You've got to check this out.
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a fitness fanatic. While I love tennis, I work out several times a week, keep an eye on what I eat (most of the time) and am forever looking for new ways to get that "caught in the rain" sweat and workout high.
Over the years I've tried them all: running, stair-master, elliptical, yoga, Pilates, weights, you name it. If there's a way to break a sweat, I own a book about it, have bought the proper equipment for it, and have given it a shot. Obsessed? Perhaps. Addicted? Definitely--and proud of it.
Of all the forms of exercise I've tried in my life, nothing, and I mean nothing, has satisfied the workout-aholic inside of me as much as running and hitting tennis balls. This is why I decided to write about a new program which I predict will revolutionize both the tennis and fitness industries.
The program is called Cardio Tennis. It was developed by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and it's President, Jim Baugh, in conjunction with the USTA, teaching pros and health experts throughout the country. Baugh is a man who has dedicated his career to encouraging people of all ages to play tennis and adopt a more active lifestyle. Well, Baugh has served up an ace with Cardio Tennis as it accomplishes both and couldn't come at a better time.
Each day statistics bombard us with the message that we are a fat and out of shape society. Here are a few that I recently came across:
- The percentage of Americans that are either overweight or obese has grown from 47 to 65 percent in the last 20 years.
- The number of extremely obese American adults - those who are at least 100 pounds overweight - has quadrupled since the 1980s to about 4-million. That's about one in every 50 adults.
- In December 2001, U.S.Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., blamed obesity for causing some 300,000 deaths annually in the U.S., warning that obesity may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of preventable deaths.
- 60% of American adults don't get the recommended amount of physical activity, and over 25% of adults are not active at all. When polled, the number one reason people gave for not exercising is that they don't have enough time.
For years, a large portion of our society has suffered from what I call the "over" syndrome: over scheduled, over stressed and overweight. Thankfully, it seems as if we're beginning to finally wake up from our sugar and fat induced comas as more and more people are saying "no" to the French fries and "yes" to a good sweat.
Fitness is beginning to creep into more peoples lives however, with everyone's fast paced, overly scheduled lifestyles, they're only willing to set aside so much time for exercise. They want to get in, workout, and get on to their next activity.
With this in mind, they tend to use the easily available cardio equipment at their gym, take aerobics classes or lift weights. They generally don't think about tennis as a great fitness opportunity. Cardio Tennis will change that.
Cardio Tennis classes are conducted on a tennis court by certified tennis professionals. Each class includes a short, dynamic warm-up, a cardio workout which includes a combination of drill and play based exercises (where the pro feeds balls to players based on their ability and fitness level), and a cool down phase. Simply put, Cardio Tennis is tennis's entry into the fitness industry.
I recently attended a Cardio Tennis Workshop at the National Tennis Center hosted by Baugh and Michele Krause, the program's National Manager, and couldn't have come away more impressed.
After a brief classroom session, we strapped on heart rate monitors (recommended so participants can monitor their heart rates during exercise) and took to the courts so that we could get a taste of the Cardio Tennis experience.
From the music that greeted us on the court (that's right, I said music on the court) to the energetic pros running the session, everything about Cardio Tennis is upbeat. During the course of the sixty minute session, I hit forehands, backhands, volleys, overheads and serves. I ran, recovered, stretched, jumped and laughed--a lot!
By the end of the class, my shirt was drenched, I'd hit hundreds of tennis balls, gotten a tremendous workout and, above all, had had one hell of a good time. I walked off the court convinced that "Cardio-Tennis is here to stay."
Baugh is direct in saying that Cardio Tennis is designed to be first and foremost an exercise program and not an instructional activity. True as that may be, believe me when I tell you that after moving around the court and hitting hundreds of balls during a cardio class your tennis can't help but improve.
Not only does Cardio Tennis provide a complete workout in a short period of time it also offers players an enjoyable social experience. How often do we all climb onto a treadmill or stair-master, put on our headphones and zone out until the timer on the machine tells us that our workout is finished? In a Cardio Tennis class you can't help but make new friends. You'll also have so much fun that you'll forget about time.
In addition, the program allows players of all levels to workout together. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner and your husband is a seasoned player. The pros are trained to conduct the classes so that each player works out at their own level of both tennis and fitness.
When you combine the non stop action, music, heart rate monitors and fun atmosphere it adds up to a new, refreshing experience. Participants hit all the shots and make all of the movements they would during singles or doubles but the focus is on getting a great workout, not beating your opponent.
That being the case, none of the unpleasant psychological or emotional issues that can arise during competition (and have driven people away from the game) enter into Cardio Tennis. It's basically no pressure, fun tennis!
Both Baugh and Krause feel that the program can be a huge boom for the tennis industry. Existing players, who do supplemental training at their gyms, can now get their full body workout by taking a Cardio class. They also feel that non-players who workout will see the program as a viable fitness option and give tennis a try.
Finally, they hope it will bring people who have quit tennis back to the sport. Studies have shown that players who have tried, and stopped playing tennis did so for two main reasons: they couldn't find the time to devote to the game and they had difficulty finding a playing partner. Both issues are answered with Cardio Tennis.
The official launch of Cardio Tennis will be at the U.S. Open. Fitness guru Denise Austin (who also happens to be tennis legend Tracy Austin's sister in law) is one of their national spokespeople and will be on hand for the launching.
It's a super program that you should be sure to look for in your area. To learn more about this great program you can go to: www.cardiotennis.com.
A SAD NOTE:
Those of you that have read my column on a regular basis know that I try to celebrate tennis and those who make it special as often as possible. I've always felt that the game offers us so much more than merely the opportunity to outscore someone else. Tennis provides exercise, fun and lessons that can make us, and our lives, better.
My tennis idols are not the ones playing on television earning millions of dollars but rather those, frequently unknown, everyday players who have made tennis an important part of their lives. The players that have found that their lives, and in turn the game itself, have become richer because they play tennis. My heroes are the ones that truly "love the game."
Well, tennis became a bit poorer recently with the passing of Steve Ogilvy. Steve, 88, died due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident while returning home from, of course, a tennis tournament.
Steve holds a special place in my heart because he lived close to me in Connecticut so I grew up hearing tales of his on-court exploits. He was also the subject of one of the first columns I wrote for the Tennis Server back in June of 1997. I would suggest that you take a look at that column to read about a very special man.
A true tennis legend, Steve began tennis at the age of 9 and his passion for the game spanned a lifetime. Though age, everyone's ultimate opponent, ultimately lessened his level, it never dampened his spirit. In a recent magazine interview, he said: "My tennis is terrible right now but I would rather still play and lose. I love the game that much."
That statement said it all. Steve may be gone but with those words he left a lesson for us all. Steve Ogilvy "got it." He will be sorely missed.