Free Tai Chi in University Park
Learn a new stress-reducing exercise with free classes at the University Park Church of the Brethren.
If you’re looking for a way to invigorate your exercise routine and de-stress your life, consider Tai Chi.
Originally developed as a type of self-defense in China, it has evolved into a popular form of exercise and
is heralded for its stress reduction capabilities and it's now here in University Park.
Every Saturday mornings at the University Park Church of the Brethren, the class is taught by Janet Thomas, of Dancing in Silence, a traditional martial arts center. It starts at 8 a.m. and lasts about an hour.
“It was my idea,” Thomas says. “I was looking for a space to offer a few classes and I drive by the church
every day on my way home from work, so I decided to approach Pastor Kim and she was very receptive
to the idea. We’ve been offering classes here since 2008.”
Students are first taught Qi Gong exercises to work on breath skills and enliven the internal organs
and the spirit. These movements are called forms and focus on the principles of alignment, stepping,
rootedness, continuity and relaxation. Next, the class is taught Lao (old) Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. This
particular form of tai chi is taught in six sets of about 12 positions. In all, there are over 200 movements.
During the section of the class focused on Tai Chi Chuan, the students are split into groups based on how
many of the six sets they have mastered. They take turns leading their groups in the movements and
discuss transitions and proper form.
“I have about 16 to 17 regular students most of whom having been coming for over a year,” explains
Thomas. “When I first started I had just one student, but she stuck with me for about six months and
then I figured out how to advertise the class better and we saw more and more people coming in. I’ve
started to put a sign out on the church’s lawn that lets people know there are free tai chi classes and
that’s worked really well.”
On the last Saturday in April, Thomas and her students celebrate World Tai Chi Day and they invite the
entire community to come out at 10 a.m. and participate in some Tai Chi movements. According to
Thomas, approximately 65 nations celebrate the day by practicing Tai Chi at their local 10 a.m. hour.
In addition to the Saturday morning practice, Thomas also offers classes, for a small fee, on Tuesday and
Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information call 301-466-5894.