Many professional golfers are going to great measures to maximize their fitness in the never-ending quest to enhance their game. We’ve seen early adopters such as Gary Player and Tiger Woods make golf fitness relevant as they piled up PGA Tour wins over the years. Today, we’re witnessing Rory McIlroy take a similar approach, including recent visuals that were released on social media and sports websites. While those trio of gentleman have often been associated with lifting weights, did you know that Pilates can have a major impact on golfers improving their game? To gain a better understanding of how this dynamic exercise serves as a benefit to players of all levels, we sat down with golf fitness specialist and Atomic Pilates owner Nika Eshetu for her insights.
AGC: How did you convince golfers to start integrating Pilates into their workouts?
NE: My training is in Pilates and when I started working with golfers, I noticed that the principles of Pilates to golf are just as they are with anything else. In golf you need to use your “powerhouse,” which incorporates your core and glutes. I found that getting golfers to work on their deeper muscle groups, along with their mobility are all exercises that Pilates work on.
AGC: What was the initial response that the golfers you train had to Pilates?
NE: Since most people in general associate Pilates with flexibility, they were open to the idea of Pilates being a positive for their golf game.
AGC: What are the main improvements you see with your golfer clients?
NE: What a lot of people don’t realize is that Pilates works on a lot of strengthening. My golf clients have been happy to see themselves getting more mobility and strength simultaneously. Since a lot of Pilates work in functional movements, clients often begin to notice that simple daily tasks are easier. For example, getting out of bed, lifting items around the house, and going on walks. Once clients are able to gain control and activate the muscles in in their body, they start finding the ability to disassociate their upper half from the lower half of their body, and can gain more stability in their lower body to be able to help them with their swing.
AGC: Tell us about Atomic Pilates and some of the cool things your team is doing over there.
NE: Atomic Pilates is located in North Hollywood. Our studio offers group classes and individual one-on-one sessions five days a week. We have instructors who are knowledgeable and able to work with any body type to help the individual meet or exceed their goals.
AGC: What is the best Pilates exercise for young golfers compared to older golfers?
NE: Age is irrelevant. Joseph Pilates said, “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” I don’t look at age. I only look at what the individual’s body can do and work with everybody on a case-by-case basis. Universally, doing bridges is an exercise I give everybody to get the glutes and core activation working together.
AGC: What makes Pilates difficult for golfers who have never experienced it?
NE: The most difficult part is the mind and body connection. There’s a lot of concentration in Pilates to try to activate specific muscle groups and work them properly. This is also another reason why Pilates is so good for golfers, because golf is a game where you need the mind and body to connect as well.
AGC: Describe how you help clients reach their fitness goals.
NE: I really believe in TPI’s programs and assessments. Since I’m TPI-certified, I like to use the different assessment tools and screens I’ve learned through TPI. This way, I’m not blindly guessing what is going to help a client for their golf game. I have a road map for exactly what we need to work on.
AGC: Are there any prerequisites for golfers who want to do Pilates?
NE: Pilates is for everybody! If you have an active injury causing pain, you should always seek out a medical professional first before starting any new exercise program.
In case you’re one of those golfers who is open-minded about trying new tools to better your game, you might want to give Pilates a test drive. As Eshetu stated in our interview, it is a method that has been proven to increase flexibility, mobility, and strength when done consistently. Will you give the exercise a try? Let us know why or why not Pilates for golf improvement.