shefford

So, we’re almost at the end of January and whilst some of us are still struggling to keep our New Year Resolutions, many of us have long since given up on them. On the whole, NYR’s don’t tend to be that imaginative, with losing weight, drinking less, getting fitter and being more organised often in the top 10.

I’d like to look at one of those in a little more detail – it’s on my list every year, without fail… getting fitter…

In January, gym memberships go through the roof. I know some avid gym goers who avoid going in January, just to miss the crowds! They’re back in Feb, when many people have given up. So how do we reverse this trend? Now I’m not trying to set myself up as a fitness expert. You’d only need to take one look at me to know that! I’m with the mass of people who find it really difficult to stick to any fitness regime.
However, there is one activity that I’ve been taking part in for over 18 months now – something of a record for me!!

I guess the thing that made a difference for me, was to find something that I enjoy doing and that I can count as “me” time, instead of a chore that I really should do, “because it’s good for me”. Pure enjoyment kept me going, until I started to notice results. Now unfortunately for me, weight loss hasn’t been one of those results, although I have a sneaky feeling that my love of food is more to blame for that one! However, my top result has been an improvement in my flexibility.

I’ve had a slightly dodgy back since I was in my early 20’s. Nothing major, but bending awkwardly or even a big sneeze was sometimes enough for me to ache for days. I always found that first thing in the morning was worse. For years, I have avoided bending down for the first hour or so, after rising. If I had to, I’d start by trying to pick up whatever I needed with my toes, and if that didn’t work I’d sort of take a side swipe at it. Difficult to explain, but amusing to someone watching – no joke for me though!

It was after I’d been going to my class for a few months, that I realised I no longer had this problem. It kind of crept up on me, so I don’t know how long it took. So what is this miracle class? It’s Tai Chi. Again, I’m not trying to set myself up as an expert, just a convert, I suppose. If you want to know more about it, there are many people who know an awful lot more than about it than I do. The “Man in black” at Shefford Tai Chi is always happy to answer questions.

Ian, who aslo happens to be my partner, has studied Tai Chi for years, and has been teaching it for as long as I’ve known him. As you would expect, he’s forever extolling the benefits of Tai Chi, but it isn’t just him. A quick Google search of “health benefits tai chi” gives 380,000 results! I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list of benefits to doing Tai Chi – it would be huge, but some of them are that it improves suppleness, posture and core strength, builds bone strength, stimulates circulation and can prevent shingles. The favourite in the news at the moment is how it can significantly reduce falls in the elderly – but these are just a few of the many benefits that are connected to regular practise of Tai Chi.

I would thoroughly recommend tai chi, for all the reasons above, and also as a means of switching off from the stresses and strains of everyday life. It’s my hour of calm, in a week of rushing around and I really wouldn’t miss it.

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