Tai Chi Fitness Workouts
David-Dorian Ross is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit and the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program. He has a B.A. in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University, has completed graduate course work in Physical Education and Chinese, and is currently developing a project with the head of the Harvard Medical School research department to study the stress-reduction benefits of tai chi (taiji) in the workplace. Trained in China with championship martial arts coaches, Mr. Ross has had an illustrious career in competitive tai chi, winning seven U.S. gold medals, two world bronze medals, and a world silver medal—the highest awards ever given to an American for international tai chi performance. He was the founder and chief instructor of the Honolulu T’ai Chi Academy and a certified continuing educator for the American Council on Exercise. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul: How Tai Ch’i Connects You to Your Authentic Self. Since 2012, he has collaborated with international action film star Jet Li on a mission to introduce tai chi to 100 million new people worldwide by the year 2020. Professor Ross participated in our Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about how to bring your whole life into better balance and harmony through the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong.
01: Tai Chi Ball Workout for Beginners
This lesson introduces you to the use of weighted tai chi balls as tools to help with body alignment and strength. The lesson includes three 20-minute workouts—one with open hands, one using two palm-sized balls, and the final workout using one larger ball. Mr. Ross explains that the entire workout is about repeating the movements over and over again to get a sense of the rhythm and to fully feel each technique. With excellent instruction on how to hold, rotate, and pivot the balls as you move your entire body—as well as how to check for muscle tension—you’ll enjoy incorporating these tools into your practice and you’ll certainly feel the benefits. Movements and postures you will see include Grasping the Bird’s Tail, Needle at the Sea Bottom, and Princess on the Mountain Top, among other tai chi postures.
02: Tai Chi Fit: Strength
This 60-minute lesson continues the practice of flow, adding in the element of strength building. With three, 5-minute segments that include the use of weighted tai chi balls, you will feel the muscular benefit as you continue to follow your instructor and the other students. If you don’t have weighted tai chi balls, you can use 2-pound dumbbells, soup cans, or water bottles. And as Mr. Ross explains, you should feel free to put the weights down at any time or not use them at all, because there’s no rush and no place to go. You’ll begin this lesson by opening your heart, and opening and emptying your mind. Just follow along and keep breathing. In this practice, you will see Wagging the Tail, Snake Creeps through the Grass, and Swimming Dragon, among other tai chi movements.
03: Tai Chi Fit: Flow
This 50-minute practice introduces you to flow, the continuity of physical movement with the connection of the mind and spirit. Everything is in continual motion together—body, mind, and spirit—and comes to rest together at the end of the practice. One of the great benefits of flow, which Mr. Ross discusses in this practice, is the movement of the body’s energy, the qi (pronounced chee). Qi is life itself, and good health is maintained when the qi is continuous and harmonious in its circulations through the body. In this practice, you will learn to experience the state of flow and open movement of qi by calmly following the movements and breathing of your instructor, letting all self-judgment gently fall from your mind. In this practice, you’ll see Sinking the Qi, Descending the Mountain, Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane, and Playing the Lute, among others.
04: Tai Chi Fit: Over 50
This 30-minute workout provides benefits for people of any age, but is especially helpful to those over age 50. According to Chinese medicine, qi circulation is crucial to lifelong health and longevity, but the qi starts cooling off and losing some of its fiery energy as we age. In this practice, Mr. Ross includes special exercises to increase qi circulation by moving the qi up and down the spine. In addition, he stresses the importance of allowing the breath to move the body. Inhale, and you’ll naturally float up; exhale and you’ll naturally sink down. In this session, you’ll see Princess in the Valley, Repulsing the Monkey, Brush the Knee, Draw the Bow, and more.
05: Tai Chi Fit: To Go
Almost everyone has an issue with work-life balance. How can we best keep our life energy flowing when we just can’t find the time we’d like for a workout? This lesson offers three different 20-minute workouts for those days when you’re limited in time or space. As with the other lessons in this course, you’re not asked to learn anything and there’s nothing to get right or memorize. All you have to do is keep moving and breathing. Mr. Ross discusses the goal of staying in the moment, not focusing on the length of the practice or anticipating which movement might be coming up next. As you continue to practice both the physical movements and being in a tranquil state, you’ll learn how to attain that state of quietude more quickly, no matter the length of your practice. Here, experience Old Monk Chops Wood, Flaring the Cape, Lazy Monk Lays His Head on the Pillow, and Single Whip, among other tai chi movements.