Jenn Hicks

Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Challenge your mind and body

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Do you challenge your mind and body?

How often does your body (and brain!) encounter something totally new? Something never ever experienced before?  Something that taxes or increases the demands on your body and brain?

Regularly? Great!

Often? Fantastic!

Rarely? Let’s talk about the benefits of mind-body challenge.


Nia is a challenge!

It sure is! There are always what are called “new to me” skills coming up in new routines.  These are fantastic and offer us the benefit of not only novelty, but patterning and repetition.

And pleasure! Nia encourages us to find the joy of movement and experience pleasure. Amazing, right?! Well… sometimes the pleasure becomes seductive, and we lose the conditioning potential.

Here’s what Debbie Rosas (co-founder of Nia) has to say about that:

“It is easy to slack off, to slip deeply into personal comfort, to get seduced by the sensations of feel-good fitness. It’s easy to become lax in employing that extra push needed to create full, optimum fitness.”


MoveIT will take you to the next level of challenge – safely!Nia MoveIT challenge

MoveIT will stretch you. It will demand more of your body and mind.  It will condition you in new ways and you will learn to be safer in your body through achieving more precision in your technique.

Debbie Rosas says:

“While the sensation of pleasure can be measured more subjectively, the sensation of conditioning has more tangible reference points to confirm you have arrived at the sensation; e.g., increased heart rate (aerobic conditioning), an inability to sustain a movement speed (anaerobic conditioning), the ability to respond without thinking (reflexive conditioning) and the ability to consciously guide your movement choices (voluntary conditioning).”


MoveIT: Brain benefits of fitness challenge

Our brains were designed to change based on the challenges we give them. When we offer our bodies unique and safe challenges, we actually change and optimize the structure of the brain. Due to neural plasticity, we can develop new brain cells, richen the connections between them and power up the communication of various brain regions. In  MoveIT class, we integrate 4 types of conditioning using both simple and complex movements. We use this combination of conditioning to optimize the nervous system through stimulation of neural activity.


MoveIT: Physical benefits of fitness challenge

Our bodies *crave* new types of physical stimulation. If we want to live our best lives in our bodies (which may mean improving our strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, agility, stability or cardiovascular endurance) we need to continually expose our bodies to new and interesting ways of moving.

MoveIT benefits us physically by providing excellent cardiovascular conditioning; whole body strength, physical dexterity & muscle tone and improved range of motion in all joints of the body.

MoveIT even makes our cells happy! In a previous post, I shared research about the positive impact of interval training on the mitochondria (the energy providers in our cells). Those participating in  interval training demonstrated increases in both the number and health of their mitochondria. The end result? More (healthier) mitochondria = more energy = more satisfaction in living life!


MoveIT isn’t for me; it sounds difficult!

What challenges us in life is often as a result of how we perceive or think about a situation. Sometimes it’s the mindset we hold about something that makes us hesitant to experience new things.

I told myself for decades that I was not coordinated and that I could never be a teacher. When I shifted my thinking to embrace my potential, bam! I became a Nia teacher!


MoveIT is a safe challenge

Unlike any other interval training program out there, MoveIT embraces mindfulness to keep us safe.

We are ALWAYS engaging our “conscious personal trainer” – the inner voice that tells us that pain is a signal to back off and modify the move.

And as the “coach” (or teacher) of the class, my promise is to guide you towards safe conditioning.


Ready to Experience MoveIT?

Check out the schedule here.

While you’re waiting to get pumped up for class, experience a taste of MoveIT:

Keep on learning about MoveIT!

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Take a look here and here to see the material referenced for this post. Quotes by Debbie Rosas were extracted from the “Language of Nia” book.

Reflexive Conditioning: Keep your brain and body healthy

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017


What is Reflexive Conditioning?

One of the many unique parts of a MoveIT class is that reflexive conditioning is offered.

Simply defined, reflexive conditioning is defined as the ability to respond without thinking. Reflexive muscular movement is involuntary and happens in response to a sensory stimulus.

dancing brain

What are Reflexive Muscular Movements?

We have all experienced reflexive muscular movement – it happens when the doctor hits the patella (knee) with an anvil and the lower leg extends forward, or when the optometrist shines a light into your eyes and your pupils constrict. Reflexes help keep us safe  by protecting us from danger, moving our bodies, helping us see and more.


Why do we need to condition our reflexes?

Why is it important to condition our reflexive muscular system? At a high level, reflexive conditioning helps us to optimize the nervous system by stimulating a very specific neuromuscular function. By training our reflexes, we are enhancing the health and responsiveness of our nervous systems so that they can react (and react quickly) as necessary.

More specifically, when our body can respond without thinking, we are safer.  For example, when we trip and fall, reflexes automatically direct our hands and arms to reach out and break the fall. Likewise, reflexive muscles will contract throughout our body to minimize injury from the fall.


Aging and reflexive muscular changes

As we age our brain and nervous systems change. We can lose nerve cells and weight (atrophy) and our nerve cells may begin to send messages more slowly than in the past. These changes in our nerves can affect our senses or lead to reduced/lost reflexes. This leads to problems with movement and safety. Take the example of touching a hot stove – as we age, it could take longer for our reflexive response to kick in and move our hand away. The outcome? What could be a pretty serious burn.


Modify and fine-tune your muscular reflexive actions

How? By coming to MoveIT!

Move IT interval trainingDid you know you can speed up nerve conduction (transmission of message delivery) through repetition and practice? You can! That’s how soccer players get good at kicking – they keep on practicing; training what could be considered reflexive (the patellar reflex) and eventually making it become under conscious control.

Likewise, in MoveIT we are training all kinds of reflexive movements (e.g.,  “startle” response, emotional responses, twitching, core reflexes, ocular reflexes & more).  We can train these reflexes to be available for us when we leave MoveIT class and live our lives. Through reflexive training (along with aerobic, anaerobic and voluntary conditioning), we can keep our nervous systems healthy by doing all the new movements that come up in class and by performing them in a diverse order.


Now you have more reasons to come to MoveIT – check out my schedule here!


(Thanks to my Nia friends Heather Umberger and Lisle Jefferies Hendrickson as well as Nia co-founder Debbie Rosas for helping me wrap my head around this important concept of “reflexive conditioning”!)