With arms gracefully uplifted and pairs of bare feet planted firmly to the studio floor beneath them, Gail Mongiello encourages her fitness class participants to ‘connect’ with their bodies.
The class is being held in a spacious studio at the Wellcome OM Center in Spring Hill, a holistic educational and healing hub that hosts a slew of educational lessons, classes, demos, concerts, speakers, and performances.
To the delicate background sounds of world-inspired music, Gail encourages her class members to focus on what their bodies are able to do rather than what they cannot. “Instead of focusing on any issues you may have with your body, I like to tell my class to disconnect from that and focus on the positive,” she said.
Gail is a certified 1st Degree Nia® Black Belt instructor and has over 18 years of experience in the dance and fitness field. With over 250 hours of intensive Nia® training, Gail is passionate about bringing “the joy of movement” using the Nia® elements of dance, martial arts, and healing arts to Hernando County residents.
“Nia® is a holistic fitness and wellness practice,” said Gail. “The emphasis is totally on safe and healthy movement. There’s absolutely no jumping or jarring of the joints, and Nia® is adaptable to individual needs and abilities,” she said.
Nia® stands for Neuromuscular Integrative Action (Non-Impact Aerobics) and is the most advanced form of fusion fitness, blending martial arts, healing arts, dance, and spiritual self-healing to create a high-powered, synergistic workout that no isolated exercise technique can match.
“The technique was created by fitness pioneers Debbie and Carlos Rosas back in the mid-80s and is an entirely new philosophy of exercise,” said Gail. “It will not only keep you in shape but will also help you rediscover the joy of movement to fully understand your body.”
Gail encourages her class members to exercise barefoot (or to wear a foot covering that works best for them) and to also use their voices.
“Exercising barefoot and that direct connection to the floor lets you know where your body is in space,” she said. “And vocalizing is great for alertness, concentration, creativity, balance, memory, and, most of all, enhancing your mood,” says Gail.
It’s clear her members enjoy the class, so much so that it soon releases the power of their voices. “That’s it,” says Gail. “Sing away and raise your voices as high as you like.”
Class participant Kathy Kennedy said, “I’m here because I can move the way my body wants me to move. I never feel sore afterward, and everyone is able to do something. I always feel uplifted when I leave.”
Another class participant, Dolores DesPrés, added, “I absolutely love Gail’s energy in the class, and she is so elegant in her movements. I have a dance background, and Nia® is the perfect combination of everything – yoga, jazz, and more.”
At each class, held every Tuesday and Saturday at 10 a.m., participants can exercise to music. This week’s class introduced world-inspired tones directed to the center point of the body.
“I like the class to be proactive and begin to understand the way their particular body moves,” said Gail. “The biggest highlight for me is when they later tell me they are beginning to sense their body in a different way.”
Bernadette, another class participant, said she has had several surgeries on her back and joints, and this form of movement is perfect for her.
“This class is fabulous,” she said. “I go to all Gail’s classes — they make me feel so good because I get to stretch myself. I encourage everyone to give it a try.”
Practiced internationally since the 80s, the Nia® technique has been incorporated with great success for children and is also used in several health programs. “It combines the strength of Pilates, yoga, muscle toning, and cardio aerobic movements, so this form of movement is successful with people wanting to regain their flexibility,” Gail explained.
“It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or physical ability,” said Gail. “Nia® gives you an opportunity to get into shape in ‘your own very special way.’”
Exercising often is the single most vital thing you can do for your body. Exercise helps control your appetite, boosts your mood, and improves sleep. It’s also proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
“It doesn’t matter if you used to be much more physically active or don’t exercise regularly now; any time is a great time to start your new fitness regimen,” says Gail. “Getting into shape is important whether you’re a man, a woman, young or old, or someone with physical limitations.
For more information, email Gail Mongiello at [email protected].
Certified 1st Degree Nia Black Belt Instructor – “Through Movement We Find Health ”
IF YOU GO
The Nia® Technique — a fusion fitness class blending martial arts, healing arts, dance, and spiritual self-healing
The Wellcome OM Center, 4242 Lake in the Woods Drive, Spring Hill
Every Tuesday and Saturday at 10 a.m.
Contact Gail Mongiello at [email protected] or visit