Jenn Hicks

Archive for the ‘Education’ 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!

I post regularly on social media and love interacting with people!

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr


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.

On mitochondria and thoughts on aging

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

What are your thoughts on aging?

When you think about aging, what comes to mind?

Do you think of wisdom? Or maybe creaky knees or downsizing? Or maybe you see aging as full of opportunity?mitochondria and aging and interval trainingLately, when I think about aging, mitochondria pops up for me. Mitochondria? Yes. That’s right.

And it all has to do with why I’m teaching MoveIT (interval training).


Mitochondria and a Theory of Aging

Mitochondria are considered to be the “powerhouses” or energy generators of the cell.  Without well-functioning mitochondria, we are without energy.

Mitochondria extract energy from the nutrients in our food and transform it into a chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate for you acronym meaning-seekers!).

ATP is the energy “currency” of the cell which is responsible for powering all of the cells’ metabolic activity. You might think of food-derived nutrients as “crude fuel” and ATP as the “refined fuel” that helps the cells do things like break down nutrients to be absorbed.

For a variety of (extremely complex) reasons, as we age, the energy-generating capacity of our cells’ mitochondria slowly decreases. This means that our cells become less and less effective at converting and using energy.

And so aging occurs.


Can we boost our mitochondria as we age?

As I’ve been learning more about why MoveIT is such an effective fitness practice, I’ve read over and over that the cellular benefit of exercise has only recently been discovered.

While we know that exercise is good for our heart and lungs and other organs, understanding how the building blocks of those organs (i.e., the cells) benefit from exercise is only now being discovered.

A study, recently published in Cell Metabolism found that interval training affected not only the participant’s cells, but also their genes.

Not only that, but the genes that were working differently after interval training are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells.

In fact, the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in both the number and health of their mitochondria — this finding was particularly pronounced in older subjects.


How does interval training work?

In every MoveIT class, we challenge ourselves to get into a period of “enough” between 3-6 times during the class. “Enough” is defined as a period of short duration, high intensity movement lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

The period of “enough” is when we use movement to get to our maximum aerobic capacity –  the point where we literally run out of oxygen supply for the muscles. When we get to this place of “enough”, our bodies then rely on other energy systems – anaerobic metabolism – which ultimately increases the efficiency of the cell.

Because of the potential to build up lactic acid during strenuous activity, active rest intervals are interspersed into periods of “enough” so that we can again return to maximum effort/”enough”.

Active rest periods also allow the muscles and the central nervous system to recover and come back with a punch during the next period of “enough”.


Curious and want to read more?

Look here and here  and here and here!