What started out as a way to stay fit for Emi Osowski, will soon become a way for others to do so, in a manner that heals the mind as well as the body.

Osowski took up Tai Chi as a way to keep fit while staying at home during the pandemic. She will soon teach a class on the martial art to Grand Forks YMCA members, including veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She balanced studying online and helping her children do the same, while her husband was deployed with the National Guard’s COVID response team, and became a certified instructor with TaijiFit LLC.

“I like the art of the movement,” Osowski told the Herald in a Dec. 18 phone call. “It’s the movement that I felt is beautiful. … Tai Chi and other martial arts are beautiful arts of the physical body.”

The Tai Chi for Vets course, set to happen in January, differs from traditional Tai Chi in that there is no judgement of a member’s movement. Osowski will model the movements of what she calls a “healing martial art.” The movements have been adapted to include a repetitive element, which gives it a fitness aspect, and the course has been tailored for those with PTSD.

“I don't really care if you go this way when I'm going that way,” she said. “There’s no judgement.”

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The course will be open to YMCA members, and veterans as well. Should veterans enroll, she will be paid through the U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs, which is supporting the program.

Originally Osowski was interested in ballet, but, after she had her second child in her mid-40s, she decided it was time to slow down. Tai Chi was a way for her to keep fit and help soothe the aches and pains that come with transitioning to middle age. It was only after the Director of Fitness at the YMCA, where she had taught other classes before, reached out to her about the Tai Chi for Vets program, that she decided to become certified as an instructor.

It took 10 months of studying online to do so. She would video herself performing the movements then send them to her instructors, and there was a test for certification.

It was a balancing act for Osowski: managing two children, one a 4-year old, and the other in elementary school, studying online. Her husband, Jordan Osowski, deployed in April, in what has become the North Dakota National Guard’s longest activation in history. He’s been able to visit on occasion, but has mostly been away from home.

“To make time was the challenging part,” she said.

Being involved in athletics is what brought the couple together. The Hiroshima, Japan, native met her husband at a convention in Las Vegas, when both were working as athletic trainers. Emi Osowski went to Western Michigan University to become certified as a trainer, and when she graduated, she didn’t think she would live in the United States again. A year after meeting her husband, they were married, and she’s lived in Grand Forks for 10 years.

Teaching Tai Chi is a way for Emi Osowski to continue her involvement with athletics and fitness. She taught a water aerobics class at the YMCA, and fitness courses for seniors and people with Parkinson’s disease, and golf clinics. When she tried Tai Chi a decade ago, she thought it was too slow, but has since found it to help with her own aches and pains. She’s looking forward to bringing that relief to others.

“I have all the things that tell me that you shouldn't do this movement or you shouldn't do that, but Tai Chi has helped me to loosen up a lot,” she said.

Do you have a story to share? Send your idea to Kimberly Wynn, managing editor, at kwynn@gfherald.com.