Thursday, March 30, 2006


The class is named Nia and is conducted by a slight man with abs of steel.

His skin, hair, and eyebrows all the same color; a light golden brown. His blue eyes dart over the room by way of the mirror into each of our reddened faces.

“Just look at how amazing you all are!” He exclaims with glee.

A girl in the first line with an incredible body and unfortunate face, swaying her hips in violent gyration, stops singing along to the blasting lyrics of “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” to grin wide at her reflection.

A heavy-set Frenchman at the back of the room stops his hairy legs to the beat, his matted comb-over damp.

“Okay. Now, Riverdance!” our Nia man commands as he leaps higher than the Lord of the Dance himself, legs gliding through the air with the ease of a gazelle.

We fly in a fury around the studio, the mirrors now fogged, in different directions, nearly colliding with each thump to the floor.

The tempo shifts into a seventies bass, and a warbled voice fights its way through the studio speakers. The rest of the class knows what’s coming. I’m a newbie, and I do not.

“Hot sand! Hot sand!”

At once, the class is on its toes, skipping from imaginary burning spot to spot, limbs flailing and shaking with each jump.

“Be free!” He bellows. “We’re free!”

“Free!” Two participants echo faintly, through gulps for air. I nearly smack into the left wall with an overly enthusiastic hop.

I'm reminded of gym glass, of running until I had no breath, of jumping off the swingset with no fear of broken bones which inevitably lay ahead, of the parachute game when we threw a billowing ocean of nylon above our heads and raced underneath before it floated down and trapped us from the world.

Nia is ridiculous. Surely the other gym members are snickering at us through the glass, svelte girls with rolled yoga mats waiting for their time in the room, beefy guys bulging from beneath their strained tank tops, passing on the way to dead lifts. Our Nia instructor is ridiculous, purring self-esteem increasing encouragement and praise with each breath, a plastic smile permanently fixed on his face. The other participants are ridiculous, their frenetic flailing and spontaneous moans and shouts.

I am ridiculous, keeping up by stealing glances at my reflection, pondering my possible success as a dancer. If only I could work a small bit on my flexibility, I start to think I’m not half bad…

It’s all ridiculous. But it’s really fun.

“Be free!” He commands again.

This time, when the class shouts back, after ensuring that not a single soul sees me, I manage a very small mouthing of the words.

“I’m free.”


shellz said...

LOL! I've done a Nia class, and it was equally ridiculous. There was a lot of "Be Free-ing!" in my class too!!

Just Some Guy said...

Love it...I dont even know what you or Nia looks like, but I can just see a room full of sweat, white socks, and "when is this class over" looks on the faces in the mirrors.

Great Post!

GeminiWisdom said...

LOL... Oh, God K that was great. And what the hell is a Nia class? Fantastic post!

Adam said...

A girl ... with an incredible body and unfortunate face
a.k.a. a butterface.

Jay said...

If you are successful at this, you've probably had a psychological exercise just as much as physical.

themarina said...

It's amazing how ridiculous moments can make one feel happy and "free". I do it every day.

D.T. said...

Is Nia like one of those "release the goddess within" kinda class? Sophomore year, I got stuck in a intermediate dance class, where we learned jazz and ballet, and part of our morning stretches included releasing my inner goddess. Of course, she never came out, cuz I think she was shopping, but I did laugh at the other people who struggled to release theirs. Seeing smelly people straining in a workout is always a good laugh...thanks!

Mdx said...

Sounds like fun. Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead doing something like that, but what the hell it’s sunny outside and dancing wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Mike said...

This reminds me of a lower division drama course I took during college. I signed up expecting it to be a fun little collection of improvisation games and easily rehearsed performances. After all, it was Intro to Drama.

What I found instead was a class taught by an over-zealous graduate student with a penchant for leading the students in jazzercise-like aerobics and "breathing exercises". After sweating profusely for thirty minutes, we would stand in a circle and take turns practicing phoenetical chants like "Mo mo mo mo, me me me me, ma ma ma ma."

You may have had it rough, vomiting on the sidewalk in front of an impressionable young lad who is now surely scarred for life. But try waking up at 7 AM in the morning - still inebriated - and sobering up while hopping, skipping, stretching and running around at 8 AM to the chants of a far-too-enthusiastic young sadist only 2 years your senior.

The reason I didn't vomit a rainbow all over the linoleum that morning? Right after our regular jazzercise session I had to give an "interpretive pantomime" presentation worth 30 percent of my grade.

ThursdayNext said...

This post made me smile; what a talent you have for description. This reminds me of the belly dance classes I took at Serena Studios. There were over twenty women piled in a room making a cacophony with their jingling skirts!

jase said...

Hey, this reminds me of my 40degree steam yoga class. Can't even remember the name but i can certainly remember the smell of sweat, body and heat. I am actually missing this.

Further on up the road said...

There are times I'm glad I'm English and that gives me the opportunity to switch on that English reserved manner and say "Oh I'd never do that my dear".

Frankly because I'm so self conscious and well such a twat! There is of course a part of me that would love to have the confidence to do it.... But that's another story.

AmourArmor said...

Actually, it sounds like it's good for the soul.


Serena said...

You make it sound like such fun (whatever it is)!

Cheetarah1980 said...

what gym offers this class. Sounds absolutely ridiculous and like it's just the type of exercise I might actually do on a consistent basis.

Muffy Wong said...

Ah Nia dance... never before have I felt so uncoordinated yet had so much fun.

After one class, our instructor came over to me and even though my face was already red enough from embarrassment, still smacked me on my butt and said "See? You didn't fall once and you almost caught up!"


Lynn said...

This is great. I have always wondered what Nia was. Now I kind of want to try it. Sounds like it brings out the kid in you! Loving your posts!