Although it was snowy and dreary outside Friday afternoon, 12 women gathered in the Ralston Senior Center with sounds of the ocean playing in the background.

The Ralston Senior Center, 7301 Q St., has begun offering tai chi classes to its members on Monday and Friday afternoons.

Tai chi is a form of martial arts that is said to relax and offer health benefits to those who try it.

Diane West, president of the Ralston Senior Center, had heard center members worry about falling and keeping their balance.

When a friend told her about tai chi at a different senior center, West decided to bring it to Ralston.

“I kept hearing more and more about it,” West said. “I knew my balance wasn’t good and that’s a complaint I hear a lot from people here.”

The class is led by Julie Jenowe, a certified tai chi instructor who teaches classes at senior centers around the metro area and the Engage Wellness Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Jenowe said the class helps build confidence in seniors.

“It’s really based on renewing their faith in moving around without falling,” she said. “It’s all about balance.”

Although the class has only been in session a handful of times, it has proven popular, with at least a dozen people coming to every class.

Each class lasts 45 minutes and participants learn a variety of traditional tai chi poses.

At the end of class, Jenowe encourages seniors to practice the moves, many of which they can do sitting or standing, in their homes in between days of classes. If they keep it up, they will start to feel better, she said.

“It’s really helpful for general wellness,” she said.

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