Services Librarian Lindsay Dupont said she was looking for a new program to bring to the library, and this activity serves as a nice change of pace from puppets and magicians: “We try to do a variety of shows at the library, but this is a fun and unusual workshop that encourages fitness activities for kids. The program uses Nia, a type of fitness that incorporates martial arts, dance and yoga. The host Liz Mac makes fitness fun for kids. I’ve heard she does this thing with bubble wrap in her show.”
Bubble wrap? Yes, the guilty pleasure of popping tiny air-filled sacks is part of Mac’s method.
“Nia is about uniting the mind and body, and for kids we use a lot of fun props like wands and feather boas,” Mac said. “We lay down bubble wrap and the kids roll around on it. It’s a lot of fun. This program is about helping kids embrace their bodies and gain a positive self image. Getting healthy can be a lot of fun.”
Nia, a fitness movement created in the 1980s, fuses martial arts (t’ai chi, tae kwon do, aikido) with forms of dance (jazz, modern) and healing art (yoga).
Mac has been a certified Nia instructor for six years. She created a kid’s version of Nia after noticing her young sons’ attempts to mimic her while she practiced at home. “I have two wonderful dancing boys. They couldn’t do all the moves I was doing, but they were putting their own spin on things, and it got me thinking: what if I could choreograph a routine to (children’s singer) Raffi or ‘Circle of Life’ from ‘The Lion King’? You’re not too young to try Nia.”
For the past four years Mac has been traveling around the Bay Area hosting her Joy of Movement and Making Noise program at local libraries. The 45-minute program is designed for ages 5 to 12, but Mac said all ages are welcome.
“I don’t expect the parents to sit the kids down and then go off and talk in the corner. This is a very parent-participatory program. Kids seem to respond really well when they see their parents having fun doing the same movements.”
Participants should show up in loose, comfortable clothes. Adult Nia is performed barefoot, but Mac said children are welcome to keep their shoes on – whatever makes them comfortable.
The event, sponsored by Friends of the Brentwood Library, will take place Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. in the Brentwood Community Center, 730 Third St. Admission is free. For more information, call the Brentwood Library at 925-634-4101 or e-mail Mac at email@example.com.