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Sept. 1 2018 12:30 AM
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When we think of “power” as fitness professionals, we think of powerlifting, jumping, quick and forceful movements. Tai Chi, by definition, uses “gentle, flowing movements” that don’t necessarily jive with our traditional view of power. Don’t dismiss Tai Chi, however, without considering these powerful aspects of this amazing form of exercise.

Tai Chi is a powerful fall prevention protocol

Falls are a major concern for our aging population. The cost is enormous not only in raw dollar amounts, but also in time spent in pain, the very high correlation between fatality and hip fractures and in the inevitable loss of independence. Tai Chi is exceptional as an exercise protocol to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. The research on Tai Chi is voluminous and very conclusive that this not only true for the general population but is also true for those with chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Tai Chi is a powerful alternative to high stress exercise

A high stress workout may be popular and fun, but it may not be the correct exercise prescription for some of our clients who are already over-stressed in other aspects of their lives. As fitness professionals, we need to consider the whole environment for each client and determine if an exercise protocol that is proven to reduce stress and anxiety should be a part of the mix. Tai Chi has been described as “movement meditation.” Again, research abounds proving Tai Chi and meditation can reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety and allow the body to turn off the chronic sympathetic nervous system response. As a fitness community, we have accepted yoga as an excellent stress-reducing exercise. Tai Chi is an approachable alternative for our clients who don’t enjoy or can’t do yoga.

Tai Chi is a powerful way to improve executive functioning

The fear of dementia is very real, especially as people approach their “golden years.” Mindful movement is an important piece of the puzzle to help keep the brain young and supple. Tai Chi is proven to improve executive functioning. And bonus: improvement in executive functioning also is proven to improve balance and gait! Tai Chi movements involve coordination, sequencing and many of these movements cause the participant to cross the midline which in turn causes the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate. Much like dancing, Tai Chi improves brain health by combining physical movement with mindful involvement.

Tai Chi is a powerful way to reach the forgotten population who needs to be introduced to exercise

No matter how many testimonials you have on your walls, the number of certifications that you have and the honest intention on your part to help each client be the best version of his or herself, there is a huge portion of your community that will never walk through your doors. And if they never contact you, you won’t be able to help them in the way that you know you can. These people may have been hurt in the past by a program that was too aggressive for them. Or they may just be too intimidated because they have never really done any exercise at all. And yet, this is the population that really needs our help. Tai Chi is a great “door opener” because of its gentle movement. Many of these people have been told by their physician to find a Tai Chi class. If you offer Tai Chi, it provides an opportunity for you to gently introduce exercise to them. You will be able to meet them “where they are” and be able to guide them into other forms of exercise later because they will already have a level of trust in you as their fitness guide.

We want to use the power of our knowledge and experience to empower our clients to do the things they need and want and love to do. Isn’t this what we are all about as fitness professionals? When you consider it in these terms, though not a traditional form of training for power, Tai Chi can be very powerful for our clients and for our businesses.