You may never have heard of Tai Chi Spinners or you may have seen them in your local park but you should be aware that they make for an excellent form of gentle exercise that is accessible to nearly everyone.
What are Tai Chi Spinners? Tai Chi spinners are disc-based exercise machines that are modelled on movements of Tai Chi. They help build dexterity and work out your shoulder muscles and arm muscles.
Let’s see what the hype around tai chi spinners is all about!
What Are Tai Chi Spinners?
Tai Chi Spinners are a set of rotary wheels that you can adjust the resistance on, which can be turned in either direction by the user. They seem to be a relatively recent invention with no clear pedigree in China (which is where Tai Chi comes from), though they can be seen in exercise parks across Asia and the West.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a single genuine tie between Tai Chi Spinners and the martial art of Tai Chi. We have to assume that their inventor, who seems to be keen to remain anonymous, was inspired by the motions that they witnessed in Tai Chi and wondered if they could duplicate some of these motions in an exercise machine.
It is fair to say that the use of Tai Chi spinners is not particularly challenging and thus, they are aimed at a wide range of users. Small children may struggle to reach the wheels, though if you stood them on something, they’d have no problem turning the wheels, but they are reasonably accessible to most adults that are capable of standing unassisted.
One area in which the use of Tai Chi Spinners does seem to vary from actual Tai Chi is the speed with which these rotary wheels are manipulated. Users seem to aim for much faster motion than the typical Tai Chi practitioner. Tai Chi as a martial art is all about the elegant and graceful transition from one form to another, an exercise machine of this nature simply doesn’t allow for such transitions – thus, there’s an incentive to “pump up the volume” when using Tai Chi Spinners that doesn’t exist in Tai Chi itself.
How Much Do Tai Chi Spinners Cost?
Tai Chi Spinners are designed to be mounted outdoors by driving the central post into the ground. There are two common variants, those with 2 discs mounted on them and those with 4 discs mounted on the frame, though a single disc variant does exist.
As you might expect, the 2 disc variants tend to be lower in price than the 4 disc variants. You can expect to pay roughly $100 for a single disc set though shipping and taxes may drive the price up significantly.
Two disc sets for home use are roughly $200-$250 but those designed for parks and exercise centers are substantially more expensive and they may cost as much as $500. If you want 4 discs on your Tai Chi spinners, then you’re looking at a product which is pretty much exclusively developed for parks and public recreation and the costs can hit $800 to $1,000 without much problem.
If you intend to use Tai Chi Spinners at home and only one person at a time, a single disc model is more than adequate for your use and $100 is reasonably cost-effective for a piece of exercise equipment. There aren’t very many moving parts involved with one of these machines and your Tai Chi Spinners ought to last several years.
The models used in parks and public spaces are, of course, subject to much higher levels of wear and tear but the build quality tends to reflect that. Again, you’d expect them to provide years of value for the price.
How Can Tai Chi Spinners Help You?
One thing that Tai Chi Spinners can help with is the development of manual dexterity, that is the ability to pick things up, grip things and move them with our hands and arms. While this may sound like something “any child can do”, in fact, as we get older, we start to lose our manual dexterity and without exercises designed to stimulate this facet of our lives – it can substantially decline.
In the longer-term deficiencies with manual dexterity have been linked to cognitive decline though a cause and effect relationship has not been established.
As you might expect with a motion that is controlled from your upper arm, the Tai Chi Spinners are also able to give your shoulders a decent work out and that’s important because the shoulder is often neglected in other exercise regimes.
In particular, the “rotator cuff” muscle groups, around the ball joint of the shoulder, prevent our shoulder condition from deteriorating in day to day life. If these muscles become weaker, it becomes very easy to injure yourself.
Exercising these muscles has to be done carefully because they are very small and hard exercise risks damaging them – thus, Tai Chi Spinners are an excellent way to boost these muscles without harming them.
They are also a form of gentle arm workout and there are a lot of benefits for working out your arms including: making it easier to carry out everyday tasks, an improvement in other exercise routines you carry out, the muscular development will help you burn more calories than any fatty tissue that it replaces, it leads to the development of healthier heart muscles and nicely developed arm muscles can boost self-confidence!
So, while the operation of Tai Chi Spinners is fairly low key and low stress, there are still substantive health benefits to using them and, in particular, if you don’t do any other kind of exercise because of a low level of fitness they are a great, safe way to ease yourself back into things.
How To Use Tai Chi Spinners
These instructions are for 2-disc and 4-disc Tai Chi Spinners but if you want to use a single disc product – you do the same thing but with only one half of your body at a time.
You should always warm up before you attempt to use any exercise equipment, including Tai Chi Spinners, and that means giving all the muscle groups that you intend to workout time to oxygenate. When you complete any form of workout, you should also cool down your muscles to help avoid injury.
The use of Tai Chi Spinners is very safe. These machines are intended for gentle exercise only. They are often used by the very elderly because of how simple and effective they can be. However, as with all forms of workout – you should never try to force your body to do anything that is genuinely painful. If it hurts, stop. Then come back another day and try again.
If you don’t work out at the moment and then you try to incorporate Tai Chi Spinners into your life, you should take things slowly and try to keep your sessions short to begin with and over time make them longer and longer. You can’t force yourself into fitness and to do so risks injuring yourself.
Simple instructions for the use of Tai Chi Spinners:
- Stand facing the equipment and place the mass of your body evenly between the two wheels
- Then place a hand or an elbow on to the surface of the disk directly in front of them
- Slowly rotate the disk (in either direction) to help loosen the joints in your body
- Gradually increase the pace of rotation in order to deepen the workout
- Carry out a 5-minute workout if you are new to using Tai Chi Spinners otherwise your workout length should reflect your experience and any advice you get from a personal trainer
You can see how this is done using a Tai Chi Spinner’s manufacturer’s video here:
What are Tai Chi Spinners and how can they help you? As we’ve seen these are turning discs mounted on a central pillar which allow the user to work out their arms and shoulders while developing their manual dexterity.
A genuine connection between Tai Chi spinners and Tai Chi itself is not clear. However, if you’re looking for a gentle form of exercise to get back into the swing of things or you just want to ensure your workout is very safe, then Tai Chi Spinners may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.