Fit for Life
Fit for Life is a gentle dance fitness that provides many of the benefits of Nia, and most members wear shoes. We do about 35 minutes of dance, some hand weights, core work on the ball, balance/stability work from yoga and dance, and floor stretches and strength. You can modify moves to fit your body. This class lasts an hour and a half; feel free to arrive and leave at your convenience. (Scroll down for information for new students.)
Monday, Wednesday 1:00pm,
Fridays at 12:30pm.
Ongoing, membership or $12.00 day pass to facility
Timberhill Athletic Club 2855 NW 29th St, Corvallis, OR 97330
Tips for New Students
- Hydrate well, about 30 minutes before class. Drinking plenty of water helps to lubricate your joints. Bring a water bottle with you for a quick sip during or after class.
- Dress to move – anything that frees your body or inspires your imagination. Fabrics with some stretch allow maximal movement. If you would like to free your hips, draping a sarong around your pelvis or wearing a skirt can help draw your attention to moving a little more in that area.
- If you are comfortable, try bare feet: You might notice that I dance in bare feet, and some others in the class really like being bare footed. My other class, Nia, was developed for moving in bare feet. Plantar flexion helps improve balance and develop stronger, more stable feet. If you are healing a medical condition that would make it uncomfortable or unsafe to go barefooted – please wear shoes. Also, as we get older, the fat pads on the bottom of the feet thin a bit, so dancing without shoes may be too uncomfortable for some folks. If you would like the benefits of moving in bare feet, without being in bare feet, then you might consider trying shoes with greater plantar flexion, such as: Nike Free and Vibram 5-finger shoes (which can often be found on sale), and MBTs (more expensive, and less mobility). And there are lots of shoes on the market that might work for you. For more information about the benefits of moving in bare feet see my blog “Why do we do it barefooted?” Listen to your body and always do what is right for you. In Fit for Life most people wear shoes. Should you wish to try moving in bare feet, you could start out by being bare footed at home. Always avoid dragging the feet or twisting the ball of the foot in contact with the floor. A blister is your body’s way of letting you know it is experiencing too much friction. Eliminate friction between your feet and the floor.
- Go easy on yourself. Practice beginners mind. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but be present with where you are on any particular day. ‘Trying hard’ to ‘figure out’ a movement can lead to frustration. Practice softening your gaze and receiving information through your five senses, rather than figuring it out with the mind.
- Listen to your body. Find the pleasure in your movement. In the beginning, start small, give your body/mind time to adjust to something new. I teach in levels 1 – most compact and simple, 2 – adding more dynamism to the movement, and 3 – pushing your edge. Start with level 1 and only take it up to another level when YOUR body says to.
- Ask about your concerns. Fit for Life and Moving to Heal are great for those healing chronic or life threatening diseases and conditions and Leela has experience teaching people healing cancer, MS, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions. If you have any questions, please ask. Often, a life-threatening illness or severe trauma can leave us feeling that we can no longer trust our bodies. These movement forms provide a safe way to reestablish a healthy connection with our bodies and ourselves.
- Be who you are. Nobody is watching you. It is not high school. You are not being judged or graded. Each participant is focused on her/his technique and the focus for the class. You will notice, perhaps after an initial period of shyness, that you are appreciated for being who you are. Diversity rocks!
- Breathe! Use your whole body to breathe, expanding belly and chest. In Fit for Life, many people like to sing along. Singing opens your heart and deepens your breathing - which helps with relaxation and stress reduction. Sometimes you will hear me make sounds, like "huh!" with a block or a punch, these sounds facilitate whole body breathing and can help move stuck emotional energy. If you feel shy about sounding in the beginning, use a breath sound, such as “shhhhh!” to feel your belly button moving towards your spine. We make the strong “Ha!” sound on a kick or punch to contract the abs, which provides anterior support for the spine in the movement. This also pushes the diaphragm, forcefully expelling the sound and generating a feeling of power. You will often hear me cue "belly to spine" - a great place for a big, powerful exhale.
- Find your own pace. It is ok to move slower if that is where your body functions best. If the whole class is doing a particular move fast, and your body says ‘whoa!’ listen to your body, it knows! Listening to your body is the best way to prevent injuries. Especially if you are new to this type of fitness, slow down, find your footing first, no need to keep up with the class. We all understand.
- Modify movements. If a particular movement is not working for your body, stop and examine the movement. For instance, if your knee and foot are not pointing in the same direction, you could experience knee pain. Line up the foot and knee and see if that helps. If technique is not the problem, please alter the move to facilitate comfort. This is YOUR workout, move in a way that is safe and effective for your body.
- Experiment with counting if you think you don’t have rhythm. You will find the moves usually come in a series of four counts. Copy the instructors foot placement on the ‘one’ and everything else will fall easily into place. Again, give yourself a break – it takes time and repetition for your body to grow new neural connections to make an unfamiliar movement or pattern feel natural. And – you WILL grow lots of new neural connections which lead to a greater sense of grace and coordination if you continue your movement practice.
- Let go of perfectionism. Remember these movement practices are just that - Practices. Bring an open heart and an open mind and let go of ‘achieving perfection’ – there is always something new and fascinating to learn about yourself in relation to the practice.
- Notice that the other students are super-nice - and willing to help if you are feeling lost. People in my classes are warm and welcoming to newcomers, so no need to be shy. They will give you space if they sense that you do not want to interact, so it's still a safe space if you are an introvert.