Release Date: Jan 12, 2023

For the better part of six months, Cheryl Woods, Mason Health’s Director of Rehabilitation Services, has watched her students grow noticeably stronger, more flexible, and more confident in their steps. Woods teaches Shelton Family YMCA’s “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” class, which started in the spring of last year and continued with a beginner and advanced class every 12 weeks. The next 12-week classes start Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Falls are a leading cause of injury for people 65 and older, however, they do not need to be an inevitable part of aging. Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance is a research-based balance training regimen designed for older adults at risk of falling and people with balance disorders. Fuzhong Li, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Oregon Research Institute, developed the program, which applies the teachings of Tai Ji Quan but moves the focus from a martial art to a health exercise that addresses common, but potentially debilitating functional impairments.

The YMCA reached out to Woods to see if she knew anyone trained in the program, and Woods offered to teach the class herself. She will teach the advanced class with a YMCA instructor Jessica Girardin co-teaching with her.

“The Rehabilitation Services Department at Mason General Hospital has been coordinating with the physicians at Mason Clinic to reduce patients’ fall risk, and we wanted to have a community program that was evidence-based to help reduce fall risks,” Woods said. “I took the training and when the YMCA reached out, it was a perfect opportunity.”

The classes have had high attendance since they started in the spring. Woods has tracked her students’ progress, and all students have improved on every measure, such as the tandem stance, a clinical measure of balance that assesses postural steadiness in a heel-to-toe position.

“I’ve noticed an ability to stand longer,” said Lois Sage, a student from Shelton. “Last night, I was walking my dog in the dark, and I stepped in a pothole, and I actually was able to feel myself catch myself. I doubt that would have been possible before. I have really bad knees and I have fallen and broken bones in the past. My balance hasn’t been the best, which is why I thought, moving into the next few years of my life, I wanted to join a class like this.”

To register for classes, visit

Mason Health, Public Hospital District No. 1 of Mason County, is ISO 9001 Quality Management System certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and is a licensed and accredited acute care hospital with a level four emergency trauma designation. Mason General Hospital and Mason Clinic are ENERGY STAR® certified and Mason Health is the recipient of Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Environmental Excellence Awards. There are more than 100 physicians on staff in 19 specialties. For more information or to find a health care provider, visit To learn more about DNV, visit


Cheryl Woods at Better Balance 1 Copy

Mason Health Director of Rehabilitation Services Cheryl Woods leads a Moving for Better Balance class at the Shelton Family YMCA.

Better Balance Class Copy

Mason Health Director of Rehabilitation Services Cheryl Woods, center, leads a Moving for Better Balance class at the Shelton Family YMCA. The class uses Tai Ji Quan principles and is evidence-based to help reduce falls.