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Bringing Pilates to the golf community at Interlachen Country Club

Interlachen Country Club

When most people are given a golf club, tennis racket or baseball bat, they swing it with all of their power coming from their arms. That’s their first mistake.

“You need to get that concept out of their heads and teach them the Pilates principle that the limbs are just an extension of the core and everything starts from the core,” says Mary Ann Dobesh, Pilates Specialist at Interlachen Country Club, one of the top 60 private golf courses in the United States and the leading golf course in the state of Minnesota.

“If you can help them make that connection in their brain, it will be reflected in their body and then their golf swing will change.”

Class standing stretching back in front of mirror

As an avid golfer, certified Pilates instructor and former business owner of a fitness program for golfers, Mary Ann has seen many clients improve their golf game once they finally make that mind-body connection.

“I have always understood how Pilates and golf go together and it was a vision I had from way back to have Pilates be part of Interlachen Country Club. Now my dreams have come true,” she says.

While Interlachen has long had mat-based Pilates classes and private sessions on the Reformer, it wasn’t until this past May that management and members decided to go ahead with renovating the lower level of the 1909 Tudor-style clubhouse into a fully-equipped fitness center overlooking the golf course. They also added a supervised play area called KidZone, where parents can drop off their kids while they exercise.

“Our general manager is young and forward-thinking. He had this vision of Interlachen being more than just a golf club, but a family-friendly, all-year-round multi-use country club facility. The one place where you go for everything,” Mary Ann says. “And the membership agreed.”

Students standing on Reformer stretching legs and holding Mini Stability Ball

There was no question that when the fitness center was built, it would be outfitted with the best-in-class equipment, including six Merrithew® SPX® Max Reformers, a Rehab V2 Max Reformer for the private treatment room, Peloton Stationary Exercise Bikes and WOODWAY Treadmills, among other high-end pieces.

Mary Ann had been using her own Rehab V2 Max Reformer to teach private sessions at the club since 2016, so it was a natural next step to purchase all Merrithew equipment for the new studio.

“I personally think Merrithew equipment is the best. The quality craftsmanship is obvious in how sturdy, smooth and substantial the equipment is. I like how efficient and functional it is as well, the gears, handles, straps— everything makes sense,” she says.

To complement the new equipment, they also developed an extensive group fitness schedule, boasting more variety than many city gyms. In addition to the 11 Pilates classes offered per week, they also have barre fusion, yoga flow, HIIT, golf fitness, strength and golf flexibility classes.

“The demand for the Pilates Reformer classes was so high, we had to purchase two more Merrithew Reformers (for a total of six) and hire two more Pilates instructors,” Mary Ann says.

Students seated on Reformers

While many of Mary Ann’s clients this season have been young and middle-aged women interested in Pilates for general health and wellness, she’s confident that once golf season is over, more golfers will want to incorporate Pilates into their off-season training and conditioning.

“Once they see how much the stability, balance, spinal rotation and core work from Pilates can change their golf game, this whole program will be on fire.” Mary Ann is getting ready for that influx of golfers by incorporating the language and mental game of golf into her Pilates lessons. “I play golf myself and I’m very passionate about it, so I can talk the talk. I try to help clients visualize their golf game during their Pilates workout.”

Interlachen’s decision to expand its fitness offering has already started bearing fruit, with now over 500 membership families able to enjoy the new facility and programming.

Students lying back on Reformers using ropes

“Adding two more Pilates instructors to serve the active membership will be a big help and opportunity to grow the program. We will continue to refine our class schedule with future additions of mat, Cardio-Tramp® Rebounder, small equipment and foam roller classes,” Mary Ann says. “The future for Pilates at Interlachen Country Club looks bright!”

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