Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Confessions of A Bollywood Trainer

Spiritual Lesson: The Universe is always conspiring in your favour

                  It's amazing how one phone call can change your life. Especially when the caller is asking if you are free to take on a new client and the client happens to be Deepika Padukone. I was at a Starbucks drowning my sorrows in an Americano after leaving an audition for an Indian soft drink commercial that did not go well. I was feeling a sense of rejection because I knew I wasn't going to get 'that call' the one that said, 'hey you got the part!' And what was I doing at this audition anyway? Well, that's a whole other story. But when I heard the words from this totally unexpected call, my day was turning around in ways I never could have dreamed of.   Now, I have to admit I didn't know too much about Miss Padukone. I may have heard her name in passing from some of my Bollywood following friends so I knew this was a big deal. (Insert apology to Bollywood fans for not knowing Deepika or having seen any of her movies). However, lets just say this wasn't just any phone call. Looking back it was all a divine orchestration from the universe to help me grow professionally, personally and more importantly, spiritually. 

Spiritual Lesson: When the universe calls be prepared to answer!

"You got my attention." "Please tell me more!" Deepika was coming to Toronto to shoot her Hollywood debut "XXX The Return of Xander Cage" and was looking for a trainer and would I be interested in the job? It was a lot to digest in the moment but I felt excitement for this opportunity and I was more than up for the challenge. Most of my high profile clientele were world class professional athletes including, Olympians. I didn't know much about Bollywood or Deepika but it didn't matter because I am a specialist in functional movement including exercise prescription for any occupation and or function.

Spiritual Lesson: Be willing to say "Yes"

       When a door suddenly opens up for you be prepared to walk through. Training a Bollywood actress wasn't one of my aspirations but who knew where this could all lead me? Of course I decided to Google her and that's when I realized the magnitude of a star I'd be working with and I saw this as an incredible opportunity. I knew that I could remain professional just as I had with the other high profile clients I worked with previously. I was eager, excited and also very curious. Where was this all going? And what did the universe have planned for me and for the both of us? No matter what was in store for me my answer to the universe was a whole hearted "yes!" to this experience.

  Soon after that call I received a text message from Deepika. She was ready to start training! Upon that first meeting I couldn't help but feel her star presence. She definitely has that 'it' factor and I immediately understood why she was adorned by so many fans. During our first session we got to know each other and I developed a sense of the movie role and what was required of her. I was a physiotherapist for 14 years and prescribing exercises to help improve performance of any kind is my specialty. I'm quite passionate about my work and so I couldn't wait to get started!

I described my process and what distinguishes me from other trainers. I explained to Deepika how I'm an intuitive and work to help transform my clients physically and spiritually. I blended my background in physiotherapy, fitness and spirituality to create what I refer to as "Spiritual Personal Training." From my perspective we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I believe even our workouts are a spiritual experience and connecting to the deepest part of ourselves can help create the best possible transformation to any workout regime. Deepika was all too welcoming to my mind, body and spirit approach to training.

      We had a great run and a lot of fun during this period. I grew quite fond of her and got to know her mom and dad as they too became my clients while visiting Deepika in Toronto

On the last day of our session I said a little prayer:

"My hope is that no matter where you and I go that our paths may cross again soon."

Spiritual Lesson: Every prayer is answered

Two weeks later I was in my car and I got a call. It was Deepika's manager! Deepika was to perform a dance number at the prestigious IIFA awards and was wondering if I was available to train her to help prepare for her performance? A few weeks later  I was on a flight to Madrid, Spain.

This time, instead of training her for action sequences I had to train her for a Bollywood dance number. It amazed me how I had this one client but who required me to develop a variety of different programs because of their various occupational demands.  This is pretty unusual but I loved the challenge. I gained a whole new respect for Deepika's talents. It takes tremendous focus and a lot of effort to be able to do all the things that she does as an artist. I loved that she had a strong discipline that she developed as an athlete playing badminton and applied it in her training and in every aspect of her career. It was similar to the world class athletes I had worked with in my career as a physiotherapist.

Whilst in Madrid I got to experience a bit of the glamorous side of the entertainment world. I had the incredible opportunity to not only attend IIFA but to also walk the Green carpet alongside Deepika's entourage. Again, not knowing much about Bollywood I had little knowledge of who's who other then a select few household names. Being back stage was great exposure, as it gave me insight as to all that goes into making a show for every Bollywood fans dream. It was filled with stars, dance, music, comedy and all that you can think of in one spectacular show. It was incredible to watch behind the scenes.


Deepika floored me with her amazing dance performance and she walked away with an award for "Best Female Actress" for the movie 'Picu.'  As a trainer I couldn't have been prouder. It was so rewarding watching a client perform live. All the hard work put into the training, dress rehearsals etc paid off. That moment was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
On the carpet at the IIFA Awards Madrid, Spain

Spiritual Lesson: The Universe loves to surprise you!

"I think you should come to India." (Enter jaw drop) as Deepika spoke these words. We were in the middle of a training session. I think my initial reaction was she's just kidding, but then judging from her tone I realized she was serious. 
"India!" "Wow"
I fell silent for a bit then said, "Ok I'll consider it." I think those were the words I formulated?  It was something along those lines anyway. I was just a bit thrown off by the unexpected offer. I refocused and resumed our training session. It was a lot to take in. I had to sit with this as the consideration for a relocation was a huge decision. I agreed to definitely give it a lot of thought. I knew that this was a great opportunity for me. Wow. Enter one Deepika Padukone in your life and suddenly it's drastically changed and for the better!

On January 2, 2017 I boarded a flight to Los Angeles. From there the adventure of my life continued in ways I couldn't have imagined. Deepika was touring to promote "XXX The Return of Xander Cage in what would be a hectic travel schedule and I accompanied her as her trainer. There were red carpet appearances in Mexico City, London England, Mumbai India and Los Angeles USA.  In this phase I helped train Deepika for all her red carpet appearances always working to help her mind, body and spirit. The training changed to help her look and feel her best for the various carpets, photoshoots, interviews, and all her media appearances. We had to work at maintaining her energy level for the demanding schedule accounting for multiple changing time zones. It was a whirlwind and I really enjoyed the experience.

London, England premier of "XXX The Return of Xander Cage" 

Spiritual Lesson: Always stay Grounded

Each week presented with new conditions which ultimately strengthened me as a trainer. I had to work and develop programs in new gyms, not always knowing ahead what equipment was available to me and yet best prepare her. It was during this period I realized just how important it is that you are balanced in mind, body and spirit and that neglecting one area can really throw you off your game. I saw how important it is to stay connected to your spirit and to be grounded or you can easily feel lost or overwhelmed. When your life is this demanding it’s ever more important to take the time to stay grounded. While working with Deepika in Toronto for "XXX" we established a foundation in helping her physically but also helping her to stay grounded. It was during this tour that I could see how this was significant  in to the program I designed for her. Regular grounding is an important part of my daily living and for every client I work with. When you're grounded life feels like you’re  in the flow of the universe with minimal resistance. It makes turbulent times more manageable. 

Spiritual Lesson: Stay open to the idea that there are  greater possibilities then your limited dreams

Bollywood was never on my radar. I've had many vision boards over the years and nowhere on there had I ever indicated to the universe any aspirations of becoming a Bollywood trainer. But I always remain open. In my daily prayer I state the following:

"God I say yes to your greatest plan and your highest vision for me."

Once the tour was complete we were off to Mumbai. I officially felt like I was now a #BollywoodTrainer. Deepika was shooting her latest epic movie "Padmavati."  I had to once again shift the focus and the type of training as this role would now centre around  Padmavati, a legendary 13th - 14th century Indian Queen. This was Deepika's most challenging role to date. It was important to continue to keep Deepika grounded, and energized for the highly demanding role.

  I was now living in a foreign country working in a new environment. I had to utilize new resources, as I had in all the different cities we had travelled, to ensure that I was meeting Deepika's needs to help her with this role. I continued to learn a lot about myself. I learned how to be more flexible, creative and apply my knowledge in so many foreign environments and still design the appropriate programs to best help Deepika. Along with shooting the movie,  Deepika  had various commitments including photoshoots for magazine covers, commercials and ads as well as red carpet appearances including, the Cannes Film Festival! This entailed a hectic travel schedule. I had to design her programs to help her with her multifaceted and demanding schedule. During this period Deepika was named "Hottest Woman of the Year" by Maxim India! 

Spiritual Lesson: Make Self Love your primary intention for every choice you make in your life

Having the biggest Bollywood star named "Hottest Woman of the Year" is a huge feather in the cap of any trainer. I was really proud of her and the amazing work we had accomplished thus far. But I also wanted everyone who was in some way inspired by Deepika's amazing body to know that as a trainer my goal is to help every client be the best version of themselves. When we are our best selves we can have healthy and positive relationships with ourselves and others. We feel joy and see the beauty in everything and everyone. This journey is not about having nice arms, abs etc but it is a journey that allows for our greatest transformation when we begin our work from the inside. It's is not just a physical transformation. To really have the body you desire,  make self-love your priority. Let your actions, thoughts and emotions be lead with the most sacred love you can have for yourself. This is your true assignment. Treat your body with self-love and your workouts as an act of self-love. A positive intention will always have a positive outcome. And if you do so your world and life will open in ways in which you cannot even dream of. If today you don't have the body you want love it anyway. Treat it with respect and kindness. This is the foundation in which I train every client. 

Spiritual Lesson: Be Willing to Let Go of Your Dreams

Joseph Campbell said it best with this famous quote:

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us" 

This experience in my life has taught me that though I had my plans God definitely had a better one. Many of us including myself get fixated on our goals and dreams. And in some cases these may be limited in serving us.   You can write down your goals and dreams or put them on your vision board but add to that the following:

"God please grant me this or something better.. Thank You,"
"I say yes to your greatest plan and your highest vision for me."
The universe always wants to gift you more then you could ever desire for yourself. So be willing to let go of your limited dreams.

Now that I'm back home in Toronto reflecting on the what's possibly the most adventurous  year of my life, I can't help but wonder what the universe is conspiring for me next? Either way when the next door opens I am more than prepared to walk through.

Spiritual Lesson: Get curious!

I can't help but wonder what else is crazy possible? God has a plan for us all. And whatever that may be, I am willing to say yes to it all.


  1. Farhan you are amazing...loved reading about your experience and am wishing you all the very best...yes is the 2018 key word ��

  2. Wao. From a simple hashtag, I was directed to my today's positivity boost. You have a knack of pen ship. Keep on add new content. :)

    Just to be curious, do you do video tutorials of your workouts for beginners?

    1. Thanks so for contacting me. At the moment I have a few sample exercises on youtube and Instagram. My user name is Farhan Dhalla for both. And yes I plan on continue to write. I appreciate the feedback.