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REVIEW: Tai Cheng



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.


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.

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.



  1. Maximiliano Campos

    October 8, 2017 at

    Hello. I am a blind 32-year-old and I used to workout often and now have just let myself go as the demands of lie caught up to me, but still jog and hike whenever possible, but could do much better. I heard a Tai Cheng ad on TV and was interested. Do you think I would be able to follow this workout without the visual feedback or is this something were I would need a sighted partner to do the workout with me? I want to work on my movement and flexibility first before going to other more intense workouts. Do you have any suggestions as to what workout would be best, if not this one, that I might be able to follow on my own? Would love to hear from you either here or through email:

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      October 10, 2017 at

      Now that’s a question that makes one think. Given the regular breaks to show demonstrations, I would think Tai Cheng would be formidably difficult without someone to guide you through the motions. As someone who took many years of martial arts, some things simply cannot be verbally described adequately without visual demonstration.

      Trying to think of a good workout system for the visually impaired, you almost need to go for something straight forward in the moves. Body Beast comes to mind, as does something along the lines of the P90X series where moves are presses, rows, push-ups or chin ups. Another great one that comes to mind is the redone P90. It’s designed for beginners and Tony is pretty adept at explaining things. I would start there. All the best!

  2. Jen

    August 5, 2017 at

    Thanks for the honest review. I agree with you about the “eastern spiritual baggage” that is usually tied into the Martial Arts, Yoga, etc. I am also a strong Christian myself, struggling with wanting to get involved in Tai Chi, other martial arts, and yoga but worry about finding the “inner chi” that is taught in them. I recently saw Dick Van Dyke in a commercial for Tai Cheng and was very impressed, so that is when I Googled it and found this site. I love Beachbody and was encouraged to see that they are involved with this. Right now, I am doing Focus T25 Beta and wouldn’t mind adding this to my routine as well. I am 40 and in a rather healthy, good shape, but not into crazy intense plyo stuff. I usually have to modify the workouts with FT25, but I am getting stronger. I want to stay active so that my body and mind don’t crumble as I get older, and lose my balance along the way. This program looks great for “workout newbies” or even seniors who need to stay active, but can’t handle all the craziness of aerobics. Thanks again for the review and I will surely check this program out.

    God bless,

    P.S…. What is “Shotokan Karate”?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      August 5, 2017 at

      Shotokan is a style of karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi in 1868 that his successors made popular and it’s probably the most popular style today. Glad the review helped and likewise, God bless!

  3. Rana

    July 15, 2017 at

    I like the review this guy did and i was read to buy because i need something like this instead of going to the gym. But Deb changed my mind because i’m a firm beliver of everything is a gimmik and this is just one more gimmick to sell you stuff or more to invest.

  4. Deb

    June 21, 2017 at

    Am actually returning my cd’s because I am hating the hassle of getting through all the damed advertising in-between everything. Just give me the movements…..let me get to the menu and to where I need to start with next day. But no you have to fast forward thru all the advertising first to get where you need to go. No patience for that. good bye.

  5. Mark Gandy

    March 6, 2017 at

    Body Beast in the morning. Tai Cheng during early evening. Crazy? Doable? Incompatible?

    Thanks for these great reviews (again).

  6. QEternity

    October 10, 2016 at

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

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      October 11, 2016 at

      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.

  7. veganwanab

    September 27, 2016 at

    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.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      September 29, 2016 at

      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.

  8. scott s

    March 14, 2016 at

    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

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 14, 2016 at

      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.

    • Duane Brinson Jr

      August 25, 2017 at

      If you haven’t already, get an inversion table, and follow Teeter’s Inversion techniques while incorporating Trace Minerals…of course, Tai Chi can’t hurt, I wouldn’t think.

  9. Faryal

    August 22, 2015 at

    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?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      August 25, 2015 at

      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

        August 26, 2015 at

        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

      July 10, 2016 at

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

  10. jeffdsharpless

    August 14, 2015 at

    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?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      August 15, 2015 at

      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

        August 18, 2015 at

        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.

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          August 18, 2015 at

          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!

  11. Bryan Fuhs

    June 17, 2014 at

    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.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      June 17, 2014 at

      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

        June 17, 2014 at

        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.

  12. David Hooie

    March 7, 2014 at

    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?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 11, 2014 at

      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.

  13. Nonchalance

    January 4, 2014 at

    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!

  14. S.Monroe

    May 15, 2013 at

    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.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      May 15, 2013 at

      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

        May 15, 2013 at

        any other possible option?

  15. Shen

    May 3, 2013 at

    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.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      May 3, 2013 at

      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.

      • Jason Simonds

        May 5, 2013 at

        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?

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          May 6, 2013 at

          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.

  16. Rose

    February 6, 2013 at

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

  17. Matthew

    October 17, 2012 at

    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

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      October 17, 2012 at

      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

        October 17, 2012 at

        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.

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          October 17, 2012 at

          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

            October 19, 2012 at

            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

            November 1, 2012 at

            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!

          • Dysfunctional Parrot

            November 1, 2012 at

            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

            November 5, 2012 at

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

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          October 17, 2012 at

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

  18. KP

    October 2, 2012 at

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

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      October 3, 2012 at

      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.

  19. Brandyn

    September 27, 2012 at

    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

  20. Bruce

    September 23, 2012 at

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

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