Tai Chi classWhile ringing in the new year, a group of eight residents desired to bring a shared interest to Masonic Village at Elizabethtown: an ancient exercise known as tai chi.  

To welcome the new club to campus and assess the level of interest among fellow residents, the group hosted a tai chi introductory course in January. They invited an instructor with over 25 years of experience to share the exercise’s basics, and it turned out to be a great success. 

“It [tai chi] is a healthy approach to the aging process,” club co-founder Carolyn Snyder said. 

Widely known as “meditation in motion,” tai chi has become a popular exercise for those looking to improve their overall health and well-being. Dating back to ancient Chinese history, the exercise has evolved over centuries, yet its benefits have remained the same.  

“It is not a fast pace or high impact exercise. It’s more methodical, and your movements are slow and meaningful,” Carolyn said.  

Tai chi provides residents with an exercise option that requires little movement, focusing on a slow and steady pace of motion. The movements, called forms, are slow and rhythmic, but when put together, create a beautiful series of cohesive motions. 

“Tai chi is proven to be an asset in balance,” Carolyn said. 

A huge motivation behind starting the club was tai chi’s various health benefits that have been proven to help older individuals. The exercise specializes in enhancing pain management, muscle strength, body awareness, cognition and flexibility. Tai chi requires club members to focus on their breathing, which alleviates everyday stressors and provides a therapeutic environment.  

“Breathing is important, as it prepares the mind and body to do the different forms,” Carolyn said.  

Club members have been acquiring a basic knowledge of the different tai chi forms since their first meeting in January, as well as learning how to connect breathing exercises with the various rhythmic movements. With the help of their instructor, Suzanne Martin, group members are given form corrections and background information as needed. Sessions typically last approximately one hour, with introductory announcements from club leaders and Suzanne. The class then is welcomed into a set of breathing exercises, which prepare the body and mind. Next, they walk through the chosen tai chi routine and perform the series with the help of the instructor’s verbal commands. The class closes out with another breathing exercise, followed by member fellowship and discussion.  

“I love the socialization it brings,” Carolyn said. “It’s neat having something in common with fellow residents and knowing we are benefiting our health while doing so.”  

Currently, 13 club members are committed to consistent sessions every Friday. The group meets at 9 a.m. in the Masonic Lodge Room and is limited to 20 members due to space constraints. 

About the author: Camdyn Lehman is a public relations associate at Masonic Villages. She is majoring in business administration and minoring in marketing at Eastern University.