On a cold snowy night in February, I boarded a JetBlue flight to Portland, Oregon, anticipating a break from winter, only to learn that I would be landing in near blizzard conditions. Rescheduling wasn’t an option—I was heading west to co-lead the First Degree Black Belt Training, an advanced training for Nia teachers, with Debbie Rosas, co-founder of the Nia technique.
People were flying in from all over to attend the training and luckily almost all of the Nia trainers that were staying at Debbie's house, myself included, arrived with only minor delays. The next morning Debbie started receiving text messages from the city of Portland to stay indoors. In fact, the entire city was in the process of shutting down. Most of us in the house were from the East Coast, so we’d all been enduring one of the toughest winters on record already. The cold and swirling white flakes were nothing new—so we drove to Starbucks anyway.
Once outside though, we quickly realized that we might want to take the storm a bit more seriously. We went to the store, got enough provisions for a week, which included basic staples, wood for the fire, and everyone’s favorite treats. Then we hunkered down, played Monopoly and Pictionary, and watched the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Talk turned towards Nia Black Belt Training and the storm. We all wondered whether or not the training should be postponed or cancelled and that train of thought led us to a discussion on perception, magic, and luck. After all, snowstorms are magical. They blanket everything in white so nothing looks quite the same, even the familiar. They can also make us feel either lucky...or unlucky. "Whew, aren't we lucky to have gotten indoors where it's safe and warm?" Or, "Just my luck. My car doesn't have four-wheel drive and I got stuck."
It actually wasn't that surprising that a conversation with a group of Nia professionals would take this turn in the middle of a snowstorm. Movement, music, and magic are essential ingredients in making a Nia whole body fitness class experience unique. When people start to move and dance to the music in one of our classes, they feel joy and pleasure. We’re trained to encourage our students to become aware of their bodies and to look out for things appearing that weren't there before (greater strength, the ability to move in time to the music), as well for things that disappear (pain in a joint, stiffness in a muscle)—just like magic.
Magic and feeling lucky to be in a working body are important parts of health and wellness. Maybe getting down to the floor and back up without using your hands sound easy. Try it. Now do it three times. Now do it three times in less than a minute. Sure, this is a great measurement of fitness, but if you are older than 25, have recently had a baby, or are recovering from an injury or illness it can feel like a huge accomplishment—and a lot like magic. We’re always encountering moments of surprise and magic on our paths to healthy living.
While talking, Debbie told us a story about how as a kid one of her favorite things to do on a Saturday afternoon was to go to the magic store. Her 25-cent allowance was enough money to have a great time. She’d spend 5 cents for a coke, 10 cents for french fries, 5 cents for candy, and 5 cents on some kind of magic trick. Her favorite magic tricks were the fake thumb and the disappearing ink. She remembered how back then she didn't understand that magic could happen without trickery. Since then her perception of magic has changed—now she understands that you can create your own magic in your life as an adult.
The storm didn’t last long, and the Nia training did take place. We delayed the start time since conditions were still hazardous, but every single person—all 38 participants—made it safely. Luck or magic? Perhaps a bit of both. After the training was over, Debbie and I decided to spend the day in our jammies watching more of the Olympics and eating popcorn.
While watching TV, a commercial came on for the Portland lottery. We looked at each other and knew what to do. We got dressed and went out to buy a lottery ticket. Why not? You never know. We didn't win...but we still felt lucky.