Getting senior citizens moving is hardly a challenge at the Dickson Senior Center, which offers classes in exercise and movement every day, from Zumba to yoga and line dancing, as well as general exercise and T’ai Chi.

For Toni Dixon, leading T’ai Chi at the senior center is both a joy and a privilege, having started the program there in December 2017.

She said that there are many health benefits from engaging in T’ai Chi. These include increased flexibility, muscle strength, improved overall fitness, reduction of stress, boosted immunity, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and better body posture.

“One of the things that T’ai Chi is especially good for is fall prevention,” said Dixon, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., noting the group exercise reinforces an awareness of others as movement becomes more fluid and sustained.

Dixon noted that sometimes the participants may use a chair as part of T’ai Chi when they are recovering from an injury.

The T’ai Chi Wushu Greeting where participants meet each other with strength, friendship and humility as conveyed by the two hands arranged in a spatial way. The right hand is formed into a soft fist to denote strength. The left thumb is bent inwards to denote humility as the fingers of the left hand are held straight and close to each other, meaning friendship. The two hands are held together with the right fist under the left palm.

For instructor Dixon quiet and connection are flow are critical components of the positive energy that generated through T’ai Chi.

Class participants range in age for 55 into the 80’s at various times at the center.

Starting this month T’ai Chi will be held at 9 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and at 11 a.m. on Fridays.

Some of the participants in T’ai Chi also take classes in yoga, line dancing, Zuma and general exercise.

From dental pain to exercise peace

The general exercise class takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and is taught by Everette Rogers.

Rogers became involved in fitness and exercise as a result of neck pain that was triggered by years of dental practice.

The pain was so debilitating that he had to give up his practice. However, he began to focus on helping others to achieve personal success by recognizing their strengths, challenges, and dreams

For Rogers, exercise science kinesiology and exercise physiology yoga helped him make a radical change in self-care and building strength and self-confidence.

He approaches his classes at the senior center as a cross between a pep rally and a birthday party, with the key focus on celebration and regeneration of energy, focus and positive goals.

“It is amazing what strength, muscle development and nerve connection can do,” he said.

In the 18 months he has taught at the center, he said he looks forward to getting seniors moving, believing, pressing and stretching.

“Many times, when people get a small injury, it’s used as an excuse to just sit and stop moving,” he said. “But in most cases, if you keep moving, you find there’s less pain, and you start to get stronger.” 

Rogers believes that an injury, in the long run, can make someone stronger, a little wiser and even present a shift in perspective.

The Louisiana native loves leading each group of enthusiastic seniors.

“Each day I feel so energized, and I want to say thank you for letting me do this class,” he said. “I see everybody out there just smiling and being receptive and doing what I do. Maybe there’s some mirroring going on where we’re mirroring each other.  I feel this surge of energy.  That feels great, and afterwards I can go get anything done because I feel great fantastic after the class.  It’s my responsibility to lead and use my life experience to help redirect others.”

Rogers wants to focus more of positive regeneration of life and purpose for others.

“I want to do presentations for dentists, dental hygienists and assistants to teach them how to move so they avoid injury and minimize,” he said. “Addressing the ADA (American Dental Association) and speaking about dental fitness and senior fitness is a key goal.”

He said the important thing in life is to keep moving and keep breathing and believing the best is yet to be.

“It’s been very rewarding, and it continues to be a positive thing in my life,” he said about the general exercise class. “Seeing people find things they didn’t know they could do, and then that takes them to new level each day.”

Recommended for you