FLORENCE, S.C. – Every Monday morning, Bill Wilkes teaches a Tai Chi for Health class at The Barnes Center Activity Center in Florence. The center is located at 513 Barnes St.

Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi improves the mind, body and spirit with movements and breathing techniques that are relatively easy to learn and quickly delivers health benefits.

The class is primarily for adults 50 and over, but anyone is welcome.

Wilkes started the class approximately 17 months ago. He said he has been interested in Tai Chi for roughly 30 years or more but never could find a teacher. In 2013, he took a class and then became certified to teach through the Tai Chi for Health Institute, which was founded in 2010 by Dr. Paul Lam.

In June, he will attend Lam’s annual Tai Chi Workshop and Conference in Cincinnati for a week.

The Sun 73 class he teaches on Mondays is important for balance, reducing stress and falls and lowering blood pressure.

“It is a slow, gentle, meditative style of Tai Chi,” he said. “It is very good for beginners.”

The class is about 50 minutes to an hour. He said it is a cumulative system of exercises.

Rosemary Miles is one of his students.

“I took it to help with balance and memory,” she said. “I can now balance on one foot.”

And she said her memory has improved.

“I learned about the class from a flyer Bill sent out,” Phil Bauer said.

“My wife and I decided it would be a good way to get out of the house and get a little activity in our lives,” Bauer said.

He has been taking Tai Chi for about three years.

He said the classes have definitely helped with his balance and coordination.

Bauer said he and his wife take classes every Wednesday night in a different style of Tai Chi.

Fred Ayers has been in the class for only about three weeks. He said he has wanted to take a Tai Chi class for years but couldn’t fit it into his work schedule. Now that he has retired, he decided it was the perfect time to start.

Wilkes said for anyone wanting learn Tai Chi, there are two rules.

“One is that there is a right way to do it, but there is no wrong way,” he said.

Wilkes encourages his students to take other classes from other instructors. He said he tells them every instructor has his or her own flair and way of teaching and to never say, “Bill does it this way.”

Wilkes teaches several other classes. One is Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention. He said this method was found to be so successful in preventing falls that the New Zealand government gave the classes free to its older citizens.

There are two classes on Wednesday in Yang 24. He said it is the most internationally popular style.

For more information about the Tai Chi for Health Institute, visit taichiforhealthinstitute.org. For more information about classes at The Barnes Center, call 843-665-3253.

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