Opinion: A musician’s best friend: a ball

by Sara Garcia/Special to the Simpsonian

The Simpson College Music Department is well-known for giving their students the tools they need to succeed in the field of music.  On Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, that tool was one that students had never considered before: a ball.

Doctor Dan Heffron, who also goes by “Doc Heff,” was propositioned by Dr. Timothy A. McMillin, chair of the Department of Music at Simpson, to come and give a special presentation on health and wellness.  “The Department of Music at Simpson College cares for the full musician. Initiatives regarding health and safety of its student population are emphasized. As part of that commitment to students, this presentation took place,” said McMillin.

Doc Heff is a co-founder of The Academy to Function, a physical wellness institution based out of Iowa.  His wellness program is based primarily on the use of a single piece of equipment: a miniature-sized basketball. 

“Why a ball?”  Doc Heff asked the music students.  “You can increase or decrease the level of resistance by either letting air out or pumping air in; it’s portable, you can use it anywhere, and it’s inexpensive.”  

During Doc Heff’s presentation, he asked for several volunteers to come down to the stage to try some of the exercises.  The students who volunteered had a fun time with the exercises, but it was challenging for most of them.  Most of the exercises had to do with rolling the ball on certain muscle groups, nerves, and tissues—massaging them while also balancing on the ball to increase strength, flexibility, and coordination. 

It sounds like a simple way to exercise, and it is.  However, it’s also a comprehensive exercise that helps with circulation, and stimulates lymphatic flow.  It also helps relax tight muscles and increase balance.  This workout can also be tailored to focus on certain problem areas.  “You force your body to heal with these exercises,” says Heff.

Musicians will find it particularly interesting that these ball exercises can help with poor posture, asthma, joint pain and other problems that may ail a singer or instrumentalist.  If you have a problem with it, Doc Heff has an exercise for it.  But Doc Heff also emphasizes that if you do these exercises every day, you will nip most of your problems in the bud.  “I’m trying to give people skills they can use for the rest of their life for a better life,” says Heff.

Doc Heff leads exercise groups, boot camps and personal consultations for people looking to increase their overall physical health and wellness.  You can visit him at Ground Zero in Indianola on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-7, and Saturdays from 2-5.   He also has a website with more information: www.academytofunction.com.

“I do what I do for the arts because Artists are my favorite people and Musicians are my favorite Artist,” says Heff.  So, musicians, there you have it!  To be the best you can be, practice every day, and exercise with your ball every day.