If you are yet to make a move on that front and are already back to the daily grind of work or study, here's something new to consider — Taoist tai chi.

Actually it is not that new, having originated in China about 800 years ago. But tai chi is gaining many new fans as people of all ages and fitness levels discover the physical and mental health benefits of the slow, flowing exercise movements.

Hamilton is one of seven locations that make up the Waikato branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of New Zealand. Classes are held regularly at the Celebrating Age Centre in Victoria St where a new introductory class will start on Monday, February 19, 6.30pm to 8pm. Group members are also presenting demonstration sessions in Garden Place in the CBD on February 8 and 13 at 12.30pm. Check it out and feel free to join in and give it a try.

That's exactly what Hamilton woman Rosemary Drake, 61, did last year. She tried the introductory classes over six week and was so impressed with the benefits and the great people she met that she uses tai chi daily and is a regular at the weekly classes. Six months of beginners' classes follow the introductory sessions and you may then move on to the continuing classes.


"It is something I always thought I would like to try," says Rosemary, "I came along and was impressed with what I saw.

"I joined for health reasons; tai chi is great to deal with stress, it slows you down and calms you; I had so much support, met like-minded people and made new friends," she says.

Taoist tai chi consists of a set of 108 different movements with names such as Wave Hands Like Clouds, and Creep Low Like a Snake. It takes a long time to master all of them, but the introductory classes cover only the first 17 movements.

"I struggle to remember all 108," says Rosemary, "but the group is always supportive and there is no pressure to get it right."

Another member, Andrea Green, says people say they are never going to learn the moves, but they do learn and the classes are always set up in a square with an experienced person at each corner.

"You follow the group and look to the four corners; each corner has someone who knows all the moves, so whichever way the group turns you will see someone who knows," says Andrea

"Anyone can do it, we have people from 14 to 80+ in classes; some people think it is something they may like to try when they retire but why wait to retire," she says.

One of the oldest members is Gordon Murray who had a back operation after a bad fall. He says he used to always be tired by the end of the day. Regular tai chi brought great improvements.

"It loosens the joints and got rid of my pain," he says.

Then after a hip replacement, he turned to tai chi to improve his balance.

"It gives you energy and you feel refreshed," Gordon says.

Rosemary agrees: "The tai chi movements open joints and gently and improves circulation. There are no negatives to tai chi."

Although not a substitute for medical treatment, tai offers help for a wide range of health problems such as poor circulation, high blood pressure arthritis, back pain, respiratory problems and many others.

The turning of the spine and undulating movements move and massage the internal organs, helping to improve circulation, maintain strength and flexibility and promote relaxation.

If you would like to find out more or register for the introductory class contact Andrea Green on 027 2517784, or 07-8533797, or email her at raynebows17@gmail.com