Exercising a sense of calmness

editorial image

They came from eight countries, were aged from eight to 80, and went home after three days excited by their experiences.

I had joined the 30-strong group which assembled in Melrose Corn Exchange on Friday for the first day of a three-day training session with Bill Hubert – founder of what is said to be a revolutionary exercise system that can help everyone, from children with autism and difficulty concentrating, to the elderly and even sports people.

There was much anticipation about what would be his third visit to the Borders by Mr Hubert, a long-term educator and martial artist who now trains teachers, parents, and occupational and physical therapists in his system.

The event was again organised by Galashiels couple Jane and Mike Oliver – earlier this year Jane became the only Bal-A-Vis-X Trainer in the UK.

As well as those from the United States, Germany, Sweden and France, the seminar was attended by Usha Patel, of London – the first person to bring Bal-A-Vis-X to Europe in 2011.

Bal-A-Vis-X comprises a mix of balance, auditory and vision exercises, using small sandbags, tennis balls and balance boards in a rhythmic way.

But the Olivers were thrown a curve ball of their own before the event even started with visa problems resulting in Mr Hubert being forced to return home to Kansas. While there were other experienced practitioners at the event, it was left to Jane to take charge of three days of training – something she had never done before.

So did Bal-A-Vis-X live up to its reputation as something that can make a real difference? On the evidence of what I saw and experienced, I’d have to say yes.

There was a definite sense of calming and improved concentration that flowed from the bouncing and catching of balls and bean bags in a synchronised and rhythmic manner. Others I spoke with at the event’s conclusion also rated the training as well run, professional and an enthusiastic success – with all convinced Bal-A-Vis-X has real merit.

Kerry Dixon, from Swindon, who has a young son with Asperger’s, told me: “As any parent, you want to do anything you can to make your child’s life easier. I loved it and got a lot out of it.”

Wendy Kitson, from Lanark, has specialised in working with children with autism and Asperger’s.

She said: “It’s been excellent. I really enjoyed it. It challenged me and brought confidence that you can master something you think you can’t. I can see how this will be very useful in my other work and is something I can certainly apply. I was very impressed.”