Ok kids, let’s not dance around this, right up front, WHY DON’T WE SEE MORE OF THE MALE GENDER IN NIA CLASSES?
That being said, I know that I can truly only answer the question for myself, my observations, my thoughts, my theories. BUT, I would like to hear from you, your thoughts, your observations, your theories on why we don’t see more men at Nia classes.
I’m aware of the statistic that of all the people taking a group fitness type class, something like 3% of them are male. You could say that maybe the question is that why aren’t more men in a group fitness type class? Too a certain point that may be true, but only so far. Nia is not your typical group fitness type class, so let’s for the sake of this conversation not put it in the general category….let’s ask specifically, why not more men in Nia?
So, my story…intertwined with my thoughts.
A little more than six years ago, I had to come to downtown Portland for several consecutive Saturdays. My sister in law, Laurie, was going to Portland for a Nia class and thought we should save some money by carpooling. Going green before green.
That first Saturday I finished my work early and so headed for Yamhill where Nia Studio is located. Took the elevator to the 4th floor where there was a nice waiting area. Heard some nice music coming from the end of the hallway and had a seat, but before I could sit down, there was this incredibly loud shouting coming from the Nia room…”YES”……YES…..YES. and then NO…..NO…..NO. I have to tell you, my first instinct was to run back to the elevator. BUT, things started to quiet down, music was softer, it felt safe to have a seat. Within a few minutes, a whole lot of very sweaty women were coming out of the room…..smiling. What’s with that? And shortly, here came Laurie, sweaty, and smiling. The ride home was kind of quiet. I really wasn’t sure what to ask or say.
Next Saturday….repeat. But on the ride home, I finally had to ask……So, what with this Nia thing….and what’s with the yelling?
I’m sure her answer was all that it should be, but honestly, today, I can’t remember what her answer was. I know my thought was…glad she likes it.
Fast forward to a little more than a year later. As I said in my earlier blog, my hip is shot and my running days are for now over. Laurie is now a Nia teacher and starting a class in Hillsboro, and quite bluntly puts it…”why don’t you just try this, it’s only going to be one other student and you, and after all, what have you got to lose?” Except that I’m remembering the yelling that was going on, and I think there’s like some dancing involved, and I’m like most guys….I don’t do dancing. BUT, I desperately need some exercise. So I go….reluctantly.
First class, turns out the other student is a no show, so it’s just Laurie and I. But this turns out to be a good thing, for I am a little bit less embarrassed with just Laurie there than if there is another person in the same room. Ah…..problem number 1….ego…I don’t want to look foolish, even in front of just Laurie. And I have things to feel foolish about. Remember I mentioned dancing. It’s true…there are some dance moves involved. All my life, I had only done maybe 2 dance moves…..twist…and some disco. We did not do any of these moves in that first class. We were doing a mix of moves and dance. We did some martial arts moves…to music…oh, by the way, If there was one thing that really caught me by surprise that first day, it was the music. It really was wonderful. My first introduction to the music of Angelique Kidjo. But I pretty much spent the class completely focused her feet. Trying to get my feet to do what hers were doing, at least until she threw this thing called “freedance” at me. “What, do whatever move I want to do? Are you kidding, like what…give me some ideas….can’t I just do what you’re doing?….listen to what? my body? my body doesn’t talk? heck, I’m a guy, I barely talk!” Now, you would think that first day sounds like a disaster, and in some ways it felt like it, but get this…..if nothing else….get this, cause I did. I WALKED OUT SWEATY, AND IN NO PAIN. No, I wasn’t smiling, at least not on the outside. So, I could get a great workout, and my hip didn’t hurt. I guess I should try this again.
Long story short. I know, that if I haden’t been injured, and sort of left with Nia, or nothing, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it. But in time….I got it. The Nia Book helped my head understand the science behind it, so my head could get it. My body got it before my head did. My ego got out of the way, my body liked the movement. I really don’t think of it as dance, I think of it as moving…and I know my body likes it. Oh…turns out, my body was always talking to me, it just took me some time to be able to listen to it. It also turns out “freedance” is my favorite parts of each hour. I could go on and on about all that I have gained from my Nia practice, but for now. I know why I didn’t get it. Ego, embarrassment, uncomfortable in my own skin, too much in my head. I just wonder if it’s that for other guys. How would they feel if they just committed to it for 3 months. Would they feel the transformation that I felt. Would reading the book help them like it did me? I wonder.
And while this may sound somewhat sexist…part of me doesn’t want other guys to get it, part of me really likes moving to great music, with really great gals for an hour.
So, my story, my thoughts, please share with me any thoughts you have on the subject.
And for heaven’s sake…..have fun out there…..Fred