Cancer survivor Linda Sohner of Upper Arlington is a big fan of Nia dance, a nonimpact fusion of fitness and martial arts exercise first developed 35 years ago.

"I think it's really contributed to my recovery," Sohner said at the conclusion of a recent session of the fitness program held at Cancer Support Community Central Ohio in northwest Columbus. "It's very healing."

Jill Hetterscheidt of Worthington Hills has been the instructor for Nia dance classes at the organization since they were first offered about a year ago.

"It's more of a holistic approach," said Hetterscheidt, who became certified in Nia in 2009 after being laid off from a human resources position. "I like the fusion of using different movement forms."

Nia combines dance, martial arts and mindfulness to help people transform their minds and bodies according to the website The business is based in Portland, Oregon, where Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas created the program in 1983.

Donna Wilkinson of the Linden area took her first Nia class July 31 at Cancer Support Community.

"I thought this was great," she said. "It was actually fun, and I would definitely come back."

Laura Batdorf of Dublin is a survivor of breast cancer and has been taking Nia dance classes since they began.

"Physical activity is important to me, but also enjoying the movement and being happy with the movement you have," Batdorf said. "Anyone of any ability can do this."

Hetterscheidt said after her layoff she opted to seek employment in the field of wellness, but Zumba just didn't cut it for her.

"Nia to me is much more approachable," she said. "There's so much more depth to it than anything else I've ever done."

Nia originally stood for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, but Hetterscheidt told her Cancer Support Community it's generally just known as Nia.

"Now they just say nonimpact aerobics," she said.

"This is a very good cardio workout," Powell resident Pat Belmont said just before the start of the July 31 session. "There's a nice group dynamic, very good energy in the room."

"Nia is very much designed so you can move at your own level and pace, and how you feel today," Hetterscheidt said as the recent class began.