When she started going to the gym, she felt like her soul was dying. But she found “home” again with Nia.

Baltimore mom and owner of Movement Lab, Lola Manekin, has a passion for dancing! She’s teaching our upcoming Mom + Me Adventure Nia class on October 21st. We caught up with her talk about how she created a community around Nia, how she promotes health and wellness with her own kids, and what’s next for her (cool) untraditional fitness space in Remington 

Lola Manekin - (cool) progeny

Talking Nia and Family Fitness with Lola Manekin, Movement Lab

You own Movement Lab. What is your vision for the space and how did it come to life?

I was born and grew in an island called Florianopolis, Brazil and movement has always been a part of my life. We were always active outdoors — surfing, biking, hiking, etc. We didn’t move to be fit, we were fit because we were always moving… in very different and fun ways!

When I moved to Baltimore in 2006 and started going to gym, I felt like my soul was dying… until I found Nia in 2011. I went for training, danced my heart out for 7 straight days, and knew that was just my call in life. I have found that feeling of being back home again.

I came back to Baltimore and grew an entire community that had the same passion for movement I did. That’s when the idea of Movement Lab happened… a place where people can move their bodies in different ways, have tons of fun, and approach fitness as consequence rather than the goal.

How do you promote health and wellness with your own kids?

By setting the example… My husband and I cook healthy meals and the kids know they don’t get specials, its a rule in the house that we all eat the exact same food. We sleep 6-8 hours a night and tell them the importance of it. They see us doing push-ups together every night. They do sports, go to cross fit with dad, and (rarely) come dance Nia with me. We also discuss the importance of self-care, of quiet time and of tuning up with the little voices of the body so they don’t get sick.

Lola Manekin - (cool) progeny

One of the classes you teach at at Movement Lab is Nia, a dance cardio fitness classes. Apparently it’s been around since the 70s, but this is the first time some of us are hearing about it! How did you come across it?

After almost losing my soul as I’ve mentioned before, my sister-in-law came back from Kripalu in New York saying she took this class that blended dance, martial arts and yoga and it was amazing. I did online research immediately and there was no classes offered in the area, but the concept spoke to me so deeply that I signed up for training in Portland, Oregon three months later… without ever taken a class.

What are some of the health benefits of taking a Nia class?

It improves flexibility, agility, mobility, stability and strength
It increases the pleasure of living in your body
It supports weight loss and proper weight maintenance
It improves endurance
It balances the autonomic nervous system
It improves circulation of blood and lymphatic drainage
It improves posture
It is a non-impact fitness class
It improves concentration and cognitive function
It strengthens immunity
It supports the movement through emotions such as trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, anger, etc.
It enhances sensory awareness.
It stimulates new connections (neuropathways) between the brain and the body.

What can Moms and Kids expect during the Mom + Me Nia class on October 21st?

Bonding, a nice sweat, and a lot of fun!

What’s next for Movement Lab?

I wake up and go to bed every night thinking: “what’s next.” The team and I are constantly brainstorming ways to expand programing and create unique experiences for EVERY-BODY. We believe that once people walk through our doors and see the diversity of our teachers, they not only experience a second home, but they have so much fun sweating that they don’t even realize they are working out.

We are always listening to our clients about what they want and we do our best to make that happen. We having been adding more community and donation based classes, more kids classes such as Capoeira, Yoga, AntiGravity, and Self-Defense so everyone can experience how special each class/teacher is.


Photos by Laura Black