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Photo: Jonathan Wiggs /Globe Staff
Lauren Mayhew was my Essentrics teacher for a year. Here she is leading a class at the Steinberg Wellness Center for Mind and Body. Despite the photo, Essentrics doesn’t have students hold positions.

I was never one for doing exercise for exercise’s sake, but a couple decades ago, my doctor friend Anna insisted I take up something. I’m so glad she did.

I knew that in order to do any exercise regularly, it would have to be something I really enjoyed, so I started walking every day. I don’t walk fast, but I keep the joints moving, and I learned that any sort of walking fulfills that Holy Grail called “weight-bearing activity.” I also love the time to think, and I like taking pictures on my walk.

In addition to walking, I take two exercise classes. I’ve been taking tai chi chuan at Zhen Ren Chuan for more than six years. I like taking tai chi chuan at a martial arts studio because the moves are more clear and understandable than at another place I tried. They are clear because the martial arts people like to tell you the self-defense origins of the moves.

Tai chi chuan is great for balance and moving your body in a seamless way so you don’t stress the joints as you might do when holding a yoga position.

Moving in a seamless way is also the goal of a class I’ve been taking for two years called Essentrics. Essentrics was developed by a former ballerina and aims to strengthen and stretch all the muscles in every session, with beneficial attention to often neglected hands and feet.

Although the tai chi class includes many young people who are also studying martial arts, my midday Essentrics class has mostly retired people, many of whom have had injuries of one kind or another.

What do you do for exercise? Do you take any classes? As a child I took a lot of ballet classes, and ever since then, I’ve had the idea that you make friends in classes. Do you find it works that way with grown-ups? Since starting exercise lessons again as an adult, I find that most grownups keep their heads down and avoid eye contact. I can’t figure out why that is.

Here’s a Boston Globe article that explains how Essentrics helps improve posture. Lauren Mayhew, one of my teachers, is featured in the story.

Photo: Zhen Ren Chuan
The Zhen Ren Chuan website highlights its community garden: “Our families learn horticulture as well as Martial Arts.” Students and teachers keep the school’s corner of the business district neat as a pin.

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