Fitness & Performance Centers:
Applying Wellness Concepts to Build Energy

Sarah Pozdol is the Director of Fitness at Chicago Highlands Club in Westchester, Illinois.

My fitness experience dates back more than two decades and includes over ten certifications in various areas of fitness, including personal training, USA Weightlifting, yoga, mobility, golf, obstacle course racing and ownership of a CrossFit studio.

I started a wellness company just before the pandemic, taking our services into small businesses and corporate settings to work with companies’ employees. As we prepared to launch on a greater scale in Maui on Thursday, March 12, 2020, the world shut down and our business was derailed. As my business partner went a different direction, I continued my Kinesiology studies at The University of Illinois Chicago.

I recently celebrated one year at Chicago Highlands Club, managing our fitness center, staff and the fitness programming offered to members. My focus with members is much about maximizing energy and establishing overall wellness, more so than just physical fitness.

Fitness, the state of preparedness, goes far beyond finding time for movement and the act of exercise itself. Understanding and performing proper movement is just the beginning. Wellness is about maximizing one’s energy through movement, balanced nutrition, proper recovery and integration of habit change principles to make these things sustainable.

I found golf a year and a half ago and now play virtually every day. I love this sport because there is always something to work on. It requires constant development, whether it is strategizing to overcome environmental changes or my own physical capabilities. And I’ve come to understand the importance of maintaining energy during a round of golf and can correlate the many health, wellness and fitness concepts I’ve taught for many years to life on the course.

At Chicago Highlands, much of my engagement with members is one-on-one, whether golf-related or not. I ask questions about their lifestyle, their eating and sleeping habits and overall level of activity. I work with many non-golfing spouses and strive to get them moving better, eating better and sleeping better. I want to elevate their energy levels to pursue the game of golf and try something new. I’ll teach the concept of dissociation and help them realize they can swing a golf club, and will then get our PGA of America Golf Professionals involved to take it from there from a golf perspective. I basically help to build the car, and our golf professionals teach them how to drive it. Having the confidence to step out of their comfort zone is vital to taking up the game.

I consider four pillars in helping members build a foundation and maximize their energy level:

  1. Movement
  2. Nutrition
  3. Stress management and recovery
  4. Integration (How to change daily habits)

When I ask the questions in my initial assessment, I can target what I can either personally assist them with or direct them to the appropriate resource within our facility – massage, yoga, stretch labs, healthier snacks and meals onsite or advice for better diets at home.

It all goes back to energy and movement and includes better cardiovascular health, increased cognitive function, better range of motion, stability, strength, power and stress recovery. It’s all about wellness and it all correlates to golf.