Save our ChiBall class

Chi Ball yoga poseToday I heard that my gym are dropping a class I’ve been going to for 10 years.

It’s called ‘Chi Ball’ – it’s only on there once a week and there are no other classes in the area.

We haven’t officially been told – we heard it from the instructor this morning.  (Knowing my gym we probably wouldn’t have known until the new timetable came out in January and we discovered Chi Ball wasn’t on it.  Customer service is not their strong point.)

I’ve never really been one for yoga or other ‘gentle’ classes.  In fact, I was put off yoga fairly early on in life when I went to a class and the instructor tried to make me do neck stands.  But I was dragged along to ChiBall 10 years ago by work colleagues when a class was offered during our lunch hour.  I’ve been going ever since.

So what is ChiBall?

Chi Ball is a gentle blend of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, dance, yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais and deep relaxation and meditation.  It’s done with a coloured aromatherapy ball.  The ball gives you something to focus on and it also supports you in some of the poses and stretches.

It’s gentle, but actually all the more effective for being so.  On a good day you come out feeling like you’ve had a massage – less stiff in the joints, stretched, energised and relaxed.  It’s suitable for all: old, young, healthy and those with conditions or injuries.  We have older members in the class (including my mother); we also have a woman who’s had two hip operations. We currently have a member who’s pregnant.  (If you’re interested, you can read about how and why ChiBall was developed.)

And you never get the same lesson twice.  Each week when we go, although the class follows the same basic structure, we never know what music we’ll have or what moves we’ll do.

When new people come, a frequent response is amazement that it’s only available once a week.  I’ve heard several people say ‘I would do this every day if I could’.

So why are my gym dropping it?

They’re bringing in BodyBalance classes from January 2015.  BodyBalance also has elements of Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates and relaxation. When I first heard this, I was really happy.  “At last!” I thought. “They are beginning to understand there’s more to health and wellbeing than bootcamp-style, shout-at-people-like-you’re-a sergeant-major, high-impact, cardio-vascular classes.”

But what they’re also doing is dropping ChiBall altogether and making it a BodyBalance class. It’s not the same!

  • set of 6 chi balls of different coloursBodyBalance has stronger moves
  • the choreography is fixed and doesn’t always give you the time you need to safely do the move or switch between moves.
  • there’s no dance section in BodyBalance. This is the bit that really mobilises the joints and warms the body up for yoga
  • it’s the same routine every class for 3 months at a time. So no variety, no changing the music if you don’t like it
  • if you’ve never done a yoga class before, you may struggle at first. The second BodyBalance track is sun salutations – not the easiest thing if you’re a beginner; and of course
  • there’s no ball! No colour therapy, no aromatherapy, no focus or support

I don’t understand why they can’t bring in BodyBalance and still have ChiBall on the timetable.  We’ve been loyal to the class for years – don’t force us out!

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4 Responses to Save our ChiBall class

  1. Caroline Brooks December 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi Jo,
    I agree with everything you’ve written (I’d do Chi Ball everyday if I could!) I still haven’t had a reply to my e-mail from the Gym.

    • Joanna December 14, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks C. Yes, it’s a brilliant class and we could do with more of it, not less!


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