June 2013 -- Since its initial launch in 2005, the Cardio Tennis format for success has not fundamentally changed. The concept of packaging a fun, fast-paced tennis class like a fitness class with heart-pumping music, a warm-up, cardio segment and cool-down has proven to be a complete success with nearly 1,800 locations offering it in the United States alone. Another 30 countries have ongoing programs, and much of the recent innovation in Cardio Tennis has taken place in Australia and the United Kingdom where the national associations have invested a portion of their Grand Slam dollars into a program that can have an effective impact on expanding the game.
I was a member of the initial team that helped to launch the program in 2005 and 2006 when we conducted a number of free workshops throughout the country to train tennis professionals in how to conduct a successful Cardio Tennis program. After spending a number of years overseas and not being active on the Cardio Tennis Team, I have recently returned to the United States and resumed an active role in the newly renamed TIA Global Cardio Tennis Team. This has given me an interesting vantage point from which to see how Cardio Tennis has subtly evolved in many ways. I feel like I need to be completely retrained, as I’m sure those who took those early workshops feel also. Let’s look at some of the most important steps in this evolution in Cardio Tennis from 2005 to 2013.
Perhaps the most important evolutionary shift has been the increasing emphasis on using the cardio ball for the majority of the session. Yes, cardio balls are the same red, orange and green balls that we called “transition balls” and are being used so extensively in junior programming. We call them cardio balls to overcome the idea that these balls are just for kids and that adults should only use the regular yellow balls. However, the impact on Cardio Tennis with these balls is every bit as dramatic as the impact they have had on junior programming.
Play-based vs. drill-based
With less emphasis on drills and more emphasis on the games, the importance of the coach being a great feeder has also diminished. Feeding games effectively requires skill, accuracy and an understanding of the speed of each player, but it doesn’t require the rhythmic rapid feeding that is needed to keep six to 10 players active in drills. Over the past eight years, the level of feeding in the profession has improved dramatically due in great part to the USPTA Cardio Tennis National Feeding Shootout competitions.
The power of music
The importance of music in Cardio Tennis has not changed, and it is becoming much more accepted at even the most staid tennis environments. What has become easier is the amount of music available to pros through online delivery systems and the sound systems available today (boom box, what’s that?). CDs are practically a thing of the past with iPods, iTunes, MP3 players, etc., and the ability to download your music to these devices. Power Music™ is still the best source for CardioTennis music. It is all censored and it is royalty free. The sister site of Power Music™ is ClickMix, where you can make your own mixes or purchase mixes created by members of the TIA Global Cardio Tennis Team.
At the heart of the matter
Another area that also hasn’t changed is the value of the heart rate monitor. Although many programs still use the manual system, the advantages of using the Polar™ heart rate monitors continue to be clear. The most successful programs encourage their participants to buy a heart rate monitor and use it regularly for all of their workouts.
The evolution of Cardio Tennis has not been just on the court. The business and technology aspects have continued to evolve as well. With the addition of the Cardio Tennis Marketing Asset Management site, the marketing tools have become much easier to customize and use with online delivery. Also available online is Cardio Tennis Interactive (CTI), a complete health and exercise program that can be used by all your participants. Cardio Tennis Get Fit® challenges are being held to provide rewards and incentives to the participants for burning calories and losing weight. Most recently, Cardio Tennis Authorized providers can even purchase their own branded sites and promote challenges specifically to their members/players. CTI will soon add a new comprehensive health, fitness and nutritional product called Cardio Tennis Healthy for Life.
Partnering with TRX
TRX Cardio Tennis is the next phase of the integration of tennis with the fitness world. This class can accommodate up to 16 players on one court, alternating between CT activities and working out on the TRX suspension trainer, all in a pre-packaged 90-minute format. The TRX brand is a complete total-body system recognized globally.
Proper training is essential
Training courses for TRX Cardio Tennis as well as regular Cardio Tennis are being offered throughout the country on a regular basis. These courses not only provide an incredible amount of knowledge and hands-on experience in seven to eight hours, but they also provide a free one-year registration as an Authorized Provider. This new program is a way to enable facilities and professionals to stay up to date with the latest drills and games and the newest tips on how to make more money with Cardio Tennis.
Importance of becoming an Authorized Provider
The Authorized Provider (AP) program is a step in the next phase of evolution of consistently improving the knowledge and ability of programs to deliver the highest quality of Cardio Tennis program possible. It also gives current Cardio Tennis sites the opportunity to upgrade their status to offer a better product to their players. The AP designation enables more and more programs to be successful in making money and sharing the power of Cardio Tennis with more and more people.
The numbers tell the story
The latest research shows Cardio Tennis participation was up another 12 percent from 2011-2012 and there are currently 1.4 million Cardio Tennis participants in the United States. There are single facilities that gross more than half a million dollars a year in Cardio Tennis programs alone.
Cardio Tennis is now making impressive strides in the global marketplace with Australia and the United Kingdom showing great progress. Both of their national governing bodies, Tennis Australia and the LTA, help oversee the program. The two Grand Slams respectively, the Australian Open and Wimbledon, have provided their venues to help expand consumer awareness of the Cardio Tennis program. Germany, Canada, Belgium and Ireland are also among the 30-plus countries getting involved by offering CT and TRX CT Training Courses to their pros conducted by the TIA Global Cardio Tennis Team.
The evolution is continuing with many new ideas on the horizon, such as Cardio Tennis Camps at exotic resorts, National CT triples tournaments and more. Cardio Tennis is continually searching for new, current and innovative ways to help participants and pros get involved and stay engaged with the program. Additionally, the site is being revamped and re-launched to offer both providers and consumers a better user experience!
We appreciate those of you who have been part of the evolution since the beginning of Cardio Tennis – those members, past and present, of the TIA Cardio Tennis Team who have been a significant part of the success of Cardio Tennis, and the boundless passion and enthusiasm of Cardio Tennis Manager Michele Krause. We thank all of the efforts of the USPTA and USPTA Pros to help make Cardio Tennis truly the “Third Way to Play” tennis, and look forward to your continuing support in this ongoing evolution that is bringing positive energy and health to people’s lives.
For more information on Cardio Tennis, please visit our newly updated site at CardioTennis.com and if you are not an Authorized Provider, please become one and find out what the new and evolved Cardio Tennis program can mean to you and your members.