Business

Nia classes are doable for all ages

Thursday, February 16, 2012

By MICHAEL CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

AMHERST – Lisa Jones is the best advertisement possible for her business.

Jones, who runs Nia NH & Yoga on Route 101A, claims to be 53 and the only reason to believe her is because people don’t add years to their age. But from head to toe, there is nothing about Jones that looks 53, or even 43, and that might have something to do with her lifestyle and her teaching life.

“I’ve been healthy all my life,” she said in a recent interview as she prepared for the third anniversary of her studio. “I’ve always eaten well. I’m not very much of a meat eater. I stay away from sweets most of the time. I’m a vegeholic. I think that helped a lot but also, when I was younger, I used to exercise.”

Nia is her thing now, though, and if the growth of her classes is any indication, it is becoming the thing for quite a few people: She has somewhere in the area of 100 students and has gotten to the point where she must move to a bigger studio, but it will be just down the road at 110 Route 101A. She is now at 76, in Cobblestone Corner.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s been my goal for a couple of months now to have a bigger studio. This (her current space) was perfect to settle into and start things off in this area.”

And this move to bigger quarters comes when the economy still isn’t as robust as it might be.

When she began, her students came primarily from the classes she taught at local recreation programs, including Milford, at Gold’s Gym and at some area yoga studios.

“Oh, my gosh, I was everywhere,” she said.

Now, new students seem to be finding her and they are, she said, of widely disparate age levels.

“I have a 3-year-old that comes with her grandmother,” she said, and she teaches teenagers at the High Mowing School in Wilton and last year taught Bedford teachers.

“Any age can do it,” Jones said, because people can start with the simplest movements and work up as far as they can go.

“I teach at retirement homes sometimes,” she explained.

She describes Nia this way:

“It’s an exilerating, fun exercise. It’s a lifestyle practice in that I am helping people learn how to be aware of their bodies more, and even dance through life, to have this joy going in their lives. It’s nine movement forms so what I’m doing is the essence of the dance arts, some of the martial arts, and some healing arts, and combining them all together in an exercise program.”

The discipline’s Web site, nianow.com, describes it this way:

“Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music ... Trainings are designed for those seeking personal enrichment and professional development. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities ... Every class offers a unique combination of 52 moves that correspond with the main areas of the body: the base, the core and the upper extremities.”

What attracted Jones, and what she thinks attracts her students, is that Nia is fun.

“Why exercise and not have fun at the same time?” she asked rhetorically. “The music is beautiful; it speaks to the heart. And it’s never boring: the hour’s over in no time.”

She demonstrated one movement that she said helps the energy flow in one’s body: She circled her hips counter-clockwise, then added her hands, circling them clockwise.

“Maybe you can’t do it the first time,” Jones agreed as her visitor looked skeptical, “but the next class, people come back and the body has muscle memory and will do it.”

Her students tell her that through Nia, their balance is improved. and they are more aware of their bodies.

“You want to know how to have the ability to fall without freaking out,” she said, “so you want to have balance in your body, be aware in your body, and that’s what Nia will help you establish.”

It’s done something a little different for her.

“You know what the best thing has been for me in doing Nia?” she said. “I was never a dancer as far as having any studies in my younger life, but with Nia, anyone – especially me as a teacher – it helps you find the beat in music.

“I went dancing with my 25-year-old daughter and she said, ‘Mom, you’re such a better dancer since Nia’,” Jone said. Then she laughed: “I don’t know what that means, but thank you.”

Jones didn’t go out on her own as a teacher until she turned 50 when she said to herself, “If not now, when.”

Now, she’s been at it for three years and is expanding. Still on the horizon, though, is her ultimate goal:

“To have a holistic center that is really serving anyone who is looking for ways to feel healthier and happier. I think they go together.”

For more information, go to www.nianhandyoga.com or call 562-7525.

Classes at Nia NH

• Nia: Tuesday, 9:15-10:15 a.m.; Thursday, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Saturday, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.; Monday, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

• Hatha yoga: Tuesday, 10:20-11:25 a.m.

• Change Your Life Study Group: Monday, 5-6 p.m.

• Metaphysical Enrichment: Third Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

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