Last updated 10/23/2022
What started as just a class he took with his friends became 36 years of mastering the art of Tai Chi for 60-year-old fitness trainer Victor Wilson. Having been quite active throughout his life, from playing nearly every sport in high school to studying Japanese Jujitsu in Trinidad, Victor has always had an energetic life.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Victor comes from a large family with seven other siblings, him being the second youngest. He came to the U.S. in 1984 to study psychology at CSU Northridge. After graduating, he worked as a Group Home Counselor and High School special education teacher for severely emotionally-disturbed children around Los Angeles County for nearly fourteen years. While he enjoyed it and found it quite rewarding to help students get through high school and in group homes, he left the field to pursue something new as he felt “disillusioned towards the end when the students were being treated as commodities.”
While exploring different options in between teaching jobs, he came upon a posting from Bally Total Fitness for a Fitness Trainer. Because he enjoyed fitness and wanted to continue to help others achieve their goals; he applied for the position and has been in the fitness industry for the past 19 years, which led him to pursue a master’s in Kinesiology.
Victor now has his own fitness studio and has worked all over Southern California, from the Beverly Hills Country Club to Cedars Sinai to senior living communities. He teaches a variety of classes such as Yoga, Pilates, Capoeira, Resistance Training, Athletics, Soccer, and Hip-Hop; however, he said, “my favorite thing to teach is Tai Chi.”
Victor’s first experience with Tai Chi was in Trinidad with a class he took with a couple of his friends. While they enjoyed the art, they did not continue because they did not like the instructor. Victor’s journey with Tai Chi did not end there. When the opportunity presented itself for Victor to learn Tai Chi from Marshall Ho’o, the first Tai Chi master to be inducted into “Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame” right on his own campus at CSU Northridge, Victor leaped at the chance. Within 5 years of studying with Master Ho’o, he was promoted to Junior Instructor and reached the rank of Advanced Student in 1993. Unfortunately, that same year, Master Ho’o passed away. Since then, Victor has hoped to continue Master Ho’o’s dream of sharing the art of Tai Chi throughout the U.S.
Victor encourages everyone to try Tai Chi or any meditative activity especially during such stressful times as with the pandemic. “Practicing Tai Chi has benefited me in many ways but paramount among them is self-defense,” he said. “Teaching it has also contributed immensely to that end.” In addition to self-defense, Tai Chi can help with coordination, balance, improved reflexes, and a sense of calm. Additionally, this is a practice that is exceptionally beneficial for older adults. Nonetheless, the practice itself is intergenerational and was originally intended as a method of self-defense in conjunction with Kung Fu.
Despite being a fantastic fitness instructor and a master of Tai Chi himself, he has recently started to pursue a master’s degree in Gerontology to learn more about the aging process and to “address all the issues that we all will hopefully have to face one day.” He chose USC because “the program here is among the best in the world”. Furthermore, Victor is always looking for ways to improve his knowledge and incorporate everything he learns into his practice. He hopes to improve the health of his clients and his family with his Master’s in Gerontology and to share preventive measures and coping strategies that will empower them throughout their lives.
“I also would like to be of service to disadvantaged communities both in the U.S. and in my home country,” Victor said. “One of my goals is to train teachers to teach Tai Chi to underserved populations. I think that the mindfulness initiative at USC is revolutionary and that Tai Chi can be an invaluable addition to the program.”
Victor urges others to not be discouraged by their age and to follow their interest wherever it takes them. Whether that be pursuing a Master’s degree later in life or taking a Tai Chi class, age does not matter when it comes to pursuing what is important to you. Allowing ourselves to go out of our comfort zones is integral in order to stay active and improve our health both physically and mentally.
Read more about Victor’s Tai Chi group that was founded by Master Ho’o and Dr. Wen-Shang Huang in 1968 here.