Min Del Garbino models a slow rhythmic movement for her students as balance is found through body awareness.
“Tai Chi is a very slow motion exercise originated in China as early as the 13th Century,” said Del Garbino, group exercise instructor at the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation. “It improves health and wellness and is practiced throughout the world.”
Del Garbino said Tai Chi assists people with achieving balance.
“It helps increase awareness of where the body is in space,” said Del Garbino. “It is a matter of eye hand coordination, as well as, foot placement.”
“Tai Chi helps improve muscular strength, flexibility and fitness,” according to Del Garbino.
Del Garbino is certified to teach Tai Chi for arthritis through Dr. Paul Lam of Australia which is approved by the Arthritis Foundation of the USA and she earned a group exercise and yoga certification with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.
Del Garbino said she first witnessed the movements of Tai Chi when she lived with her husband in Taiwan in the early 1970s. She said she watched her neighbors practice Tai Chi in the streets and she was drawn to the exercise.
“I teach the Sun style,” said Del Garbino. “It is an upright style that is joint friendly.”
Playing meditative music to maintain a “metered slow pace,” Del Garbino reminds students to “pay attention to posture.”
“Ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over heels and knees slightly bent,” explains Del Garbino.
Del Garbino said Tai Chi was “originally an external martial art and now is an internal martial art.”
“Movement is governed by the waist with feet anchored into the earth,” said Del Garbino. “The energy then flowers in the hands.”
“The hands are the last thing to move,” said Del Garbino who has been practicing the 73 Step Sun Style with her students.
At the end of the class students “should feel good because they have energized their Chi,” said Del Garbino.
The Tai Chi class is “fun, helps endurance, flexibility, reduces stress and enhances social connections,” said Del Garbino.
Del Garbino said she has always been involved in athletics. She said she gained an appreciation for sports from her father.
She and her husband, Al, enjoy walking their yellow lab near their home in Shiloh and they participated in the Cooper River Bridge 10K in Charleston S.C. with their daughter and grandson. Del Garbino said her son also owns a personal training business in Oregon called Muscles in Motion.
The couple moved to the area in 1984 when Al was stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Elizabeth City.
Del Garbino became certified in group exercise 18 years ago and began teaching a group at Shiloh Baptist Church and she later worked with the Wellness Department at Albemarle Hospital teaching aerobics, step, Tai Chi and Yoga.
Del Garbino currently teaches Tai Chi at the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation and the Currituck County Senior Center. She also teaches Aerobics and Strength Training classes at the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation.
“Exercising makes you feel so good,” said Del Garbino.
Anna Goodwin McCarthy is a correspondent for The Daily Advance.