August 2009 -- While current economic conditions have presented challenges in the tennis-teaching profession, they have also produced new opportunities. Those of us who manage to prosper or avoid difficulties during economic downturns are much the same as competitive players who - in the face of adversity, behind in the match - dig into their resource library to find adaptive success. This concept also applies to making appropriate long-range goals, which requires an understanding of what the economic future may look like and consideration of all available information.
In the tennis-teaching profession, recent surveys clearly indicate a shift in volume from private to group lesson revenues. Many pros have reported that their gross lesson income has stayed nearly the same since the economy went into recession. The reason, in many cases, is that a significant decline in private lessons has been offset by an increase in clinic revenues.
Obviously, people still want their tennis instruction and activities, but are making financial adjustments. Cardio Tennis, which tends to have higher participant numbers and instructor ratios, can make clinics more affordable for consumers and more profitable for teaching pros in both per-class and gross-lesson share.
We in the teaching profession and tennis as a whole are very favorably positioned to market the game, our services and products to health-and-wellness-minded consumers - if we understand the direction the health and fitness sectors are headed, and optimally apply our skills and resources.
The USPTA, in promoting its Tennis - for the health of it!
initiative, has partnered with the American College of Sports Medicine through its Exercise is Medicine campaign.
Rx for exercise: Tennis!
A primary goal of Exercise is Medicine is for physicians to write exercise "prescriptions" as a basic part of their practices. Fitness trainers, and - if we play this right - USPTA pros, will fill the scripts. Exercise prescriptions are nothing new, but their use is rapidly evolving from specialized post-injury or illness rehab to simply addressing the extremely costly epidemic of "avoidable diseases" such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood-fats, and colorectal and breast cancer. Many unavoidable diseases can be treated by exercise prescriptions as well. Clearly, if there was ever an all-purpose medication, exercise is it!
Meeting the federal physical activity guidelines
- For substantial health benefits, adults should engage in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week, or vigorous aerobic activity for 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in sessions of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week at moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
Tennis is the perfect - and most enjoyable - aerobic workout, and no tennis program is more specific to health-fitness benefits than Cardio Tennis.
Cardio Tennis offers many games and drills in a carefully orchestrated exercise session of appropriate intensities. All workshops teach the instructors basic components of heart rate training and how to manage groups of various sizes, skills and fitness levels within a fun and healthy format. As a result, Cardio Tennis-trained instructors are often able to apply this knowledge in many other forms of tennis instruction and increase the fitness benefits for their clients.
Cardio Tennis instructors are trained to help clients monitor and adjust their heart rate intensity with regular pulse checks, either manually or with heart rate monitors. The Cardio Tennis instructor further adapts through feed difficulty, rotations, rule modifications in games, and offering different sideline exercises with the option to bypass or modify an exercise.
Cardio Tennis workshops have utilized basic-model heart rate monitors to provide simplicity and affordability. A heart rate monitor is a wristwatch that receives and displays your heart rate transmitted by a chest strap. Many mid- and high-end models have the ability to upload the recorded data to a computer, and more recently, to Web sites that can help people manage and track their exercise.
Since so many people already have iPhones and Smartphones, all they need is the software and a chest strap transmitter with wireless bridge. Most Polar and many other chest straps work using a wireless bridge, such as from www.smheartlink.com, and you can still use the Polar HRM wrist receiver displays to seamlessly blend with your favorite exercise music. Some Cardio Tennis classes already use personal music players, which prevent noise interference with play in progress on adjacent courts. Software technology even offers the ability to select and modify music tempos to match or control exercise intensity.
Just as fitness trainers have helped top players meet the demands of the pro tour, USPTA pros need to further develop and market their skills and services to meet the demands of the health and fitness sectors, benefiting their own businesses and growing the-game.
Whether you realize it or not, you are providing fitness services! The question is whether you are constantly improving the quality of those services and your ability to market them and our sport. There are many resources available to help you develop the skills needed to accomplish this task. In addition to Cardio Tennis workshops, often offered as USPTA specialty courses, there are numerous sport science seminars, such as USTA Levels I and II, and the USPTA Sport Science Specialist certification.
The Tennis - for the health of it!
Advisory Council is working with the ACSM (www.acsm.org) on developing more courses, informational resources, and eventually, a tennis/fitness/health instructor certification formally recognized on par with many fitness trainer certifications, and with specificity to tennis.
The ACSM does offer an online Certified Personal Trainer exam, and with the study materials most USPTA pros can acquire this entry-level, fitness-industry-accepted certification. If you have a college health sciences degree you are eligible for higher level certifications such as ACSM Health Fitness Instructor, or the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, which is designed more for working with athletes than health-fitness seekers, but is very extensive in all the base requisites.
If you are planning to attend the upcoming 2009 USPTA World Conference, there are a number of related seminars including "Cardio Tennis: a successful fitness and health program," presented by Michele Krause, the national program manager and speaker team director.
I will be presenting a follow-up to this article: "Doctors Rx: Play Tennis - the Teaching Pro's Role as a Health Provider" at the World Conference in Marco Island, Fla. Areas I will cover in this seminar include filling an exercise prescription, tailoring your lessons according to body type, gender or age, and preparing to be an on-court fitness trainer.
I look forward to seeing you in Marco Island. In the mornings there are complimentary Cardio Tennis classes so you and any guests can see, hear, and feel what Cardio Tennis can do!