WHEN Amanda Heidke first tried tai chi, she just didn’t get it.
In fact, she felt a little goofy. But then she went through some challenging times – physically, emotionally and psychologically.
She turned back to tai chi, which many consider to be “meditation in motion”, and credits it with changing her life.
“In a world where most things are fairly instantaneous, learning to slow down, to focus and be patient can be a pretty big hurdle for many people to overcome, and that’s before you start to think about learning new physical skills,” Ms Heidke, of Merewether, said.
Now she wants to share her knowledge to encourage good health in the Hunter community.
From March until May, Ms Heidke hosted free one-hour “Reclaim Lunchtime” classes in Newcastle’s Civic Park.
“I used to work in an inner city environment in an office,” she said.
“You can get yourself into such a routine of just sitting sedentary at your computer, you eat lunch at your desk and keep working.
“We’re always talking about looking after ourselves, but what’s mainly on offer for people in the working world is subsidised gym memberships.
“Not everybody wants to jump up and down at a gym doing a sweaty routine.”
She wanted to provide an alternative, “incredibly effective” option for office workers to improve their physical and mental health.
The classes proved popular.
“There was a real mix of people,” Ms Heidke said.
“We had young guys, martial artists from other styles, older people, couples came along, people in suits and ties. It was fabulous.
“People are always surprised by how hard it is, and what a workout they get from it.”
Ms Heidke quotes artist Pablo Picasso when explaining why she wants to promote the many benefits of tai chi.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away,” she said.
Ms Heidke said there were three levels of tai chi: philosophy, health and martial art combat applications.
“People can come and do tai chi and get different things from it, but for me, the reason I was doing the free sessions in the park, was to encourage physical and mental health,” she said.
Ms Heidke teaches other tai chi classes in the region, as well as gives demonstrations at nursing homes. She has worked with stroke patients, people with Parkinson’s, and people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, what tai chi you do, what style you do, it’s all good,” she said.