|Publication: Today's Golf|
The Swing of Things
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GOLF TIPS - Monday, March 10, 2008
"Tips... News... And More... All For The Love Of The Game"
I lost my workout mojo after a minor injury took me out of my
routine. Now it's been two months since I've done anything
remotely resembling exercise and the season's about to begin.
All my old, familiar aches and pains have returned and I'm
less than motivated to start the regimen up again. I'm sure
I'll get motivated once I try to walk 18 again.
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Discovering the benefits of balance
Fitness has been on my mind, so I dug this out of the archives
OK, I looked in the mirror and saw an impostor.
This created the latest addition to my wish list: I want to be
Tiger Woods. Forget the power. Forget the 340-yard drives. I
can't do that. I want to look like Tiger Woods. You better
believe that millions of golfers are paying attention to his
buff body as he walks out of the shower in his new American
The influence of Woods on golf fitness has been enormous. And
it will continue to grow. The cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking
professional golfer of another era is unthinkable today. Most
skilled players now pay as much attention to their bodies as
they do their golf swings. Which will make David Ostrow,
president of Body Balance for Performance, a busy guy.
Body Balance for Performance (www.fitgolf.com) has more than
60 centers around the United States and Canada, all of them
dedicated to producing better, stronger, more flexible golfers.
After all, the body is the machinery of golf. The swing is just
the motion made possible by the machinery. Broken down
machinery, broken down swing. Malfunctioning body,
malfunctioning swing. Which reminds me of a question I heard
recently: "Is Craig Stadler really an athlete?"
Fitness expert Roger Fredericks (www.fredericksgolf.com) had
an answer for that one: "Let's see. He plays golf just about
every day, and he walks five to seven miles every time he plays.
In addition, he hits a few hundred golf balls every day. He has
been doing this for 40 years -- all the turning and rotating
that is involved in the golf swing. "Stadler has a very athletic
swing. He has explosive hip action when he hits the ball. Is he
an athlete? Of course he is. He may be overweight, but he is an
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Just as Woods is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, so is Body
Balance for Performance.
The genesis of Body Balance can be traced back to the early
1980s, when scientific studies were conducted to precisely
measure muscle activity during the golf swing. This research
identified which muscles were most involved in the swing, and
it provided a look at how these muscles work together.
Furthermore, it helped determine why injuries sometimes occur
From 1984 to 1988, Paul Callaway, the founder of Body Balance
for Performance, served as the director of physical therapy
for the PGA Tour. During this time, Callaway assisted with
clinical research to support the scientific studies. He
evaluated how proper physical conditioning improved
performance and minimized injuries. Based on this experience,
Callaway created a golf-specific fitness regimen and thera-
peutic treatment program. Body Balance was off and running.
In January, 2003, Body Balance was purchased by Ostrow and
Neil Chasan, both physical therapists. The national head-
quarters is located in Exton, Pa., which is also the site of
the National Training Center for Body Balance for Performance.
Ostrow's goal has been to keep Body Balance at the forefront
of golf exercise, while also expanding the Body Balance
franchise network of health and fitness centers.
Golfers everywhere seem to be talking about core fitness,
core training and core muscles. Many don't know exactly what
they are talking about, but this modern exercise philosophy
sounds important and can result, as distance-starved golfers
are learning, in longer drives.
That's the core of the matter: Golfers want to hit the ball
farther, and core fitness is one way to gain extra distance.
However, this emphasis on core offers much more.
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"Improve your golf, improve your life," is how Ostrow states
the case for core fitness. "You can feel better all day long."
Core means center. It refers to the trunk of the body, the
area between the thighs and chest. It encompasses the important
abdominal muscles and three areas that have a huge impact on
the golf swing -- the lower back, pelvis and hips.
Core training, when done correctly, can enhance flexibility.
It can provide additional strength and stability in the golf
swing. It can result in extra swing speed and yardage.
Protection of the spine is another benefit. It can help
prevent joint and muscle injuries and boost stamina. It can
In the beginning, most of the exercises do not involve
weights or machines. Inflatable exercise balls and heavier
medicine balls are used for stretching and strengthening. In
many of the prescribed maneuvers, the body's own weight
provides resistance. The routines involve an array of
positions, such as laying on exercise mats, leaning against
walls, or simulating moves in the golf swing.
In advanced stages of training, there is more emphasis on
strengthening, but core training is not weightlifting or part
of the grunt-and-groan circuit. Slow, deep breathing is a
consistent and essential part of core training.
Ostrow's philosophy: "When the body is out of balance --
meaning some muscles are strong, others are weak, still others
tight -- it changes how the balance and equilibrium systems
function. This functional change affects your ability to swing
a golf club consistently. If the swing you want is hampered by
your body's imbalances, then you can expect most swing changes
to be temporary unless you have extraordinary talent and hit
thousands of balls each week."
What this means is that a person's body will tend to "steer"
the golf swing in the direction of these imbalances. The big
question: How does a golfer determine whether these core
imbalances are interfering with his or her golf swing?
"Find a trainer," Ostrow advises, "who truly understands these
relationships and also understands the golf swing. Have your
body assessed. Then you can work on removing any imbalances
that may be there."
Body Balance for Performance, a wonderful name that portrays
exactly what the company is trying to achieve, is there to
help golfers. It is the largest golf fitness operation in the
world, although local golf fitness programs can be found in
various cities around North America. Remember, it's never too
late. Many of Ostrow's clients are in their 60s and 70s.
"Middle age men -- I'm talking about 40 to 65 -- generally are
very tight," Ostrow says. "They need gads of deep tissue work
to make the stretching be effective and produce meaningful
range of motion changes. We see this more in white-collar
types, but it is prevalent in most middle aged men. Exercise
programs should vary with age, with individual needs, and with
the goals of the golfers. Everyone has slightly different
needs, but they all have to understand what it takes in order
What it takes is dedication and a commitment to regular
exercise. The potential rewards, including more distance off
the tee, should make it very appealing to most golfers.
Especially the ones who, like me, took a long look in the
James Achenbach is a Golfweek senior writer.
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