Marybeth Grinnan

I transformed my body and life with Nia!

It took me 50 years of life and 20 years of learning and practice to become a First Degree Black Belt Nia Practitioner and and International Transformational Retreat Leader. I had two small kids, not a lot of time for myself and I didn’t feel healthy or strong. I joined a gym and expected that “working out” several times a week would make me feel better. I did get stronger and I did lose weight, but I didn’t feel better.

And then… I saw a sign for a new class, Nia. The people were smiling and they looked like they were having an incredibly great time for an exercise class! The first time I danced in a Nia class, I LOVED it!

Six months later, our teacher told us she was moving. I was devastated; I didn’t want my Nia experience to end. My teacher encouraged me to do the White Belt Intensive and to become a teacher myself.

I had so little confidence in my ability to move and dance and it took months for me to open to the possibility that I could take her advice and pursue teaching Nia. The White Belt Intensive was the catalyst for a new direction and expansion for me-body, mind, emotions and spirit.

In 2005, I moved to London with my family. Nia took a back seat for a while as we explored near and far. I taught a weekly class but my focus was on travel, exploring, and soaking up all our new life had to offer.

Fast forward to 2008, when my husband’s work transferred us to my hometown, Richmond, Virginia. There were no Nia classes in the area and I committed myself to sharing my passion with a new audience. I decided to rededicate myself to teaching Nia and that’s when the magic started. Slowly, I grew my classes and eventually built a large, loving and committed Nia community. I encouraged many of my students to become teachers themselves – just as my original teacher had encouraged me.

Over the next several years, I helped organize Nia intensive trainings in Richmond and the Nia community blossomed. The teachers and students of Richmond Nia fill my heart and soul with joy every time we are together.

The rollercoaster of life had more plans for me, and in 2015, Tom’s work transferred us to Paris. Leaving my Nia community in Richmond was painful; and Nia remained a constant in my life. Once I arrived in Paris, I dove deeper into my personal practice of Nia. I travelled to Germany, Belgium, Italy, the UK, Sweden, and the Netherlands to learn and learn and learn and play. I made new friends and had time focus on my practice and my teaching.

I am now “home” to RVA to share all that I have experienced. I hope you will join me on the dance floor!

The Nia Technique

Nia is barefoot workout for body, mind and soul. A cardio-dance fitness class that blends energizing, soul-stirring music with choreography that is easy to follow and designed to address the whole body. Moves are infused with the power and precision of the martial arts; expression and fun of the dance arts; and with mindfulness of healing arts. Nia is fitness that is easily adapted for each person. More than a workout, Nia’s holistic approach to health is designed to address the body, mind, emotions and spirit.

Nia is feel good fitness. Nia tones your body and tunes your mind, leaving you feeling energized, mentally clear, emotionally balanced and completely alive after every workout. Nia teaches people to make choices for pleasure by tuning into sensation, the voice of the body. Feel free to play with moving smaller or a larger range of motion, with power or ease. Based on the pleasure principle, if it feels good, keep doing it. If it doesn’t then tweak, shift, modify or change the move to sense pleasure and joy of movement. Nia is the alternative to “no pain, no gain.”

A Nia class has 7 unique ‘cycles.’ Cycle 1 begins with the teacher setting a ‘focus and intent’ which directs the mind – as energy follows attention. The focus of class may be an awareness of the feet – with the intent to balance the body from the ground up. The class is then guided to step in (cycle 2), leaving all distractions at the door. Warming up (cycle 3) mindful, then a get moving cardio section (cycle 4), before cooling down (cycle 5), movement on the floor (cycle 6) and consciously stepping out (cycle 7), leaving students with a sense of wholeness.

Within the class experience, Nia blends form and freedom. The form of 52 basic moves addresses the whole body. These include steps, stances and kicks for conditioning of the legs; core moves; and upper body moves such as blocks, strikes, punches and a variety of hand techniques. The choreography builds from simple to complex, promoting neuroplasticity, focus and balance.

Beyond the workout, Nia is a lifestyle practice. Its trainings transform the way people live with education that inspires personal development as well as teacher training. Its belt-style system is based on the martial arts. It’s foundation is the Nia White Belt training, based on deepening the understanding of Nia as a movement practice and on understanding the design of the body known as The Body’s Way. Nia is a design system for sustainability of the body. The White Belt is open to all bodies – from the novice to seasoned practitioner. The White Belt focuses on the ‘Art of Sensation’ to feel more vitality, connection and joy through the study of Nia’s 13 foundational principles.


“Marybeth is one of those extraordinary individuals who truly cares and connects with anyone who is open. She embodies the essence of Nia in her classes and her life. Her Nia classes are full of fun and joy for sure, but she also guides us to expand our body, mind, emotions, and spirit in ways we have not experienced before. Allow yourself to commit to her classes and open to her nurturing ways…she will help you re-discover the treasures inside yourself!”

-Heather U

“Marybeth is an inspiring, magical teacher who brings the joy of dancing within your body to every Nia class. And with each class you attend you find yourseld swept up, intoxicated with that magical energy, anticipating the next time you’ll get to share the JOY of Movement with her. If you ever get the chance, dance with Marybeth, your life just might discover a lighter step.”

– Bosha N

“Marybeth’s Nia classes are like a warm, joyous, hour long hug. I highly recommend her as a Nia teacher and as a person.”

– Jessica C

“Marybeth is a wonderful teacher! She conveys enthusiasm, excitement and the joy of movement. Being with her in class keeps me moving, smiling, having fun and expanding my experience of Nia and myself. She is a gem!”

– Judith K

“Marybeth is one of kind beautiful soul that completely expose her essence, love, and passion for Nia in every class. She is contagious, optimistic, and she moves in smooth ways that inspire the best of all. She fills up every class with enthusiasm, ease, and laughter. She help us see the beauty and growth potential in ourselves. I believe in the transformational power of Nia’s way of living. Thanks Marybeth for bringing Nia in our lives!”

– Carolina M

“Fun! Inspiring! I never miss a class with Marybeth. Her sweet spirit is infectious, spreading the joy of Nia.”

– Debra P

“Marybeth is fabulous! Great teacher and lovely person. Her classes are the best…if you think you want to try a new fun “exercise” a Nia class with Marybeth is for you!”

– Sharon M

“Marybeth is a positive, radiant person! Being around her is so uplifting and experiencing her Nia classes is magical. I want to plan a trip for some Paris Nia!!”

– Brooke C

“Marybeth is a fabulous teacher! Nia class with her is food for the soul. Marybeth truly puts the JOY into movement. Not to be missed!!!!”

– Ali F