In response to the fastest growing sport in the U.S., the Aaron Family JCC of Dallas created a new style of training through a program called Pickleball Palooza.
Created by Terri Arends, the group fitness and wellness director, and Debbi K. Levy, the JCC’s certified yoga instructor, the initiative is a strength and conditioning training program providing tips to decrease the likelihood of an injury while playing pickleball.
Arends said similar to what’s being seen across the country, the sport has taken off and exploded in the North Texas area.
“From parks and rec centers to community centers like the Aaron Family JCC of Dallas to chains like Chicken N Pickle, the pickleball revolution has taken hold in Texas,” said Arends. “With hometown Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s purchase of a professional team, more pickleball mania is headed to North Texas. Billionaire Tom Dunden acquired majority ownership of the Professional Pickleball Association and plans to move its headquarters from Utah to Dallas. Everything is bigger in Texas, and Dallas is looking to be the pickleball hub of the U.S.”
The four-part series includes simple tips like establishing a proper warmup, focusing on agility drills to allow mobility when moving on the court, and developing core strength through power and balance exercises. Also, advice is provided on topics like wearing proper footwear and staying hydrated.
Pickleball Palooza is split into two different classes: Pickle-Fit-Conditioning and Pickleball Palooza Yoga Stretch & Flex. Classes are free and open for the public to attend.
“As we train for everyday life, the game of pickleball primarily taps into many of the functional fitness elements such as mobility, balance, agility and reaction,” said Arends. “It is important to prepare for the game of pickleball by finding drills that are specific to the sport. However, it is as important to undergo core conditioning, force, stretching and power exercises to lessen potential injuries and build your reaction times.”
Different drills and skills participants encounter in the Pickle-Fit class include three stations specific to pickleball, two stations focusing on core power/strength, one cardio and one educational station to find the right paddle for specific levels of play. Participants can learn about the variety of paddles followed by trying out the paddle best suited for your level of play.
Arends said in the Stretch & Flex class will teach counter poses, stretches and mindfulness drill to develop focus for play.
Arends said both classes focus on finding joy in movement, understanding the importance of training for life and to give by growing the sport.
“Playing pickleball allows a pickler to release stress and find fitness fun,” said Arends. “Through our fitness passion and fitness education, Levy and I can drive home healthy well-being by changing lives one swing, one slam and one stretch at a time.”
She added one of her biggest reasons for these conditioning classes is to build community in the area and amongst members. In a previous Pickle-Fit class, Arends said they had over 60 attendees.
“Our Pickleball Palooza series training class brings a wide range of multi-generational members and nonmembers together and creates social bonds,” said Arends. “My goal is to ramp-up the socialization piece coming out of COVID-19.”
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