Tai chi teachers find balance in ancient art

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Spero and Barrie Asimos are bonded by more than their marriage. The Asimoses are certified tai chi instructors, teaching the joys and rewards of this ancient art to hundreds of interested students. According to the description in their brochure, tai chi is gentle, choreographed movement practiced for the health of the body, mind and spirit. Often tai chi is referred to as moving meditation. Tai chi’s movements are based in the martial arts, though the benefits of tai chi include relief from arthritis and increased flexibility. Tai chi also helps reduce stress and promote relaxation, improves concentration, physical focus, balance and helps prevent illness. “I’ve had people tell me that tai chi has even helped them with their golf and tennis games,” Asimos said. The ancient practice of tai chi became popular in America in the mid-’70s. “Television ads, newspaper articles, magazine ads seem to be promoting the benefits of tai chi,” said Spero Asimos. “Every two to three weeks a student will bring in an article about the benefits of tai chi they found in the media.” Spero Asimos’ journey to tai chi instructor started in 1975 while living in San Francisco, when a friend mentioned that the YMCA was offering a new class called tai chi. “We went down to the class and it just got me,” he said. Asimos’ background was in the restaurant business, owning and managing establishments in Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Maui and Mill Valley. Always practicing tai chi wherever he lived, Asimos enjoyed the benefits of the artistic skill. Relocating to Auburn in 1990 to help his brother George at Pappy’s Restaurant, Asimos later took a job at the Mad Wills Food Company in Auburn as a formulator making large batches of custom-bottled sauces. Asimos eventually became a senior account executive, and in 2002 when an unsolicited retirement offer came along Asimos took the early out and went into tai chi instruction full time. Barrie Asimos came to tai chi instruction via yoga. Many students of the Asimoses take up tai chi after finding some of the yoga positions too strenuous to hold. “Our students range in age from mid-20s to the 90s, but many of our students are seniors,” said Barrie Asimos. “It’s the next step after yoga and really helps the seniors with their balance.” The Asimoses work as a team leading their tai chi classes, each teaching at a different location and then rotating between the four-week sessions they offer so students benefit from the personal differences in their styles of teaching. They offer classes through the Auburn Recreation District at Regional Park, in Colfax two nights a week, at several locations in Lincoln, Sun City Lincoln Hills, and through the Auburn Yoga and Fitness Center. “Because of the age differences we teach the younger students to do more aggressive forms of the movements and the older students do a milder form of the same movements,” Barrie Asimos said. “They still are getting the value of the exercise.” The Asimoses agree, “Movement is most important. Keep moving.” Those interested in tai chi can reach the Asimoses through Movements of Energy at (530) 888-6351.