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The Woodstock Community Center now offers something new in a fun fitness technique

COURTESY OF EMILY ROME - Emily Rome (in back), the Nia fitness instructor at the Woodstock Community Center, says, Finding joy in movement is the secret to fitness.  "Nia" is a form of dance created in the 1980's as a health and fitness alternative. Nia is a word probably suggested by the phrase, "Non-Impact Aerobics", but is pronounced as if it were a person's name.

Woodstock Community Center has seen many classes in fitness – from Tae Kwon Do to Zumba and Hula, all of them detailed in previous articles in THE BEE. But this one really is something new.

Nia features free movement and mind/body physical conditioning, accompanied by World Music.

On the first day of the new class – Tuesday, September 10th – Woodstock residents Misty Post and Becca Cooper emerged smiling after participating. "I have done a lot of modern and belly dancing, and I was looking for a chance to express myself more freely," remarked Cooper. Both women agreed that Nia proved to be an energizing and exhilarating experience.

The Nia teacher at the Woodstock Community Center, Emily Rome (called "Em"), says "You don't have to be a great dancer to enjoy Nia. Nia derives from forms such as modern dance, Tai Chi, and yoga."

She says the physical benefits of Nia are many: "Nia will pump your heart, lubricate your joints, release your tension, enhance your balance, and tone your muscles. It will condition and enhance your mobility, agility, flexibility, strength, and stability."

Besides the physical benefits, Rome emphasizes, "With Nia, you can dance away the stresses of the day. It helps to alleviate anxiety and balance the autonomic nervous system. It offers both a form and freedom." She says dancers can add their personal style to movements, and follow what feels right for their bodies. 

The NIA Technique was created in 1983 in San Francisco by Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas. Nia Technique headquarters moved north to Portland in 1991, and is currently overseen by Debbie Rosas, CEO.

Woodstock instructor Rome, a Brentwood Darlington resident, tells THE BEE she loves to travel and experience different cultures and music, which informs her use of world music in the Nia class. And just last year she organized a "Wordly Travel Festival" that "encourages people who have never traveled to overcome their perceived barriers to travel and become inspired about international travel."

This year that festival is on Saturday, November 16th, 2-10 p.m., in Northwest Portland at the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall NW, 1945 N.W. Quimby Street, and is open to the public.

As for those new Nia classes at the Woodstock Community Center – they are Tuesdays at 9 a.m., and there is a $30/month charge (or $8 drop-in). Call the WCC at 503/823-3633 Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to register, or to leave a message.


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