2018-01-25 / Life in Leelanau

BALANCING ACTS

Leelanau County tackles cabin fever with everything from yoga to tai chi
By Jennie Berkson
Of The Enterprise staff


TAI CHI students (from left) Walter Farrell, Linda Kalber and Ruth Bombaugh find balance at Northport Fitness. 
Photo:Thomas Kalber TAI CHI students (from left) Walter Farrell, Linda Kalber and Ruth Bombaugh find balance at Northport Fitness. Photo:Thomas Kalber It’s that time of year again when folks make resolutions, often having to do with fitness.

Balance, an important measure of fitness, can be a valuable skill to develop especially with our icy winter conditions here on the Leelanau Peninsula. Fortunately, options abound for classes aimed developing physical and mental balance.

Yoga4 in Lake Leelanau offers yoga varieties like lunar, yin and restorative and also something of owner Christen Landry’s own creation: FITonic. FITonic is a fusion of yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, ballet, weight training, breath and meditation, created to focus on the whole body: physical, mental & emotional. The class takes place on Monday at 5 p.m. and Friday at 8:45 a.m.

“We need balance,” Landry said. “Whether it be running, weight training, swimming, biking, skiing, yoga — too much of the same thing can tax our body and eventually create injury or chronic pain.”


JACKIE HICE’S students participate in one of her FESB — flexibility, endurance, strengthening and balance — classes. Hice teaches FESB classes in Glen Arbor and Empire. JACKIE HICE’S students participate in one of her FESB — flexibility, endurance, strengthening and balance — classes. Hice teaches FESB classes in Glen Arbor and Empire. Landry’s melding of different influences in the FITonic class and her grounding in the stability of the yoga tradition is very valuable for the class experience, says student Jeanine Ball.

“That integration ends up attracting muscles to the foreground that I wasn’t even aware I wasn’t using,” Ball said. “The body is waking up and is accessed in many visceral and dynamic ways.”

When it comes to balance, tai chi, a form of martial art, offers much to the practitioner.

Tom Kalber, who teaches several sessions of the art at Northport Fitness, says “tai chi is a detailed set of movements that involves the integration of the whole body and mind, and the focus of attention in each movement, eventually resulting in a graceful sequence of movements. Accept the fact that this will take time. Tai chi is an experience, a way of life.”

Since beginning study of the art in 1994, Kalber followed the inspiration of his teacher, Grandmaster Henry Look, to teach tai chi in Northport. Beginning and advanced classes are available Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

“Tai chi helps us develop proper breathing, improve our balance, develop energy or ‘chi,’ reduce tension and stress, improve mental clarity and help the circulation of the blood,” Kalber said. “This is … the primary focus of this class.”

Walter Farrell was excited to resume his long ago abandoned study of tai chi when he learned last fall that Kalber would be teaching a class.

“It’s a slightly different sequence of movements than the style of tai chi I’d originally learned,” he said, but that has not stood in his way of learning.

Farrell said tai chi has helped him “get better understanding of how your body moves ... how you are placing your feet and transferring your weight. We’re not doing normal walking but you have to be careful you’re not stepping too far — so you’re not off balance.”

Jackie Hice’s class in Glen Arbor and Empire has the word “balance” right in the title.

“The class name is FESB,” Hice said. “It stands for the four main components of fitness: flexibility, endurance, strengthening and balance. Have fun without realizing you’re exercising. We dance to oldies but goodies for the endurance component for social interaction, reliving memories while stimulating our brains.”

Hice leads the FESB class at the Glen Arbor Township Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays and in the Empire Township Hall on Fridays. Classes are from 10 to 11 a.m.

Mary Eliowitz has taken Hice’s class for five years.

“She makes the class so much fun that I look forward to going twice a week and wish I could go more often,” Eliowitz said.

The theme of mental and physical balance is clearly present.

“After warm-up stretches, she introduces line dances for us to learn, which takes a bit of brain power as well as stamina, coordination and balance,” Eliowitz said. “Then we bat balloons to each other with our off hand, which forces us to use that side of the brain more than we ordinarily would.”

Student Becky Willis says she gets “a great morning workout, but also a good healthy dose of laughter.” Maureen Ayotte says they “dance like no one is watching. Who knew we were supposed to be ‘working’ out?”

BJ Christensen, director of the Cedar Area Community Foundation, said the foundation supports several different fitness options at the Solon Township Hall. Mike and Mary Taylor teach tai chi Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. and Amy Hubbell (not the staff writer) teaches men’s yoga Fridays at 7:45 a.m.

Christensen said the men’s yoga class came into being last year at the request of Paul Christiansen, whose daughter is a yoga enthusiast and had encouraged her dad to get healthy.

“It started out as an introductory class, but was so popular. It’s been continued,” Christensen said. “About eight men attend on a regular basis.

“The teacher we have is perfect for the group. She really understands what the old guys need — work on balance, stretching and strength. We’ve all come to look forward to Friday mornings. The class sets the tone for the day and the weekend. We welcome more guys to try the class who might not think yoga is for them.”

Return to top