Tai Chi Offers a Gentle, Flowing Approach to Fitness
Danie Smith thrives on variety in her exercise.
Every week, Danie, 70, took classes in Zumba, barre, Pilates, water aerobics and tai chi. Her husband often joins her.
“We just want to make sure we don’t look our age, because we certainly don’t act our age,” she says with a laugh. “We’re just trying to stave that off as long as we can.”
The coronavirus pandemic has cut into her choices, of course. But Danie still loves her tai chi classes, now offered online seven days a week.
“It’s great stretching, and I feel really motivated to do something else,” she says. “It’s 1-on-1 in your home, and there’s no travel involved or parking. I’m getting spoiled.”
Danie is one of millions of people over 50 all over the world who have discovered the benefits of tai chi.
Here’s an overview from americantaichi.net:
“Tai chi, pronounced ‘tie chee,’ is a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art. A person doing tai chi moves his body slowly and gently, while breathing deeply and meditating. (Tai chi is sometimes called ‘moving meditation.’) Many practitioners believe that tai chi helps the flow throughout the body of a proposed vital energy called qi. (Pronounced ‘chee,’ it means ‘air’ or ‘power.’)”
Danie likes that it helps improve flexibility and balance. It can also be an aerobic exercise and improve strength, coordination, sleep and overall wellness.
Danie’s online instructor, Karen Koutsky, presents a modified version in her online classes.
You can do them in a chair for safety’s sake. And she advises each participant to proceed only as much as they are comfortable.
Karen’s classes grew from a handful of participants to about 50 each class since coronavirus restrictions forced so many closings. She includes discussion on healthy living and presents information on topics like the immune system and breathing techniques.
“I keep it light and easy,” she says. “People are able to join at any time and still follow it. I keep it flowing and easy, so that they can just follow.”
Other tai chi instructors Like Nikolas Benedict of Mountain Pathways might be more rigorous or rely more on instructing participants about certain moves. It can be done outdoors. Nikolas currently has small groups of Tai Chi and Chigong sessions. “As the medical community has begun to embrace tai chi as a non-pharmacologic alternative therapy, perhaps you should consider including it in your exercise regimen,” Dianne Bailey, who also serves a mostly over-50 clientele and is certified by the Functional Aging Institute.
“As a form of exercise, tai chi is very accessible. The movements are gentle and not difficult to learn. There is no special equipment or even apparel necessary.”
Karen says early-morning, online classes are an easy way to start the day right. And by taking the classes alone at home, no one needs to feel self-conscious about how “well” they’re performing.
Let us know if you’d like to try tai chi. We can offer instruction or help you get started. Now is a great time to try something new. Millions of folks already doing it can’t be all wrong!
Gordon Palmer, Registered Personal Trainer, Functional Aging Specialist, Precision Nutrition Coach
Training and Fitness Coordinator at Global Fitness & Racquet Centre, Kelowna, BC.