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Burke Rehabilitation Hospital to Offer Free Tai Chi Classes for Community Members Who Use Wheelchairs

Released October 4, 2012

WHITE PLAINS, NY – October 4, 2012 – The Fitness Center at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital will host a series of free Tai Chi classes for members of the general public that require a wheelchair. An informational workshop will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Oct. 25. The five-week series of classes will follow on Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29 and Dec. 6. All classes will be held at 3 p.m. The classes are open to any community member who is wheelchair dependent. This free series is aimed at offering the community an opportunity to try Tai Chi for free.  Tai Chi is sometimes described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements — connecting mind and body. Originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, Tai Chi has evolved into a form of exercise that's now used for stress reduction and to help with a variety of health conditions.  The series is unique because Tai Chi is usually reserved for those who can stand. The only physical requirement for this program is the participant must be able to participate without the support of a caregiver.

According to Heather Massimo, Director of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital’s Community Wellness Programs, “This is the perfect opportunity for those who have not been able to try Tai Chi because of a physical disability to experience its benefits without any commitment or cost. 

“This is a free program that can open up a new world of fitness to those who never thought it would be possible,” she added.

The classes are taught by Sifu Gene Nelson, certified Tai Chi Instructor by the American Tai Chi & Qigong Association, and owner of Empire Tai Chi. According to Nelson, “Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that can improve the physical and mental health of those in wheelchairs. It’s slow, graceful movements can increase energy, endurance and flexibly and may help reduce chronic pain and lower blood pressure.”

All classes are held at the Fitness Center at Burke on the main campus of the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in the Billings Building. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required by phone or e-mail. For additional information, please call contact Empire Tai Chi at (914) 803-2632 or via email at For more information about other programs at the Fitness Center at Burke, including discounts for new members, please call (914) 597-2578 or visit

Burke Rehabilitation Hospital is a private, not-for-profit, acute rehabilitation hospital. Founded in 1915, it is the only hospital in Westchester County dedicated solely to rehabilitation medicine. Burke offers both inpatient and outpatient programs for those who have experienced a disabling illness, traumatic injury or joint replacement surgery. Burke is both an acute rehabilitation hospital and medical research center.  Burke’s world renowned doctors and therapists provide state-of-the-art ­treatment, while research scientists explore the frontiers of neurological and pulmonary medicine. All share the Burke mission to ensure that every patient makes the fullest possible recovery from illness or injury regardless of their ability to pay. 

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