Movement for all ages
22 March 2021
There is strong evidence from the NHS to suggest that remaining physically active in later life allows people to stay pain-free, continue to lead independent lives and promotes overall wellbeing. These positive attributes connected to leading an active lifestyle have inspired us to delve into our communities and speak with those who are passionate about movement!
Steve explains how Thai Chi can be enjoyed at any age and attracts people from all walks of life. He shares how lockdown has encouraged more people than ever to join in with his classes to keep fit at home.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
My interest in martial arts began when I was at school, but I ended up becoming a wood machinist for 30 odd years whilst still spending all of my weekends practicing martial arts which was my true passion. About 34 years ago, I became interested in Thai Chi and began training with a local teacher to master the arts as at that time, there was no formal training or career path leading to becoming a Thai Chi instructor. I then decided to go full time and launch my own business leading Thai Chi classes.
Since then, I have completed a teacher training course and also jointly host seminars with Master Chen Ying Jung who is a 20th generation Chen-style Thai Chi Master - you can’t get much more qualiﬁed than that!
Elite Thai Chi came about slightly by accident when I had a change of career that didn’t work out, so I began teaching evening classes and within the space of six months it really took oﬀ through word of mouth.
Today I lead a total of 15 groups per week all around the Berkshire area including Crowthorne, Bracknell, Reading and Maidenhead.
Would you say that Thai Chi is a practise that you can pick up at any age?
When I began as an instructor, I approached several large companies in the area and found that I had a lot of interest but not much uptake as people did not want to use up their lunch break or stay after work hours. Instead, I have found that my most dedicated and committed students are those that are retired and have much more free time to persist with the practice. So yes, Thai Chi is something you can take up at any age!
I lead several classes in Berkshire with the company Silver Shelters who work with those in later life and I always ﬁnd that my classes are fully booked! My most successful groups consist of retirees, but I also work with children too, often those who struggle with learning diﬃculties or physical disability. It really is something that everyone can join in with.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
I feel very lucky that I spend my life practising a hobby that I get paid for!
I enjoy the variety of the classes that I provide and being able to work with diﬀerent age groups, abilities, and people from all walks of life is wonderful.
I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the improvements that people are making week on week. Particularly in those groups that I host in partnership with charities such as Mind where children with learning diﬃculties can join and try out a new type of exercise.
Switching over to zoom has actually been great as it has allowed me to expand my audience in a way that was just not possible before. I now have people joining my classes from abroad who would never ordinarily have been able to attend in person. In this sense, lockdown has helped me greatly.
What do you like about the area you are based in?
I have lived in Berkshire all my life; I was born in Watford and I now live in Bradwell, so I know the area and community very well.
My favourite part about this corner of the UK is how much green space there is; it is something you notice instantly. I can walk to the forest from my house in just 10 minutes which I think is pretty special.
Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping active in later-life?
Certainly! Thai Chi involves a lot of gentle exercises and movements as it is, but a really eﬀective move is a slow movement involving a shoulder roll or neck roll - just to keep those areas moving.
I don’t exclude anyone from my classes and many of the groups I lead are entirely retirement age. I also host classes for more vulnerable people where all of the exercises are done seated as they are often afraid of falling. It is very important to build conﬁdence in movement and make sure that people leave with a sense of achievement and self-belief.
If anyone is interested in joining a class and trying something new, the best way to contact me is through my website, Elite Thai Chi.
If you are looking to relocate to an area with a rich and welcoming community scene, Crowthorne Renaissance could be exactly what you are looking for. To make an enquiry contact our team on 01344 238 215 or [email protected]. Prices start from £325,000.