Growing From a Tai Chi Practitioner to a Tai Chi Instructor
by ATCQA Staff, Published in April 2023
Getting the ATCQA Practitioner Certification has proven to be an effective way for launching a teaching career in the Tai Chi field.
Vicki Kushnir, for example, got the opportunities to teach Tai Chi at some fitness centers who "require certification as a condition of their employment".
(Photo courtesy of Vicki Kushnir)
After getting her Practitioner certification, she started with a non-paid teaching gig - a 7-week seminar in her community. In the meantime, she also widely advertised among her friends & acquaintances that she became a certified Tai Chi practitioner. Consequently, she was able to get paid positions as a Tai Chi instructor at the local Community center and at a nearby Yoga studio. With those teaching experiences, Vicki recently was able to upgrade her ATCQA certification from the Practitioner level to the Instructor level.
Marie Gagne, who did the same certification upgrade recently, got her first teaching job in a similar way. While working at a local gym as a fitness coach for seniors and people with Parkinson's Disease, Marie became interested in Tai Chi in the hopes she could lower her elevated blood pressure. After taking Tai Chi classes twice a week for a year, her blood pressure had normalized! She knew then that Tai Chi was what she wanted to focus on. Once she had obtained 150 training hours, she applied for the practitioner certification with ATCQA.
(Photo courtesy of Marie Gagne)
With the practitioner certification at hand, Marie began teaching Tai Chi at the fitness gym both in person and through ZOOM during the Covid pandemic. After practicing and learning the sequence of a unique 108 form with a local Tai Chi organization called Cultivating QiTM, they awarded her with their beginner instructor certification and through them, she began teaching at Senior Centers as an Independent Contractor.
To Vicki, when she realized the value of regular Tai Chi practices as a Tai Chi student, she was determined to spread the goodness of it to all her friends who ultimately became her first and most devoted students. “Being a teacher and serving your local community is the most satisfying feeling one can get”, says Vicki.
Marie found her goal of elevating from the Practitioner Certification to the Instructor Certification kept her “focused, dedicated, and determined to keep practicing and keep teaching”.
She considers teaching Tai Chi a continuous process from the stage of being a student. It is a lot more intriguing to her than teaching the proper form for a squat or a bicep curl! She has had a few different instructors with different teaching styles and has taken aspects from all of them while developing her own teaching style. She learned that to be effective, you can’t be overpowering or over-demanding of your students, but instead a good teacher needs to be patient and cognitive of the different learning styles and physical abilities of all students.
She has learned that everyone approaches Tai Chi differently and for different reasons: “some people are not very confident when they begin their learning process, and it is so enjoyable for me to see them grow to a level that they had not imagined they could”.
Marie also thinks that her experience as a fitness coach has enabled her to help some students make slight modifications for their movements due to their physical limitations, which often improve with time. She quotes one of her peers when she tells students: “throw the capital P (Perfection) out the door and focus instead on the three small powerful p’s (patience, perseverance, and practice)”.