I’ve always been intrigued by Tai-Chi. I saw it being practiced for the first time at a park in Beijing by a group of mostly octogenarian men and I found it very beautiful and graceful. And it looked so easy…slow movements, no crazy poses and no heart rate elevation involved. The perfect exercise for a lazy non-athlete. So for almost a decade I’ve wanted to sign up for a class, but I just didn’t have the balls to be a 20 year-old among 80-year-olds. I tried yoga because that seemed hipper (and younger), but it’s too hardcore. When you are the perfect combination of bottom heavy and muscle light , Downward Dog is, quite frankly, not a particularly enjoyable sensation. But I’m five days away from 30 now, so I think it’s only right that I finally took the plunge and signed up for a Tai Chi class at a local rec center.
I fully expected that my Tai Chi class would consist mostly of earthy white-haired ladies who came of age during the Great Depression but it turns out that most of my fellow Tai-Chi-ers are white dudes between the ages of 40-50! Not what I was expecting at all. Maybe the nearby cardiac unit recommended Tai-Chi as a stress reliever for at-risk cardiovascular patients. While there’s something very noble and beautiful about an 80-year old performing slow, deliberate movements, watching half a dozen 6’1 45 year-old dudes patting the wild horses mane and spreading their white crane wings is…entertaining.
After my first Tai-Chi class I think I can safely say that I like it better than Yoga, but it is not exactly everything I’d dreamed of. It turns out that you have to follow all these steps and there’s a certain amount of coordination that goes into it. I guess what I was really looking for was free-style Tai-Chi; something that looks pretty and graceful and is within the realm of “mind body” practices, but that doesn’t require following any steps…some kind of free-form exercise within a group setting. Someone recently told me that that’s called dancing. Anyway, I’m feeling pretty sore from Tai-Chi and I don’t know that I see me and Tai-Chi embarking on a long-term, committed relationship. I think I’ve officially tried just about every kind of exercise in the world and the only thing I truly enjoy, 100%, is walking. And biking sometimes. Maybe it’s time for me to come to terms with the fact that organized exercise just isn’t for me. And I still have 12 classes to go.