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Mantecans find relaxation in Tai Chi
pic tai-1
Anne Robinson of T’ai Chi Ch’uan Academy, via the City of Manteca Parks and Recreation Department, has been instructing the twice-a-week class at the Manteca Senior Center for the past six years. On Wednesday, she leads the group through the slow graceful yet rhythmic exercise. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Anne Robinson could be deemed nothing short of a medical miracle.

Once a competitive softball and racquetball player, she was lucky to be alive after surviving a physical beating back in 1988.

Robinson’s doctors said she no longer would be able to compete in softball – they were right – and predicted she would be in wheelchair in 10 years.

She proved the latter wrong.

Robinson was in physical therapy for three years and relied on prescription drugs such as Vicodin and muscle relaxers to ease her chronic pain.

In April 1996, she discovered T’ai Chi Ch’uan or Tai Chi.

“This was the only form of exercise I could do,” Robinson said prior to her Wednesday evening class held in the Manteca Senior Center.

Tai Chi is slow movement exercises. The class usually meets twice a week and is offered locally through the City of Manteca Parks and Recreation Department. Information is available at

Robinson, 55, was introduced to Tai Chi from instructor Mary Layton of the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Academy of Modesto.

Originally designed for self defense, Tai Chi has been refined into slow graceful and rhythmic exercises, promoting strengthening and good health for people of all ages. The movement is called “slow set.”

Robinson has been a Tai Chi teacher for the past 10 years, instructing the local classes for the last six years.

Fro Georges, a physical therapist at Garden City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Modesto, has been in the class for about six months.

She took Tai Chi upon the urging of her daughter, Jaime, with Fro incorporating many of the techniques to help her patients.

Along the way, she noticed changes in herself, including improved balance and stamina while crediting Tai Chi.

Fro Georges has also seen positive changes in her daughter.

“(Jaime) has a greater focus and is much better with her time-management skills,” she said.

Mario Rodriguez has spent the past eight months in Robinson’s class.

A Manteca Bulletin graphic designer, he became aware of Tai Chi through his brother.

“He has a short fuse like me. But I saw changes in his temper and personality when he took Tai Chi five years ago,” Rodriguez said.

 In the past year, he’s had to adapt to a major change in his lifestyle, with Rodriguez and his wife, Priscilla, welcoming their daughter, Maia.

During that time, he also began experiencing aches and pains including possibly the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome.

“I’m no longer feeling pain in my wrist since taking Tai Chi,” Rodriguez said.

In Tai Chi, the mind and body must be relaxed, with limbs and the waist remaining flexible. This relaxing movement is intended to improve the nervous system and blood circulation while relieving stress. Claims of habitual practice is said to make the body agile and graceful and the mind alert and serene.

Today, Robinson is living a healthy lifestyle free of prescription drugs.

 A recent bone scan amazed her doctors.

“They asked if I was for real,” she said.

Robinson is more than happy to share Tai Chi to her students.

“I see them come to my class all stressed out,” she said. “But at the end, they’re all smiling.”