Inside Events: Cardio Tennis
16 May, 2018By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Michele Krause, Global Education Director
Cardio Tennis is a high energy fitness program that combines the sport of tennis with cardiovascular exercise. It requires no tennis skills and has been used successfully to provide an additional revenue stream at events. The program has 2.2 million partners in the U.S. and since its inception, has expanded to over 30 countries and nearly 2,000 tennis facilities in the United States. When offered in conjunction with tournaments, Cardio Tennis can bring increased economic impact for planners, as well as long-term fan engagement.
Sports Destinations Management: Cardio Tennis is being offered in a lot of clubs and venues. Is it growing in popularity?
Michele Krause: Yes, it’s growing – in fact, it’s the only thing that grows in tennis.
SDM: It's something event owners can offer but it's more fun and more inclusive than a clinic; in fact, you have been very clear that it’s more of a fitness program than a tennis class.
Krause: I struggle massively to get people to understand that. It is a fitness program the same way Les Mills or CrossFit or obstacle course racing or Zumba are fitness programs. You do it with a racquet in your hand but you don’t need tennis skills. When it’s done right, it’s fun for people at all levels. It uses special balls that are lower compression which makes it less intimidating.
SDM: One of the things Cardio Tennis trades on is not just the calorie burn but the fun quotient.
Krause: It’s the most social group fitness class out there. There’s nothing as social as this. You’re interacting with people, cheering them on, high-fiving them – it’s really a game-changer.
SDM: And it can open up a new revenue stream.
Krause: Tennis owners and managers want to generate revenue. Cardio Tennis is the vehicle that can help do that. You’re making money on it and people are having fun. A lot of our facilities will charge $30 to $50 per person. The $50 price is generally going to be if you’re putting on a charity event. Even at the lower price, if you are looking at six courts with eight people per court, with one event leader per court, you can bring in a pretty good chunk of change.
SDM: There are various formats in Cardio Tennis. Would one work better in the tournament setting?
Krause: Triples, which has three people on either side of the net – one at the net and two at the baseline – is a great one for that. If you’re in front and you miss the ball, so what? You have people behind you trying to get it as well. There’s much less pressure and it is absolutely the funnest game. A lot of our facilities will get people signed up for a 90-minute session and there will be a wait list. The game can be uber-fast at the pro level and the speed can come down as you come down in skill level.
SDM: It would seem to be a natural partnership with tournaments because it would get people more engaged in the event.
Krause: Cardio tennis is very, very easy event to run. People put in 90 minutes, they’re done and they’ve had a great workout, plus they’re getting a great taste of the sport. If you look at what people want in fitness, they’ll tell you they want to do it in a short period of time, they want exercise and this want to be social. This is it.
SDM: Any recent events that have gone over well that you’d like event owners to know about?
Krause: In February, we put on a triples pro exhibition in Wichita using eight tennis courts. We had 175 people, from Division I players from the university to people who had never played the sport. Of those 175 people, we had 110 in heart monitors and we had TV monitors showing where people’s heart rates were. The calorie burn was off the charts – the DI men were burning 800 calories an hour – but even at the lower levels, everyone was smiling, everyone was laughing, everyone was having a great time. We created an experience that anyone could enjoy, at any level.