Mind Ball and SoulFarhan Dhalla
Year Released: 2008
Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Strength Training (Total Body)
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About me: I'm an advanced exerciser and fitness instructor who enjoys a variety of strength workouts, including kettlebells, functional fitness and traditional
lifting. Mind Ball and Soul is a functional fitness workout choreographed and demonstrated by Farhan Dhalla. (VFers may know Farhan as one of the background
exercisers on In Shape with Sharon Mann on FitTv.) Farhan is a physiotherapist (physical therapist) and Reebok Master Trainer who combines functional training, yoga and tai chi to create a unique stability ball workout that will appeal to a
wide variety of exercisers.
The workout set is appears to be in a living room or office. The production values are fairly good, except for a brief part of the cooldown where Farhan's voice fades just a bit. The workout time is approximately 56 minutes. The music is gentle and Indian-inspired. The warmup begins with tai chi inspired breathing
exercises and also incorporates squats and lunges with the ball. As a fitness instructor, I appreciate how even in the warmup, Farhan makes sure that the exerciser works in all of the various planes of motion transverse, sagittal and
The workout consists of a few exercises, but I never got bored because of the careful and precise layering of each exercise. Farhan breaks down each component so that the viewer can master the exercise and choose whether or not to progress to the next level. Because of this, both the beginning through advanced exerciser will enjoy this workout. I can't remember all of the exercises off the top of my head, but I'll try to describe a few. They all tend to work balance as well as core strength and stability. The first exercise was a balancing move, where Farhan rolls the ball in and out, working the hip stabilizers in the standing leg, and the hamstrings/glutes in the active leg. He then adds on a
shoulder press (which is much tougher because of the instability)! Finally, he
adds on the last variation which is to roll the ball out while performing the shoulder press, lowering one arm to the side, raising the arm back and then
rolling in the ball and lowering both arms. (Have I mentioned that this is a mental AND physical workout?) Another exercise combined a single leg glute lift
(lying on the ball) with chest flyes. The toughest exercise for me began with a simple bent knee side plank with the ball, which progressed to a straight-legged
side plank and finally to a straight-legged side plank with a twist. Actually, Farhan then progressed to doing a weighted straight-legged side plank with a
twist, but I figured unweighted was enough!
The cooldown is as unique as the rest of the workout. Farhan incorporates dynamic and static yoga-inspired stretches that focus mostly on the lower body. Some of the stretches are a bit advanced (balance-wise), so don't feel bad if you have to work up to them. For those of you that like hip-openers, this is the cooldown for you! Finally, Farhan ends the workout as he began, with simple breathing exercises. I can honestly say I felt relaxed, yet worked after completing this workout.
Now for the nit-picking. One pet peeve I have with this workout is the lack of chaptering. How hard is it to put chapter points in a workout nowadays? The other is that Farhan doesn't tell you what weights he's using until almost halfway through the workout! You won't be able to lift very heavy--this is about strengthening both your neglected stabilizer muscles, abs and back. I did feel sore the next day in my obliques for sure!
I'd recommend this workout to people that like functional fitness workouts and want to work their abs, back and other stabilizers in new and challenging ways. If you like the TLTs (or wanted to like the TLTs, but thought they were strange) you should give this one a try!
I have taken a workshop with Farhan at a fitness conference. He has a very intuitive, refreshing understanding of how to challenge your core, broadly defined, with the stability ball. His words have really stuck with me over the years and influenced my approach to teaching strength training in a group fitness setting. He's very warm and encouraging and has amazing core strength!