Usually, the Paseo Club publishes informative and educational articles based on recent research and the latest trends. Today we are departing from this model to share with you a personal story about Paseo Club member, tennis captain, and volunteer coach Mike Zeltser.
Mike’s story is about his love of tennis (and winning competitions!) and how it inspired him to change his approach to fitness and nutrition. This led him to join the Greatest Results Program. Mike’s dedication to cross-training helped him have a stronger and leaner physique. His endurance also increased, which directly benefited his tennis game.
Mike’s story is both educational and encouraging. We hope you enjoy reading this article about him!
Mike’s journey in tennis
Mike began playing tennis at the young age of six in his native Soviet Union. He played there until he was twelve and then moved to the United States.
He became a casual player afterward, occasionally making it to the courts on the weekends.
It was until February of 2021, when he joined the Paseo Club, that his love of tennis reignited. He joined the WTT and USTA leagues based on the invitation of captain Craig Scarbrough. “I quickly fell in love with the league's competitive nature,” Mike claimed.
Coaching and captaining
After a few seasons on the team, Craig chose to step down as captain. Mike decided he could become the new captain — but only if he had a co-captain. Luckily, teammate Greg Straub was willing to jump into this role.
Mike had not led a tennis league before, but he was not going into the situation blind.
Mike had been a volunteer coach for his childrens’ soccer, basketball, and baseball teams. He learned from other great coaches how to lead teams and provide positive experiences while working hard.
Mike has coached youth sports since 2017 and has had so much success with his method that he was given the Cesar Chavez Award two times by the LA County Parks and Recs.
When Mike assumed the role as captain of his tennis league, he quickly implemented new logic. His main goal was to create a more unified team by practicing as much as possible together and finding the best partners for all the players.
The Paseo Club’s men’s 3.5 singles/doubles team won the local league every season since Mike became captain. This August will be their 7th Sectionals appearance in a row. Their goal remains the same — get to the Nationals!
Why Mike chose to cross-train
Although Mike and his teammates were having a lot of success at their competitions, they weren’t getting the traction he wanted to see.
“Even with all the success we had in the local leagues, we were still coming up short to win a bid for a Nationals appearance. Our team had strong singles players, but we were struggling to win consistently,” Mike said.
Mike was determined to help his team as much as possible and figure out what could be done to enhance their play on the court.
He also took on a new challenge of becoming a better singles player. Mike knew he lacked the conditioning and stamina he needed in many of his UTR singles matches. In order to become better, he needed to get into shape.
The Greatest Results Program
Behind every great man is a greater woman… and in this case it was Mike’s wife, Jen Zeltser.
One evening Mike was discussing his goals to be a better tennis player with Jen when she suggested he join her in attending the next Greatest Results Program at the club. She had been using the GRP since she became a member at the Paseo Club, and it had helped her immensely to realize her fitness and nutrition goals.
Mike had doubts. He believed that the program was attended mainly by women and he would feel “uncomfortable and out of place.” But this time around, he was determined not to make any excuses.
Plus, the USTA Sectionals in San Diego were in six weeks. Just enough time to fit in the entire Greatest Results series!
Then Jen upped the ante. Not only was Mike invited to attend the Greatest Results series with her, she asked him to try and win it.
At the start and end of the GRP series, each participant receives a fitness assessment which looks at body mechanics, overall health, and body composition. The person who makes the most progress in their stats wins the series and is awarded a certificate to attend a follow-up GRP series for free.
Mike took the challenge.
Mike was very determined and disciplined in his training and diet. He did not miss ANY days, which he credits as the key to his success.
“My wife played the biggest part in helping me to wake up and go. Every early morning I would wake up and not want to get out of bed telling myself 100 excuses on why not go today. But my wife was right there pushing me to go, she kept me credible on my promises,” said Mike.
Being together in the program pushed both of them to do better. This commitment resulted in Mike winning the Greatest Results.
While Jen was his home coach, Mike met several inspiring athletes and trainers in the Greatest Results Program.
It began with Fitness Director Cézanne Youmazzo, who welcomed him with open arms and got him going. Trainers Justin DeAnda, Jason Youmazzo, and Jen Azevedo helped to push him beyond his perceived limits.
But small group training isn’t complete without partners in crime. Ken and Karen Watts were early friends. Mark Lingley, whose definition of an easy day is a five-mile run followed by hours of tennis, was a great inspiration. Raffy Puno was another incredible person to get to know. Raffy claims he is fifty years old. But according to Mike, “Raffy has the physique equivalent to a college athlete.”
The Impact of cross-training on Mike’s tennis game
It is easy for tennis players to look to log more hours of games as the way to become better players. And that is true — to a degree.
But increasingly, research shows that cross-training is the most effective method to improve at your sport of choice.
And the proof is in the pudding.
“GRP has taken my tennis game to another level,” states Mike. “I can finally play a full singles match without losing my power after long points, and I can maintain high energy throughout the entire match. I’m able to get to the balls that I wouldn’t even try to get before.
I used to play three sets of doubles in the morning and then be dead tired for the rest of the day. Now I do group training before tennis and still have plenty of energy after the match and for the rest of the day.
I definitely feel that I’m much better physically fit, and also mentally, I’m in a much better place. I do have a very stressful job, but the Paseo Club is my happy place, where my stress levels are very low.”
How Mike stays fit
Mike has continued with the Greatest Results Program, as well as with his own training.
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday - Greatest Results Program
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday - Tennis
Friday - Weight lifting and swimming
Sunday - Jen’s Trainer Workout class.
Mike tries to run at least 15 miles per week (usually 3 miles/day), on either the treadmill or hill runs next to his house.
He stays fresh and focused by always starting his day early. The first question he asks himself is, “What have you done today?” Forget about yesterday. Today is what really counts.
Mike tracks his weight almost daily since he started the GRP. He lost about 10 pounds per month (close to 15 pounds in May). He lost over 50 pounds in total since starting GRP.
Mike’s family and social life at the Paseo Club
After joining the Paseo Club, a new door opened in Mike’s life.
“I have met many new people that are my best friends now. I now have an outlet where I’m able to socialize and spend time with family and friends,” he said.
The Paseo Club has provided a second home for Mike and his family.
His youngest child Levi loves Kids Club, tennis lessons, and Dive-In movie nights.
Nick, the middle child, is very involved in weightlifting and group classes. Mike getting into shape has motivated Nick to follow in his footsteps, and Nick is not too far behind.
Jaliann is the oldest and is still a work in progress. She is too ‘cool’ to be spending time with the family but does take some group classes from time to time.
Jen attends many small group classes and loves spending Friday nights with the whole family at the pool. She is now considering taking free tennis lessons with coach KP.
Mike’s 9 tips for success
As Mike’s approach to fitness and health evolved, he developed some systems to help himself stay on track.
Celebrate your successes.
Have realistic goals (short-term and long-term).
Be competitive — challenge yourself as well as others.
Have fun while doing it. Hard work doesn’t have to be miserable.
Stick with the program, and when it’s hard, fight through it and get it done.
Look for inspiration. Many people have done it before you — learn from them.
Accept failures and realize what works for others may not work for you. Everyone has their limitations.
Change your lifestyle. Don’t stop reaching a certain goal. Maintain your routines and continue to work hard.
Lastly, people have a huge influence on your life. Mike’s wife Jen is definitely one of the biggest (and best) influences he has.
Your fitness journey at the Paseo Club
The Paseo Club is a community hub for individuals, couples, and families. They offer over 60 fitness classes each week. There are also small group classes and personal training sessions for when you need more personalized attention.
Are you curious about trying the Greatest Results program or other small group training classes? Sign up today by registering at the front desk of the Paseo Club
Starts August 14-September 20
Cost $250 for 6 weeks
Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30 am with Justin, 9:30 am with Tara or
Mondays and Wednesdays with Cezanne at 6:00 pm
Tennis and pickleball courts and a junior Olympic pool make the Paseo Club a great place for everyone to find the physical activity they like best.
The staff and instructors care about your health, wellness, and social connections. If you would like to be a member of a family-friendly club, then the Paseo Club may be the place for you. Schedule a tour of the club and meet members, staff, and instructors.
Read these three articles to learn more about the classes at the Paseo Club.
Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!