the power of tai chi

Characterised by slow, graceful, low impact movements and postures, tai chi is often described as 'moving meditation'. By adapting it to the fitness environment you can help clients of all abilities while adding a recognised mind body discipline to your teaching repertoire, says Ming Shao.

The past decade has seen a growth in popularity of tai chi in Australia, as its health benefits have become more widely appreciated. With its origins in Chinese martial arts, this exercise system is characterised by slow, graceful, low impact movements and postures. Tai chi is often described as 'moving meditation' – an accurate portrayal, as it represents the health benefits of both exercise and meditation.

Health benefits

Health organisations and universities worldwide have conducted studies and trials showing the numerous and tangible health benefits of tai chi. Practitioners of tai chi typically experience reduced stress, better co-ordination, flexibility, posture, balance, mental clarity and a general sense of wellbeing. These improvements filter through to result in an all round better quality of life.

Studies have indicated that the practice of tai chi stimulates production of endorphins, and supports immune function and pain management. For those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease, depression, insomnia, PMS, menopause and other chronic disorders, practicing tai chi typically results in improvements to their condition. Tai chi has also been shown to improve quality of life for individuals suffering from Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis.

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), tai chi's numerous health benefits are directly linked to the increased cultivation of a healthy level of Qi (also known as life-force or bio-energy) within the body. A healthy level of Qi helps to prevent illness, aid recovery from illness and promote longevity. A healthy body is essential for a healthy mind, and thus tai chi is a complete mind body exercise system.

Accredited tai chi courses for the fitness industry

As an established exercise system suitable for all age groups and fitness levels, tai chi is becoming recognised by the Australian fitness industry for the potential benefits it can deliver to members and clients. Consequently, there is increasing demand for accredited tai chi instructor training courses. To meet this demand, Oz Tai Chi has developed accredited tai chi instructor courses and programs specifically for the fitness industry.

Oz Tai Chi programs are designed to deliver results fast, and to be easy and enjoyable both for participants to practice, and for instructors to teach. The programs combine the 'best of' traditional tai chi into an efficient and effective system. Requiring no equipment, the programs can be practiced in group exercise studios or outdoors, making it a practical form of exercise for businesses, instructors and participants.

Oz Tai Chi programs are structured around blocks of 10 sessions, typically 45 to 60-minutes each in duration. Each session consists of warm ups, Qi Gong exercises (to stimulate Qi), and a short tai chi routine. The programs are designed to give instructors maximum flexibility to adapt to clients' needs. For example, relatively fit participants can be encouraged to perform movements at a more challenging level, while less able participants can perform the same movements within their own comfort zone. Instructors can also adapt the programs to suit seated exercise groups, and aqua groups. The programs are also designed to allow participants to join at any time during a program block, which can help to attract and retain clients and minimise disruption to existing classes when new participants join.

Tai chi programs can also complement resistance and cardio training. This is evident in Oz Tai Chi classes, where new participants with strong, fit bodies often find it challenging to maintain proper posture while executing complex, low impact movements in slow motion. To utilise the complementary qualities, numerous fitness professionals implement elements of Oz Tai Chi programs into their existing training modalities.

 

Ming Shao
With over 38 years experience in the Chinese martial arts and a masters degree in Chinese Medicine, Ming possesses unique expertise. He consults from his Melbourne clinic and has treated thousands of patients in Australia and China. A former Kung Fu champion in China, Ming is also the author of The Power of Tai Chi. For more information visit www.oztaichi.com