by: Kerrie Lee Brown, Merrithew Health & Fitness™
With the New Year around the corner, golf enthusiasts are anxiously waiting for the next season to be in full swing. In the meantime, golfers are looking for pre-season conditioning options to build strength, increase energy and get in shape for their favorite sport.
Over the past five years additional forms of fitness have become a huge part of the athlete’s daily routine. In order to keep on top of their game, pros are realizing the benefits of alternative methods of exercise to increase power, align the body, and work their core. In particular, their focus on conventional weight training has been complemented with the need to work on balance, flexibility, core stability and mental focus.
“Golf demands a delicate balance of mental and physical skill,” explains Mr. Lindsay G. Merrithew, President and CEO of The Merrithew Health & Fitness Group. “Pilates enables you to focus on both through mind-body awareness which provides insight into the connection between the physical and psychological components of athletic performance. Tiger Woods, David Duval, Rocco Mediate, Sean O’Hare, Lee Jansen all incorporate Pilates into their training regimen.”
Pilates helps develop core strength, increase flexibility, assists in rehabilitation after injury and creates balance throughout the entire body. As aresult, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and improve the necessary skills for their activity of choice. The increase in range of motion results in the potential for longer drives.
“It’s a form of overall strength and conditioning used in the development of strong core musculature which also focuses on breathing, balance
and range of motion,” says Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for STOTT PILATES®, Merrithew’s premier brand. “Pilates is
now being used by golfers — men and women — to help increase hip stability, and strengthen the deep abdominal muscles and upper mid-back.”
Pilates is a key component to athletic conditioning because it focuses on the deeper muscle groups, local and global stabilizers. These are key
in controlling joint movement and in sustaining the stability of the joints that can often be compromised through repetitive and high demand
training. As well, the physical awareness of efficient muscular firing patterns that the athlete gains through a strong Pilates program can aid in
their movement control, enabling them to increase their level of performance.
“Pilates works on developing kinesthetic awareness of the body, or where it is in relationship to itself, and the world around it. It also focuses on good postural alignment which will help an individual perform a movement efficiently, thus reducing the amount of unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints,” Moira adds. “Specific strengthening exercises will also help to balance the muscles around a joint and balance pairs of muscles that support the joints.”
In fact, the benefits of Pilates training to the modern-day golf swing are so well documented that many national golf schools and coaches are
implementing classes into their programs. Michael Hunt, Golf Pro and Lead Master Instructor at the Jim McLean Golf School agrees that Pilates is great exercise for golfers. “Pilates helps strengthen the core, which is instrumental in the golf game, and having a strong core allows you to set up to the ball correctly and efficiently without pain. When you have the correct address position, you have a better chance to swing correctly. When you’re swinging, because Pilates emphasizes initiating from the core through the peripheral limbs, power is generated from the ground up, which will lead to an increase in clubhead speed.”
It’s all about the core. John Garey, STOTT PILATES® Master Instructor Trainer and owner of John Garey Pilates in Los Angeles, trains men and women for athletic conditioning regularly. “I’ve heard from many athletes including golfers that when they take Pilates they start to think about their body and its function differently. In particular, they start thinking about their ‘center’ or the ‘core’. Ultimately they find that they transfer all that they learn in the studio to the playing field – often subconsciously. We hear from clients all the time – whether they are cyclists, golfers, rugby players – that they find they have more power after taking Pilates,” explains Garey.
“In general, athletes are good at what they do, and since Pilates is often a foreign activity for them, they are forced to think about what they are doing physically and mentally. It’s not like a cyclist doing a Spinning class. Pilates makes athletes get back in touch with their basic training principles and therefore expands on what they already know. The benefits are amazing – increased power, strength and mobility.”