Wellness advocate Nadia Harilela dances her way to physical and mental fitness – Sporting News
For many people, maintaining their daily workout relies on maintaining certain physical stamina and mental strength. It’s hard to stay motivated consistently; it’s hard to keep going back for more, knowing an hour on the treadmill or lifting weights is hard work, and the experience is not always pleasant. For most people who consistently prioritise exercising, finding the right way to work out can be the key to a successful, sustainable fitness journey.
Studies have found that activities such as dance and exergaming are effective ways for people to commit to physical exercise. These results shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ever danced to their Spotify playlist while making their morning coffee. Fitness regimes like these, where the lines between hard work and fun are blurred, are easier to maintain in the long run.
Wellness advocate and dancer Nadia Harilela knows the benefits of movement all too well.
Growing up in a family of dancers, Harilela began started ballet and jazz dance at the age of four and went on to explore various other dance forms. From a young age, she led an active lifestyle and was drawn to other sports that allowed her to express herself through movement. Today, her fitness journey continues to be inspired by the graceful mobility that dance offers.
And beyond a practice of physical movements, Harilela says dance has become a therapeutic journey as well. A new addition to Lululemon’s team of community ambassadors, Harilela shares how dance has shaped her life and how expressing herself through movement has evolved into a meditative experience.
My mum put me in ballet classes when I was four. After dropping me off, I used to sneak into the jazz class next door and never actually took any of the ballet lessons. It took them a while to catch on that I wasn’t part of the jazz programme! My family is one of the dancers. For as long as I can remember, we have thrown a Christmas show for all family and guests, showcasing choreographed dances and a family skit. When I went to secondary school, all my older cousins were dance captains for the annual dance competition, where I eventually took the post myself.
At some point in my tweens, I started taking hip-hop lessons. Today, I wouldn’t call myself an exceptional dancer, a professional dancer, or any good. It’s just something that has always been a part of my life and that I enjoy doing. Taking a few hours out of your day to completely let go and let your body move to music is a form of therapy.
I have always been athletic. In primary school, I was that girl who played with the boys at lunchtime and recess, running back and forth with a football or tennis ball. I ran track and was on the netball team, and I just didn’t stop!
This really depends on the week. I have a friend I like to dance with, and I dedicate one night a week to attending a class in person or online with her. Otherwise, I go for long morning or lunchtime walks and take public transport whenever possible to ensure I am on my feet. If I can hit the gym, I’ll do pilates or a 5K run. I’d say I devote five to six days a week to fitness.
I find that I don’t “train” for my exercise, but I do something that makes me happy and that also makes me sweat. But I also do love that one day of rest – there is also no routine to when that day will be. It could be any day of the week! I just know I have to fit that one day of rest in for my muscles to rest up. I think it’s equally important to give myself one day to rest.
When I was 13, I tore a ligament in my right knee due to excessive movement. This was because I was going back and forth between netball practice and rehearsals for an upcoming dance competition (both at my secondary school). I remember having to wear a knee brace when I performed. It’s because of this that I actually got into pilates. My mum, a fitness enthusiast, suggested I did her pilates DVDs with her to strengthen the smaller muscles in my knees. Today, I still do pilates religiously to protect my joints and prevent further injuries.
It is a great mix of lengthening your muscles and extra strength. I need both, targeting those small muscle groups to burn them out and build them and stretch and release those muscles. Pilates has helped me keep my core strong and build strength.
I achieve this in two different ways. Firstly, dancing gives me the ability to get out of my head completely. I am following a routine, concentrating on the moves and the music. It doesn’t give my mind any room to think of anything else. It’s a form of escapism but also staying completely present in what you are doing.
Secondly, I go for long walks or a run when I am working through something. This time allows me to think through my emotions and clear my mind to understand how to find a solution.
Feeling comfortable is what makes you feel confident. Feeling confident means you can take on whatever your day throws at you. Comfort is everything! The last thing you want to worry about is how your attire looks when you’re trying to perform an activity. The clothing should always enhance your routine, not inhibit it. Lululemon provides a variety of workout gear to suit every body type without ever compromising on quality. What I love about Lululemon is that you can throw on your workout gear without ever thinking about how you look; you just know you feel good in it – and you’re ready to conquer your day.
Also see: How compression gear works and why it improves your performance