Ro Del Bene feels as though she's found a fountain of youth.
The 72-year-old tai chi instructor at the New Port Richey Recreation Center claims, despite her age, she takes no medication and the tai chi she has done and taught for nearly a decade has kept a spring in her step.
"It can keep you young," Del Bene said. "I do things — run, exercise and workout — that I did in my 20s. I feel like I'm in my 20s, actually, and it's because I use tai chi, which is a healing art."
Del Bene, along with fellow instructor Maria Hanna, teach the Taoist Tai Chi USA class at the rec center. The class is out of the Clearwater branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA, and uses a style of Yang tai chi. It's considered a martial art, but not in a fighting form.
It focuses on internal healing by using spinal movements, stretching, flexes and balance exercises.
"It's really something you can't get with any other exercise and basically lubricates joints," said Del Bene, who has been teaching tai chi in Pasco for about five years. "We like to call it a moving medication because the mind is constantly processing the next move and how to execute it."
Del Bene also compares Yang tai chi to yoga, but "with even more intense concentration." Del Bene says she gets participants from teenagers to their 90s and they have to keep moving the energy from the poses, which creates the healing process and moves the chi through the body.
It ends up helping with back pain, adds Del Bene, especially in the older participants, such as herself. And her age doesn't bother Del Bene, because she found what Ponce De Leon couldn't.
"It's like a reverse aging process," Del Bene said. "It has healed my body and the results you see are just remarkable. How it works always stands out when you see it."