From California Fitness to Tai Chi principles
by Lilian Lim
I have been an active member of California Fitness fitness for the last 10 years. Prior to that Iíve been a member of various gyms for about 25 years. In 2005 after a back operation I decided I needed to take more low impact classes and tai chi classes on Saturday mornings was one of my choices. The warming up exercises were very thorough and related to the the Tai chi moves we were to practise. My attendance was regular but my only complaint was that the one hour assigned to the class was hardly enough to get a full grasp of the principles and the moves. I must say in retrospect, I learned very little for that 1st year.
A year after that unfortunately I had to undergo another surgery on my foot and because of the one year break I have forgotten everything. When I finally re-attended class regularly in 2007, I found I had a lot of catching up to do. As the one hour a week class didnít help very much, I tried to make time to practise by joining the NUS student group for a short period. Also, I made it a point to practise with a friend , who has been practising for many years although she lives quite a distance from me. I must say it was very time consuming travelling around to get my dose of practice but I was determined to try to at least remember all the 37 steps which were at that time like 370 steps to me.
I think the turning point was when I helped initiate a group of us to request the management of California Fitness to increase the time allotted to the class by an extra half an hour. Unfortunately, our request for an extra class in the week was not granted. Thankfully, about 2 years ago when the change was made, I felt Iíve made some progress. When at first I could hardly remember the sequence nor the names of the moves, I am now able to do so.
I have yet to grasp all the finer and more advanced moves Master Chong has so kindly and patiently demonstrated but I know I will not forget that Tai Chi helps me to foster a calm and tranquil mind, focused on the precise execution of these exercises. Learning to do them correctly provides a practical avenue for learning about such things as balance, alignment, fine-scale motor control, rhythm of movement, the genesis of movement from the body's vital center, and so on. Also I feel the practice of Tai Chi can in some measure contribute to being able to better stand, walk, move, run, etc. in other spheres of life as well. There certainly has been benefits in terms of correcting poor postural, alignment or movement patterns which can contribute to tension or injury. Furthermore the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing in and of itself.
In conclusion, I will resolve to try to make it a point to practise Tai chi more than once week (although I often hear Master Chong accusing us of not practising enough). For a start, Sunday morning is on my own at Kent Ridge Park right next to where Iím staying, refining and recalling the lessons taught the day before.