Tai Chi for Fall Prevention and Arthritis

Improve your balance, and confidence!

Tai Chi proves to be an effective program for individuals with arthritis, encompassing exercises that enhance balance, muscular strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated its efficacy in fall prevention. Rooted in Sun style Tai Chi, the program accommodates both standing and seated practice. Tai Chi for Arthritis has consistently exhibited benefits, including pain reduction, enhanced brain health, and a decrease in fall incidents.

We are offering the 10-week program, two times per week. Space is limited.
To learn more and to register in a class see the post in news.

For more information:

Diana Lara-Rodgers, (415) 550-2209, dlararodgers@onlok.org

Taichi class in the garden at On Lok 30th Street Senior Center
Diana Lara tai-chi instructor and class participant practicing tai-chi program

The curriculum of the classes is based on Sun Tai-chi Style which is a gentle type of tai-chi. The movements were modified by Dr. Paul Lam the director of Tai-chi for Health Institute to tailor them for people with arthritis. Studies have found that the program decreases pain and improves physical function in people with osteoarthritis of hips or knees by increasing muscular strength and flexibility.


Diana Lara

Diana is a dancer, performer, and educator. She studied contemporary dance in Mexico for 15 years, and graduated from the choreography program of the Center for Research and Choreography at the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts in 2003. Diana has taught dance and somatic classes for 20 years in English and Spanish with different populations including older adults, professional dancers, and women recovering from domestic violence and trauma.

Degrees: M.S. in Kinesiology from San Francisco State University, MS in population and health from Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana. Certifications: 200-hour yoga certification, Body-Mind Centering® certification on Developmental movement and yoga, certification on tai-chi for arthritis and fall prevention from the Tai-chi for Health Institute, group exercise leader by the Functional Aging institute, CPR/AED. Visit: www.dianalara-somatics.com

Miguel Martinez

Miguel is a bilingual certified Health Specialist at On Lok 30th Street Senior Center. He instructs evidence-based programs like Diabetes Empowerment Education, Healthier Living, and Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention. His work with seniors at On Lok made him more aware of the mutiple benefits of physicial activity and inspired him to integrate exercise into his life and career, alongside his regular yoga and meditation practice. Miguel, originally from Mexico, is passionate about education, holding expertise in Psychology and Humanities. He has been an educator for over 20 years, teaching English as a second language, mental health, ethics, civics, medical humanities, and health promotion.

Richard Fong

Richard has been teaching Tai Chi in San Francisco for over 7 years, initially as a teaching assistant for Sifu Bryant Fong at City College of San Francisco. In 2016, he began teaching Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health Program through Self Help for the Elderly and has since taught classes for the YMCA, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, The Curry Center, and now On Lok. His primary focus is on Qigong, a mindful movement and meditation training integral to Tai Chi. Through his experience working with seniors and physically challenged adults, he has observed that Qigong and Tai Chi offer a rich array of exercises and movements that can be readily adapted to various fitness levels and exercise backgrounds.

Joan Comendant

Joan resides in St. Helena with her husband and brings extensive expertise to her role as a senior fitness instructor, particularly in Tai Chi. With 21 years of experience, she has served as a personal trainer and Tai Chi instructor throughout Napa County, working with diverse groups at junior colleges, retirement homes, and senior centers. After discovering the benefits of Tai Chi for Arthritis, she was inspired to teach it due to its remarkable impact on many individuals. In addition to her professional pursuits, Joan finds joy in hiking, cycling, and exploring new destinations through travel.

Jeanne Marie Hughes

Jeanne is passionate about the healing and expressive nature of the human body in motion, and the wonderful sense of community that develops in movement classes and production projects. She enjoys working with people of all ages and abilities and is currently teaching classes that cultivate skill and wellness across the lifespan, with an emphasis on healthy aging.
A faculty member at City College of San Francisco in the Physical Education & Dance and Older Adults departments, and in Kinesiology at San Francisco State University, Jeanne has enjoyed over 47 years of teaching students of all ages and fitness levels. Previous projects include founding and directing both the Certificate of Accomplishment in Yoga Instruction at City College of San Francisco and Six Thumbs Dance Theater, a San Francisco-based company that promoted the creation of live performances.

Degrees: Ph.D. in Education, Capella University; BA and MFA in Dance, Mills College.

Visit: https://www.jmhughesphd.com/

Rowena Richie

I first taught qigong to older and younger people during the pandemic. That
experience taught me that even during a lockdown we can unblock energy—chi—
and find balance through mindfulness. How do we move through the unstable
world with awareness? Of ourselves, each other, the environment? Teaching you
tai chi will help teach me!

CERTIFICATIONS:, MFA, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health,
certified Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Instructor by the Tai Chi for
Health Institute, and certified Functional Aging Group Exercise Specialist
by the International Sports Sciences Association

Not only do we offer in person class but virtually too

Participants of online tai-chi class August-October 2021


In person classes

“I want to thank the instructors for their outstanding Tai Chi instruction   I learned so much and feel motivated to continue practicing Dr. Lam’s arthritis forms. I suffer from chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The severity of my pain has been dramatically reduced since I began your class.  I am now able to perform moderate  dog-walking, gardening, and vacuuming without being debilitated for several days after. I appreciate your constant encouragement and providing the materials in advance of the classes.”  (Florence, June 2021)

I love practicing at Mr. Fong’s tai chi class. The program provides structure and I feel more limber and less stiff.”(May 2022)

“This is to express my sincere appreciation for Diana Lara and the Tai Chi for Arthritis Seq 2 class.  I discovered the class on Nextdoor and am certainly glad that I did.Beginning the tai chi class was the best thing I have done for my physical and mental well being.  I feel good about exercising for the first time in my life.  Diana is very patient and a wonderful teacher. I plan to continue classes as long as I am able.” (Annie H, March 2023)

Tai Chi at the 30th St. Center has been super helpful on multiple levels. Fall prevention, increasing my strength, being outdoors in the garden have all increased my general satisfaction with life. Connecting with others in the class and suggesting to two of my friends that they also attend has doubled my social interactions per week. I have also increased my walking and swimming exercise because I walk to the tai chi classes and swim on the alternate weekdays. It’s good for my brain too, trying to remember the moves. Jeanne has been an excellent instructor. And Diana before her. I just wish there was a Level 2 class beyond the beginner level for those of us who are ready to continue. Thanks for offering these Tai chi classes!” (Lynn, April 2024)

Online classes with Joan Comendant

This was my first exposure to learning some tai-chi and feel very accomplished to be able to perform the movements and remember the sequence.  I look forward to expanding my tai-chi practice, and hope OnLok will continue to offer tai-chi instruction on-line.  The instructor was easy to understand and follow, and her set-up (room, camera, lighting, and sound) was pleasant and uncluttered.  She encouraged questions and created a very safe environment for participants.  (March 2023)

This program has been very beneficial in being more aware of my footing and balance as well as helps with the arthritis in my neck and hips.  My visits to the chiropractor has been greatly reduced due to this program.  I really enjoy the qigong that Joan has introduced in this last session.  I use all the movements when I get anxious or if I am aching because of the weather.  Thank you! (June 202)

Tai Chi for Arthritis is an evidence-based program created by Dr. Lam and it is supported by the Centers for Disease Control, and Arthritis Foundations. To learn more, visit: https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org/a-recent-significant-tai-chi-for-arthritis-study/