It's no secret that physical conditioning is more important to your game than your equipment. While that doesn't necessarily mean you need to be as cut as Tiger Woods or Camilo Villegas, it's worth considering that even doughboy Phil Mickelson works out.
Strength and flexibility are obviously the keys to the golf swing and Mike Pedersen, a trainer and author specializing in golf, aims to loosen you up in his newest video as he leads you through an extensive stretching routine.
With an ever-growing number of DVDs and websites like the Titleist Performance Institute devoted to golf fitness, Pedersen's offering faces considerable competition. Here's how we think it stacks up…
Mike Pedersen has been a fitness trainer for 24 years and for the last 10 has concentrated on helping golfers. A former nationally ranked college track star and decathlete, he earned his degree in exercise physiology from Oregon State University.
He's certainly got the credentials and the body to go with them. He's in remarkable shape for someone I'd guess to be in his mid-40s. But, then again, that's his business. Like most ripped fitness professionals, he eschews body hair. I always thought that a little creepy, but I'm old and so what do I know?
After the obligatory FBI warning and medical disclaimer (if you're so out of shape you need this DVD, don't use it until you see a doctor and, most of all, please don't sue us), Pedersen gets right into the routine.
According to him, one of his goals was to avoid a lot of extraneous talk and instruction that would get old quickly as you repeatedly watch the video. I think that's a very good strategy, but as I'll discuss later it comes with some drawbacks.
The first 30 minutes or so are devoted to a series of stretching exercises that target all the major muscle groups. No body part seems to go un-stretched. Hamstrings, glutes, lower back, hips, quads, shoulders, and calves all get some attention. Where appropriate, each stretch is performed symmetrically on both sides of the body.
Most of the stretches in the routine I've seen elsewhere in other programs. None of them require any equipment other than perhaps a mat or some sort of block.
Pedersen does a very good job of talking you through the setup for the stretch as he demonstrates and holds it as you follow along. But it wasn't until about 15 minutes into the routine that he tells you to hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
During some of the stretches he gives hints on how to perform the exercise if you're not as flexible as he is. I could have used more of that. There is no way this older, out-of-shape body could come close to some of the positions Pedersen can get to. His physique and fitness are, frankly, pretty intimidating.Can you do this? I can't come close. Maybe that's why I need this DVD.
More than once I found myself talking to the screen saying things like, "yeah… right" or "you've got to be kidding me."
At about 34 minutes into the program he begins to demonstrate four more very golf-specific stretches that he recommends you do every day. Two involve using a chair as a prop. All are performed while holding a golf posture. These can be performed in about eight minutes.
In his short (short is good) wrap-up to the program, he suggests that you do the full routine two or three times a week.
The program is long on the variety of stretches and intensity. It's short on instructions and recommendations. Notes inside the DVD case tell you to use a mat or use shoes that won't slip; pause the DVD if you need a breather; and that the stretches may be difficult at first. No kidding.
So on the one hand you have a DVD that's not as mind numbingly boring to watch over and over. On the other hand, you're not given a lot of encouragement or information on how to incorporate the stretches into other fitness activities or how to measure your progress.
I've produced and directed many videos over the years so I can't help but be critical of some aspects of the DVD that may bear little on the worth of the content or the stretching routines. That said, here goes…
The video was shot outside the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona on a practice putting green. Beyond the cacti plantings that make up the backdrop is an entrance to the hotel.
I'm guessing they decided they needed a golf-related site for the video, but in choosing this location (probably also because it was quiet and in the shade) they set themselves up for something that drives me wild. No less than 15 times we're treated to hotel guests wandering into and out of frame as they enter and exit the hotel.One of 15 or so hapless innocents who wander through the video. If you get this DVD tell me how many you spot.
The more I watched the video, the more I lapsed into a "Where's Waldo?" mindset where I tried to catch a glimpse of every unwitting civilian who appears in the video. It's probably not that big a deal, but it would have been to me had I produced this thing.
The program was shot with one camera so there was little chance to edit in cutaways to cover the intrusions. The one camera also makes some of the cuts to alternate angles a little awkward. Camera work was a little shaky at times, but not so bad as the casual observer would be bothered.
I don't think the production crew taped a lot of takes. That's because they ended up having to use the scene pictured above in which Pedersen refers to this position as mimicking the followthrough for a right hander. Obviously, he meant the backswing, but it was an innocent mistake that they had no alternate footage available to correct.
There's a music bed that's some dreamy new age stock theme that's at best relaxing and unobtrusive. Its slow tempo is a good match for the slow pace of the stretches. But it is elevator music.
The DVD is not programmed at all. That means there's no menu available to let you quickly jump to any particular exercise or, say, to skip to the end to the four "daily" stretches. It's not a huge problem since there's really no introduction to skip through in repeated viewings. But it is annoying.
Thus the program might have benefited from graphic captions that numbered or named the exercises so you could more easily find them as you scanned the video.
What I Liked
I thought the stretches were excellent and comprehensive. It's a very good workout. I also liked that no equipment was needed. Pedersen's directions for the exercises were enough to get you into the proper position without being overkill.
What I Didn't Like
Trying to follow a nearly perfect physical specimen through these routines can be discouraging if you're anything like me. It might have helped to see some codger try these stretches as Pedersen explained them and offered suggestions when the example tied himself into a Gordian knot. As I said before, some of the production shortcomings bothered me, but that's just me.
This is a good, straight forward, and simple stretching routine held back only, I think, by a lack of supplemental instruction and information and a few production details. As with all such programs, however, its true merit will depend completely on how diligently you follow it. In the end, it's always up to you.
It's a good value at $24.95 plus shipping and can be ordered from Mike Pedersen's web site here.