Ernie Boxall & Anne Brown
Balance Health and Fitness
"Allow me introduce myself: Ernie Boxall, Balance Health and Fitness. I’m a Personal Trainer and Corporate Wellbeing instructor. At 48 years of age, my body was wrecked through a lifetime of contact sports injuries and my life was in tatters after being sacked from a civil service job. I was going nowhere. Now, 13 years later, I have my own business working as a Tai Chi instructor and Shiatsu therapist; two Chinese-based methods of bringing energy and balance to people's lives.
Menopause carries symptoms of hormone imbalance which causes ‘dis-ease’ and can lead to, amongst other things, depression, loss of bone density (osteoporosis), joint instability and insomnia. Many of these symptoms are associated with STRESS and there have been numerous research papers written praising the benefits of Tai Chi for clients with stress-related issues. Useful information can be found on the site of Bill Douglas (www.worldtaichiday.org) where links to various papers can be found.
What I’ve seen with my own eyes these last 12 years is nothing short of remarkable.
The whole basis of Tai Chi is that you’re under no pressure to try. You simply begin each class with a wish to become quiet. This is quite different to the first few minutes spent during a typical cardio exercise session where one is expected to practise increasingly energetic co-ordinated movements to increase the heart-rate.
A typical Tai Chi session
In Tai Chi, the first minutes are spent standing still, setting your feet in a comfortable position, relaxing the knees and hips, allowing the shoulders to relax, the chest to open and the head to be held in a comfortable position. The practitioner learns to do nothing but breathe.
Next, the focus is on breathing out slowly, the emphasis being on emptying the lungs more fully, clearing carbon dioxide from the body. The lungs inflate more fully and the diaphragm moves through a greater range of motion. This movement massages the internal organs, acting to remove toxins from the kidneys and liver, thus helping to balance hormones.
The breathing is then followed by moving the arms, in time to the rhythm of breath. Muscular force is minimal, so that range of movement isn’t inhibited by muscles working strongly against each other. I have often seen people with stiff joints show improved range of movement after twenty minutes of Tai Chi, because of the co-ordination of movement and breath in a posture that promotes good muscular endurance and low wear on joints. So much so, that members, wary of beginning a class because of back pain for instance, later comment on how much better they feel. Furthermore, Tai Chi can improve bone density over time even though there has been no high impact.
Many research projects have highlighted the benefits of exercise on depression and Tai Chi is no exception, with the added bonus that virtually everyone can take part, even where physical challenges are present. It is often the feeling of achievement that goes with learning new movements that brings a new sense of self-belief to members.
Tai Chi truly is exercise you can practise well into old age, through menopause and beyond, providing prolonged benefits."