Try Taoist Tai Chi to put balance back into life
JOHN Ferguson was suffering from "crook knees, a bad back and high blood pressure" when he began practising Taoist Tai Chi about nine years ago.
Today, he said his balance and flexibility is greatly improved, his knees don't crack and his blood pressure has reduced. "I feel so much better in myself; I wish I had started when my health was still good," the 65-year-old said.
And it doesn't hurt that it's also where he met his now-partner, Nancy Fung, the Toowoomba branch leader.
Both began their practice after free 'have a go days', which the Toowoomba branch is again offering this June-August.
Nancy, 60, became involved 16 years ago, saying tai chi had been something she had always wanted to try but never got around to - she loved it.
Her health was good at the time, but she believes Taoist Tai Chi has helped keep it that way.
She enjoys the face-to-face learning of classes, the social aspect of practicing together as well as having a trained instructor on hand to ensure participants get the gentle moves correct and don't hurt themselves.
The Toowoomba branch started in 1990 and currently has 200 financial members, having originated in Canada in 1970.
A recent Australia-wide health survey found the average age of participants was 60-69 years old, but continued to over 90.
Of those surveyed, 93 per cent reported improved balance, 80 per cent better flexibility, 49 per cent better co-ordination, and about 30 per cent suffering from health conditions reported reduced frequency or intensity of pain.
"You're never too old to start and Taoist Tai Chi is designed so anyone can do it, any fitness level, and it can be adapted even if you are wheelchair-bound," Nancy said.
The beginners' package ($175 for over-60s) comprises four months of classes, which you can attend as often as you like, learning a set - a series of 108 continuous moves which take about 20 minutes to perform and exercise every muscle in your body, including the brain.
The more you practice, of course, the better you get, but Nancy said even five minutes a day will make a difference to your health.
And one of the bonuses of Taoist Tai Chi is it's something couples can enjoy together, something they are increasingly choosing to do.