What Is Tai Chi

Taijiquan (or tai chi) can be many things to many people. For some it is an exercise, for some it is a meditation and others it is a form of self defense. However when you continue to practice and reach a higher level of training, the above reasons lose their importance. At this time, you need to find the real meaning of your practice or you may become satisfied with your training and lose your enthusiasm for the art. You must start to wonder what is the meaning of this meditative martial art? Daoist practitioners use tai chi in their strive to become immortal where many non-religious practitioners used tai chi to gain a peaceful mind and reinvigorate their lives.

What you need to understand is that Taijiquan emphasizes meditation both in your stillness and your movement. Practitioners like a Buddhist priest trains himself in this meditation to be calm and concentrated. In your training, it is possible for you to achieve a sense of peace and centeredness that will allow you to judge things and events in a neutral way without any emotional disturbance. When you can truly calm and clear your mind, the spiritual side will start to open up. You’ll start to see things more deeply. As a practitioner’s skill increases, they may be able to sense a person’s intentions before they are expressed and you become more capable at looking deeply into people and events in a non-martial way, as well. In the past, many martial art masters were considered wise man and were consulted for their insight into the meaning of human life this world and the universe. Because of their training they learn to live in the world without confusion or doubt and find peace and happiness and all of this comes through meditation and continuous pondering.

In your practice and meditation, you need to concentrate your whole attention in order to develop the higher levels of the art. This concentration and dedication will carry over to the rest of your life and the strive for perfection becomes the real meaning of Taijiquan.

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Have you met our Massage Therapist?

Margaret Hansen, MMT

State Licensed Massage Therapist

 Meg joined Quest Fitness in October 2017. As a graduate of Blue Heron Academy of Grand Rapids, MI, Meg studied Medical Massage and Manual Therapy (class of 2008). She performs deep tissue massage with a gentle hand–finding the comfortable pressure for each client to promote deep, relaxed breathing while increasing circulation and promoting proper musculoskeletal alignment. Her specialties include work with the hips and neck, and Maternity Massage.

To make an appointment give her a call: (616) 263-6090

Body Building and Performance Training

Some may not see it, but there is a big difference between body building and performance training. One difference is that body building is primarily done for aesthetic purposes, whereas performance training is done to improve certain physical skills. Another difference is that the muscles that are focused on. The body builder, in most cases, wants to build that muscle mass focusing heavily on the slow twitch muscles that help with raw strength and appearance. In the realm of performance training, you want to focus on the fast twitch muscles and the tendons. Performance training sometimes requires quick direction changes and explosive movements. For the aesthetic purpose, the body builder will also focus on keeping the body fat low to look more defined, whereas body fat only becomes an issue in performance training if weight class or poor performance become an issue. Now, I’m not saying that you won’t be aesthetically attractive doing performance training, but it is more of a side effect or after thought not a focus. Also, you do work strength into performance training, but it is more for the purpose of performing a certain physical activity. In the end they both have benefits, and it really comes down to what do you want in the end.

Fitness and the Holidays 

We all know with the holidays, time runs short really easily. So, let’s look at how to keep health and fitness in your crazy holiday schedule.

First, and best advice, is to focus on quality over quantity. You don’t have to spend an hour on your workout when you could bust out a hard core workout in just 30 minutes. Try knocking out 2 or more muscle groups back to back while reducing rest time. For your cardio, try doing intervals or tabata training. This will keep the challenge high and reduce the time required for the workout.

Another idea is workout at home and focus on the basics! Push-ups, pull ups and squats. You do not need a gym for a great workout if you focus on these basics.

The healthy eating is the biggest holiday challenge. Junk food is everywhere!! But don’t get down on yourself if you have a few slip ups. We are all human. Just focus on portion control, then the little indulgences won’t add up as much.

See my fitness journey.

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5 Tips To Keep Your Fitness Goals.

Every year I meet people that make very unrealistic health and fitness goals for their New Year’s resolution, and, within a month, they give up. That doesn’t have to be you. Get Inspired.Set attainable goals. The most common mistake people make is to set one large goal. It is important to set small goals for short term and long term. Instead of saying “I want to lose 50 lbs. by summer” (which is unhealthy), try the small goal of losing 1-2 lbs. a week. It doesn’t sounds like much but a small step forward is still a step forward. I use the SMART goal system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Get a trainer. Even if it’s once a week or once a month, a trainer will help you assess your current fitness level, set goals you can attain, and help you choose workouts to get you to your goals. They can make sure you are doing your exercises correctly to avoid injury and can help you stay motivated. Don’t forget, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Ronda Rousey had help.

Eat for success. You can’t get lean and fit with a poor diet. Start by eliminating empty calories such as soda pop, juices, candy, and other junk foods. You can still have an occasional treat but everything should be in moderation. Then calculate your needed calories and eat by the numbers, keeping a balance between fruits and veggies, and lean proteins and healthy fats.

Create a support system. Health and fitness goals are hard to meet on your own. Friends, family, and co-workers might not understand your goals and inadvertently try to sabotage your effort. You worked out yesterday, you can skip it today or one cookie won’t hurt you. Surround yourself with as many like minded people as you can, from work-out buddies to health conscious eaters.

Don’t focus on the scale. At first you may drop weight fast, then plateau on weight loss. This is common and very frustrating. Instead focus on how you feel, how much energy you have, how well you sleep, and how your clothes fit. Keep in mind that set backs can happen and they are nothing to worry about. It is also possible that you are putting on lean muscle.

Treat your fitness goals as a life style change and stick to your convictions. It takes time to turn a new routine into a habit. Remember, everybody is different and reaching your goals may mean different approaches than someone else. Your fitness journey will be unique but follow these five simple tips for continued success.

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Know Your Metabolic Energy Systems

The human body has 3 metabolic energy systems:

  1. ATP,
  2. Glycolytic
  3. Aerobic

All physical activity requires energy and that energy comes from burning phosphates, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and converting it to ADP (adenosine diphosphate).

It is during short term intense activities that this conversion happens. Once the ATP has converted to ADP the body draws Creatine phosphate from the deep skeletal muscles to replace the used phosphate. No carbohydrates or fats are used in this process and since oxygen is not used in this it is anaerobic. This energy source usually only lasts up to 10-seconds, also there is a limited amount of ATP and Creatine phosphate so fatigue sets in quick.

Now for the Glycolytic energy system. This system produces energy for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This system refuels your ATP by converting sugars in the system (gained from carbohydrates) to energy. Not a lot of energy is given off with this conversion but you do get the energy faster.

The Aerobic system tends to be the most complex, and is dependent on oxygen. The metabolic reaction to oxygen in the system is what creates the largest supply of energy in the body. On the flip side to this is the slowest method of refueling your ATP. It is the aerobic system that will also break down the fats as fuel. This is a long and complex system and will be fully covered in later posts.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.