“Slow is strong” says George Siedel, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor. The 72-year-old is a disciple of qigong, (pronounced chee-gong), a Chinese practice based on gentle movements, meditation and breathing. He was introduced to qigong in 1992 while teaching in Beijing. “Locals would gather each morning in the parks to do this odd dance,” he says. Mr. Siedel travels at least two months a year lecturing on negotiations and liked how he could practice qigong anywhere. He also incorporates elements of tai chi—similar to qigong but with more structured movements—and credits his routine of dance-like exercises, performed at a snaillike pace, for improving his golf and tennis games.
At home in Ann Arbor, Mr. Siedel complements his moving meditation with training at the state-of-the-art Och Fitness Center, located in the business school, steps from his classroom. “There’s no excuse to skip a workout,” he says. Sticking to a routine on the road, however, proved daunting. While Mr. Siedel is disciplined about his daily qigong and stretching routine, cardio and strength pose a challenge. “I hate using hotel gyms,” he explains. “But I was putting on pounds.”