Remaking my swing and body through FitGolf

By Joe Logan
Published April 11, 2012

After a 90-minute evaluation of my body and my golf swing, David Ostrow, physical therapist extraordinaire, and I sat down at a conference table to review the results.


Ostrow, owner of FitGolf Performance Centers, formerly known as Body Balance for Performance, had the look of a physician who was about to deliver bad news.


"When I look at you," Ostrow began, almost somberly, "what I see is four functional issues."


Four functional issues...?


"One, you don’t touch your toes," Ostrow went on.


Okay, not to quibble, but technically, that is not correct.  It’s not don’t touch my toes; it’s can’t. 


Truth is, I can’t remember the last time I could touch my toes.  I’m not sure I ever could touch my toes, in my whole life, come to think of it.  I am 6-foot-1 and my toes are a long way away, for one thing.  For another, there is the fact that hamstrings are pathetically tight.


"Your left hamstring is actually short, too," Ostrow informed me.


"Oh, great," I said.





Before I go on, let me offer a little background on what’s going on here.


Ostrow is a familiar face to many in the Philadelphia golf community for his years running the Body Balance franchises in the area. In January 2003, Ostrow bought the entire company, then eight years olds.  What he got was 90 franchises spread out across the nation, about half of which were "dysfunctional," in his view.  He later discovered that another 22 or so were not so good, either.


Over the next year or so, Ostrow pared the company down to about 20 franchises, from New York to Honolulu, and moved the headquarters from California to Philadelphia -- specifically, to 701 E. Elm St., in Conshohocken.  That’s the studio where we are today. 


Ostrow also decided that what he really needed to do to make the company grow and prosper was to rename it and rebrand it.  Despite the name Body Balance, it had actually been primarily a nutrition company, with a golf fitness component, called FitGolf.   Because the vast majority of his clients were golfers looking to improve their game through improved fitness, Ostrow decided to focus strictly on golf fitness and rebrand the company with a name that made sense, FitGolf, beginning in 2012.


That’s where I come in.  Two weeks ago, to help spread the word about his company’s rebranding, Ostrow invited me over for a 90-minute evaluation of my fitness and how it might affect my golf game -- free.  I wasn’t sure quite what to expect or what would come out of it.



The evaluation


In his studio, the first thing Ostrow did was have me stand on a device that looks every much like a set of bathroom scales, except it measures how my body stacks up  -- the alignment of my ankles, knees, pelvis.  Is everything perfect in line or do I stand there like a wobbly stack of dinner plates?


Like most people, it turns out what I am slightly out of alignment; Ostrow reached into his bag of tricks and fitted me with a set of Aline shoe inserts, designed to improve my body alignment.


Next, he laid me out on an examining table and tugged and pulled and flexed, checking out my hamstrings, my glutes, among other muscles.  Standing again, he had me see how far I could turn my shoulders in each direction, and my hips.  All the while, he’s making notes.


After that, it was off to the hitting bay, where Ostrow hooked me up to an elaborate electronic harness that measured pretty much everything about my lower and upper body motion as I hit balls.


There was also paperwork involved.  Ostrow asked me a battery of questions about my over health, conditioning and about the state of my golf game.  What, he wondered, was my biggest complaint about my golf game?


Well, I can’t putt worth a lick, for one thing.  I’ve never met a short putt I can’t gag, or a long putt I can’t three-putt.  But other than that, I told Ostrow,  my biggest beef is my loss of distance in recent years.  I used to hit the ball a long way, 285 yards or more off the tee.  Now, when I kill it, I’m lucky to get 240-250 yards out of a tee shot.  The loss of distance is throughout my bag, from my driver down through my lob wedge.  I’ve had to completely recalibrate the yardages for each of my clubs.


In my own mind, I’ve attributed the gradual loss of distance to advancing age.  I’m not 35 any more -- I’m not even 55 any more.  Ostrow would tell me different.



The diagnosis


Even before Ostrow and I sat down at that conference table, I had a sense of what he was going to tell me,.  But not everything.


"You are my client," he declared almost immediately.  "You are typical."


To wit: I’m well into middle-age, I spend too much time sitting behind a desk or staring into a computer screen and, in my case,  I’m a little thicker around the mid-section than I used to be or hope to be.  It all adds up to a body that, let’s jus say, ain’t what it used to be.


What I notice most is, I can’t turn on the ball like I used to.  I try to turn, and it feels like I’m turning, but the computer printouts Ostrow slid across the conference table proved otherwise.


When I swing, my hips rotate 25-30 degrees; 40-45 degrees is normal.  That lack of rotation costs me in distance.  My upper body is no better, the rotation coming up 15-18 degrees short of where it should be.  I also can’t do a decent squat.  My glutes are weak and my abs aren’t great.


Basically, as I have lost my range of motion, my swing has become shorter, more arms than torque, which is where real power comes from. As for my lower body, rather than rotate, I unwittingly compensate by sliding my hips.


"You did a fabulous merengue, but there wasn’t much rotation," said Ostrow.  "That’s good for Dancing with the Stars but not necessarily good for the golf swing."




The real culprit in my lost of distance isn’t age, Ostrow told me, it’s loss of flexibility and range of motion.  The good news, that doesn’t have to be permanent.  You can’t turn back the clock, but you can improve your flexibility.


Ostrow is convinced he can help me regain my flexibility and range of motion.  It will take weeks of commitment, maybe the entire summer, but he promises he can get me to regain most of that 40 yards.


Before I left, Ostrow and I came to an agreement: He’ll put me through his program; in return I’ll write on-going updates on our progress.  What is he doing to me?  How does it feel?  What does it do for my golf game?  How about the overall quality of my life?  This is the first of those updates.


As I was about to leave, Ostrow said, "All I ask is one thing."  


Uh oh, here it comes, I thought.


But no, all he required was that I commit to truly working at his program.  Our weekly, hour-long sessions won’t be enough.  I’ll have to work at home, too.  He’ll give me specific exercises, based on what we did at the studio that week.  All he wants is 20-30 minutes each day.




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2 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  
Eleanor[4/12/2012 5:31:48 PM]
Does this mean you might win the Conrad Cup this year?
Steven[4/11/2012 5:05:46 PM]
Iíve been working with David for over a year. Heís great! My flexibility and balance have improved a lot. My distance and ability to make solid contact have improved as well. Kudos!
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