What is Nia?

Nia (Neuromusculare Integrative Action) is a holistic movement practice that works with elements from martial arts, dance and relaxation techniques and brings together body, mind and soul.

What is Nia?

Nia is a holistic movement practice that works with elements from martial arts, dance and relaxation techniques and brings together body, mind and soul.

What is Nia?

Nia is a holistic movement practice that works with elements from martial arts, dance and relaxation techniques and brings together body, mind and soul.

The Origins of Nia

Nia was first developed by Americans Debbie and Carlos Rosas in the 1980s in Portland, Oregon. At the time, they were looking to offer a workout that addressed all muscle groups effectively, but without repetitive drills. The concept evolved far beyond the original aim to incorporate body, mind and soul in equal measure, and in so doing, to experience pure joy in movement. In 1983 Nia was born.

The Basis of Nia

Nis is so much more than just exercise. It is sustainable fitness. A gentle yet dynamic form of training, it works without the need for coercion. Quite simply, Nia is joy in motion.

In contrast to other fusion fitness practices Nia does not focus on getting the maximum cardio or strength workout in the shortest time. There is another idea behind the mix of different techniques: to allow participants to feel and experience as many different ways of moving as possible so that their bodies develop in balance, strength and beauty. Sessions incorporate alternating expressive power and muscle strength, yin and yang, choreographed steps and short free dance segments. Every movement in Nia can be experienced at three intensity levels (low, medium, high). This means that you can be in charge of your own wellbeing. In class, you are encouraged to listen to your inner voice, to be guided by the ‘pleasure principle’, and so to perform the moves in such a way that they are healing and do your body good. 

Nia means movement variety and the practice leads to strength, harmony and beauty. Thanks to this movement diversity, even as a beginner you’ll find Nia energizing and will experience a sense of achievement right from your first class. To experienced Nia dancers, each session offers the opportunity to explore new possibilities, positions and types of movement, leading to increased freedom of movement and harmony of mind, body and soul. Whether you are a seasoned Nia practitioner or are just getting started, you will leave each class feeling more balanced.

Nia is a blend

One part Dance

Music and rhythm play a huge part in the Nia class experience. Jazz dance elements make for lightness, a party feel and pure joy. Moves that come from modern dance allow you to play with opposites. Segments inspired by Duncan Dance offer exuberant, expressive, almost childlike movements and give you a feeling of freedom and zest for life.

One part Martial Arts

The precise, powerful kicks and punches derived from tae kwon do provide explosive power for muscles and soul, and help to release pent-up aggression. Circular movements from aikido harmonize, while simultaneously being powerful and agile. Extremely slow tai chi movements centre and ground and create a connection between mind and body.

One part Relaxation Technique

Elements from Yoga support concentration, flexibility and relaxation. A range of movement patterns inspired by the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique provide the body with balance and offer ways of stretching the body naturally. The movements are taught in such a way that they are accessible to anyone.

Nia at a Glance

Nia is a dance of body, mind and soul – a dance experience that transforms your life

An hour of Nia will burn calories without you even realising that you’re in the middle of a demanding workout

Nia is suitable for everyone: whether you’re fit or unfit, old or young – everyone is welcome

Nia will give you energy but also increase your capacity to stay calm and relaxed when facing the stresses of everyday life

Nia is fun and at the same time, develops physical fitness: strength, stamina, and a feeling of lightness

The switching between fixed choreography and free dance will stimulate your creativity and potential

Vitality, health and zest for life are long-lasting side effects

The dance steps will increase your coordination, natural intelligence and mental fitness

Nia strengthens your connection to your own body; you will become aware of your own beauty and strength

Cumulative benefits

Anyone who practices Nia for a longer period of time is embarking on a rich journey exploring and training their body: giving themselves space for creativity, emotional expression, and the joy of being alive while also developing their athleticism, precision and power. Even after a short time, Nia will begin to have an effect on a range of areas in your body and your life. The benefits only increase with time and practice:

  • Body Awareness

  • Your overall feel for your body will significantly improve

  • Strength and Mobility

  • You’ll experience greater strength and flexibility

  • Balance

  • You’ll gain both physical and mental balance – the ability to stay calm and relaxed

  • Silhouette

  • You’ll develop a more toned, slimmer body

  • Posture

  • Your posture will improve – after a Nia session you sometimes feel as if you’ve grown 2 cm

  • Movement skill

  • Your movement becomes more harmonious and graceful; you’ll be able to coordinate both halves of your body far better

  • Relaxation

  • You’ll experience greater relaxation and inner balance

  • Attitude

  • You’ll develop a more positive attitude and be happier with yourself

  • Joy

  • You’ll discover more joy in movement – and in life

  • Good-bye ‘weaker self’

  • Your inner motivation to move will increase – no more tussles with your ‘weaker self’

  • Rhythm

  • Your feel for music and rhythm will improve

  • Creativity

  • You will become more creative, spontaneous and fun-loving

  • Beauty

  • When you do Nia, you feel and look attractive and healthy

Nia is more than ‘just’ exercise!

The testimonials from Nia practitioners, who notice not only physical but also mental changes in their lives, prove this time and again. Nia can...

cure pain

I had chronic back pain. Then I started doing Nia. The best thing was that in the very first session I experienced no pain. Within a year of starting Nia I have become more flexible and my back pain has virtually gone. It’s great!”

regulate weight

I’m actually an agile, happy woman. But when I started to put on more and more weight after the birth of my two children I suddenly felt immobile and lethargic. I wanted to start exercising and, luckily for me, discovered Nia. Without ever having to diet or torture myself, in just a few months I lost 5 kg thanks to my two weekly hour-long Nia sessions. I love the new way my body feels.”

give meaning to fitness

I have always been an exercise fan. I’ve done step aerobics, Pilates and sometimes weight training. But there was always something missing. When I did Nia for the first time at my gym I was initially irritated by the holistic moves, which were totally new to me. Everything just seemed so easy. And after the session I wasn’t totally exhausted but had far more energy than before, and I felt happy. After that I kept coming back and have been doing Nia for 5 years now. I not only feel more fulfilled; I also have more power and stamina than I could ever have achieved through Pilates or training with gym equipment.”

teach a new holistic approach

As a physiotherapist and yoga teacher I was in search of a holistic form of fitness training. I found Nia. After the first White Belt Intensive course in Hamburg I knew ‘This is my path, I want to continue with this’. Today I’m a trainer and am totally wowed by the different types of movement Nia offers.”

inspire enjoyment of life

I love to go dancing, to clubs or parties. And I always hated ‘exercise’. But the first time I did Nia I loved it. I had so much fun, experienced so much joy, and felt just as light as on the dance floor when I’m out – and on top of that I was doing something for my health!”

offer the joy of movement

I work in an office and often sit immobile for eight hours a day. I look forward to my Nia classes – they allow my body to move the way it wants to, and month by month I’m getting fitter without having to kill myself during the sessions.”

provide creative inspiration through exercise

Stereotypically, artists tend to be anti-exercise. But because Nia includes so much creative, free movement and there is always a mix of set choreography and free dance segments I’ve noticed that Nia not only makes me physically fitter, it also gives me ideas, and makes me more creative and expressive.”

help master personal crises

When I discovered Nia through a friend I was in the middle of a personal crisis. I had been through a divorce; I was constantly suffering from a cold, and I looked ten years older than I was. Nia helped me to regain my love of life, dance step by dance step. When I started I was more or less broken and very slow. At some point during the class I forgot about my misery and whirled around the room. It was in that moment that I saw light at the end of the tunnel for the first time. Looking back I would say that Nia changed my life. I feel happy, optimistic and fulfilled – even if I still have problems in my life.”