Licensed fitness instructor and tai chi teacher Kristi Niedzwiecki has brought her Beginners Tai Chi classes to downtown Morris. Niedzwiecki, who teaches classes in private settings of cancer and senior facilities in Oswego, and Aurora, wanted to offer the class in a public forum.
On June 7, she taught her first class in Morris at Gypsy Soul on Liberty Street. Niedzwiecki and Gypsy Soul owner Amy Pilz are cousins, and after the basement of the store was finished, Niedzwiecki said the timing was right to bring her knowledge about tai chi to Morris.
“I hope to grow awareness of tai chi. It’s starting to become known more as well as its health benefits. I would love to see tai chi grow like yoga where people become familiar and use it every day,” Niedzwiecki said. “Plus it brings awareness to Gypsy Soul, which is a great place to find info on spiritual journeys.”
Niedzwiecki said tai chi requires movement and meditation. “It’s martial arts based with slow movements. People can cultivate positive energy and cultivate chi, which is your internal life force.”
When the doors to the class opened at 5:30, a small class formed in the basement, which included Morris resident and acupuncturist Laurie Stone. She said she learned tai chi in acupuncture school, to the point where she could teach, but now has become rusty
and was ready to get back into the practice.
“There are not a lot of Tai Chi options in Morris, people have to travel,” Stone said. “It really feels good. Before, I noticed at the end of the sessions that my knees had improved and I have normal knees. It would be good on a damaged knee due to the low impact. This also doesn’t burn you out because it’s not high intensity.”
Niedzwiecki began her first session with slow meditative stances and encouraged her clients to focus on footwork and breathing because those two were most important. She said ideally, a person should be able to inhale for three seconds and then do a slow seven second exhale-but four and five seconds typically tend to be more realistic in the beginning.
Each session, Niedzwiecki will focus on different aspects of Tai Chi. She has offered to the public a six-session package for $60 or a drop-in rate of $12 per class. She encouraged those interested to come each class in order to reap the benefits. Niedzwiecki will also help those who need to do chair Tai Chi, but warned that there are stairs to get down to the studio.
Benefits of Tai Chi are numerous. Niedzwiecki said it’s the ultimate workout which allows the body to sweat, works on balance and centering to bring self to a calm state. Through the breathing, lunch capacity has known to increase because the client’s lungs are being used to its capability. She said she has also witnessed benefits with people with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).
For information on the class held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Gypsy Soul, visit Niedzwiecki’s website studiochifit.com.