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Calhoun teaches Tai Chi ‘After Dark’

During a recent Tai Chi exhibit at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA), Lonnie Calhoun looked like he was training the forces that would be called on to repel the slow-motion attack of the giant sloths.

His steps were gentle, precise and so slow, with hand movements that were the same — and the 16 participants in the workshop surrounding him did the same.

Part of the center’s “Art After Dark” community outreach effort, the workshop was titled “Tai Chi for Health and Fall Prevention.”

Calhoun’s workshop was the first Art After Dark program of the new semester.

“Tai Chi is a martial art,” explained Calhoun, a licensed instructor of the arthritis instruction. “Part of Tai Chi is stretching exercises.”

Calhoun said, studies show that for those suffering from arthritis Tai Chi can offer a litany of benefits: increasing strength and flexibility, decreasing pain in joints, decreasing stress, helping reduce high blood pressure, increasing a sense of well-being, and improving balance. It works on the brain too — “keeps those neurons firing,” he said.

“There is plenty of evidence” of its benefits Calhoun said. “They found it is good for a lot of things.”

And it may be slow motion, but don’t be fooled by that, Calhoun said.

“It’s quite evolved,” he said. “Quite a commitment.”

Just not a strenuous one; the good thing about Tai Chi is that you can do it within your range of motion and comfort, he said.

So at one point as they raise a hand into the air, then add raising a heel off the ground, Calhoun reminds them to “Do this as many times as you can comfortably.”

At one point, they follow him in making “fluid, gentle, relaxed circular motions” in the air.

Then, they make smaller and smaller circles in the air. “Washing windows— a dirty spot – a really dirty spot,” he said.

Later, they extend their arms, and he tells them to, “Get ready to push the world out in front of you.”

And, of course, there is always the emphasis on all-important balance. And that, he said, has its own importance because, “As you get older it’s harder to maintain balance,” he said.

Currently he teaches Tai Chi at the Southside Virginia Family YMCA, at for the Piedmont Senior Resources Center and at the Centra PACE Center. Calhoun said he’s received encouragement to open his own operation, and might do so if the right opportunity presents itself.