Mt. Lebanon T'ai Chi teacher touts martial art's ability to work out body, soothe mind
In the sun-flooded choir room at Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park, eight ladies moved their arms in sweeping, circular motions, pivoting their feet and waists, and lifting their legs like a silent, slow-motion dance or martial-arts fight.
At the head of the class, David Clippinger led them through the 15-minute warmup to that day's T'ai Chi class, a form of meditative exercise that he said is gaining traction in the region as a low-impact means of lowering blood pressure, working muscles and relaxing joints.
“When I first came to Pittsburgh, very few people were doing T'ai Chi,” said Clippinger, 45, who founded Still Mountain T'ai Chi 10 years ago in Mt. Lebanon. “There's been a wellness movement in the last 15 years, people are moving away from ... relying heavily on medications, to owning their health a little bit more.”
After the warmup, Clippinger talked the class — one of 11 regular classes he holds every week, along with about 15 physical therapy sessions and other private lessons — through different combinations of moves. He instructed the students on how they should use their muscles and shift their weight to turn the seemingly placid, fluid movements into exercise.
“It should look effortless, but there should be so much going on internally,” he told the class.
“You work every muscle in your body, but slowly,” said Helen Seese, 64, of Upper St. Clair.
Karen Hinerman, 69, of Bethel Park said participating in the classes at the church during the past five years has helped her fibromyalgia. She said the workouts are meditative, helping her relax.
“It works a lot more than you'd think it does,” she said. “If you try to start thinking about other things, you really can't.”
Clippinger formed Still Mountain as a response to friends asking him for lessons in T'ai Chi, which he'd practiced and learned over decades before his wife took a job at the University of Pittsburgh and moved the family to Mt. Lebanon. He said teaching one church friend and his wife turned to teaching their friends, then more friends of friends and co-workers until he had a thriving practice.
A client who runs employee wellness programs at UPMC enlisted Clippinger's help to run regular T'ai Chi sessions in the U.S. Steel Tower. He also teaches at corporate retreats and for employee wellness programs.
A firm believer in T'ai Chi's therapeutic properties, especially for people with arthritis, high blood pressure or recovering from chemotherapy for cancer, Clippinger has written articles and given lectures about its benefits.
On Saturday, first-timers or those looking to practice T'ai Chi outdoors are invited to Pittsburgh's “World T'ai Chi Day” event in Mt. Lebanon's Bird Park. It is aimed at bringing newcomers to the practice, Clippinger said.
“I don't have a lot of opportunities to reach out beyond classes, so this is a great opportunity for people to discover us,” he said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Teens elevate Western Pa. communities with Eagle Scout projects
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- eReader books also available to borrow at local libraries
- Museum’s ‘Carnegie Trees’ exhibit shows ‘Winter Wonders’
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- More fear ‘tackle’ football too risky for kids
- Libraries across Western Pennsylvania get dolled up for history
- YMCA program helps people with mobility issues regain movement