Grantee Blog

Active Seniors of Jersey City

Two years ago, the participants of the City’s two senior centers may have never expected to be taking a fitness, self-defense or injury prevention class. If you asked them, they would have replied “Are you crazy?” However, this past year, the City presented them with a Tai Chi class taught by the very qualified Bishop Lawrence Rivers.
Both senior centers, Maureen Collier Center and the Joseph Connors Senior Center, have had Tai Chi classes in the past, however they never saw the correlation to being a fitness/self defense/injury prevention course until Bishop Rivers explained it to them. There are many benefits of this ancient Chinese form of exercise. He explains and demonstrates how each move he teaches will benefit them. Some of the benefits of taking a Tai Chi class are fall prevention, balance boosting, stress and pain reduction, as well as a way to increase strength and bone density. Taking part in Tai Chi, or any fitness class for that matter, also eases depression, something that affects many seniors daily. Mary, one of the seniors who participates in the program, said “since I have taken these classes I feel more confident when I am walking. I still take it slow, but am not so scared of falling down anymore.”
Bishop Rivers teaches the “Taiji Qigong” method of Tai Chi. Qi is the Chinese word for “energy,” and gong means “exercise. So, Qigong literally means to exercise/nurture one’s own energy. It is about integrating mind, body and soul, a practice in which he instills in his lessons. The lessons consist of basic, low-impact elements often performed to classic and soothing music. Seniors learn choreographed movements and footwork, repetitive breathing and body movement, and slow rhythmic hand movements. All movements, whether slow or fast, are based on martial arts moves. Think this sounds too intense for seniors? Think again. The seniors all agree that Bishop Rivers teaches at a moderate enough pace for them to keep up. There are also standing and sitting meditation and movements as well. As with any fitness class, repetition is the key. The idea is to keep your body moving!

About the Grantee

Jersey City Department of Health

The Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services is a public agency that strives to build a culture of health. Through the department’s divisions, this multi-purpose public health agency provides services needed to promote overall health in the community. The Division of Seniors Affairs promotes active living through social and physical activities such as exercise, Zumba, Yoga, Tai Chi etc.