Summer Camp

It’s that time of year again, the sun is shining, the temperature is heating up, the beaches are preparing to open and parents are trying to figure out how to entertain their kids!  If you haven’t done so already it’s not too late to pick a summer camp.  There are all sorts of camps which you can find here  or here) from tennis to sailing and all different lengths from day camper to weekly overnight camps.  It will be beneficial if you can figure out what your child is interested in as well as what their attention span will allow.  Most camps will have age specific lengths of time so your 5-year-old isn’t attending a 5 or 6 hour camp.  Have a conversation with your child explaining what is involved, what they might expect and then try to pick the best thing for them.  Speak with someone at the camp if you have questions or concerns so you know what you’re getting into.  Otherwise you may end up with an unhappy camper (at best) or a miserably homesick camper who wants you to bring them home immediately (at worst).

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Customer Service

Over the past few weeks we have been working to launch various discounts which are offered through online promotional websites.  These are great opportunities to introduce new clients to your business, but we learned the hard way about how particular you have to be when putting the offer together.  When creating an offer you want to make sure everything is in line before it launches.  No matter how much work is done beforehand it’s always important to have a few sets of eyes check it out.  As a result of some mistakes, both on our end and the promotional site, we had a flurry of calls to the club.  Some people were confused, some were angry, some just needed us to walk them through the process step by step.  But in the end, the two things that paid off the most were patience and GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.  There were numerous times when I had to take a few deep breaths as people were yelling at me, but when I responded with a calm voice and told them I would make it right, it almost instantly diffused the situation.  No one enjoys being yelled at, especially if you aren’t armed with all the information, but if you keep calm you can usually get them to calm down too.  I was once told that “knowledge is either knowing the answer, or knowing where to find the answer”.  No one likes being told “I don’t know”, so if you don’t know the answer, tell them you will find it out and get back to them…and then add a time such as “by the end of the day.”  We all remember our bad customer service experiences, it’s important that if you work in the service industry you do your part to make their experience memorable in a positive way.  In addition to the deal you may be offering, if their customer service experience is positive they will remember it and be more willing to return.

Tips: For Clients, Pros and Clubs

The Gear

Clients:  Now that we have a place to play and have figured out who we want to play with, it’s important to know where to find the gear you need.  I’m not saying you have to get fancy and buy the next great tennis racket.  But you do want to make sure you have tennis shoes, athletic clothes and a decent racket (not to say an old wooden racket wouldn’t get the job done, but they have a lot of good rackets out now that you could upgrade to!).  Tennis shoes, the most important accessory is important because running shoes are good for forward movement but don’t give the proper support that tennis shoes offer.  Athletic wear isn’t as important but will offer more comfort when you start getting sweaty.  When looking at rackets and string, there are quite a few things to consider including length, and stiffness as well as the “playability” of the string.  Aside from name brand sites (Adidas, Nike etc) there is a very comprehensive site to check out for information on this Tennis Warehouse site .  Once you’ve checked this out, and have a good idea what you want to get, the best thing that I can suggest is to try out a bunch of different rackets and string before buying anything.

Pros: A lot of pros who work at clubs, especially country clubs, will get sponsorships from a company.  Most of these companies give rackets and other gear to the pro for free, with the understanding that they try to push their brand.  The problem with this, is when a pro only pushes rackets to meet a selling quote rather than looking out for the benefit of the client.  An intelligent pro will have knowledge of a wide range of the rackets that a brand offers in order to offer their clients something that is good for them.  It’s also good to have clients try out different rackets before locking in to one.  I tell people it’s like test driving a car.  I may love pick-up trucks and think they are the best thing around, but if someone is looking for a sports car, this isn’t going to fit well with their needs.  Find out the level of the client and what they’re looking to do and then either direct them to a few rackets to try, or encourage them to talk to someone in the pro shop (hopefully the pro shop staff is well versed in what they have.).

Club: To be a successful club, it’s important to not only have a pro shop, but have a knowledgeable staff.  The staff should have an understanding of the different rackets that the pro shop carries so they can drive business.  Many customers will see do what the pro suggests for them.  For the pro shop to make money, they should have as wide a selection as possible of rackets, string, clothing and shoes.  If they can set up a deal with companies for the pros that will help motivate them to help sell merchandise.  Usually sports companies (Adidas, Nike, etc) will offer deals to pros on rackets and other accessories if they sell a certain about of rackets.  The key though, is if you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, make sure there is someone who does, otherwise you’ll lose their business to the local sporting goods store.

Inspiration

Who inspires you?  Who do you read about, who have you met that inspires you with what they do?  Sadly most people tell stories of the sports star who has run faster, have caught more touchdowns in a season or won more bike races than anyone in history.  Well, sadly our sports heroes have recently brought us back down to Earth with their falls from grace.  I was among the many who thought I was truly inspired by Lance Armstrong.  After reading about him in a 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated, I was intrigued.  I then had some time to kill when I broke my arm, so I checked out his book, “It’s Not About the Bike” (ironic title looking back on it).  I devoured the book in 3 days, constantly reading quotes out loud.  I then purchased a Livestrong bracelet, and religiously watched the Tour de France.  I sat captivated year after year as he won and defended him in debates with friends as he was accused of cheating.  Then a month ago he “confessed” to cheating, or really answered yes/no questions posed by Oprah, but it was enough for me.  His fight during his cancer treatment is still remarkable and what the Livestrong Foundation does is very important, but I’ve lost all respect for Armstrong as an individual.

I started down that road again with Oscar Pistorius and then his tragic story hit the news.  The problem I’ve learned is that the drive to be the best and to be a constant fixture in the spotlight leads people to feel they are invincible or above the rules and regulations that everyone else is held to (not always, but more often than we’d like).  As a result, I’m avoiding putting famous people on a pedestal.  We can be impressed with their accomplishments, as I am with what the wheelchair bound tennis player Esther Vergeer who recently retired after not losing a match in 10 years,  has done, but it’s best not to idolize them.

Three men at my club have alzheimer’s and their care taker brings them in for weekly tennis classes to help stimulate their minds and bodies.  An 80 year old woman with a severe case of Scoliosis treks out two times a week to play tennis.  My grandmother, in her eighties (I better not give out her actual age since she reads my blog and would kill me!) hadn’t worked out a day in her life.  She decided 8 years ago she wanted to join a gym.  She now owns a stationary bike which she rides every day and goes to the gym every other day.  These are the people that inspire me.  Who inspires you?

Ab Challenge: Final Phase

The Final 5 Days of the Challenge!

Day 26: Today is a built in rest day, or can be used to catch up on a missed exercise if you took a rest day earlier in the week.

Day 27: Today we’re going with the classic raised leg crunches: Sets: 8 Reps: 50 TOTAL: 400.  It’s still difficult for me to knock out that many reps consecutively, but I altered it to be 10 sets of 40 so I could still get the benefit of doing a total of 400 crunches.

Day 28: Side/oblique Crunches:  Lie flat on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent.  Bring your right elbow towards your left knee 30 times, then alternate the left elbow to right knee 30 times. Reps 30 per side, Sets 8, Total 240/side.

Day 29: Combination of “at home” exercises.  Take 30-60 seconds off between each workout.

Leg Raises, Reps: 15

Traditional Crunches, Reps: 50

Horizontal Scissor Kicks Reps: 15

Non-Weighted Crunch, Reps: 50

Bicycle, Reps: 30

Reverse Crunches, Reps: 20

Day 30: Grand Finale, finishing where we started!

The Core Blast

Hold the pushup plank position for 60 seconds. Without resting, stand up and do 20 jumping jacks. If you’re not in the mood for jumping jacks, do 15-20 prisoner squats

Total time: 15 minutes

This was a new and very challenging addition to my regular workout.  I typically do not do abs more than once per week, but I’ve really enjoyed adding more and I can see a definite physical change.  I will trim back the abs to 3 days per week and then try a new ab challenge in a few weeks.  Hope you enjoyed the workout and stay tuned for the next challenge!

Tips: For Clients, Pros and Clubs

Staying In Touch

Client: Now that you’ve found a place to play tennis and a pro to play with, you want to make sure you keep up to speed on what the club is offering.  Most clubs at a minimum have a weekly or monthly newsletter that goes out via mass mailing telling you what’s going on at the club.   These will most likely include tournaments, clinics, lessons or other events.  With social media rapidly expanding and the creation of deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social etc most facilities and companies are using these ways to stay connected with their customers.  Find out what your club is using and connect with them.  They may even use their Facebook or Twitter accounts to list weekly specials on courts or lessons that you can take advantage of.  You may also be able to find other people who are looking to play tennis.

Pro: The pro should be well versed in the ways the club is connecting with customers, whether it’s pamphlets, newsletters, social media etc.  Find out if the club is willing to offer lesson specials which is a great way for you to get your name out to the public and increase your client base.  If the club posts bios about pros, have a brief but comprehensive description of your background, teaching style and a personal touch that separates you from the other pros.

Club: To keep up with the changing times, it’s very important for a club to have an online presence beyond just having a website.  Websites are typically more in-depth in the content they have and these days most people are looking for quick snipits of information.  At a bare minimum clubs should have a Facebook and Twitter account.  These sites are great for offering daily, weekly or monthly specials (if you’re not using Groupon, Living Social or other deal sites), displaying pictures of action at the court as well as monitoring customer issues.  Rather than “complaint boxes”, people are turning to social media for customer service.  As long as these outlets are monitored they are a great way to solve issues.  Facebook can be a useful way to display bios for the staff, adding a personal touch to the club.  Blogs also offer a chance to go deeper into topics being covered at the club or other events.  Don’t spread yourself too thin by joining every site out there, but it’s important to reach as many customers as possible.

Ab Challenge: Phase 5

We’re hitting the final stretch of the ab challenge.  Make sure to finish strong, you’ll be glad you did!

Day 21:  Today we’re going to mix things up and do a cycle of four different exercises. We’ve previously done all of these exercises, thus, no instructions (In case you need the instructions, I’ve added the day number in parenthesis). Rest one minute between each set.

Leg Raises (1) Sets: 2 Reps: 15 TOTAL: 30

30 seconds of jumping jacks

Standard Raised Leg Crunches (13)Sets: 2 Reps: 50 TOTAL: 100

20 prisoner squats

Horizontal Scissor Kicks (10) Sets: 2 Reps: 15 TOTAL: 30

30 seconds of jumping jacks

Non-Weighted Crunch (7) Sets: 2 Reps: 50 TOTAL: 100

20 prisoner squats

TOTAL: 260 crunches; 40 squats, ~70 jumping jacks

Day 22:

Instead of a push-up plank, we’ll be doing a modified standard plank

(Pictures are here). Get on the floor and, instead of pushing off the floor with your hands, place your forearms on the ground. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Rest 1 minute. Repeat 3 times (4 total sets).  For our next two sets, we’ll be switching it up. When you’re on the floor, pick up your left foot and place it on your right (so your toes are on your heel). Hold for 30 seconds. Place your left foot back on the ground and place your right foot on your left (toes on heels). Hold for 30 seconds. TOTAL PLANK TIME: 4 to 6+ minutes.

Day 23:

GYM Option – We haven’t done the stability ball in some time. We’re going to slightly increase our total number of sets and reps. Sets: 8 Reps: 30 TOTAL: 240

HOME Option – Bicycle Crunch – Again, We’re going to slightly increase our total number of sets and reps. Sets: 8 Reps: 20 Total: 160

Day 24: Reverse Crunches

(For a diagram on how to do the next workout you can check this site)

1. Start by lying flat on your back, with your legs straight and hands at your sides. Slightly tuck your tailbone underneath you to help you get a flat lower back. This is your starting position.

2.  Exhale your breath out of your lungs while simultaneously lifting your legs up towards the sky, bending your knees. Continue to lift until your glutes rise off of the ground and try to bring your thighs to your belly and your knees towards your head.

3. Slowly allow your legs to track back to the original starting position, lowering one vertebrae of your spine down at a time. The key here is controlling the movement, and not allowing momentum to roll you forward.

The site says 1-3 sets of 10-20 but let’s do 6 sets of 15 or 20 if they’re too easy.  Work on control vs speed.

Day 25: 2 Options Again

GYM – Hanging Leg Raises (See instructions from day 11) Sets: 8 Reps: 12 TOTAL: 96

HOME – Mountain Climbers and Leg Raises

Mountain Climbers Sets: 8 Duration: 30 seconds TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

Leg Raises Sets: 8 Reps: 12  TOTAL: 96