Staying healthy and fit is a goal for most of us, no matter our age.
With the many fitness options available to us, there is one exercise choice that combines slow, stretching movements with a calm and peaceful mental attitude.
Tai chi (pronounced ty chee) comes from the Chinese martial arts and adds the element of caring for the human body and spirit.
World Tai Chi Day is April 30 and all families and individuals are invited to help celebrate.
On this day, beginning in New Zealand and spreading around the globe, at 10 a.m. in each new time zone tai chi performances will begin.
At Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius demonstrations begin at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. instructor Mike Gentile will move to the water's edge to do breathing to the four corners of the globe.
Then other sets of movements, called forms, will be presented by students and practitioners of this exercise. Everyone is invited to join and try the movements.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends tai chi for seniors to help them improve their balance and posture, resulting in fewer falls. Gentile, 66, known as Tai Chi Mike, is accredited by the Arthritis Foundation.
He teaches classes at the senior centers in Mooresville and Statesville and is also a reiki master. I take classes at the South Iredell Senior Center in the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville.
Gentile grew up in New York. He owned an electrical parts company and at 40 he began studying tai chi. He found his true passion.
Eventually he became an instructor and followed his son to North Carolina nine years ago. Gentile lives in the Highland Creek neighborhood of University City, a mile from his son and three grandsons.
"Tai chi is a complete exercise system and it's been great teaching at the senior center and seeing people get stronger with better balance and posture as they gracefully age," said Gentile.
Joining the Iredell County students will be Mecklenburg students from Golden Flower of Charlotte and Peaceful Garden Tai Chi with instructor Greg McCormack.
The goal of World Tai Chi Day "is to unite humanity by encircling the planet in calmness and well-being," said McCormack.