Have you ever found yourself on the floor cranking on your body only to find your hip flexors a screaming, or your back a acing? What if your infamous boat pose or fancy criss-cross was to blame? What if there was a better, safer and more effective way?

Using a mini ball was introduced to me about seven years ago when I took one of my first trainings with Leslee Bender, something I found instant gratification with and instant results. I fell in love with the idea of this method and my body surely didn’t lie. I loved this little eight inch rubber ball in that my body could not cheat; there was no way I could try to wow my ego without my body falling all over the place.


In learning more about using a mini ball I loved that Leslee did her homework,  her specific ball (the only one I recommend to use) was university tested and rated for 350 pounds and when using it correctly you are able to work 408% harder and more effectively than when you are flat on the floor. Why? Because when you use a mini ball you are able to extend beyond 90°, or what you could only do on the floor. Why is that important? For starters we work our abdominal muscles more effectively when we are in extension than flexion, something that you can never achieve when you are lying down on the floor doing core work. (read about it www.jrnlappliedresearch.com )

Thankful for her training and knowledge, and having expanded far beyond that initial training, using a mini ball is not only smart core work, it’s quick and effective core work; work that your body will give you instant feedback from. That insight has now stemmed a lifelong crusade promising to teach and offer only functional, life enhancing practices, ones that are based on restarting our core and restoring our body’s natural patterns as we discover our imbalances and limitations and work to move the way nature intended us to move.

As a yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer, and creator of Core Functional Fitness™, I no longer teach poses like boat, traditional Warrior I and even transitions from folded to upright have all been morfed for me due to a deeper understanding of our body and our true core. Why this change? Because most people have an imbalanced recruitment when it comes to their core and are typically trying to achieve the pose using many of the wrong muscles. Having issues like over developed hip flexors, no real back muscles, atrophied glutes and a lack of true understanding when it comes to our pelvic core (pelvic floor muscles + deep transversus); this imbalance will surely leave a person in pain at the hips and lower back, something many are told is normal.

My goal is to assist students and teachers on how to be in their bodies more effectively, and to access the most central part of their bodies and instead of kill it like many exercise classes do (sadly they just don’t know any better), my hope is to educated and rewire this vital area.

My 5 Tips for pain-free, effective, functional corework:

  1. Using a mini ball rather than the floor will allow you to do less and actually do more. Stop thinking that you have to beat yourself into the ground or jump around like crazy; using something small packs a real punch.
  2. Learn neutral, learning neutral will allow you to use props like the mini ball safely and effectively, training your body to be in neutral will create a memory for your body to take into your everyday life.
  3. Develop mind muscles, I tell all my students and trainees that you have to first think about it and rewire the brain. Even if the body has yet to do as it is told, if you continue to tell the body what you want done the likely hood (and I’ve seen it to be true over and over again) it will eventually happen. Because if you can’t think it you can’t feel it, if you can’t feel it you can’t access it.
  4. When it’s done, it’s done. More does not equal better, par from the course that if we go beyond the pain of our bodies screaming at us we will somehow achieve better results is for the birds. Now there is a lot of truth in not giving up, but there are two versions to that saying. One will leave your body wound up and ready to snap and the other pushes you to the limit but not over the edge.
  5. Finally, slow it down, I tell all my students to be in control of the ball rather than the ball in control of you (or the flow or any prop for that matter). We all see it at the gym, clients throwing their body’s around in the hopes of a better workout, but if we slow down especially when we use a mini ball, our bodies will actually work harder when we work to steer clear of momentum, force and our larger over developed muscles. “Stability before mobility!”

So if you have yet to invest in a mini ball, what are you waiting for, Core Functional Fitness (by Hope Zvara) was developed incorporating the mini ball and many other core-friendly and functional principles, with work in all planes of motion (which I hope your exercises are doing for you) because that is how we should be moving in our everyday life. So the question is are you? Click here to find out.

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