Where to Start:
Building from the Ground Floor of Health and Wellness and Golf Fitness

Les Johns is an Independent Wellness and Fitness Coach in Naples, Florida.

Back in the days when “golf fitness” was better known as “fitness”, I worked in health and wellness and started touching golfers by simply offering blood pressure screenings at golf facilities and special events. Even before there was TPI, we were doing lectures and events that addressed the needs of golfers. We’d set up a tent and table strategically on the course with nutritional snacks and information about how better fitness could translate to better golf. We created stretching on the range which became more like golf stretching exercises, and as one effort spawned the next, we knew we were on to something.

I started working at a country club in Naples, Florida, and presented a lot of these same concepts and ideas to members from 2005-2010, when I became the Director of Wellness/Fitness. During those early years, I’d spend a lot of time on the range talking with members, engaging golfers and sharing my expertise. I was doing things on the range with golfers that would change how they felt when playing, and we would soon bring those efforts into the fitness studio. Before you know it I was fully booked. With such high demand, I got TPI-certified and completed the 40-week applied functional program through Gray Institute.

We built a 33,000 sq. ft. wellness facility in 2016, increasing the size of our space tenfold, and also created a golf performance center to demonstrate our full commitment to golf fitness and wellness. These facilities and our skilled team of professionals enabled a broad menu of services to be offered every day. They included yoga, pilates, dance, Barre, strength conditioning, Zumba, boot camp, water aerobics, spa, stretch, TRX training and spin, just to name a few.

We hosted 60-65 classes per week, provided personal training, promoted a lot of rotational movements and emphasized the importance of ground force and stability in maintaining an effective and repeatable golf swing. We strove to help our clients be more mobile in their golf and racquets play.

With more clients and more services, spending as much time on the range to spread our message wasn’t as feasible as it once was. However, we disseminated information about programs and special events through emails and club newsletters, as well as through facility TVs that display our calendars.

Our massage therapist performed deep tissue, therapeutic and medical services, and was often at events to get to know those members who didn’t normally frequent the wellness center. After all, every club has them. The massage therapist didn’t only demonstrate the importance of massage therapy but explained the short- and long-term benefits for golf and general wellness as well.

My team’s work with our PGA of America Golf Professionals was so vital to the continued growth and betterment of our members. We tied all fitness efforts back to golf to promote the interests of the golfer, and our golf instructors communicated with us about member needs and even provided videos of members’ golf swings. Together we helped the member improve. This ensured members were working on the right things between their sessions. Those relationships and that collaboration were vital, from the early days of sharing basic wellness information to analyzing videos of golf swings and communicating with golf pros. It also helps clients work on the right things when they’re on their own.

Today, I’m using the many relationships I’ve built in the industry to consult with local health and wellness professionals to help them acquire more clients and also aid them in maximizing the results they achieve. I’m working with local communities to devise plans to get more people to use their facilities and fitness services. After all, many communities and golf clubs don’t have Fitness Directors to guide their programming and engage individuals in health and wellness initiatives.

Educating individuals, as well as golf professionals, on the merits of fitness in golf player development programming keeps the progress we’ve made over two decades going. Designing programs, disseminating information and maximizing the efficiency of a studio space are all steps to create long-term relationships between golfers and fitness experts. Seeing these efforts come full circle over the years is satisfying and gratifying. Creating great experiences and deriving results from our efforts are what keep people coming back.