The Tiger Lady of San Marcos offers tai chi and boxercise classes to clear the minds of those who experience stress and pressure in today’s fast-paced society.
As a former championship boxer, Brenda Bell left her busy life in Los Angeles to retire and enjoy the simple life in Texas.
Bell began her boxing career at the age of nine. She received her black belt in martial arts after graduating from San Marcos High School in 1982.
After graduation, she attended college at St. Edwards University and El Camino College for a short period of time before dropping out to completely focus on her boxing career.
“It was a challenging time for me,” Bell said. “As a young woman, I was exploring what to do in my life and how to do it, so I ended up in the fight game.”
Bell said her time in Los Angles was a fast and busy blur that exhausted her as the years went on. She moved back to San Marcos to find a new boxing coach.
However, she enjoyed the small town life again and began teaching soon after she retired from her boxing career in 2009.
Bell now teaches at Tigerlily Mental Training Easy Tai Chi, which takes place at the Cephas House.
College students are at a high risk for stress due to coursework, internships, tests and work. Classes like tai chi and boxercise are designed to allow students to relax and refocus attention on their energy and health.
“I got into tai chi to mellow myself out,” Bell said. “I went through a lot as a boxer, so it was time for me to slow down and get into something soft.”
In terms of coaching style, Bell focuses on remaining calm and collected when teaching and training others.
“We need to stay positive and patient,” Bell said. “We need to be flexible and visible (and) open-minded.”
Jessica James, journalism and mass communication lecturer, has attended some of Bell’s tai chi classes at the Cephas House.
“It’s a routine where you’re focused and clear,” James said. “Not only do you feel at peace with yourself, but with those around you. Classes like tai chi help you to revitalize and focus your attention.”
Aside from the emotional value of the class itself, James finds value in Bell as a coach and teacher.
“She is a beautiful spirit,” James said.
Anh Bui, accounting sophomore, said she experiences stress from school and work. In terms of tai chi, Bui believes it is important for students to have access to various resources to keep the body and mind healthy and at ease.
“This gives students more variety,” Bui said. “Not everything works for each person, but it allows students to have various outlets for destressing.”
In the future, Bell will expand her teaching practices after furthering her tai chi certification.
“I’m bringing back new knowledge, such as meditation,” Bell said. “I want to start getting people to clear their mind and understand relaxation.”
Bell credits her happiness to boxing, which opened many doors for her, including her teaching path in San Marcos.
“I am more patient and more relaxed,” Bell said. “I don’t want to have anger. I am at a level of mental and physical growth.”