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You Have to Taste It

June 3, 2004, Vol. II Issue 12

Dear Friends,

As we cruise into the summer season, it feels like a good time to focus on fitness. I recently realized that I’ve been writing this newsletter for six months now (YAY!) and haven’t yet shared my favorite fitness practice, Nia. Many of our speakers are also Nia teachers, and are happy to lead a class while they’re in your city. We love sharing Nia!

One of the best things in my life is the fabulous people I get to know and count as friends. My fiancé and I just returned from spending the long holiday weekend in Bellingham, WA, with speaker and friend Bonnie Dean and her husband, David and his daughter, Andra. Their place was a bed and breakfast before they bought it and their hospitality made it feel like it still is. Life is good.

Talk about fitness, the big event in Bellingham over the weekend was a ski to sea race that started with cross-country skiing on Mt. Baker and ended with kayaking in the bay. In between, team members downhill skied, cycled, ran, and canoed. Whew! I got exhausted reading about it. We got our exercise at the street fair. Oh, and walking the hills behind their house. Thank goodness, walking remains a viable and easy exercise option for most of us!

Yours truly,

Nia: It’s Like Chocolate. You Have to Taste It

My favorite saying about exercise, is “Showing up is ninety percent of success.” That may not be the sentiment for a marathon runner or Olympic athlete, but for those of us in the recreational fitness class, it’s the critical difference! We have to get to the gym, meet our walking partner, go to class, whatever it takes. It requires making time for it and showing up and that means finding something you LOVE to do!

For me and thousands of others, that’s Nia. When people ask what it is, my favorite answer is that it’s like chocolate. You have to taste it yourself and there’s no substitute! The letters actually stand for Non-Impact Aerobics or Neuromuscular Integrative Action. We’ve since discovered that Nia in Swahili means “with purpose.” That fits too, as it enfolds all of the aspects of Nia: mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. The creators of Nia, Debbie and Carlos Rosas, live here in Portland, Oregon and I get to attend their classes at Body Moves, usually 5 times a week.

My journey with Nia, however, started with Winalee Zeeb, back when I lived in Lansing, Michigan. I’d see posters around for her Non-Impact Aerobics classes. My perception was that “non-impact” couldn’t be much of a workout, so that blocked me from trying it, and I didn’t know yet what a bright light Winalee would be in my life. I guess she finally got through to me because when I attended a demo, I was totally smitten. We took off our shoes and danced and played and laughed! I signed up for classes immediately.

Okay, so now you really want to know what it is? Here are the words. The Nia Technique is a cardiovascular fitness class based on movement forms from Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, tribal dance, Feldenkrais Technique, Modern Dance and Yoga.

“The emphasis is not simply about losing weight and changing your outward appearance,” according to Dr. Deborah Kern, a Nia Black Belt trainer, and a PhD in Health Sciences. “It is about empowering yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally through movement that opens your heart and mind.” Deb is currently the Executive Director of Lifestyle Enrichment at the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, and one of our most popular speakers on the mind-body connection.

“By blending movements, concepts, and theories from a diversity of cultures, Nia offers an experience that embraces individual creativity, self-inquiry, and free expression. The stillness and concentration of tai-chi, the dynamic poses of yoga, the explosive power of martial arts and the grace and spontaneity of modern and ethnic dance make it possible to stay fit and reap holistic benefits.

“Nia is a cardiovascular fitness class that is scientifically proven to reduce tension and anxiety more than conventional aerobics classes,” Deb continued. “We use pleasure and joy rather than pain and guilt as a way to motivate participants to make healthy lifestyle choices.” And Deb would be the first to tell you, it’s like chocolate. You have to taste it.

To learn more about Nia and to find a teacher or class, visit the website,

To learn more about our speakers who incorporate Nia into their programs, call me at 503-699-5031 or email

BONNIE DEAN: If the SOLE Fits, Wear It

Speaking of fitness, if you want to have a speaker to inspire your audience with fun and energy, why not get one with a degree in recreation? That’s Bonnie Dean! Actually, I think Bonnie was simply born with creativity and fun flowing in her veins. We love to call her the speaker with “sole,” because she wears and has tennis shoes to go with every outfit! I saw them, racks of them! On our morning uphill walk last weekend, with dog Charlie, we were talking about the “old days,” when she was an aerobics instructor, marathon runner and Kauai backpacking guide. Those experiences served her well in a career in direct sales, as a top ten percent sales professional and manager before turning professional speaker.

Today, she walks rather than runs, and that hasn’t slowed her down a bit. Her 50th birthday party was a fund raiser for bre^ast cancer research and a couple of years ago she trained and participated in a three-day 60-mile bre^ast cancer awareness fundraising walk, and raised $5,000 in honor of five friends.

Her programs, whether she’s doing a “Woman’s Night Out” for a hospital, team building in a corporation, or leading an appreciation event, are full of laughter, participation and skill-building to help people deal with everything from gender “babble” to over-commitment.

One enthusiastic audience member described her this way: “Bonnie Dean is a veg-o-matic blend of Shakespearean actor, improv comic, sitcom starlet, soap opera diva, Vegas showgirl, Harvard professor, info-mercial huckster, information architect, Broadway choreographer, Navaho storyteller, circus clown, aerobics instructor, and industrial psychologist. She is a human hurricane of immense heart and boundless energy who throws off more sparks than a shuttle launch.” Well, I disagree with the huckster one, but the rest is on the money!

To inquire about Bonnie’s programs, call me at 503-699-5031 or email me at

Bring on the Berries!

It’s berry season and this leads me to share one of my favorite recipes from Zonya Foco’s cookbook, “Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go.” Simple Summer Fresh Fruit Pie is quick and easy to make, delicious and beautiful!

It calls for strawberries, blueberries, peaches and bananas, but you may vary that. I’ve made it with all strawberries. It’s only 170 calories per slice or, for Weight Watchers, just 3 points.

If you have the book, it’s in the Sweet Treats section on page 186. Otherwise, write to me, and I’ll email you the recipe. Put BERRY PIE in the subject line.

Until next time, be good to yourself for your well being and those you love.

My vision for The Speak Well Being Group is to be a connector for speakers I know, love and believe in, with the audiences who will be inspired, motivated, and transformed by their perspectives, knowledge, empathy, compassion, information and, most importantly, capacity to enjoy the process, laughing at themselves and with you along the way.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.

Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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