By David Raterman, Correspondent
September 14, 2012
Palm Beach Gardens resident Stacy Lewis is the No. 2 ranked women's golfer in the world. Since her LPGA debut in 2009, she's won three tournaments, including two this year.
Lewis, 27, was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and, seven years later, had an operation to fix the curvature in her back.
Today, she exercises up to seven days a week, even during tournaments, to remain at the top of her game.
Q: Why do you keep fit?
A: More than anything, to keep from getting hurt. And to stay healthy, keep my back, legs stronger. It keeps golf easier. We're playing so much throughout the year, I have to stay in shape. It's always nice when your clothes fit a little nicer. In golf especially, it's about how much confidence you have. And if you feel good getting up every day, you'll do better.
Q: What's your workout routine?
A: I usually try to work out five days a week. My trainer gives workouts for when I'm on the road. I'm always working the same muscles, but every workout is different. I don't do a lot of cardio. We're walking so much with golf, five to seven miles per day, so it doesn't make sense to run three miles after the gym.
I do a lot of weight training. Core, a lot of abs and back, and then squats and squat jumps, lunges. Doing stuff for shoulders and back. It's a total body workout pretty much. For shoulders, I do shoulder presses, one-arm shoulder presses or alternating. Different variations, so you're always testing yourself.
Q: You play golf almost daily. When can you work out?
A: If I'm playing a tournament, the workout depends on my tee time. I'll get up early and stretch if [I have] an early tee time. Then a full workout at night [after playing]. With golf and rain delays, we always have to adapt. I found it wakes me up and energizes me for the day if I do an early workout and have a late tee time.
My workouts are for an hour to 1 1/2 hours. I usually do three sets of everything. I'll start out harder Monday and Tuesday. When tournaments start later in the week, I'm doing only two sets and lighter weights.
Q: So you stretch to warm up for tournament play?
A: I'll spend five minutes on a bike to get the blood moving in my legs, and then 10 to 15 minutes stretching. Nothing crazy. Just to wake me up.
Q: Is golf physically tough?
A: I wouldn't say I'm exhausted at the end of a round. It's more about playing every day. Three weeks in a row we'll play, meaning around 19 days. So you're feeling it. I work out to play well not just the first week but the third week. Need to keep up your stamina. [The LPGA] season is February to November, so it's most of the year. I play 25 to 30 events per year, usually four days each. But we also have practice days and pro-am days. Tournament week, we're playing up to seven days a week including practice.
Q: What's one exercise that golfers can do to improve their game?
A: You get in a golfer stance and have a resistance band around something and cross your hands over your chest [while holding the band], and then rotate away from the band. Your goal is to keep your lower body from moving. You want to rotate just your upper body and shoulders without moving your lower body. In golf with amateurs, a common problem is no flexibility with the upper and lower body. But to swing a golf club properly, you have to have some separation in there.
Q: Ever played other sports?
A: I did swimming but quit before high school. You basically had to pick one sport at our high school, and I chose golf.
Q: Does your family keep fit?
A: Yeah, they do. One of my sisters and Mom run marathons, and my younger sister just completed a sprint triathlon. We've always been very competitive.
Q: How has scoliosis affected your game?
A: I was diagnosed when 11. Wore a back brace for 6.5 years to hopefully prevent the surgery, but that didn't work out so I had back surgery. I have a curvature in my spine, so the surgery basically straightened everything out. I have five screws in my back and everything rotates together in the spinal column. The operation was June 2003, right after graduating high school.
Today it's great, feels really good, knock on wood. I had one little issue in college but got that straightened out. That's part of why I work out, to keep the back strong.
Q: Any exercise advice for scoliosis patients?
A: Get your legs and abs strong, your back. I do all kinds of back extensions, lying on ground and lifting my torso up. I do Superman with arms and legs out and lift at the same time.
Q: What's your typical daily diet?
A: Breakfast is usually eggs or granola or anything with protein. For lunch, dinner, I'll eat anything. It's really hard when we're traveling so much to be good about diet. I try to be healthy with fruits and vegetables, but sometimes late at night I'm at an airport and there's not much to choose from.
Q: What do you drink?
A: Water. That's key when we're playing outside. And you got to hydrate the night before ... I don't like coffee and don't drink alcohol really. I'll have a Diet Coke every now and then.
Q: Any vitamins or sports nutrition products?
A: After I work out, my trainer wants me to have some kind of protein shake or other protein within 30 minutes.
City of residence: Palm Beach Gardens
Height/weight: 5 feet, 5 inches; 125 pounds
Occupation: Professional golfer