Find Fitness Bliss with NIA

NIA, a blend of yoga, martial arts, and dance, is one of the latest trends in mind-body fitness fusion.

By Charlene Laino
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Tired of walking the walk to nowhere on the treadmill? Burned out on the repetitive pounding of aerobics? If the term "joyful workout" sounds like an oxymoron to you, it might be time to give NIA a try. NIA (pronounced NEE-ah) stands for neuromuscular integrative action, and it's one of the latest trends in mind-body fitness fusion. A unique blending of the fluidity and focus of Tai Chi and yoga, the grace and spontaneity of modern dance, and the energy and explosiveness of martial arts, NIA boosts both physical and emotional well-being, say enthusiasts around the country.

Best of all, NIA is just plain fun, says Sandy Bramlett, MED, a NIA instructor and director of Bodywise Studio in Atlanta. "It's pleasurable, healthy and never boring. I'm 56 and feel like I can do it for the rest of my life."

While it's just catching on nationwide, the workout actually dates back to 1983 -- the height of the aerobics boom, NIA co-founder Debbie Rosas tells WebMD. Although the Santa Rosa, Calif., studio she was running at the time was doing very well, she and NIA co-founder Carlos Rosas decided her classes needed a jumpstart.

"We started thinking, 'What are we doing to our bodies, to our students' bodies, with all this jumping up and down?'" she says. "Aerobics was too myopic, too limiting, cutting out a large amount of the population that needed to be moving. We wanted to address the whole body and mind."