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Seniors carry on aerobics class without teachers

Their instructors are nowhere in sight, but a senior citizens aerobics class carries on.
Participants are so taken with Taoist tai chi, an eastern exercise that focuses largely on health, they plan to continue with the practice even after their instructors leave the country.
“It helps with the mental and physical process,” said Gilda Houser, a student. “It’s not harsh aerobics. It’s a more gentle form of exercise.”
The small class of seniors have met every Tuesday morning since March to follow a comprehensive sequence of 54 gentle movements.
Unfortunately, their instructors are leaving for training in Canada this week. Following the trip, they plan to go to Florida, and will not return for three months.
The class won’t let that stop them, especially after seeing the results of eastern exercise.
“We have more energy and just feel better in general,” said Gilda.
Each part of a sequence requires complete concentration and slow and deliberate movements.
“You have to empty your mind, all your exterior, to concentrate on this,” said Dan Houser, a student.
Their instructors, Eddie and Beth Shelton volunteered to teach the class for free. The couple has been practicing tai chi since the late ‘90s.
“(Eddie) owned a business and was kind of a hyperactive person and needed something to calm him down,” said Beth.
After discovering tai chi, Eddie’s blood pressure lowered and muscles strengthened. He is now devoted to the practice.
“It is the perfect exercise. It moves energy through the body like no other exercise can,” said Eddie. “If you do tai chi, every acupuncture point will be massaged. Every organ will be massaged.”
Although tai chi is not rigorous, it does involve memorization of movements and the use of all muscles.
Most class members have come to love the practice, despite a few initial reservations. Others found tai chi too difficult.
“They’re curious, and some think it’s too hard, and they find that it is work doing it,” said Eddie.
This work, however, improves the health of anyone who chooses to practice it. Tai chi especially provides benefits for senior citizens.
The slow precise movements have been proven to help with arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and a host of other ailments.
The method is also relatively undemanding of its participants.
“It’s a lot easier on your bones,” said Beth. “When you jog or do aerobics, it’s constantly pounding on your bones and your vertebrate.”
The seniors who have taken the class since the spring will continue doing so every Tuesday morning at 9:30 in the Senior Center’s exercise room. For more information call 704-732-9053.by Sarah Grano

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