By Jeff Ritter
It's no secret many golfers neglect a proper warm-up before hitting the first tee. Whether it's a time issue or just not knowing what to do, most people aren't properly preparing their body to play.
In 2002 I was fortunate to have an experience that forever changed me in a very positive way. I was a paltry 143 pounds and desperate to look and feel like an athlete again. Long gone were my days of playing high school sports, the so-called "Glory Days" that people talk about as their beer bellies push up against the bar during happy hour. One morning looking into the mirror, I had that dreaded moment where I said to myself, "How in the world did I let myself get like this?" I, of course, knew the answer. I was slammed at work, ate poorly and didn't get enough sleep. I had turned into exactly what I had swore I'd never become.
I needed to make a change and fast. I had learned that a new training facility was opening within walking distance of my lesson tee called Athletes' Performance. Upon doing some research, I found that AP was the real deal. This wasn't a gym, it was an offseason haven for the world's greatest athletes. I made contact with AP's Founder, Mark Verstegen, and asked if I could visit to ask a few questions.
I never expected to train there, I just wanted some direction on what I could do to get my life back together. I had met Mark briefly at the golf course and felt comfortable enough to reach out to him. Upon arrival, that comfort level quickly changed. As I slid through the facility corridor, I took note of the jerseys plastered against the walls. Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm, Curt Schilling, Max Starks, Nikolai Khabibulin. "What am I doing here?" I thought. Upon meeting with Verstegen, he was supportive of my goal and asked if I could be at the facility the next morning at 6 a.m.
I went to bed a few hours earlier than normal and arrived at 5:45. As we broke to our first rotation, the raucous sound system started booming the "Rocky" soundtrack as inspiration through the speakers. Standing outdoors on the Astroturf field, my body shivered as I gazed up at the still pitch black sky. Verstegen's voiced barked commandingly, as my first challenge took shape.
Learning the "World's Greatest Stretch." My body was stiff and rigid as each move challenged my poorly-conditioned muscles. Part of me wanted to quit, but motivation echoed across the field as Verstegen led the charge. It was Bill Conti's theme song, "Going The Distance." In that moment my entire life changed. I spent nearly 8 years training at AP which is now known as EXOS. In that time I had the pleasure of training alongside countless pro athletes and even spent a few seconds in a cold plunge with Phil Mickelson talking pro football. If anyone knows who the third string center is for the San Diego Chargers, it's him.
To this day I thank Mark Vestergen for helping activate my lifestyle and I start every training routine by incorporating this awesome "all in" exercise. Try doing the same and you'll put your body in great position to be your best on or off the course.
In the video below, noted trainer David Jack and I explain how to execute this crucial stretch properly.
Loosen Hamstrings, Hips, and Torso
Prepare For Daily Activity