Pilates for Golfers

Pilates? It might have take a couple years for you to figure out how to say it (you don't need to ask your significant other, its pill-lat-tays, like what you'd take with your fancy coffee, and you learned how to say that, right?).

But if you found out it only took 15 minutes a day, required very little equipment, helps prevent the back and joint injuries that can wreck a golf season, and renowned golf instructor Butch Harmon credits with helping him hit the ball 20-25 yards farther, would you be a little more interested?

Here's the clincher. All of it makes incredible sense. As something to do for your general well-being, as well as your golf game.

Jenni Whitmer of Body Pilates in Hilton Head has been involved in Pilates for six years. But it was only after moving to the island last year that she realized the benefits of golf-specific Pilates techniques, and the demand for something that would link a low-stress exercise program to golf improvement.

"Pilates is all about increasing strength and flexibility at the same time," she says in her decided British accent. By combining strengthening and stretching, Pilates creates longer, leaner muscles that enhance rather than inhibit the golf swing. It also focuses on strengthening the "core" muscles in a golfer's midsection, where power and stamina originate.

Pilates instructors love to preach that they're teaching a "technique", not a series of exercises. That technique includes warm-up stretching designed to prevent the strains to the back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees that can prematurely end a round, or a season.

Their programs aren't particularly sweat-inducing or muscle-tiring, just toning and strengthening, with a focus on alignment, watching shoulders, hips and heels to create the proper spine angle, much like the proper alignment of your golf swing. And because it's not a "workout", you can actually do Pilates every day. Whitmer, who's taking the game up herself since moving to Hilton Head, demonstrates how increased core strength will create more stability in your swing and higher clubhead speeds, while eliminating back pain. 15 minutes-a-day that would probably improve your golf game more than a half-hour of hitting balls?

Whitmer, who is a certified Pilates for Golf instructor, is planning informational clinics at the Body Pilates studio this fall. For more information, contact her at (843) 842-5562 or at online at www.pilateshiltonhead.com.



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