Discover Tai Chi for Weight Loss was my first-ever experience with Tai Chi, and I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. Instructor Scott Cole describes it as an "interval-type workout," which means that you alternate between slowly flowing through the movements to performing them at a more upbeat tempo. The workout begins inside a large, airy studio, and Scott starts with an 8-minute warm-up consisting of gentle arm and leg motions. One frequently-used transition move is called monkey-bear, which basically means swinging your arms in front of you as you lightly move from side to side. Following the warm-up, Scott moves into a 21-minute segment of what he says are traditional Tai Chi postures. Unlike in yoga, these postures are dynamic and consist of simple movements linked in a flow. Scott introduces each posture first at a slow pace, then speeding it up to tempo, a pace that is brisk but still easy to follow. The movements range from a basic "Brush Push"--pushing one arm forward while sliding the other backward--to slightly more strenuous Tai Chi kicks. During this section, I could definitely feel my heart rate increasing, although this was not a steady effect given the variable pace of the workout.
Once you have learned all of the postures, Scott moves to an outdoor setting, where he combines all of the movements together in a continuous flow. He repeats the entire series of movements twice: the first time, he cues the movements via voiceover instruction, but the second time, there is no cueing whatsoever. Because the postures were so simple and straightforward, I found that I was able to follow along even without the cues, although I did have to keep a close eye on the TV in order to keep up with the transitions from one movement to the next. Following the flow segment (about 13 minutes), Scott returns to the indoor studio for a 6-minute cool-down and stretch; he also includes some work on body acceptance in this segment. The total time for this workout was 48 minutes. Overall, I found this video to be an enjoyable introduction to Tai Chi that provided me with a good, light cardio workout. I think that this workout would be well-suited to beginning exercisers who are looking for a gentle, low-impact exercise program or more experienced exercisers who enjoy doing a lighter, relaxing workout now and then.
This was my first experience with Scott, who I found to be likeable and gentle. Overall, I enjoyed his instruction, although he sometimes failed to provide enough cueing details (eg, describing foot placement).
Beth C (aka toaster)
May 18, 2005