Tai Chi instructor Bill Hansell describes his summer classes as Quarterpath Recreation Center as “fun and healthy.” He could could also throw in the word, “free.”
Tai Chi regulars and newcomers are invited to Hansells annual classes, which will be held at 7:30 a.m. in the center’s parking lot for the next three Thursdays. Hansell expects at least a couple of dozen to take part. But the more, the better. There have been some years more than 60 people have shown up.
“The thing about the 7:30 class, which is important for beginners is that if someone is losing their ability to focus or concentrate, or are having problems with balance, this class will be very beneficial for them,” he said. “If for no other reason, it helps with your balance and your ability to focus and concentrate. And it’s free.”
Hansell has been practicing Tai Chi for 44 years, and has been teaching it here for 18, after retiring from the U.S. Army. He is in demand throughout the area, teaching classes as far away as Hampton and Poquoson, instructing students at Christopher Newport University and NASA Langley Air Force Base.
Some local students have been taking the summer classes since they started in the Quarterpath parking lot more than 10 years ago.
“The Army didn’t give me a lot of skills to use in the civilian world,” Hansell said with a laugh, “But they did send me to Asia, and that is where I learned Tai Chi.”
Williamsburg Parks and Recreation director Lori Rierson said Hansell is a experienced and enjoyable teacher. “He is a very personable individual and exhibits enthusiasm and patience with his students,” Rierson said.
He begins classes with breathing exercises and follows with balance and Qigong (energy work). “I can lower my blood pressure by using a certain breathing technique,” Hansell said. “We do our breathing to settle ourselves down, it is easier to focus when your blood pressure isn’t elevated.”
The outdoor environment contributes to the feelings of well being. “It is a lovely experience out there, we still have shade and it is relatively cool. We had a hawk one year that would sit in the tree and watch us.”
The later class is more complicated and uses a fan as part of the discipline. Hansell teaches that class beginning in September on Wednesdays at Quarterpath, citing its popularity with students of all ages.
He explained that the fan is a type of a weapon that helps move chi energy through the body.
“It looks elegant and beautiful,” he said and with a laugh added, “But because of that it is hard to sign men up for it.”
More—For information about the classes, call Quarterpath Recreation Center at 259-3760.