements, Nia technique is a fusion style, dance fitness class taught by Catherine Weston in Gordonton Hall. She tells N8N why she loves what she does.
Are you local? How long have you lived in the area?
Yes I am a local and have lived in the area for the last 13 years after getting married here. I grew up and lived most of my life in Hamilton before that.
What is your background?
I have a science research background. I graduated from Waikato University with a Masters in Science majoring in Biology in 1997 and worked for a number of years for AgResearch as a research Embryologist and then commercially for Animal Breeding Services – my work was looking at improving the production of in-vitro embryos for cattle and sheep.
How did you come to teach this class in Gordonton?
I was looking for a venue close to home which was suitable to dance in barefeet and Gordonton Hall ticked all the boxes as it has a fabulous floor for any type of dancing. Plus our son goes to Gordonton School and the hall is literally just around the corner. I also wanted to offer a fitness class to my local community as there aren’t any other group fitness options in Gordonton.
What drew you to dance?
I guess initially it’s the music and the rhythm but ultimately it is about the freedom of self-expression Some forms of dance drew me in purely because of the social interaction aspect and helped me to meet new people and have fun.
What is your training/experience in this?
I have been a dancer for most of my life really. One of my earliest dance memories was my mum taking me to a creative dance class when I was quite young and I took to it quite naturally – it allowed for self-expression and creativity as Mum told me I was quite shy as a pre-schooler. My formal dance training began in high school with Jazz Ballet, then onto Contemporary/Modern Dance whilst I was a studying science at university. Later, I returned to dance as an adult with Ceroc (Modern Jive), Ballroom and Latin American which is how I met my husband. In 2017 I completed my whitebelt training in Nia technique which is the first level of training required before you can begin to teach it. I began teaching in August 2018.
What is Nia Dance?
Nia Dance (or Nia Technique) is an amazing fusion-style, dance fitness class that utilises movements from three martial arts (Tai chi, TaeKwonDo, and Aikido), three forms of dance (Jazz, Modern & Duncan dance) & three ‘Healing Arts’ which includes Yoga and other techniques which all help with posture and ease of movement. These movement forms are all blended together with a unique range of world music to inspire the mind, emotions and spirit. It is taught as a lifestyle and mindfulness practice and includes elements of moving meditation. It is suitable for all ages and abilities no matter your fitness level.
What is its history? How did you find out about it?
Nia Technique was developed in the late 1980s in the US by a couple called Debbie and Carlos Rosas. After sustaining too many injuries from teaching regular aerobics in 70s-80s – they began researching and creating a non-impact form of aerobic exercise and strength training aiming for safe, non-impact, body-mind based movement. I found out about it via Facebook three or four years ago– a link took me to a video of a Nia Technique teacher called Nik Chung who was teaching in Raglan and later in Hamilton at the time and Nik started ‘Nia in Waikato’ originally.
Can you explain how it is different from ordinary dance classes?
Nia classes focus on moving in ‘Your Body’s Way’ which is pleasurable for you and your body. What the teacher is demonstrating in the front of the class is a suggestion or invitation of how to move your body – it is up to the student to decide how they will adapt the movements to seek pleasure and joy. That is probably easier said than done in the beginning as we are conditioned to try to get things right and do exactly what the teacher does. It is never, ever about ‘no pain no gain’ unlike so many other types of exercise or fitness class – there is no requirement to ‘feel the burn’. That being said it is still a full body workout and you can certainly work up a sweat if you wish to – I do! Another difference is that Nia is danced in barefeet unless someone needs to wear shoes for support of their feet and lower body of course.
What do you love about Nia, or teaching this?
What I love about this practice is that it truly is for everyone! Women, men, young, old, or even if you are injuried. There are no limits on who can benefit from taking part in a Nia class you can even dance it in a chair. I have one student in particular who has Parkinson’s and uses a chair and yoga mat during the dancing and although she often shuffles into class she has also blown me away by literally skipping out of class – that alone has brought me so much joy and love for what I do.
- Nia Dance classes are held in the Gordonton Hall Wednesday mornings, 9.30am to 10.30am. For more details phone Catherine on 022 306 4865.