Martine Macleod-Craig is a Nia student in Melbourne

I became acquainted with Nia twelve months ago having met Angela Paladin at a Tai Chi workshop.  Her enthusiasm was infectious when she described to me her passion for dance and, there and then, extended an invitation to experience Nia in one of her classes.  This coincided with a decision I had made to have a hip replacement and I wanted to be as fit as possible prior to the operation.  So in the lead up to January I put in place all the tools that I could muster to achieve my goal.  These included Nia, pilates and tai chi.

Two years prior I lost my husband to Lewy Bodies Dementia and I found that I was retreating into my shell, not wanting to socialise and certainly not looking after my body.  It took a concerted effort to get myself out into the community and the decision that I wanted to live my life fully and give myself a future, was the motivating factor.  At Nia I found that not only my body was improving, so was my mental health and my sense of belonging.  As I opened up and allowed myself to form friendships in the group, I found the joy of living.  The hip operation took place in late January.  Three weeks later I was back dancing, albeit slightly modified.

What I love about Nia is the range of movements that it incorporates, from sexy salsas to martial arts, to meditative cool downs.  Then there is the body awareness of the 5 stages, which allows you to find yourself in different ways each time you practise it.  There is no judgement or criticism from anyone on how you perform the movements and, what I have found enlightening is that I am letting go of my own judgement/ego on how I move.

One year on and my life has changed dramatically.  I go to Nia three times a week and, since the operation, have found the courage to expand my horizons to include formal ballet lessons, thus fulfilling a childhood dream.  So a big thank you to Angela, whose openness and generosity of spirit has encouraged me every step of the way.

Martine Macleod-Craig