On Monday and Thursday mornings there is an ambient soundscape that floats through First United Methodist Church, emanating from a carpeted gymnasium in the family and children's area.
The sound leads to a group of adults practicing Tai Chi for balance, lead by instructor Laurie Ault.
The Tai Chi class is part of the Oklahoma State Health Department’s Injury Prevention Services, a statewide initiative to promote moving for balance, which is geared toward senior adults and people who have limited mobility.
“Millions of dollars are spent on people who fall and get hurt,” Ault said. The form of Tai Chi that the group practices is a limited version, devoid of cultural and religious doctrines that are typically tied to the practice.
“It’s not the full 28 form Tai Chi,” Ault said. “This is a refined Tai Chi for balance that has been modified to help people regain or maintain their mobility.”
Ault began instructing the class at FUMC after took a similar class at the health department with Rennetta Harrison and then decided to get certified herself.
“I think it has helped me, personally,” Ault said, indicating her own balance issues caused by ear problems. And she hopes to use it to help others in the community stay mobile.
“We meet here and go through the eight forms eight times as practice,” Ault said.
“We do what we call an accountability class,” she said. “Anybody can do the forms at home, but nine times out of ten we don’t slow down long enough to do it on a regular basis. So if you go someplace and know you have a group of friends that are going to do it there with you, everybody holds each other accountable.”
The class is hosted at the church because Ault works for the church and knew of a space that was open and free to use.
“If you take the true Tai Chi there is some doctrine behind that,” she said.
“This is Tai Chi in name only. We do not teach any doctrine. It’s strictly for movement and muscle memory to brain retention.”
Those interested can join the FUMC accountability class every Monday and Thursday at 9 a.m. or they can contact Rennetta Harrison at the Rogers County Health Department to find information on other Tai Chi classes at different dates and times.