Where the Mind goes ... the Body will follow Tai Chi for Busy People

Tai Chi wheels turn slowly

…be ready when it happens

By Denise and Mike Soric

When we arrived in Townsville in February 2010, we identified early that the region had a very strong following within the Fitness Industry, Combative Martial Arts and a strong Army Base Culture. We asked ourselves “what is available and how could we help all those people that were not able to continue in their chosen activity, sport or career after sustaining injury?”

Tai chi for health gentle exercise programs sounded like the perfect solution …

About the middle of 2010 we approached the local Army Base in Townsville about delivering a tai chi for health gentle exercise program to their personnel …

After many months of knocking on doors (or army tents/camps) we had a major coup. Well, maybe not a full military coup, but certainly a small change in mindset had been signalled. We had been invited to conduct a 24 week Pilot Program to deliver a “tai chi for health gentle exercise program” to the Soldier Recovery Unit, based at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. The program was based on Tai Chi for Arthritis. I should point out, that this was at no cost to the army, as this program was jointly funded by Queensland Health (Tropical Health Unit) and those hard workers of Tai Chi for Busy People (who were going to be really very busy now).

The ‘Soldier Recovery Unit’ function is to rehabilitate service personnel. It has three objectives and in order of their priority are:

  • firstly to rehabilitate and encourage service personnel to return back into their existing ‘Units’ and previous roles,
  • secondly to transfer to another area of the Armed Services, and
  • the third objective would be to assist in discharge and help integrate back into the community.

We also received approval to pose ‘Pre-evaluation’ questions to each participant as they start the tai chi for health gentle exercise program and ‘Post-evaluation’ questions to be administered to each participant every 6 weeks over the 24 week program. Although generic in nature we hoped to build a statistical view of participant’s response and receptiveness to a tai chi for health gentle exercise program being part of the overall rehabilitation process. Together with the assistance of the ‘Soldier Recovery Unit’ co-ordinator we could be able to build a case for (or against) a future program. The eventual aim of this pilot program was to justify a clinical trial which we hoped would then justify the integration on a permanent basis of a tai chi for health program, to be delivered to all military personnel at recovery units in the three main bases located at Townsville, Brisbane and Darwin. (… still a long way to go …)

Our long-term goal is to facilitate training of key Army personnel to become tai chi for health Instructor/Leaders so that they can continue to deliver a suitable tai chi for health program to their own personnel. Perhaps as part of an early intervention strategy, for coping or even better still as part of a preventative technique, to help minimise the likelihood of developing debilitating effects of stress (… we may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves … but you never know)

We are very grateful to Dr. Paul Lam and Master Trainers: Rani Hughes, Australia and Jef Morris, USA for their continued support and great assistance to us in keeping us motivated to keep persevering with this ambitious project. In particular, sharing insights into possible issues that we might face. As always, we realise that for any project of this size and nature to succeed, a lot of help and support from many people is required. Thank you all.

“If you believe in it … go for it!”