By Lindsey Turnbull
As a result of most of us being confined to our homes and gardens during this Covid-19 pandemic, Cayman’s sports and leisure clubs are finding innovative ways to ensure that members stay connected with their sport and keep fit at the same time.
The Cayman Islands Tennis Club’s tennis professional Yana Koroleva began providing club members with Zoom tennis lessons a short while ago and now she has between 15 to 20 regulars tuning in.
Lifelong tennis lover Eva Jacques is the club’s president, and she said it was her goal to get tennis into as many homes in Cayman as possible. Eva’s connection with the club goes back to her childhood, her parents, John and Gail Aiken and grandparents, Barton and Elaine Kirkconnell, having helped to build the club, thereby instilling in her a close bond.
Eva said tennis pro Yana (at one time ranked number 8 in the United States) has been working in particular with the club’s youngsters and had been extremely motivated to set up Zoom lessons.
“Our Zoom lessons are affordable and for all ages and all levels, the only condition is that you are a member of the Cayman Islands Tennis Club,” Eva explained. “We have very reasonable rates and all details can be seen on our webpage - http://www.tennis.ky. In a time when everyone's stress levels are high, we as a community need to have safe and fun ways to exercise that follow the government's restrictions.”
Eva said that her 10-year-old daughter, Gail, enjoyed participating in the Zoom lessons and had found her technique and strength improved, as Yana not only taught tennis technique but also strength and conditioning exercises as well.
Eva stated that she took great pride in the club having very affordable membership rates so they were able to bring people together from all backgrounds.
“The club was started that way and my goal is to keep it that way. We want to do our part in bringing Cayman together for the love of sport!” she confirmed.
Zoom football training
Eva’s son, ten-year-old Andrew, is also participating in his favourite sport via Zoom – football. As a member of the Total Soccer football club, Andrew was used to training regularly. Since lockdown, club coach Peter Reijn has set up Zoom training sessions between his coaches and the youngsters, to ensure that the students continue to build on their stamina, skills and strength. He said he and his coaches continue to operate because they love the sport and are passionate about youngsters developing their own skills.
“We had between 120 and 130 students from school across Cayman train with our professional coaches, two or three times a week prior to the lockdown,” Peter explained. “Once lockdown came into effect, we realised we needed to continue this. Firstly, we set daily video challenges for the players and got the students to film themselves and send them to us for feedback. Then we began Zoom training sessions.”
Zoom sessions are split into smaller groups of five to six students, who benefit from individual, one-to-one instruction, catering to around 80 students in total. Instruction includes strength and fitness, in addition to skills. The club also does a more general, larger Zoom session, to many more students. Peter said that as a result, he has seen improvements in students’ abilities that he might not have seen without this dedicated level of training.
“I think it’s worked out well,” he informed. “The smaller sessions last around 45 minutes twice a week and the players are required to set up beforehand. It gives them some structure to their time, a focus and a good foundation technically, so they can become better players.”
Peter has also created an opportunity for students to talk about their mindset as it relates to the game, and says they can regularly check in with him. He offers regular evaluations with parents and challenges the students to think about how the lockdown has impacted their long-term goals as they relate to the game.
“I think it’s really clicked with students as they realise their priorities have not change and this has just motivated them to train even harder,” he said.
Marlene West, Club Manager at the South Sound Squash Club, said they were sending out daily workouts and information to members and had run a week -long challenge two weeks ago.
“We also have daily postings on out Instagram and Facebook page from various different squash websites showing podcasts, articles and YouTube videos from professional squash players around the world, and what they might be doing to stay squash fit,” she advised.
Marlene added that they would also be doing a members’ challenge in the next week which will include not only exercise-related events but also challenges that the whole family could partake in, that, she confirmed, “will help with the mental and emotional roller coaster that we know most of us are on during these times.”