Open for Fitness: We Tried the Nia Move It Class at Still and Moving Center in Kaka‘ako
We like to move it, move it! Katrina is the queen of shimmying and Stacey loves to bust a move (sometimes in the office). This month, they boogied on down to the Still & Moving Center for a dance/martial arts/anything-goes class.
Editor’s Note: Stacey and Katrina are at vastly different fitness levels (and ages) but both enjoy working out. We thought it’d be fun for the two of them to try new or interesting workouts together each month. This month, they tried the Nia Move It class at Still & Moving Center.
PHOTOS AND VIDEOS: KATIE KENNY
WHAT IT IS
Nia Move It is a conditioning class with 60-second intervals of 52 moves that stem from all types of dance, martial and healing arts. One minute, you’re cha-cha-cha-ing, then you’re performing a kick-ass karate move, then pretending to chase bunnies. It’s crazy, but in a totally good way.
HOW WE FELT: BEFORE
Stacey: Stoked! I was trying to find an African dance class, but when I called the Still & Moving Center, they suggested this class. The description says, “a body-mind-spirit fitness practice to soul-stirring music.” I mean, who doesn’t want to have their soul stirred?
Katrina: I’m looking for a workout, not a spiritual experience. All I knew beforehand was that we were taking a dance class. I dance in more of an arm-flailing, shoulder-shimmying, jumpy, wiggly way. And I don’t like Zumba. When my co-workers watched some Nia videos, I looked away so I wouldn’t get nervous. This was probably the class I was dreading the most.
When we arrived, we took off our shoes and were guided to an upstairs open space that was already filled with a handful of Nia Movers, whom we could tell had been to the class before. They were talking story with each other and seemed super happy to be there. We, on the other hand, had some first-class jitters (we always do). Fortunately, our instructor, Valerie Sanchez, washed away any doubts we had with her sunshiny smile and inclusive approach.
Stacey: We had to introduce ourselves to the group and say our favorite number. If you know me, speaking in public is torture. And I got called on first—double whammy! I don’t think we did an actual warmup after that, we just hit the ground running because we had to get through 52 moves.
Katrina: Valerie explained that we’d start with the lower body, then move on to core, upper body and overall moves that build on the others. Each move could be done at Level 1, or she showed us ways to take it to Levels 2 and 3, such as squatting lower or kicking higher.
Katrina: I tried to stay close to Valerie so I could mimic her moves. We started with very simple stances, then slowly began working our way up the body with different types of steps and kicks. It got more playful by move 29: Valerie told us to pretend we were pushing balloons out of the room with our hips.
Stacey: The good parts? Sumo squatting. Channeling Akebono and stomping one foot at a time was everything. Traveling-around-the-room exercises that included a round of flailing your arms and letting loose, like those tube men you see at car dealerships; another round of pretending we were catching bugs and chasing rabbits—looking in from the outside, you would’ve thought we was trippin’. Punching, blocking, sweeping, kicking and striking moves had me sweating like a pig, and my inner Street Fighter Chun Li came out. One of the last exercises involved fierce, cat-clawing motions that proved I learn something new (and awesome) every day.
Katrina: I loved when we got to the punches! I’ve been back to Pālolo Boxing Club a few times since our workout there in March, and with Daft Punk’s “Technologic” playing through the speakers, I finally felt super comfortable doing the moves on beat. And then a few moves later, we were up to the chest and shimmying. That’s when I really turned it on—I love to shimmy in all my awkward glory.
I tried to do the more difficult versions of each move. Valerie encouraged us to do them however we wanted—this was our workout. Our class definitely took that to heart, with some people doing more interpretive dance.
Stacey: Moves that didn’t move me? Pelvic circles: Just feels awkward doing this in front of strangers for multiple reasons (insert laughing face emoji). Fancy footwork dancing: It’s too short of a time to really get the steps down for it to be effective. Plus, I’m more of a drop-it-like-it’s-hot gal.
Stacey: Don’t know when the cool down started. But, by the very end, we were all on the ground stretching and rolling around like a dog that just got a bath. Surprisingly, it was very soothing for me. At some point when I was lying on the floor, I realized this class allowed everyone to be their own person. Whether you’re a warrior, dancer, yogi or magazine editor, all you needed to do was show up and be ready to sweat and have fun.
Katrina: I really tried to get into it, working my way down to the floor with whatever moves I felt like doing. Again, I love dancing, but I’m not a dancer and it doesn’t come naturally to me. At the end, we were supposed to be unwinding, but this is when I was in my head the most, wondering what to do with my arms and thinking about how sweaty the floor was.
HOW WE FELT: AFTER
Katrina: This workout wasn’t as intense as some of the others we’ve done, thankfully. But I definitely had a good time. Valerie wore a microphone so we could clearly hear her explaining the moves and encouraging us. She spoke to us in such a genuine, open, caring way that by the end, I felt empowered to take up the space I deserved, stood tall and proud, and felt as if I filled my entire body, if that makes sense.
Stacey: No aches and pains right after or three days after. But my soul definitely felt happy. And, sometimes that’s what my heart really needs.
Still & Moving Center, 1024 Queen St. with limited parking out front (we parked at Whole Foods across the street).
Visit stillandmovingcenter.com to read more about its classes including aerial silks, yoga, dance, martial arts and Nia.
Membership prices vary depending on class packages and length of membership.
The awesome Valerie Sanchez teaches Nia Move It on Saturdays from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.