There are many people held up by the fitness industry as inspirations and often with very good reason. But surely very few in the public eye can trump the remarkable Gary Player.

This extraordinary South African golfing legend was truly a man ahead of his time when it came to conditioning and fitness. Now 81 he still has significantly more energy than people a third of his age.

The proof? He still plays golf to a high standard, revels in comfortably out-driving those at least 30 years younger and keeps up a daily pace most City whizzkids could not maintain. He has numerous business interests and charges around the word tending to these – it is said that nobody has accumulated more air miles than Gary Player.


And when he’s not doing this, he’s at home, rising at 5am and putting in a 12 hour working shift on his farm!

Player’s evangelism about healthy eating and physical fitness dates back to a time when it wasn’t just a rare consideration in golf, but in many sports. Stories are rife in football and rugby of steak, brown ale and cigarettes being norm when it came to pre-match nutrition. And a half-time orange segment would often be accompanied by another fag. These were different times!

Delivering the fitness message for decades

And yet here was this young South African golfer travelling the world, playing on all continents (when it was still rare for even the biggest names in the game to venture much further than their USA or European base) and telling anybody who’d listen, they needed to train, eat sensibly and ensure quality rest.

Fit at 80_2

Remarkably, rather than being seen as a visionary, it seems that many – for decades – found this sermonising all a bit tedious and self-satisfied by the 9-time Major winner. But how many of those detractors limped and stumbled into steady decline and have long since passed on?

Today the best golfers in the world are great athletes and the likes of Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and countless others have made the gym a fundamental part of a golfers life.

Still travelling the world constantly, zigzagging the international time zones and seemingly never losing his vigour and zest for life surely means Gary Player has long since won any argument about the benefits of a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Oh yes, then there are 1,300 sit ups and 300lbs leg press reps he still does each and every morning at the age of 81!

To listen to Player for even just five minutes on the radio or TV is a remarkable thing. What he eloquently, passionately and almost breathlessly delivers in the shortest time is worth hours of earnest pronouncements by many professional performance psychologists and motivational speakers.

In terms of all the great former athletes, the true veterans from any and every sport, this remarkable octogenarian golfer might just be the most vital, vibrant and fittest of all and, as such, we’d do well to listen to what he has to say and look up his thoughts and philosophies.

If the international fitness industry and the global public at large want to look to a true visionary, pioneer, inspiration, role model and advocate – then there is no one better than Gary Player.

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