Pamela Warshay arching to improve abdominal and back stability.
Like most golfers, I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my mechanics and thus my overall game. Every so often you will encounter someone who has a lot of natural ability, maybe even enough to overcome faulty technique. Most of the time people do well on the golf course because they have put in the time and effort on their stance, swing, ball-striking, etc. Our new East Hampton neighbor, Vijay Singh, is an example of the latter - thanks to his legendary work ethic on and off the golf course. Tiger Woods
, another new neighbor in Southampton, is an example of both - extraordinary natural talent combined with the discipline to do what has to be done to remain the best player on the planet.
I'll wager that few of those who read this column have heard of Gyrotonic exercises. Yes, I was skeptical when I first heard of it too. But if Pamela Warshay has her way, Gyrotonic will become one of the most frequent forms of preparation for both professional players and weekend warriors.
Warshay was a modern dancer who in 1998 founded Sage Fitness, which is located at East 11th Street in Manhattan. The facility can be found in a large suite in a six-story structure that was originally a grand hotel built in 1853. It looks like a nursery school for adults. It's full of equipment ranging from the "reformer" - a spring-loaded bed used by Pilates instructors to lengthen and strengthen clients' muscles - top by a curvy wood and metal contraption which is a "Gyrotonic tower", developed by Juliu Horvath.
Horvath was born in Hungary but was raised in Romania. He was a dancer, but a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his career. After that, he founded the White Cloud studio in New York, which a few years ago he moved to Miami. He created the Gyrotonic Expansion System, which was studied by Warshay.
Gyrotonic is a system that increases rotation, joint mobilization, strength, and flexibility. It has already been adopted by some PGA Tour members, as well as weekend warriors because of its comprehensiveness and remarkable ability to address every component of a golf swing. The Gyrotonics exercises for golfers restore and improve the natural forces of body alignment. This is the basis for improving the functional strength, flexibility, endurance, and speed required for overall conditioning and for the correct swing.
Pamela Warshay twisting to improve rotation.
The golf clinics that Warshay conducts include a series of exercises called Gyrokinesis. These exercises serve the purpose of warming up before a round of golf or as an on-going program that can be done at home. They are excellent for gaining flexibility in the upper back and arms while accessing abdominal and leg stability. The clinics themselves focus on improving the golf swing through Gyrotonic exercises that help break down and improve the address position, hip turn, and shoulder turn in the golf swing. Warshay also teaches a 15-minute warm-up that golfers can do before playing a round to enhance their swing and give them an edge on the course.
According to Mark Wilson, winner of last year's Honda Classic, "It helped me tremendously to reach the PGA Tour. I do it before every round of golf." Wilson is defending his Honda title this month in Florida.
With the Gyrotonic tower in Warshay's studio - poised on the bench of the tower you hold wooden handles that guide your shoulders and arms through sweeping circular movements, such as twists, spirals, and figure eights. This activity improves posture and alignment, range of motion, and general flexibility.
"You can add weight," says Warshay, "thus developing strength on one side while stretching the other."
Another exercise is to lie on your back, insert your feet in little black slings, and the counterweights in the machine offer resistance and support as you move your legs in wide circles. All of the exercises engage the core abdominal muscles essential for general conditioning.
Warshay's newest clinics are Gyrokinesis Golf Warm-Up and Yoga for Golfers. The latter one, she says, "Teaches golfers how to clear and train their minds to stay focused on the moment, which is what the sport is all about. There is a Zen component to golf."
The good news for us in the Hamptons is that we don't have to travel to Sage Fitness in Manhattan to tune-up our golf game with Warshay. Though she says that she has several Hamptons clients who do come to her studio, sign-ups are now underway for clinics she will be conducting at golf clubs in Southampton and East Hampton beginning in June. The clinics that she conducted at the East Hampton Gym last summer proved to be very popular. This year's versions are officially titled 'Golf Enhancement Clinics.'
Ready to take a three-iron forward with your golf game? Go to www.sagefitness.com or call Warshay's studio at 212-982-5756. Tell her Hamptons.com sent you.
Switching gears: Is Tiger Woods going to lose a tournament this year? Here it is mid-March, the PGA Tour is over two months old already, and Tiger has yet to not win. The victory at Arnold Palmer
's tourney was his fifth in a row, which means that in 2008 Tiger has triumphed in every tournament he has played in.
Tiger has flirted with remarkable records before. He had previously won six tourneys in a row and the press began mentioning Byron Nelson's 11 in a row in 1945, the golf equivalent of Joe DiMaggio
's 56-game hitting streak in 1941. In 2000-2001 there was the "Tiger Slam," when he won four majors in a row. He wasn't given credit for the Grand Slam because the victories didn't come in the same calendar year.
It would seem that Woods has indeed dedicated himself to not losing a single tournament. One thing that has changed is that he doesn't shoot himself out of contention on Thursday or Friday, so he is in a better position to take command during the weekend. Also, thus far, he hasn't encountered a player hot enough to put the tournament even out of Tiger's reach by the end of Saturday's round. All this is going to add even more excitement to the Masters
in a couple of weeks.