By DAVID W. KEEN
When you suffer a setback in life, there are two ways to react: you can allow self-pity to take over and give up, or you can force yourself to see the opportunities that lie ahead. For council member Eric Ah Yuen, achieving his dream of winning a tae kwon do world championship gold medal came with the devastating setback of a career-ending injury. That’s when he turned to the game of golf, and turned a setback into an opportunity.
Faced with no longer being able to train for the same eight to 10 hour days he was used to, Eric, on the advice of his doctor and friend, took up golf instead. Like many of us, the elusiveness of the game had him hooked immediately. He realized that the same training — both physically and mentally — that had brought him a gold medal, could be used to help the very best in golf achieve their goals as well.
“I thought my friend was crazy when he said to try golf,” says Ah Yuen, “you know, I thought it was the most boring sport in the world, I didn’t watch it, didn’t play it — I had never held a club in my life. But I went to the range, looked like a fool and fell in love.”
Ah Yuen says the explosive motions involved with tae kwon do translate well to golf. The stresses put on the body’s core when punching and kicking is not unlike that of a golf swing. Combine that with the mental focus necessary to compete at the very highest level tae kwon do has to offer, and Ah Yuen had all the knowledge necessary for a career on the PGA Tour.
Unlike the old days of golf, players can no longer afford to overlook strength and conditioning and expect to compete at the highest level. As Ah Yuen says, with the rigorous travel schedule combined with the players’ taxing practice routines, not doing their part to keep their bodies in peak physical condition is akin to waiting for their body to break down.
“People think ‘strength and conditioning’ is something used just to get strong, but a lot of it is prevention,” says Ah Yuen. “If you get injured out here, you know, it’s not a sport where you sign a 10-year contract, every single year you’ve got to prove yourself to keep your card.”
Ah Yuen works with PGA players like Robert Garrigus to make sure they stay healthy for the long grind of the PGA Tour schedule as well as maximizing their physical and mental prowess.
“Obviously the technology and the equipment have a lot to do with the advancements of the sport, but you can’t overlook the importance of being in shape. Once a few players started taking better care of themselves, it forced all of them to do it, otherwise you just can’t compete.”
Ah Yuen says that even though the amateur golfer doesn’t rely on the sport for their livelihood, they can benefit from the same kind of workout the pros do.
“A lot of time the amateur golfer is working out, not just for the health benefits but for the benefit to their game. What they don’t really understand is the importance of a focused routine.”
Ah Yuen recently started igolfstrong.com, a website and program dedicated to giving the amateur golfer a specific and personalized workout routine, based on where they’re lacking. Igolfstrong.com will put you through an online evaluation process where Ah Yuen and his team can determine the best strategy for your specific fitness level and swing.
“Being on tour, I started to get a lot of requests, but obviously, if you’re in Europe I’m not going to be able to train you, or at least I couldn’t before. Now with igolfstrong.com, I can.”
For more information, visit www.igolfstrong.com and follow Eric Ah Yuen on twitter at: @2xWORLDCHAMPION or @iGolfStrong.