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Move over, yoga… 

It took several thousand years for the art of yoga to penetrate our culture and catch on with Western fitness gurus. But in no more than two decades, the innovative Nia technique is already spreading like wildfire through gyms and exercise studios across the nation.

Amy Swanson, owner of the San Luis Obispo Yoga Centre at 1880 Santa Barbara St., has been teaching this new form of exercise for over a year and claims that it’s actually bigger than yoga and Pilates in most major cities.

Maybe it stands for non-impact aerobics, maybe it’s neuromuscular integrated action. No matter what you call it, Nia is different, healthy, and “you’re having the best time of your life,� as Swanson says. “It leaves people very sweaty, but very calm.�

Nia incorporates movements of martial arts, aerobics, yoga, and modern dance; it’s whatever you want to make of it. Sometimes there’s structure, but in much of the hour-long class you’re free to flail your arms and bounce around the room like a jellyfish on a trampoline.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nia, its founders, Debbie and Carlos Rosas, have written a book called “The Nia Technique: The High Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You A New Body and A New Life.� The book was just released on Jan. 25, and Swanson will be hosting a Nia demonstration and book sale at Borders Books in SLO on Saturday, Feb. 5 from 3-5 p.m.

Discover the magic of Nia for yourself by attending one of Swanson’s classes, which are held three times a week, or call the Yoga Centre at 549-YOGA (9642).


The alternative-medicine maven, Dr. Andrew Weil, is coming to the Cohan Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly Sunday, Feb. 13. The author of “Spontaneous Healing� and “8 Weeks to Optimum Health� will address the 7th Annual Health and Wellness Conference sponsored by Sycamore Mineral Springs Integrative Retreat Centre in Avila Beach. For more info or to order tickets, contact the PAC Ticket Office at 756-2787. …

… Also arriving in Avila Beach, the Avila Village Inn just opened last month at 6655 Bay Laurel Drive, and will be hosting its official grand opening on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14. From Feb. 10 through Feb. 15, the inn will celebrate by offering a special two-night package including a room with a spa, breakfast each morning, and massage for two, for just $525. For reservations and directions, call the hotel at 627-1810. …

… Absolute Autosound in San Luis Obispo unveiled the winner of their “Wild My Ride� automotive makeover contest last Saturday, Jan. 29. In the contest sponsored by Wild 106.1 FM, San Luis Customs & Collision, San Luis Auto Interiors, Quality Window Tinting, and The Tire Store, Santa Maria resident Teresa Badillo was selected to have her 1979 Chevy Blazer overhauled with a new paint job, tinted windows, custom wheels, and an abundance of interior accessories. For further info, contact Absolute Autosound owner Jesse Norton at 544-1556. …

… Ronald Truly, a representative from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be at the Mission Business Information Center (BIC) in San Luis Obispo on Feb. 10 and 11 to discuss financing opportunities and other SBA services with local entrepreneurs. In the fourth quarter of 2004, the SBA guaranteed 51 loans amounting to a record $11 million in assistance to SLO County small businesses. For more info, or to make an appointment with Ronald Truly, call the BIC at 595-1357, or visit their office at 3566 S. Higuera, Suite 100.

Staff Writer Jeff Hornaday compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. E-mail him at

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