Like most of us, Denver resident and Tai Chi instructor Karen Koutsky had to shift gears a bit in 2020, in order to continue following her passion.
Her free, daily Tai Chi Zoom class was launched March 18, 2020, when the country went into a pandemic lockdown. Karen had previously taught in-person classes at Denver Health and Fitness.
“It was a way to connect with former in-person class attendees in the Lake Norman area,” says Karen. “Denver Health and Fitness promoted the online option to their members, and everyone was invited to share the Zoom link with family and friends. It quickly grew by word of mouth!
Still going strong, Karen reached a milestone by completing her 1,000th Tai Chi Zoom class on Wednesday, January 18, 2023! Quite a feat – and she has no plans to slow down.
“Because of the community we’ve created, class will continue indefinitely,” Karen says. “While many have done hundreds and hundreds of classes, new people are welcome to join any time, because Tai Chi is slow, repetitive, and easy to follow!”
Beloved as a great boost for the immune system, Tai Chi also offers many other health benefits. As of this writing, more than 500 people have signed up for the seven-day a week, half-hour class, with an average of 50 people attending at 9:00 a.m. daily.
A Lake Norman resident for the past eight years, Karen spent three decades in the high-stress world of television news, and found Tai Chi the perfect outlet to nourish her mind, body, and soul.
“I discovered Tai Chi online, and instantly thought everyone can and should be doing this!” she says.
Besides her focus on Tai Chi and meditation, she winds down by enjoying watching nature around the lake. This laid-back lifestyle suits her, and she’s also learned to play the mountain dulcimer – joining a group called Denver Sweet Strings.
As for celebrating 1,000 classes, live every morning from her living room in Denver, Karen says she never saw that coming!
“I was surprised when we hit 100!”
Denver resident and Zoom attendee Kate Cameron has been a major “influencer” – spreading the word and recruiting new class members. While most are local, a few are from as far away as Oregon and Arizona.
“Every time the Tai Chi class meets it’s a celebration of community, connection, and healthy practices,” says Kate. “The class promotes strength, flexibility, balance, and general health. Karen is a delight as an instructor, bringing commitment to joy and a Tai Chi practice in each and every class!”
Paula Hartman, from The Villages of Denver, started Tai Chi pre-Covid with Karen at Denver Health and Fitness, and has been in class for most of the 1,000 meetings! And when Karen had surgery last fall, classes were able to continue, thanks to Paula jumping in and leading the group.
“Karen’s Tai Chi class began as something intriguing for me to discover a new kind of exercise,” Paula explains. “Not only is Tai Chi about the body’s energy, but over the past five years it has become a community of support and well-being. Karen has faithfully — and very positively – maintained a means for people to come together for healthcare, and to have fun!”
Truly blending health and community, Karen and her class end each session saying ‘Haola’ (‘How-la’) – meaning “All is Well!” What an inspired way to move on with your day!
For more information on the Tai Chi Zoom classes, reach Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.