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Naomi Kanai:
Dancing from the Fountain of Youth!

By Renée Tillotson

Naomi Kanai serves as a poster child for finding the fountain of youth through movement! At this year’s Still & Moving Center birthday celebration, Naomi danced step-for-step with dancers a half-century younger than herself. I am thoroughly convinced that not a single person in the audience guessed their age gap by outside appearances. 

Naomi’s dancing sparkled with grace and a gentle vivaciousness. As Kumu Mālia told me at the end of the event: “Naomi’s dance brought me to tears.”

As teachers, we have students who are eager and constant, students that we love to count on. Naomi is one of those. A long time, faithful Nia student of mine at the Nu’uanu YMCA, Naomi helped with our floor cleaning exercise one day! And she nevertheless says, “I am happy to be your student.”

Naomi followed me to Still & Moving Center not long after we opened. She has studied under a number of our Nia teachers and trainers over the years. According to Naomi: “Nia is not just any exercise, it takes my entire life to enjoy. 

Since coming to Still & Moving, she has enrolled herself in an astonishing breadth and depth of the classes we offer. If a class contains the word “Barre” or “Yoga” in its name, Naomi has surely taken it. 

She’s also a regular student at nearly all of our Functional Fitness classes, from ELDOA, Feldenkrais, MELT, Breath Oasis, to PhysioFlow. In fact, Naomi has attended an astounding 1,700 classes, workshops and special events at Still & Moving since she first arrived in May of 2011!

When the pandemic hit and we transferred from In-Person to Online classes, Naomi slid easily into our new modality. As Online teachers, we are always delighted to see Naomi’s face pop up on our screens. 

Now that we are back in the studio teaching In-Person again, we have so much fun moving together with Naomi. She brings such a genuine enthusiasm and hunger for learning, it’s truly contagious.

Naomi knows the importance of supporting her active movement practices with strong self-care. She takes monthly bodywork as well as private wellness sessions with us. 

Beyond the studio, Naomi stays in motion as an avid gardener and frequent traveler, especially to her home country of Japan, where she loves to visit the traditional hot springs and temples. A quiet person, Naomi cultivates a rich inner life while she conducts her outside activities. 

I am in awe of this remarkable woman.

“Nia is not just any exercise, it takes my entire life to enjoy.” – Naomi




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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)