From the Journal News, Dec. 24
WHITE PLAINS - It's going to be a while before the blanket of snow melts, but a dedicated group of local golfers already is beginning to loosen up for next season here in the warmth of the Five Iron Fitness studio.
Actually, there's more than a good stretch involved.
"I almost lost my breakfast this morning," said a laughing Brad Smith, who spent an hour at the facility on Friday. "It was probably the most difficult session this year so far."
Swinging a golf club is now a serious athletic endeavor.
In recent years, professional and recreational golfers have discovered the benefits of regular fitness training. Everybody wants to be like Gary Player or Tiger Woods. It takes a little time away from the course, but the winter months provide an ideal window.
"A lot of people are jumping on that bandwagon," said Anthony Renna, a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist.
Renna discovered a niche in the industry and opened Five Iron Fitness in June, after spending a number of years making house calls.
"Golfers will do anything to get better," he said. "They'll do anything to gain a couple of yards or take off a couple of strokes. They are passionate. For me, it's more fun to work with people who are trying to get better at something."
Renna, who also has Titleist Performance Institute certification, currently has 25 full-time clients who visit the Post Road studio at least once a week for a golf-specific workout that emphasizes mobility, balance, power and energy.
He's not going to spend a lot of time on swing mechanics.
"Most of the people that are coming to me are being sent by golf professionals who are starting to understand that physical limitations are, for the most part, what's causing swing faults," Renna said. "I don't really get a lot of golfers in their 20s. I get people that realize they are losing flexibility, losing strength. They might be just getting tired on the back nine."
The process begins with a 90-minute full physical assessment.
"We're going to look at your ability to separate the upper body from the lower body," Renna said. "We're going to look at your ability to tilt the pelvis. We're going to look at core stability, thoracic and hip rotation. All of those are very important to golf.
"After the evaluation, we come up with some priorities. I'm going to work with your professional, too, and come up with some things we feel might help correct a particular flaw."
Most clients visit the facility once a week for an hour-long session. The initial evaluation costs $145, and each subsequent training session runs $95.
"Anthony likes to keep it moving," said Smith, a Pelham Country Club member who's been working out with Renna for two seasons from November to April. "We started with some aerobic exercise, and then did a lot of weights and bars. The last 15 minutes, there was cardio and more strength exercise.
"The biggest thing I feel when I'm out there is my back doesn't hurt anymore. I can play 36 holes of golf now, and I didn't used to be able to do that."
Other clients quickly note they do not measure success by a lower handicap index.
"I won't have that physical re-learning process when the season starts, and I am in better shape," said Rachel Orban, a real-estate attorney from Rye who's been working out at Five Iron Fitness since August. "Before I started, I sometimes had back pain during my practice session from sitting at a computer all day. I no longer have any back pain, and feel stronger. I anticipate that I will have a great golf season when the weather gets warmer and, in any event, I will be much more fit than before I started."
That's why Renna is busier at this time of year than any other.
"For me, it's like: What recession?" he said. "And when the season gets started, a lot of them will do the program from home. But winter is a busy time, and February will be even crazier."
Check out FiveIronFitness.com