Pilates helps give golfers flexibility, strength

Posted: April 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

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As the world's greatest golfers competed last week at the Masters, Larry Novik just wanted to improve his game. He took up golf three years ago, at the relatively late age of 37, and became frustrated with his inability to play at a consistent level.

Novik, who lives in Saratoga Springs, isn't trying to become Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. He said he usually can get his score under 100, but not much lower. (Most pros can shoot in the 60s on much longer and more difficult courses.) "I was struggling as I was learning," Novik said. "Every once in a while you'd hit a flush, crisp shot and say, `I want to be able to do that again.' Mostly what my teacher was saying was my posture was slipping, for whatever reason.

"I got to talking to people about it, and they said, `You've got to get more flexible. You've got to get more core strength. You didn't grow up playing golf. Now that you're getting serious about it at this age, you've got to exercise.'?" His quest took him down a path not traveled by many golfers. Novik turned to Pilates, a body-conditioning system that helps build flexibility and posture by working core muscles.

Unlike many types of exercise that use only the big muscle groups, Pilates works the entire body. The foundation, which Pilates instructors call the "powerhouse," includes the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs.

Novik is in week eight of a 10-week program at Reform, a Romana's Pilates studio that stays authentic to the Joseph Pilates method.

"We're trying to give him the flexibility and strength so he can play golf better," said Cindy Potoker, one of Novik's instructors at Reform.

"He was very tight in the upper back through his hip area, so we've been trying to strengthen that and loosen it up." Meghan Del Prete, the studio owner, said she has never played golf, but she was able to detect what Novik needed to do to reach his goals.

"I had him show me some video, and he showed me his swing," she said. "He showed me an ideal swing and how the shoulders separate from the back. He said, `If you look at my swing, you can see they don't separate as much as they should.' " Novik goes through three one-hour sessions weekly with an individual instructor. He will do numerous exercises on each piece of apparatus.

Much like a football coach, the instructor has a plan of an exercise routine for the student but may alter that in the middle of a session.

Del Prete said, "We have to really think on our feet: `The body needs this,' or `That didn't really get what I was trying to have them get out of that exercise. What is another way I can get the same result?'

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Pilates helps give golfers flexibility, strength

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April 20th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

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