Crookston Tai Chi class gains popularity among seniorsCrookston resident and retired teacher Gaye Wick, 67, stays busy as a theater coordinator and assistant speech coach at Crookston High School, but considers weekly Tai Chi at RiverView Health to be her true time to relax.
By: Will Powell, Grand Forks Herald
Crookston resident and retired teacher Gaye Wick, 67, stays busy as a theater coordinator and assistant speech coach at Crookston High School, but considers weekly Tai Chi at RiverView Health to be her true time to relax.
“I feel that the health benefits are great. I think it is a heart-healthy way to exercise,” Wick says. Because Tai Chi offers therapeutic effects, RiverView Health offers the class for free and seniors are taking that offer with the primary hope of improving their balance. But some are finding many more benefits to the simple, ancient martial art of Tai Chi.
“This is exercise based out of traditional Chinese medicine,” says Megan Scott, a RiverView Health staff acupuncturist and instructor of RiverView Health’s Tai Chi class. “You had grandparents teaching grandchildren.”
Scott teaches ‘Tai Chi Easy,’ developed by renowned Tai Chi expert Roger Jahnke to make the slow, graceful, controlled movements of Tai Chi easy to learn.
One of the benefits of practicing the movements of Tai Chi is increased relaxation, Scott says. “When people practice relaxation in class, they bring that mindset into their daily life.”
“The Tai Chi class is great for people who lead a really busy life,” Wick says. “It makes you stop and relax. It’s a good de-stressor.”
For all ages
Scott’s class doesn’t entertain a specific demographic, as middle-school students, middle-aged professionals and seniors are among the three to 20 people in attendance for every Wednesday night session since the class opened in Oct. 2012. Scott says attendance is “largely based on the weather.”
“There’s definitely people who become the regulars,” Scott says. “We have a core group of seniors.”
Tai Chi practitioners have reported improved physical balance, coordination, flexibility, decreased pain and tension, and improved cardiovascular health. The relatively small class sizes also allow Scott to assist and advise elderly participants one-on-one during classes.
“We want everyone to do it within their limits,” Scott says.
For seniors, Scott’s class also has an attractive social element that allows them to connect with people of all ages. Wick says she wants to eventually introduce all of her speech team members to Scott’s Tai Chi class.
“I knew Megan from the library,” Wick says. “I just knew Megan would make the class fun. She’s a good teacher. It’s an easy 45 minutes to spend doing something that enhances your health.”
Scott wants to see participants incorporating the exercise into their days, beyond the weekly class. “It is a way to take care of themselves on a daily basis,” she says.
Copyright 2013, Grand Forks Herald.