I know this sounds a bit odd, and would probably be considered an insult to most Tai Chi practitioners but…. I’m really enjoying learning Tai Chi using Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 on the Xbox Kinect.
The game is a full workout session, and has some great routines in there with backing from Mens Health and Nivea, the workouts have been well thought through and it’ll create a fitness routine for you based on what results you want. When you first setup an account it asks things like:
“are you looking to build muscle, loose weight or reduce stress”
It then suggests a choice of routines and you can choose which one you want to work through first. For the guys they have special routines designed by Mens Health and recommend you do the routines holding 5lb dumbbells, this really makes it a tough work out.
Whilst fitness is the main premise of the game, there’s also a ‘Zen’ section and I’ve got to admit, I’m impressed. I started learning basic Tai Chi from a beginners dvd, which took you through some basic movements, tought you about Dan Tien and some of the starting poses. I then tried learning from a book, which was great at providing the history and explanations of the things that make up Tai Chi, but the movements where very difficult to follow, and as always, it’s hard to know if you’re getting it right. Then came Kinect…
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Microsoft’s Kinect, it’s basically a camera that you plug into you Xbox similar to a webcam (but much more high tech). Kinect then allows you to play games and interact with the Xbox without having to use a controller, you stand infront of the camera and talk to it and it reacts. When you’re playing Fitness-Evolved it actually projects you into the game! You see yourself stood next to a virtual instructor. What’s more amazing is that as you follow the instructor through the movements Kinect tracks you’re movements and offers advice. If you complete the movement successfully it highlight a green ‘skeleton’ of sorts on your virtual self. However if you’ve not quite got the movement correct, it highlights where you’re going wrong, even sometimes offering advice such as:
“try lifting you left arm higher, yeah that’s it much better”
I’m also impressed at how much time they’ve spent creating these ‘Zen’ routines. There’s 4 different classes that last 15mins each. The classes get more increasingly challenging as you progress. As each new class introduces new movements, it helps teach you these by breaking the class down into 3 sections lasting around 5minutes each. Once you practiced the section a few times, you can learn the next one and once you’ve got them all learnt you can take the full class.
It’s very easy to pick up (at least to begin with) and is very encouraging. I guess the best option is to go to a local Tai Chi class, that way you’ll receive professional training and also enjoy the community of other members. However if lessons are impractical for you, and you’re looking for a place to start, I’d recommend giving the Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 game a try, and you can find it here on Amazon!
Not sure this is serious enough? Then check out The best way to learn Tai Chi at home