October 2011 -- Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago continues to offer one of the strongest Cardio Tennis programs in the country with 25 classes per week, a Cardio Tennis pathway for development and successful Cardio Tennis social events.
Always trying to improve and expand the program, Midtown Athletic Club has been holding biweekly Cardio Tennis training sessions for approximately one-third of our teaching professionals. Everyone, including myself, has been pleasantly surprised with the results.
Pro education is paramount for a successful Cardio Tennis program. It offers the chance to not only introduce new drills and games and refine feeding techniques, but also serves as a great team-building activity and cardio regimen for many pros who don't have time in their busy schedules to work out.
Most importantly, it gives the (12 to 15) Midtown pros whom I rely on to lead Cardio Tennis a chance to put themselves in the students' shoes. To be the best Cardio leader it is critical to know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.
Having Cardio Tennis training twice a month as part of its monthly schedule, our staff is able to stay in tune with what's going on in the world of Cardio and we've more than doubled the percentage of Midtown pros who are qualified to lead a class. Now, if I'm pulled away from the club or out of town for a meeting, I have confidence that the classes will operate seamlessly.
By experiencing the same thing that our members do, we're all learning so many important aspects of Cardio Tennis, especially when it comes to proper lengths for certain games and drills. Having the student's perspective has reminded us that some drills, games and progressions can be reduced in length and still be effective. It also helps us to better manage heart rate and provide the ultimate workout for individuals based on their fitness and ability level.
From a member standpoint, there's plenty of excitement on the days when we hold Cardio Tennis for Pros. We hold the session on our famous Court 5, where Andre Agassi won his first USTA junior event when he was just 12. This court offers great viewing areas and we invite our members and associates to come watch. It brings a high level of energy to the club because it gives onlookers a chance to see our pros showcasing their talents; in essence it is a super-fast exhibition and party. What a great way to showcase the big differentiating factor of Cardio Tennis from traditional tennis, which is "intensity level." With the pro class it can get pretty intense in an upbeat atmosphere where everybody can see the standard being set and leading by example.
It also demonstrates our pros are having a lot of fun and if they're having fun, then you know the members are going to have fun, too. One of the many reasons for the overall success of Cardio Tennis at this facility is because it is strongly supported by our general manager, Michael Mahoney. From day one back in 2005 he recognized the potential of the program for generating revenue, creating new members and getting current members to play more frequently. Another huge benefit has been it's making our pros all better teachers. You can see evidence of this when observing non-Cardio Tennis classes, such as Adult Instructional classes as well as our Junior Development and Competitive programs, as the essence of Cardio Tennis can be seen throughout. I have the privilege of leading Cardio Tennis workshops throughout the country as a national speaker and I would highly recommend attending one of these courses because even if you never lead Cardio Tennis sessions it will help you to be a better tennis professional on court.
Cardio Tennis has simply given our staff, across the board, a deeper drill and game base to choose from and has reminded them to teach with great energy and passion - two things that are a must when leading a Cardio Tennis class.
From an industry standpoint, Cardio Tennis for pros allows us to strengthen our relationships with area contacts in the tennis industry. For example, Wilson Sporting Goods is headquartered in Chicago so we invite Wilson staff to participate in the Cardio Tennis for Pros sessions and they have a blast. Make sure you invite local industry manufacturers, retailers and USTA staff, many of whom are great tennis players and are looking for an opportunity to train for tennis.
Schedule-wise, we have a biweekly pro meeting and biweekly Cardio Tennis for Pros session on the weeks we don't have our meeting. I'll send an email a week before to ensure a class count and also so I know how many courts to book.
Lastly, the Cardio for Pros session has reminded our staff of the many uses of the red, orange and green balls for warm-up activities, games and cool-down. These balls stay in play longer, therefore the points last longer so that everybody gets a better workout. When using the orange or green ball with the pros it makes it difficult for them to hit clean winners so, again, the ball stays in play longer and the workout is that much better. And if the members and employees see the pros having long, dynamic points using these balls, it helps demystify the use of these balls in the regular Cardio Tennis session. In other words, if the "pros" are training with them then these balls are beneficial for everybody!
I like to think of Cardio Tennis as a "spin class for tennis players." Our pros have quickly learned there is so much knowledge needed to lead great Cardio Tennis sessions including;
- The right music with high beats per minute (like music used in spin classes)
- Appropriate sideline activities, timing and when to implement
- The right games for the number of players and how to effectively rotate
- Engaging partner warm-up and cool-down activities
- A great understanding of heart rate zones, heart rate monitors and heart rate recovery.
As a result of this knowledge, they become better teachers and help their students become better and healthier players, and, in the end, happier members and satisfied customers.