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“What do you do for fun?”
If you had asked me that question at any point during the past 10 years, I would have said running without giving it a second thought. Running is a convenient, healthy, goal-oriented activity. It’s also pretty popular these days. Like many of my Facebook friends, I enjoyed posting about my next race and took pride in tackling greater distances and finishing in faster times. My collection of race t-shirts was on pace to outgrow my closet.
This spring, however, I started thinking that maybe I had been pounding the pavement for long enough. It’s not that I wanted to give up running completely. I just wondered what else might be out there for people like me – a fitness enthusiast looking for a new challenge.
That’s when I decided to take “Tennis in No Time,” Midtown Athletic Club’s three-week beginner tennis program. All you have to do is show up, and your coach will give you a racquet and teach you to play tennis in six lessons. It turns out it really was that simple, but more importantly, it was a lot of fun.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Tennis in No Time isn’t just a standard tennis class. With a small class size (just 5 players in my case), we each received a good amount of individual instruction from our coach, Jim, and we left each day feeling more confident in our skills and knowledge of the game.
From grips, shots and footwork, to singles and doubles rules and scoring and strategy, we quickly learned what we needed to do to win points on the court.
We used foam balls on a half court the first week, and eventually progressed to higher compression balls on a regulation-size court throughout the program. This is another way Tennis in No Time (TNT) helped us build on-court skills because this innovative approach allowed us to slow down the game without slowing the pace of the class. As someone looking for a new way to stay fit, I was psyched that standing around and waiting in line were not part of the lesson plan.
Each class concluded with a wrap-up session in the Paddle Tennis Hut, where another coach would review the concepts we practiced that day. We also heard some great tips on how to practice. My favorite piece of advice came from coach Mike, who taught us how to use the ball machines in the club’s complimentary practice lanes. He reminded us to “always have an intention for your practice,” and to “always practice at your highest level of success,” which were principles that were applied consistently throughout the program.
All that said, the real highlights of Tennis in No Time were the parties, where we were introduced to the social side of the sport. The first party was a Cardio Tennis theme, which included high-energy cardio & tennis drills accompanied by heart-pumping music from a DJ. With endorphins flying around the courts as fast as the tennis balls we were hitting, everyone was wearing a smile.
The second party was a doubles mixer, featuring warm-up drills followed by fast-paced tennis with coach instruction (and raffle prizes!). Both parties concluded with food and drinks, and more time to hang out with our new tennis friends.
So the question is, can a runner really become a tennis player in three weeks? In Tennis in No Time, the answer is yes, in less than three weeks. We were having fun playing tennis on the first day and every day throughout the program. And with the added benefit of tennis being a great workout (I’m even starting to develop my own set of “Michelle Obama arms”), the result is that I’m developing quite a crush on the sport…a crush that might just become a lifelong love affair.
Want to know more about TNT? Head here for another Tennis in No Time testimonial.
Ready to sign up? Click here for more information about TNT.
Have you tried tennis? What do you like about it?
Full disclosure: I had no intention of registering my four-year-old twins for Midtown’s new Tennis Explorers program.
I love them to pieces, but these two are “spirited” on their best days and the definition of chaos and mayhem on their worst. And, like many preschoolers, they are very active, very boisterous, and have very short attention spans.
Twinsanity and tennis? Like oil and water, I thought.
Boy, was I wrong.
We’re nearing the completion of our first 10-week, parent-and-child session, and my twins not only love the game, but have also mastered skills I never thought they would stand still enough to learn.
Tennis Explorers is unique because the emphasis is on fun, movement, and cultural awareness. Midtown created the program with childhood development professionals, so literacy, counting, and social skills are also incorporated with each lesson.
The kids spend the first 5 minutes of each lesson in a “circle time” atmosphere on-court, listening to their tennis coach read them a story about a different country from their Tennis Explorers book. They learn how to say, “Hello” in the language of that country, which was a huge hit with my kids. They’re stilling saying, “Jambo” to people they meet, three weeks after learning about Kenya.
Rest assured that your 3-year-old won’t be whacking around a regulation tennis ball with abandon. Tennis Explorers uses large, easy-to-hit foam balls, and in class, they aren’t even called tennis balls. They are “turtles” for one drill (kids practice hand-eye coordination skills by using the strings of their racquet-the turtle’s “shell”-to stop a rolling ball-the turtle’s body) and a “kangaroo” that needs to find its way into its mother’s “pouch” (a cone) for another.
Outside of the story, the class is kept in constant motion, which is a perfect format for active preschoolers. They work on balance, coordination, both large and small motor skills, and the proper way to hold and swing the most adorable, age-appropriate racquet you’ve ever seen. The racquet was designed especially for Midtown by Wilson and each Tennis Explorer receives one, along with these backpacks.
My kids’ tennis coach flawlessly integrates parent participation with each lesson, as we’re asked to toss the kids balls to hit, or even participate in a balance drill along with our children. Parents aren’t usually able to participate in softball, or soccer, or hockey right alongside their kids, so my husband and I are happy to have the opportunity to join our twins on-court in their first foray into sports.
It took just a single class to hook my kids on the game. By the end of the first lesson, my sometimes surly son was jumping up and down shouting, “I LOVE tennis!” He was even more excited to get his first sticker in his “Passport,” the small green book where kids collect a sticker upon completion of each lesson.
All four of us are looking forward to the next session, which begins next week.
While there are child-only classes on the schedule, where kids work with a pro sans parents as they do in other levels of tennis, I would encourage you to take the class with your kids, or have another caregiver take it with them, at least for the first time around. First, the class was designed this way, but more importantly it offers you a guaranteed 45 minutes of uninterrupted time each week to spend with your preschooler.
And with the fast pace of most of our lives, that kind of time is invaluable.
Has your child taken our inaugural session of Tennis Explorers? Please share what you thought of the program in our Comments section.
A discussion on our Facebook page last week resulted in some interesting member feedback. I asked what kind of information you would like to see featured. Among other suggestions, many members mentioned healthy eating tips and recipes, staff profiles, and member success stories.
The club puts a high value on input from members, and as a result, you’ll soon see many of your suggestions included in our daily social media output.MORE
Prior to my first TNT lesson, I had never swung a tennis racquet.
I’ve shuttled my four-year-old daughter’s racquet to and from the club since last September. She’s in the club’s Junior Development program, taking lessons from (Saint) Peggy Schuster, also known as “The Most Patient Pro on the Planet,” and loving every minute of it.MORE
I’m new to the smartphone craze. In fact, before my iPhone came to live with me, an ancient trackphone was the way I communicated when I was on-the-go.
Yes, I understand how truly pathetic this sounds.
And yes, I am now madly in love with my iPhone.
Seriously, how did I ever live without it?
It seems I am in good company.MORE
We have the best facilities, the most talented pros, and of course, the greatest players in the city. My four-year-old daughter, who has been taking lessons with the incredible Peggy Schuster for the past eight months, is one of them. Venus and Serena? Watch your backs.
An ex-Marine, Steve once competed on a national level for the Caribbean island of St. Kitts as a Power Lifter and Bodybuilder. He moved to Rochester in 2003, and became a full-time Personal Trainer. With the club since 2006, “Sergeant” Steve teaches two early-morning Boot Camp classes per week and runs S.E.A.L. Training with Bruce Hedlund.
His favorite part of his job is the significant role and impact he has in his clients’ lives.
Reader Question: I made a New Year’s resolution to finally lose about 30 pounds. I started the year off by going to the club almost every day. I’m already slacking off. How do I stay motivated?
Steve: This is very common because people tend to set expectations a little high when making goals. In order to prevent the loss of motivation, you should set realistic expectations. For example: if you have never done cardio and decide that you are going to do a half hour of cardio every day, if you miss a day or two you might thing, “Well, I’ve already failed at my goal so why bother?”
A better goal in this case would be 3 days a week for 15-20mins. Once you add this short duration to your current workout, it may have the opposite effect, for example “Well, I’m already here, and it doesn’t feel so bad, I can do more.”
Reader Question: What’s the best group exercise class to take to improve the overall look of my body? I am a slender woman in my 50s, but I want to tone up as much as Mother Nature will allow. The schedule can be a bit overwhelming.
Steve: There are some factors to consider here. First, what type of exercise do you do regularly? Do you play tennis? Do resistance training? Cardio only? Only classes? All of the above? For example, if you only play tennis, then a Group Power class might be a good investment of your time, because of the amount of stress on your joints from the sometimes explosive movement and unpredictable ball direction.
As a woman in your 50s, you are going to need your connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) to be strong and you’ll need to maintain a certain amount of muscle mass to protect your joints. If you do resistance training and yoga, then a spinning class, step class, zumba, and a core class could be good choices, so that you can build your cardio and core strength to help compliment and support your overall fitness level.
And if you are a tennis player who does yoga, does cardio and resistance training, and you just want to take an additional class, then a bootcamp class could be the way to go because it will tie it all together.
Reader Question: I’ve seen other members moving very fast on the elliptical machines and the Arc Trainers, but I tend to increase my resistance and take it slower. Which is better if my goal is to stay in shape (and not get in shape)?
Variety is key. Challenge yourself with intensity and time. Use higher resistance for longer and shorter durations. If you want to move fast, try and be aware of when your body is moving because you are moving it versus when you have built up so much momentum that your body is just going through the motions. Use lower resistance with a slow movement and total focus on muscle contraction through the whole cycle of movement.
Have you ever tried to use the elliptical at a medium incline of around 6 and a resistance of 5 or 6 and tried to not use any momentum and total muscle focus? It’s pretty challenging. I would also recommend using more than one machine during a cardio workout; it will be more interesting and effective in challenging your body’s ability to adapt to different types of cardiovascular requirements.
Also, don’t be afraid of getting off the machine and spicing up a 30-minute bike or elliptical session with 1 minute of jumping rope for every 5 minutes on the machine.
Reader Question: Is tennis a good workout? My doubles partner says yes, but I don’t have the same feeling after a match that I do after a good run on the treadmill.
It really depends on the person and his/her athletic ability. If you have good hand/eye coordination, are light on your feet, and can move quickly while having good ball placement/judgement, then it may feel like less work for you.
If you want to try and increase your workout on the court, try running on the treadmill before your match for whatever may be a challenge to you (time or distance), and when you get on the court, keep moving. Don’t stand still. Bounce around a little and keep in constant motion. Not only will this increase your readiness and increase the amount of exercise you are getting, it may also rattle your opponents.
Reader Question: What do personal trainers eat for breakfast?
Well, we are people too, so we eat a variety of things. Cereal, oatmeal, fruits, sandwiches, eggs, protein shakes, bagels w/ peanut butter and/or cream cheese, and yogurt with nuts. The list is long.
Depending on our day ahead, food allergies, time between appointments, and personal goals, we believe in setting the proper examples while also enjoying some treats from time to time. Two of my early morning favorites, which are quick and easy to make at 4am are:
1/3 cup of dry oatmeal
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
One scoop of protein powder
Mix together nad enjoy.
4 egg whites
1/3 cup of oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of splenda
Mix together, brown on a skillet for a minute or on each side, and voila-a great and healthy breakfast.
Do you have a question for one of the trainers? Post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at email@example.com. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
You can find past “Ask the Trainer” posts here.
You know you have questions. What do you want to know?
2010 is coming to a close. Newspapers are printing their “Best of” and “Worst of” lists, Time has named its Person of the Year, Merriam-Webster has selected “austerity” as its Word of the Year (no surprise there), and people everywhere are reflecting on the year’s top stories.
I thought Midtown should get in on the action, so here are some of the club’s 2010′s highlights:
As for me, the year has been a mixed bag. I’m wrapping up my first year as a member, and I have nothing but positive things to say about my member experience. That’s the good.
The bad? Well, the Rochester Half-Marathon I spent months training for in the spring and summer never happened. Sidelined by a double calf strain, I enjoyed a pity party for one on a weight bench in the club as I watched the clock tick over to 7:45am on September 12th, the time the race was beginning.
However, eight sessions of ART (Active Release Technique) in the fall, followed by a strict regime of stretching put me back in the running business. And I plan on rocking the Flower City Half-Marathon on May 1st of next year.
2010 also marked the debut of this blog and the re-launch of the Midtown RochesterFacebook page.
What have you liked about the posts I’ve run on Meet Me at Midtown? What haven’t you liked? What would you like to see more of, or less of?
We also want the club’s Facebook page to be as useful for you as possible, so please let us know what you’ve liked and haven’t liked, or would like to see more of on Facebook as well.
One current Midtown member who submits their feedback in the Comments section or emails it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org will win this high-quality Midtown Sports Bag!
I will select one winner via Random.org on Tuesday, January 4th, at 5pm, and post the name of the winner on our Facebook page and here on the blog on January 5th.
Happy and healthy New Year!
A childhood illness kept me indoors for most of my elementary school years. I read. I wrote stories. But I missed the chance to experience the thrill, camaraderie, and teamwork of organized sports.
As a mom, I want for my children what I missed. And because “Midtown” and “Tennis” go together like “Snow” and “Rochester,” I thought this would be the perfect place to start their experience with sports.
In September, my four-year-old daughter entered the phenomenal Junior Tennis program. Peggy Schuster coached her Level 7 group lessons, designed for the preschool set.
Her nine-week lesson experience was, in a word, awesome. So much so that she’s now several weeks into another session of lessons.
Want to know why her lessons rocked?
Here are 7 Things You Need to Know About Level 7 Tennis at Midtown
1. The Lessons are 110% Designed Around Fun
Don’t get me wrong. The kids are learning the fundamentals of the game, including how to hold the racket, the different parts of the court, and how to correctly position their fidgety little bodies, but everything Coach Peggy does with the kids is centered around them having a blast. The drills have kid-friendly names, incorporate fun props like plastic dome hats to help with balance and cones for catching balls. The lessons are designed to teach kids how to play via a series of creative games.
2. Peggy Schuster has the Patience of a Saint
Trust me on this one. I’m Catholic and I know my saints. Level 7 tennis is for 3-and-4-year-olds, hardly the most attentive, easily directed, and focused age group to work with. But Peggy is the picture of patience. Sometimes the kids, my daughter included, are silly, goofy, and distracted. Peggy never loses her cool, talks to them on their level, and through some form of magical tennis pro power is able to bring them back into the lesson with a smoothness and ease she should package onto a DVD and sell for $29.99 to parents of preschoolers everywhere.
3. Your Child is Made to Feel Important and Safe
My daughter had a great start to her lessons. She went to the first two excited, happy, and fully engaged. And then something went awry in her little brain.
Suddenly, she no longer wanted to go to her lessons. She cried after walking onto the court for the third lesson. We had to leave. She refused to get into the car to go to her fourth lesson. She never gave a reason for not wanting to go. After a two-week hiatus, she agreed to return.
Coach Peggy welcomed her back. She placed a mesh dot used in some of the drills in one corner of the court and told my daughter that that was her safe place. If she was worried or felt sad, she could go to that dot and feel safe. She never needed to use the dot, but the special attention Coach Peggy paid my daughter made a difference. She finished out the remaining five weeks of lessons without feeling upset again.
4. Lots of Effort is Invested in Planning the Lessons
My daughter is only four, so I don’t yet have a lot of experience with organized sports lessons or practices. But if they’re all organized and executed like the junior tennis lessons at the club, I would be thrilled. It’s obvious that Peggy invests a lot of time into planning the lessons. The energy level is always high. The kids are constantly moving, and one game or drill is always followed quickly by the next, to minimize distraction and keep the kids engaged.
5. Creative Drills Turn Lessons Into Games
All the warm-up activities and drills have great names such as “Sharks in the Water,” a balance drill where rackets placed in center court are the “sharks” and the kids follow Coach Peggy along the lines with small plastic domes on their heads and attempt to stay out of the “water”). Other fun drills include “Lobster Claws,” “Cleaning House,” and “Spaghetti and Meatballs.”
The kids also run obstacle courses designed to practice split steps and correct body positioning.
6. Teamwork is Tops
While my daughter has attended camps and classes before, this is her first foray into sports lessons. Coach Peggy places a lot of emphasis on teamwork, a new concept for my four-year-old. The kids are often paired together for drills, they gather in a group to go over new games, and they always form a team huddle together at the end of each lesson, where the kids place their hands in a pile, one kid chooses “the word of the day,” and they shout, ”1-2-3 snowflakes” (or “ice cream” or “Superman”, etc.).
7. Your Child Will Improve
I will admit to being a skeptic about this one. My daughter would much rather glue macaroni to sheets of construction paper than race her bike down the street. She was not enrolled in Soccer for Babies. She’s not a natural athlete.
But she’s now able to hit the ball on a bounce. She can engage in a short rally with another player, and she knows the “ready” position. Her balance and agility are greater than when she started, and she’s able to keep her body positioned correctly most of the time. I can’t wait to see what she’ll learn next.
I am very impressed with what my daughter has experienced in her lessons. It’s easy to see why Junior Tennis at Midtown is so popular. It’s a professional, creative, well-run program designed to encourage interest in a great sport. Peggy Schuster is amazing with the kids, and my daughter adores her, often bringing her pictures she’s drawn for her.
I could not have asked for a better first experience with sports for my preschooler.
Do you have kids enrolled in Junior Tennis at Midtown? What do you think of the program?
The USTA (United States Tennis Association) has passed new rules making it mandatory that all “10 and Under Tennis” be played on modified courts with modified equipment.
To accommodate their smaller bodies, young players must now use slower-moving balls, smaller racquets, and shorter courts. This will allow them to better learn the rules of the game, have rallies, and develop their strokes. In addition, the modifications will serve to boost kids’ confidence levels, which in turn will make them grow and develop as players.
And the best part?
Midtown’s 10 and Under Tennis program has been using modified courts and equipment for years.
Laramie Gavin, Midtown’s Director of Junior Tennis, says, “This is the biggest change to happen to tennis in the modern era. It will fundamentally change the way tennis is played and taught in the States. The cool thing is we’ve been training like this for several years now. We are way ahead of the game!”
As a result, the USTA has recognized Midtown as a pioneer in the field of 10 and Under Tennis, and an industry leader in adapting to the needs of younger players and helping them to hone their technique.
Check out this video and see our own tennis coaches interviewed, as well as several of our young tennis players in action!
And here’s the USTA’s cute promotional video, which explains the change.
Of course, we always knew that Midtown tennis is the coolest tennis in Rochester.
And now the rest of the tennis world does too.
Valid for first-time guests 18 or older.