What is Neuromuscular Integrative Action?

Malcolm Tatum

Neuromuscular integrative action or NIA is a workout program that combines elements of several disciplines in order to create a workout program that addresses the proper development of various muscle groups within the body as well as promoting cardiovascular health. Developed in the early 1980’s by Carlos and Debbie Rosas, the process of neuromuscular integrative action combines movements found in such diverse arts as yoga, tai chi, and modern and ethnic dance.

Neuromuscular integrative action incorporates yoga movements.
Neuromuscular integrative action incorporates yoga movements.

Instructors who use neuromuscular integrative action for whole body conditioning lead students through a series of movements that draw on several disciplines. In all, NIA includes a series of fifty-two basic movements. Each of the movements can be performed at varying levels of intensity, depending on the needs of the student. The instructor maintains control of the classes and walks the students through each movement in a synchronized order.

Neuromuscular integrative action promotes cardiovascular health.
Neuromuscular integrative action promotes cardiovascular health.

Unlike some workout programs, neuromuscular integrative action requires a high level of concentration and focus. The process is structured so that each movement produces some type of impact on the muscular systems or the cardiovascular system. The specifically choreographed movements are accompanied by a variety of music options, each one carefully selected to work in conjunction with the current movement. During the course of the session, it is possible to make use of several different types of music at various points in the workout.

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The training process for neuromuscular integrative action instructors borrows from the methods used with martial arts. As the student masters various aspects of the program, he or she achieves a higher level. The first level of training is known as the white belt level. From that launching point, students progress through other levels until attaining the highest level in the series, the red belt. It is at this point that the student is considered to be fully trained and is bestowed with the title of NIA trainer.

Since the initial development of neuromuscular integrative action, the workout has continued to gain in popularity. It is not unusual for fitness centers to provide NIA instruction. In addition, it is possible to make use of the workout program in settings such as weekend retreats or as part of an overall replenishing program aimed at restoring physical and emotional balance to the student.

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