Free tai chi helps to change people’s lives

27 Feb
People get involved with the free tai chi at Burleigh

People get involved with the free tai chi at Burleigh

By Dannielle Murray, Bond University Journalism Student

It may not be the most intense activity, but a local tai chi program is changing lives.

As part of the Gold Coast City Council’s Active and Healthy Program, locals gather each week in a Burleigh Park to participate in free tai chi lessons held by Master Rod Ferguson.

Mr Ferguson’s interest in tai chi came from a friend who encouraged him to do martial arts in the 1970s.

However, Mr Ferguson thought it was too aggressive and it wasn’t something that appealed to him, so he turned to tai chi.

“I saw one of the very early troupes from China doing slow graceful movements…I joked to my friend that it wasn’t a martial art and he told me it was actually one of the most powerful,” he said.

Hearing that tai chi classes had commenced nearby, in 1976 Mr Ferguson started learning the art, with his passion growing as he has now reached 37 years of full-time teaching.

Since tai chi classes became apart of the Active and Healthy Program five years ago, Mr. Ferguson said Burleigh had become the most popular venue.

“I remember when I first started we had 14 people and since then, I guess there has been a reasonable amount of media coverage,” he said.

Now, up to 200 locals gather in Burleigh each week to participate in an activity that is improving mental and physical health.

Gold Coast resident Helen Cardow said the program benefited her well.

“It helps me deal with stress, I come down here and I just escape,” she said.

Regularly participating in classes for three years, local resident Vera Ansans said she had benefited from tai chi as she suffers from a back problem.

“It’s the balance… it teaches you how to control your balance…and I’ve had no problems since,” she said.

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