ANYONE remember exercise fads like the thighmaster, sauna suit, vibrating ab belt, toning shoes or countless aerobics videos by celebrities including Cher?
As keep-fit trends and holistic therapies come and go, the ancient art of Tai Chi has remained a constant for centuries.
Down in Bibra Lake, a not-for-profit, non-religious Tai Chi club run by volunteers has more than 100 members and has become part of the suburb’s social fabric.
“Members join up because the club gives them a sense of community and hence many friendships develop,” says veteran instructor Banyin Lee.
“We emphasise a safe and happy environment for our members, many of whom are older women who have been members for many years.
“Being a volunteer Tai Chi instructor is a way to give back to my community.”
A retired accountant who lives in Willagee, Lee has spent the past 20 years teaching Tai Chi and has been an instructor at the Bibra Lake club for the past six years.
His path to Tai Chi is probably a familiar one – he practised other martial arts in his younger years but in middle-age started looking for something that was easier on the joints.
“In my forties, I was introduced to Tai Chi and I immediately recognised the value of this soft yet powerful art form,” Lee says.
“This art form focuses on the internal workings of the body, giving participants a low-impact mind-body exercise often described as meditation in motion.
“My inspiration for teaching Tai Chi comes from the knowledge that it is the perfect exercise to achieve optimum health, particularly for older people because of the gentle meditative movements.
“The benefits of Tai Chi include improved flexibility and balance, decreased stress and increased energy. As part of our practice, we also teach Qigong, which focuses on breath and simple movements, and is a life force cultivation exercise routine to circulate Qi (Chi) energy in the body to harmonise, strengthen and heal the internal organs and bodily systems.”
Lee and his instructors hold classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Wetlands Centre on Hope Road, catering for all ages and levels of experience.
“Tai Chi is easy to learn,” says the 71-year-old. “If you can walk, you can do Tai Chi.”
To find out more, contact Lee on 9337 3852 and you can check out his free instructional videos at taichiinternalarts.com