The article profiles older adults who join Tai Chi and line-dancing beginner classes. Enrollment, attendance, and dropout patterns of 41 classes from 8 recreation and senior centers and 4 Taoist Tai Chi societies were tracked over a full calendar year. Enrollment was highest in the fall. Average attendance over the 8- to 12-week sessions was 72% for Tai Chi and 68% for line dancing; average dropout rates were 23% and 10%, respectively. Entry surveys and exit interviews were completed by 221 and 107 participants, respectively. Older adults who join these community classes tend to be predominantly women, Caucasian, in their mid-60s, relatively healthy, and physically active. Most in Tai Chi joined for fitness and health, whereas many line dancers joined for social reasons. Although the classes were designated as beginner classes, participants varied in level of experience. Continued participation was related to expectations, past experience, and perceived ease of learning the movements.
The authors are with the Dept. of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1 Canada.