Gary Player Fitness Routine: How He Stays So Fit at 88

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The story of the Gary Player Fitness routine is one that can’t be missed for any age. If you’re looking to improve your golf game and overall health, this one is for you.

Gary James Player was born on November 1, 1935, in Johannesburg, South Africa. He’s internationally recognized as one of the greatest golfers ever and continued playing professionally until the age of 74. 

Mr. Player has won nine major championships on the PGA tour and another nine on the senior Champions Tour. He’s the only non-American to win all four majors and among just five to ever do so. In total, he’s won over 150 golf tournaments worldwide over the course of seven decades.

Let’s look at what the Black Knight does to stay fit and what you can learn from one of the best in the senior golfing world to stay healthy and in shape. 

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Overview of the Gary Player Workout

Gary Player quote, "the more I practice, the luckier I get."

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Gary Player was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. Those who knew Gary Player gave him the nickname “Mr. Fitness” in the 1950s owing to his strict and rigorous exercise regimen. 

Exercise routines were uncommon in those days, especially for a golfer. Today, at age 87, the name fits more than ever.

“People said weight training was detrimental to golfers,” recalls Mr. Player. “I was squatting 325 pounds the night before I won my first U.S. Open in 1965. Today, the players have traveling gyms.”

He claims that he still does a thousand sit-ups and push-ups every single morning. He believes pushups and sit-ups can be done anywhere in the world without equipment. 

Gary works out for one hour, five or six days a week. He stretches to warm up, then moves on to cardio and weight training. 

Gary Player Fitness Training

Here’s a breakdown of the famous Gary Player fitness routine that puts most of us to shame. Whether you’re a senior golfer or a young adult, this is an impressive schedule.


When at home in Jupiter, Florida, he spends anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes on the treadmill. 

Mr. Player had nearly 200 stairs built into the side of a hill back at his ranch in Colesberg, South Africa, for the sole purpose of doing cardio. He would alternate between jogging, walking, or taking two steps at a time out there. 

Not everyone can climb 200 stairs for cardio, but you can still fit in some exercises and stretches every now and then.

Mr. Fitness likes to feel a hard burn in his legs to develop stamina. He also has a pool in both his homes, and he swims for 20-30 minutes using only his legs while holding onto a paddleboard.  

As if this weren’t enough, Gary Player’s treadmill workouts are truly inspirational! Most of us couldn’t keep up.

Strength Training

To stay strong, Gary will do 3 sets of 20 to 25 lunges and bodyweight squats. Then does the same again, this time with light weights in hand. 

The Black Knight does countless crunches with a 50-pound dumbbell on his chest to keep his core nice and tight. He also does back extensions to strengthen his lower back. 

Having strong wrists and forearms is essential for golfers because a firm grip is very crucial to keep the club stable. Mr. Player puts a lot of emphasis on these muscles and does forearm curls with dumbbells. 

Gary advocated leg strength way before it was even considered essential for golfers. He still pushes around 300 pounds with his legs. 

Mr. Player believes mental strength is as important as physical strength. To this end, he meditates for 20 to 30 minutes every morning. 

3 sets of 20-25 lunges30-45 minutes on the treadmill20-30 minutes every morning
Bodyweight & weighted squatsJogging/walking 
50-pound dumbbell crunches20-30 minutes swimming using only legs 
Back extensions
Forearm curls with dumbbells
Leg press (300 pounds)

On the week of his 80th birthday, Gary Player discusses his secrets to golf fitness with Golf Digest. While this video was done several years back, it still emphasizes vital points, including the importance of your core.

Gary Player Workout Routine

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The Gary Player Diet Secrets to Longevity

Gary has placed a lot of emphasis on nutrition. Especially as the years have added up, he still remains strong and active as a senior.

“I now put eating at 60 percent because as you get older, you put on weight, and weight stops a train,” Player said. “When you get heavier and try to swing with the same force you did as a young person, which you can’t do, but you’re trying to do it, that’s a quick way to get an injury.”

– Gary Player Fitness & Nutrition Routine Quote

For golfers in general and senior/veteran golfers in particular, Gary places a significant premium on staying thin. According to Mr. Player, one doesn’t live very long if he’s overweight. 

Gary advocates eating two meals a day instead of three. Breakfast and lunch. Skip dinner. He goes on to give the example of a car. “You don’t put gas in your car when you park it in the garage at night.”

His meat consumption is almost negligible.

Gary Player’s diet is centered around fruits, veggies, and legumes. He’ll eat a well-done steak maybe once or twice a month. But for the most part, he sticks to greens. 

Mr. Player claims he’s got more energy and feels less exhausted than ever, thanks to his healthy eating routine.

Finally, Gary doesn’t drink more than once a week. The calories can quickly add up when alcoholic beverages are a part of your daily diet. 

What Can We Learn from the Gary Player Fitness & Diet Routine

It’s clearly evident that staying mindful of his diet as well as keeping a healthy workout regime has kept him healthy and fit throughout his life, especially in the latter stage.

Although Mr. Player may be at an advanced level of fitness, which is only attainable through years of consistent progression, over 50 players should start with the basics. 

1. Develop Your Own Workout

Based on your current level of fitness and what areas you’re looking to target, you should hire a fitness coach or approach your local golf coach. They’ll know where to start and what exercises to begin with. If you’ve had a prior health condition, make sure to consult your physician first.

Pro Tip: Avoid injuring yourself by overreaching and doing advanced exercises such as weighted squats, deadlifts, etc.  Always seek the advice of your doctor or a medical professional as it relates to your own fitness and diet routine.

2. A Healthy Diet is Critical

Fitness, especially for the elderly, has more to do with diet and weight gain than exercise. Focus on a high-protein, low-fat, and low-carb diet. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits. Include lentils and legumes in your diet as well.

The foods you avoid are also important. Processed and packaged goods should be left out of your meals and taken as snacks on occasion. Alcohol should be avoided or had sparingly.

However, if you are taking blood thinners or other medication, consult your physician.

3. Don’t Forget to Feed your Heart & Soul

Laugh often. It really is the best medicine. Develop a proclivity to laugh at how hysterical things can sometimes get on the golf course. Laugh your heart out every time you or your buddy makes a downright silly mistake like missing a casual tap-in or attempting something from the water hazard. 

Or, if you need a good laugh, check out some super funny golf sayings by golf professionals!

Discard any stress and shut the iron-clad doors on yesterdays and tomorrows. We can be our own worst enemies by reliving our past woes. The past is the past, as they say.

And above all else, remember the Latin phrase, Carpe Diem: Seize the Day! 

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Final Thoughts on the Gary Player Fitness Routine

Health truly is wealth, and this adage holds the most true for those who’ve worked all their lives to accumulate wealth. It’s time to relax and focus on their passion for the game of golf.

If you want to enjoy your rounds and not be tormented by them, you must keep checks on your quality of life.

To best summarize the Gary Player fitness and diet regimen, I’ll part with Gary’s 4 secrets to longevity, which are:

  1. Eat half as much as you currently do.
  2. Exercise twice as much.
  3. Laugh thrice as much.
  4. Have unmeasured love in your heart.

Did you find Gary Player’s fitness routine fascinating? Do you find his tips for golf fitness helpful? Please let us know your thoughts!

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Erin has spent over 17 years as a healthcare executive working with seniors in nursing homes, skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living communities. She also holds a Masters Degree in Social Work and other advanced degrees related to seniors.

Erin grew up playing golf in a family of golf fanatics. She started this site to help others add more enjoyment to the game of life through golf.

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