Participant Stories

Rochester Resident Takes Tai Ji Quan for Better Balance and Companionship


Kay Luinstra, a Juniper Tai Ji Quan participant, enjoys taking this class remotely so she can improve balance, posture and range of motion. Tai Ji Quan has improve Kay's ability to prevent falls.

Kay Luinstra

Inspired by her granddaughter, Carolyn, who was earning a black belt in Kung Foo, Kay Luinstra took a Tai Chi class in a gymnasium within a senior living community in Rochester, Minnesota. Then COVID-19 hit and for the safety of their residents, the community closed their gym to people who didn’t live in the building. Fortunately, Kay’s instructor in that facility knew about Juniper and directed her to the website to find a virtual class. It was there that she discovered Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance.

Determined to continue learning and practicing poses and movements, Kay was thrilled to find a Zoom class option that she describes as a “lifesaver.” “During COVID isolation, the class gave me something to look forward to every week. I took the beginner class a few times and moved up to the advanced class.” As a result, Kay stayed strong and continued to move toward better balance at a time when many Minnesotans were inactive during COVID.

“I've taken classes from several instructors, and they are all excellent,” says Kay. “I’ve met people from all over the state in Zoom classes, and I didn't have to drive and park somewhere to be able to take classes.” Kay also likes the fact that she can continue to attend class while wintering in Arizona. “I was able to participate remotely from there. What an advantage that was for me, along with my instructor who continued to teach my class for six weeks from Poland while visiting there. Can you believe that?!”

With Tai Ji Quan’s goal of improving balance by building strength, postural control and range of motion, the class teaches participants to control their center of gravity to prevent falls. When Kay tripped on a rock while visiting her son in Denver, her training kicked in. “When I started to fall, I intentionally fell over to my side, in a fluid, slow motion. As a result, I had some bruising, but didn’t break a bone.” And when Kay went to her chiropractor to get her body back in line, her chiropractor said, “You’re so lucky you didn’t break a bone, and I think it’s because of your Tai Ji Quan class!”

Kay is quick to point out that she wishes she would have remembered to look straight ahead instead of down at the ground when she tripped on the rock. “My Tai Ji Quan instructors taught me to look straight ahead because it helps you catch yourself,” she explains. “I was looking down so was unable to do that, but I was able to control my whole body during the fall.”

Recently, a case of plantar fasciitis has kept Kay from fully participating in her advanced Tai Ji Quan class, but she’s content to do the movements from a sitting position. “I’m still stimulating circulation and I’m breathing and meditating, which is good for the brain. And the release of endorphins improves my mood, so I can better deal with the discomfort of the plantar fasciitis.”

Given her positive experiences in four beginner and four advanced Tai Ji Quan classes, Kay decided to try another Juniper class. “I took Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and it was wonderful too, so I'm now taking that again,” she said confidently. “Juniper classes instruct me on a variety of things, and I can take them all from my home. They continue to provide companionship, as they did when I really needed it during COVID. It’s fun to meet new people and see the familiar faces of online friends who are taking multiple classes like I am. And I plan to continue!”


Learn more about how you can benefit from Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance and Stay Active for Independent for Life (SAIL).

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