REVIEW: Tai Cheng

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I confess, I know jack squat about Tai Chi except that there’s the stereotype about it attracting a certain kind of person who has a fascination with new age hocus pocus.  Not true I’m sure, but that’s the perception.  That makes this review of Beachbody’s Tai Cheng by Dr. Mark Cheng, well, sort of a challenge.

Lets put our cards on the table:  I’m a Christian and we tend to have issues with the whole “inner-chi” business.  So if this works good as a stretch, strength and relaxation program then it shall meet with my favor.  However, if it’s nothing more than Yoda asking me “tap into the Force”, I’m bailing.  If anyone has an issue with that, just be careful who you’re messing with or I’ll take you and your worldview to the cleaners.

But now that we have that behind us ( see, we’re all friends! ), it’s time to get to some Tai Chi where I can move slow, cool, and imagine I’m smashing my indestructible fist through a cyborgs chest.

What you get:

12 DVD’s, a 90 day calendar, food guide, and small foam roller.

What you need:

I HIGHLY recommend a rumble roller.  You will love yourself for it.

WEEK 1-3 – Neural Reboot Phase 1 + Sequence 1

Hot dang, we’ve got the foam roller for our warm-ups!  In case you haven’t guessed, I love these things, especially the Rumble Roller which Dr. Cheng uses.  The classes will be joined by a mother and son team who act as demonstrators.

To kick off each day in Phase 1 is the same 18 minute warmup followed by a unique stance segment that works it’s way up to learning a sequence at the end of the 3 week cycle.  These stance practices generally last between 6-10 minutes for a total of six cool poses you can use in your next bar fight.  There is the occasional demonstration of how certain movements would apply in combat, but it’s only for educational value.  Try any of that “Phoenix Tail” on Georges St. Pierre and you’ll wind up stuffed in a shoebox.

tai cheng

WEEK 4-6 – Neural Reboot Phase 2 + Sequence 2

Each day will begin with a new 26 minute warm up before moving into more sequences and combos.  It’s here where it really feels like you’re doing some honest to goodness martial arts stuff.

At the third week, you once again learn a new sequence.

WEEK 7-9 – Neural Reboot Phase 3 + Sequence 3

Once again a new warmup is introduced and then begins each day with a unique practice session that as always ends with compiling it all together in the final week.  As expected the complexity increases and your results likewise increase.

WEEK 10-13 – Neural Reboot Phase 4 + Sequences 1-3

Crunch time.  This is where you really strut your stuff as you go through all 3 sequences that you have learned during the course of Tai Cheng.  By the time you make it to the end I must admit you have something to really be proud of as this involves a lot of memorization and proper movement to be able to complete.  If you can’t imagine yourself dissecting the limbs off a legion of rouge ninjas, you’re just not trying hard enough.  In short, this is kinda badass.

CONCLUSION

Color me impressed.  Dr. Mark Cheng takes all the goofiness I have often associated with Tai Chi and has replaced it with sound sports science.  From foam rolling, stretching, to the proven benefit of moving slow in isometric stances, this package has all it takes to get your body centred and strengthened.  I’ve done almost 15 years of Shotokan Karate and my favourite part was always the kata ( aka. sequences ), so this catered to my tastes very well.

One thing immediately clear with Tai Cheng is the production quality, but then again I swear Beachbody has just about cornered the market on that.  The use of green screens in the introductory disk results in near perfect demonstration of moves and just goes to show how well thought out this was on paper before any filming took place.  The class setting feels relaxing and nothing is over the top.

But what about the instructor?  Great news, Dr. Mark Cheng is very articulate and explains everything without flaw.  He’s also not dressed up as some stereotypical Tai Chi sensei, but rather looks the part of a doctor: khakis and a shirt.  It adds a decorum of professionalism where so many others have resorted to cheap gimmickry.

The score for Tai Cheng is a solid 5 out of 5 feathers because it does what it promises so well…all the Tai Chi and none of the eastern spiritual baggage that might turn off so many ( myself included ) and it does so with style.  It is indeed a complete home Tai Chi course and I’ve yet to see anything else that wasn’t just a discount DVD at Wal-Mart staring some guy in a unitard.  Dr. Cheng instead takes the high road and delivers the science and because of that Tai Cheng stands supreme in its class.  My suggestion is that if you have a program like Body Beast, this might be the bookend to keep your body flexible, stable and do wonders for your range of motion.  Pull both of those programs off and I would strongly suggest you consider a career in vigilante crime-fighting.

© 2012 – 2015, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • Bruce

    I appreciate a guy who can admit his bias and then work past it. Great review!

  • Brandyn

    dp!!! love your site and your fitness reviews..I have used your reviews to purchase (or not purchase) every fitness program I have. I have a fitness review request for you…a program called Athlean-X by Jeff Cavaliere. Thanks man and keep up the awesome fitness reviews bro

  • KP

    How useful would Tai Cheng be for someone working through X2 which already has a lot of stability and mobility training built in?

    • It would be good, but less useful than if you were doing Body Beast for example. In comparison I would say the core work in in X2 is harder.

  • Matthew

    hey man first let me say I love your fitness reviews. very entertaining and really helpful when I was purchasing the one on ones. just wondering if you were going to be doing asylum 2. i think its only 60 bucks so i’ll probably give it a try. wasn’t a huge fan of the first one since it didnt really involve weights, which i enjoy, and i couldnt imagine not lifting for 30 days. this one seems to have more weights involved but not sure, i havent seen any reviews since it is a new product. anyway i would look forward to seeing your road to 30 days of asylum volume 2! keep up the great site man and dont let any karate defenders get to you haha. (although i did enjoy the back and forth between you two haha) thanks parrot look forward to more of you’re reviews

    • Asylum Volume 2 is absolutely on the horizon! From what I understand it is not out yet…or is it? When it is I’m ordering right away and the review should follow soon after! I do worry however, as the first one was hard enough!! I hope I’m up to it!

      Glad you like the site! Ha!! That last guy was quite the piece of work! In the end I decided to delete his comments because I felt it made the site look like it was home to that kind of immature exchange. I suppose I can re-enable them for the entertainment value!

      • Matthew

        From what I understand it is out. I’ve seen a couple people on youtube do the “unwrapping.” I plan on ordering it soon and will be finishing up X2 in 3 weeks and hope to get started on asylum 2 right after that. Thanks for the quick response. Should be a brutal program.

        • You’re the second person who has mentioned that it is now available. Hmmm…I go to the Beachbody site and it still says “coming soon”. As I recall, I had that issue with Body Beast as well.

          I’ll definitely check into this because the Parrot gotta have it! I swear, I’m probably paying Tony’s salary the way I keep buying their stuff!

          • Matthew

            If you’re paying tony’s then i’m paying shaun t’s haha. Did you complete body beast? I did the first phase but missed cardio and “functional fitness” too much. Might go back to it this winter but switched back to x2/asylum hybrid because i missed the cardio functional part. Look forward to your asylum 2 review and big fan of the site man.

          • Matthew

            Any update on your asylum progress? I think week 2 is harder than week 1 cause ive gotten better at the moves…hard as hell haha. sometimes i think shaun t is trying to kill us all and take over the country. anyway I look forward to your review as im sure it will be hilarious haha. best part of your reviews is relating to how true they are and understand exactly what you’re describing. thanks man…good luck!

          • It’s in the mail, so alas I must wait. The review will 2-parter that will follow shortly after. I’m also doing a bit of Insanity+Asylum to help re-condition myself for the program. I almost forgot how hard it was!

          • Kp

            Waiting for your review to see if its worth the pain!

        • It is out!!! I have to call Beachbody now and tell them to shut up and TAKE MY MONEY!

  • Rose

    You are so funny, you drew me in with humor and truth LOVE THIS SIGHT TY

  • Shen

    I’d like to know how helpful this would be to someone that is extremely obese. Like he has trouble walking and cringes at walking up or down 5- 6 steps. He is on a special meal plan so the meal section is not a priority. We have looked at so many infomercials but they all seem to cater to iron-man runners. I understand slow and easy but what about the difficulty of getting into positions. Any help on this would be appreciated.

    • Tai Cheng is indeed low impact, and many of the moves could be done by someone with limited mobility. No body wraps or human pretzel type stuff! There’s no jumping of extreme movements and because of this Beachbody even markets this to the elderly. You definitely won’t run a marathon just by doing Tai Cheng!

      However, given the extreme physical situation of your friend I would absolutely seek out some advice from perhaps a physiotherapist or even a personal trainer. Being unable to walk 6 steps shows an extreme physical deterioration that needs drastic attention. But Tai Cheng could very well be the gateway to better things.

      • I am trapped in a cube farm and just started working out again after being sedentary for 6 years. I just finished my first week of Les Mills Combat and I’m thinking about picking this up to do along with Combat. Would that be doable?

        • If you can do LM Combat, this would be no problem at all. It would probably go a long way to making you more flexible for LMC.

  • S.Monroe

    I’d like to comment to you personally by contacting you, but your “Contact” link doesn’t show me the “Captcha” code and so I wasn’t able to connect with you on a more private note as a fellow believer.

    • For the moment I’ve disabled Captcha as I just noticed that it’s not working. Might explain my sudden drop in hate mail. Ohhh!!!!

      • S.Monroe

        any other possible option?

  • Nonchalance

    I TOOK one of those New-Agey Tai Chi classes back in the stone age. Just the review I needed. I don’t know who you are but you are my new best friend!

  • David Hooie

    Love your review and sense of humor! What is the total daily time of each Tae Cheng exercise? Right now I’m in day 60 of X3 and I like the 30 minute commitment but I’ve discovered I seriously need some work on my balance and core strength. I’m thinking of doing Tae Cheng and another round of X3 (Mass) at the same time. Am I talking 1.5 hours a day for that plan?

    • I’m trying to recall what the daily time of that program was but I guarantee it was well under an hour. It was a while ago and I have since sold the set to pay for other programs I review. Sort of wish I didn’t as it is a very good concept.

  • Bryan Fuhs

    I just bought Tai Cheng and was wondering if you think it can be done without using the blue tape for a calibration grid? Our house has wall-to-wall carpeting, so there isn’t any bare floor available for taping.

    • Yes it can still be done. The calibration grid is there to assist in getting proper distances with your stances but if you pay some extra attention to your footwork you should be able to get by alright.

      • Bryan Fuhs

        Thanks!! I appreciate your reply. I have studied martial arts in the past (Tae Kwon Do) so I thought it would be possible. I just wanted to be sure.

  • jeffdsharpless

    Very helpful! I have done X1, X2 and X3 for several years now I want to change it up. My chief concern is the lack of intensity in Tai Cheng, like if I do it alone I will not be as fit as I am. Your thoughts?

    • I would agree. Tai Cheng is excellent for relaxation, flexibility and core strength. However, it will not push you as hard as any in the P90X series. It is not what I would consider “intense”.

      Tai Cheng is a good hybrid mix to swap out stretch and yoga days if you are already adjusted to intense activity. But by itself it would not be sufficient resistance or cardio/interval training.

      • jeffdsharpless

        Thank you so much for responding. I very much appreciate your thoughts and you reviews.
        I think I want to hybrid it some with more intensity. I am nursing a troubling back issue and want to take it easy but keep my core strength and fitness. Thoughts? Thank you again.

        • Ahh…back issues. Welcome to my own private hell! Try as I might, I deal with a touchy sciatic issues so I have to be extra careful.

          Tai Cheng is quite good with back issues in much the same way yoga can be. For myself at least, back pain can be the result of tendons that don’t get used much during the day, then hammered on come workout time.

          A tool that helps me a lot is a foam roller. Really irons out the kinks and stretches the deep tissues. But yes, don’t ignore the core. Light days with yoga/Tai Cheng will prepare you for the crazy interval training days!

  • Faryal

    Hello, thanks for your detailed review. My daughter has autism spectrum disorder and I was thinking of introducing tae Cheng to help her improve coordination. She is also slightly overweight. I was confused between tae Cheng, P90 or piyo to help her lose weight. What would your suggestion be?

    • That’s a complicated question. It really depends on her co-ordination and ability to stay focused.

      I think PiYO or P90 might be hard out of the gate. Tai Cheng is relatively slow and will build up agility and core strength.

      Weight loss would have to be connected to diet as well as activity. I would certainly remove gluten and casein as a start to help mental focus. We’ve seen some families dealing with autism in our own circles that have had good results by doing that. If you have the means, I would recommend a naturopath who is knowledgable in this area.

      • Faryal

        Thank you so much for your detailed reply. We are trying glutein free diet but she seems to be hungry all the time and is gaining weight . Right now she is not considered overweight but soon will be if diet is not controlled. She is in swimming and tennis but I was thinking Tae-Cheng will improve her coordination, concentration and flexibility. I will definitely check into neuropathy.

    • B

      Swimming and water aerobics are great for some weight loss, especially for those with some coordination and balance problems.

  • scott s

    Hellp Mr D Parrot. I am 54, male 5-10, 180. Fit and thin. MRI shows moderate Spinal Stenosis in Lumbar 4 and 5. Have major sciatic flare up and epidural injections. OK now for a month. Have lower back pain. Will this help? How long will it last? How long does it take to get relief? Pain is a 3 out of 10. Thanks, Scott

    • The nice thing about this program is that it allows one to go at a slow, even pace. No high impact craziness. That all having been said, I don’t feel entirely qualified to say much more than that given your medical situation. Sounds like you might require the hands on expertise of a physiotherapist to give you the rubber stamp on any workout you plan of pursuing.

  • veganwanab

    When you do the workout, do you follow his movements as if you are looking into a mirror, or do you have to go in a different direction, like they make you do in some Tai Chi videos?
    I tried asking this question on the Beach Body site, but their form didn’t work at all.

    • For me, I tend to not follow reflectively but that is probably due to fifteen years of karate and a Sensei that demanded to use the proper right/left stance regardless of his position. I would try to stick to that format even here as sometimes the cast moves away from you and it might throw off your left/right perception.

  • QEternity

    It appears the 12 DVD version is no longer sold. Can you compare this to the 5 DVD set?

    • It has been a long, long time since I review Tai Cheng and no longer have any of the DVD’s. I would imagine they would just put more workouts on less DVD’s if anything. To be honest, I don’t really keep track of Beachbody’s offerings once I finish reviewing them as I have to keep moving on to the next thing.