Howard Waldstreicher is an internationally known expert in tennis training and fitness based on the success of HalfHourPower.
In addition to speaking engagements and training sessions with professional and college tennis athletes, Howard contributes articles to tennis magazines and newsletters. He is the author of the acclaimed series “Are You Gym Fit or Tennis Fit,” and has articles appearing in upcoming issues of USTA Magazine highlighting the skills, training and mindset needed to excel on the court.
A leader in the tennis fitness industry, Howard recently completed a speaking tour designed for tennis athletes, coaches and professional players.
Howard has been a fitness enthusiast and tennis player for over 30 years and has tried every technique and routine to improve his body and performance. At almost age 50, married and with two kids, he still keeps up with the 20-year-olds on the court (when I'm 70, the 40-year-olds, I hope!). To Howard, fitness is all about the movement. Whatever you do, you must be able to move with agility, balance, and stability.
Howard operates his own gym in Denver, Colorado where he runs HalfHourPower classes and private sessions. His workouts focus on quickness, strength and reactive core training, and include all ways to train with his bands—always from a standing position, because that is how he lives and plays. Howard has found that this technique applies particularly well to sports, and as a result he has had the opportunity to work with some of the top athletes in the world.
Howard lives and breathes the lifestyle he teaches—always active, with effective training and a good diet. He is extremely passionate about the new training he has developed and is always excited to see people benefiting from exercises designed to improve their performance.
Now, introducing Howard Waldstreicher and his newly formed company HalfHourPower:
JL: Howard, can you tell us how you became so passionate about fitness and what made you decide to do it on a full-time basis and eventually as a life pursuit? Being involved in the industry for over 30 years is there any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with our readers and fitness enthusiasts?
HW: I have always been passionate about fitness and nutrition. After my dad suffered a deadly heart attack when I was 19, I literally changed overnight. I was already eating well, but then realized why should I wait till I have a heart attack, start now. Of course my sisters always said I ate weird when in reality I was eating the way we were meant to. I was eating brown rice with vegetables, I cut out all processed food. Basically, if I couldn’t visualize where the food came from I didn’t eat. For example, I new where fruits and veggies came from , not to mention they were only 1 ingredient, but where does a cookie come from for example.
Do we grow them, no, so I don’t eat them! It's funny, but when you start eating really well, you also start thinking more about your fitness. I started running, doing pushups and situps. Of course, I wish I knew then what I know today. I never would have done those ridiculous situps, which trainers still have people do. So my pearls of wisdom for your readers who want to stay or become a lean mean machine is “You can’t out train a bad diet”. For your fitness enthusiast: Intensity is the key , not duration. You must train movement and not isolate muscles, leave that to the meathead bodybuilders.
JL: I have noticed that you have developed a company called Half Hour Power, can you tell our readers more about it? Have you created a mission statement along with your company? If so, can you tell us more about that as well?
HW: Half Hour Power is 30 minutes of explosive maneuvers designed to get you stronger, faster and leaner in less time than traditional workouts. Its interesting how they came about. After I was laid off from my job in 2000 I always had this idea of the quick intense workouts. It became even worse when I became a Mr. Mom. My kids were young and I had no time to make it to the gym, etc! I need something I could do in my house. My basement became my lab. Now understand, I was using weights then doing the traditional workouts, benchpress, curls, etc! At that time, I also started playing tennis and basketball when I got a break at night, but what I realized was, my knees and back were hurting me, I was getting slower, I just wasn’t my old young self. I had these bands I purchased and decided to give them a shot. I realized I could mimic all the moves on the court with my band and I was getting smoked.
I never had that feeling during a traditional workout. I started making up all these routines that were the hardest workout I ever did and it had to be in the 30 minutes time slot. I knew it was hard so I tested out my routines on my basketball and tennis playing friends. What happened was what I expected, they couldn’t make it through and they loved it. Well, to make a long story short, within about 8 weeks gone were any pains I had, and I was moving like I did when I was in my 20’s. I am 50 years old now and am still moving better than most twenty somethings on the court; with the key being, no pain and not getting injured. The most important thing I realized which I did naturally was that I was training the way I play, that was the key to my success.
JL: In our previous discussion, you had mentioned that Half Hour Power was a real money maker for facilities across the country, can you give us a breakdown on the profit potential that a business can gain from utilizing the Half Hour Power system at their club? Will you be offering a consultation to facilities that express an interest in implementing the system into their mainstream program?
HW: Yes, HHP is a tremendous addition to facilities. The thing is that it’s not just for tennis. Look, tennis players are some of the fittest and leanest athletes in the world, why wouldn’t members want to learn their secrets and train like them. Footwork is footwork. It may sound funny, but I train tennis players the same way I train my football players or soccer players or basketball players. All ground based sports need to focus on the first step.
An overhead in tennis is the same footwork as a baseball player going back for a flyball or a quarterback or defensiveback guarding a wide receiver. Partner training is my favorite way to train and doesn’t take up much space. Here is how a tennis club makes a lot of money on the hhp system. Say they have 12 players on the court. They are separated into two groups. One group works on their footwork while the other group is using the same footwork done in the bands. Example. Maybe group 1 is doing overhead footwork drills in the band, after about 4-5 minutes group 1 then gets fed overheads doing the footwork they just practiced. We charge each person $25 and its all on one court
JL: In viewing your website www.halfhourpower.com, I have realized that Melanie Oudin and the Bryan Brothers have contributed their time in creating the video with you, have they commented on their personal experience using the system?
HW: I speak with the Bryan Brothers pretty regularly and they are loving the workouts and its really paying off as they just won Wimbledon and became the winningest doubles team in history. They aren’t getting any younger, and the band movement workouts are really keeping them injury free and are feeling faster to the ball. Unfortunately, Melanie isn’t really doing much, she is having boyfriend problems, etc!
JL: Have you incorporated the Half Hour Power system with other professional sporting teams or individuals that you'd like to share with us and how that experience affected their playing performance?
HW: As I mentioned above, HHP is perfect for any ground based sports such as football, soccer, basketball, etc! Usually in football and soccer win the first 5 yards and win the game. I think teams and coaches are still old school when they think they have to work out for hours. That is so wrong, What can be accomplished in 30 minutes is really amazing. Teams and coaches need to get away from the traditional bodybuilding exercises, that’s the problem. It really does nothing for them as far as getting them faster, move better, stronger core, and so forth.
All sports are played from a standing position and you need to train that way.Everyone talks about the core, but they still have no idea how to train it from a standing position. I walk into a tennis academy and they still have them doing situps (that’s a back problem ready to happen). Basically its this: Train movement not isolated muscles, When you train movement, you use less weight and can really get after it (more weight will just cause injury, typically), it’s a more holistic approach to training. You will also burn more calories because more muscles are being used. Also, get way from being a rep counter.
Your workouts will be so much better and your team if you give a time frame. How much work can they get done in say 30 seconds or 45 seconds. My job is not to train athletes so they become better exercisers, but to become better athletes! So, is the bench press lying on your back going to make you a better athlete or a press from a standing position with movement for example.
JL: After receiving my very own version of the Half Hour Power program, I was absolutely amazed by how much diverse bio-movement was involved and the simplicity that it offered. Does half hour power offer progressions from beginner to advance levels for those seeking a more challenging program? If so, how can they find out more about it?
HW: That is absolutely correct. The simplicity that is offered. I really see gyms having band rooms and eventually getting away with the weights. Leave it for the meatheads. The dvd you did is a beginner/intermediate workout. I just released a more advanced workout on our website. The time increased from 30 seconds to 45 seconds and some more advanced exercises. That said, some of my hardest workout are when I go for 20 seconds, because I go all out. I change how hard I work based on the timed interval I give.
It never fails, but people come into my gym for example and they say how hard can this be, its bands, doesn’t look so bad. Usually they can’t breathe within the first 2 exercises. Why, they are not used to moving and working their whole body at once in a holistic fashion. I’ll never forget this one story, this guy call me up says he heard about my system and wants to try it. He thought he would run to my gym (for him about 3 miles one way) workout for 30 minutes and run back. A good workout he thought.
Well, after the first exercise he had to sit down for a few minutes, out of the 30 minutes maybe he did 15 minutes if that at a very easy pace. He comes up to me afterwards, puts his arm around me and says 'THANK GOD IT SNOWED THIS MORNING'. It’s a sprinters workout not a marathoner. Whose body would you rather have, a sprinter or the marathoner.
JL: Does Half Hour Power offer classes for the general public or is it training specific for individuals with certain athletic ability? Or can anyone of any level of fitness utilize the program? If so, can you give us an example of each and how the program can affect change in their daily exercise routine?
HW: Yes, as mentioned above. I have tennis players, soccer, basketball , runners, and tri-athletes as well as people who just want to be fit. I treat everyone like an athlete. Think about it, you walk everyday, you play with your kids, again you do all that from a standing position with movement. So guess what, I have had people come in with back, knee and hip problems and they have disappeared.
I have a group of women who used to go to the JCC to work out. Their friend was bragging about me and they tried it. At first they would come to me 2x/week and then 1 day at the JCC. Well, that didn’t last, as they decided it was so boring working out the old way and who had the time. They have been with me for years . If you look on my website under the training tab, those are some of the girls I am talking about.
And even more surprising, four of the women's husbands now come to me. One of them a former colonel in the air force is still shocked about the 30 minutes. I really thinking the men love it because 1. They are dong workouts like professional athletes (so are the women), but, they are getting results fast. Weight loss takes time so anyone who tells you different is just giving you a line. But, they see better movement on the court after 3 sessions.
JL: With so many fitness programs being produced every year and marketed, how does Half Hour Power differentiate themselves from the competition? Have you crafted a personal and professional philosophy over the years being involved in the fitness industry? If so, can you share those philosophies with our readers and fitness enthusiasts from around the world?
HW: So many fitness programs. The problem is a lot of these have people do exercises just for the sake of doing exercises. Like I mentioned previously, I am not looking to make people better exercises but either better athletes or just fit to do what they need to do. You want to mimic the movement people do as much as possible. And if you are dong exercises on your back what is that mimicking, sleeping. Let me ask you a question Jason, Have you ever been hurt just sitting or lying down. Probably not, but as soon as you stand and add movement everything changes and your body is more at risk. I just don’t see the 1 hour workout anymore, not to mention who has the time but, as mentioned before it’s the INTENSITY NOT THE DURATION. Especially for my athletes, their bodies take enough of a beating on the court or field.
Now, on the field or court you know that sometimes its not the talent that wins but the WILL imposed. You must be able to impose your will on your opponent. How do you train for that, Well I can tell you its not by benching 400 pounds, etc…Your body has to be able to move in any direction at any given time. Example, In tennis for example, if I am running everything down with ease my opponent gets a little antsy and tries an even better shot, well, he probably will make that shot 3 out of 10 tries. The odds are in my favor and I just imposed my will on my opponent. If I can’t run down those balls that isn’t happening.
JL: Half Hour Power has achieved some notable recognition in the tennis industry, where do you foresee the company heading in the coming months ahead? Do you have other potential partnerships in the makings? If so, can you elaborate on how this possible collaborate can assist with the growth of the company over the years?
HW: I see HHP going into other sports. We started with tennis because that was my passion at the time and we had the #1 doubles team in the world. Then the USTA came on board and Rick Macci. I am also heading out to the Shanghai masters to give a seminar and now that tennis is so big in China we are looking at partnering with the Shanghai sports industry group
JL: Howard, you've worked directly with TEAM USA who is represented by coach Ryan Freeman, how was the experience and the training environment at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy? Will Rick Macci be utilizing the Half Hour Power system in all of their junior development programming?
HW: Rick Macci LOVES the HHP system. When I first met with Rick, I was warned that he will make a decision within 2 minutes if he likes what you have or not. He asked me what I thought about running for tennis players at his academy. I said they don’t need me for that, they can do that at home, but I don’t recommend it for players. It’s all about the first step. He said I love it , lets do it. I did a demo with his top juniors that afternoon with his lovely wife watching. Well, the kids loved it, smiles so wide. They never did anything Like I showed them and it was fun. Rick’ Wife came up to me and said that was unbelievable, usually the kids HATE the workouts, but they all stayed and wanted me to show them more.
Rick says that HHP is a game changer at every level and the best fitness product tennis has ever seen. When I first started training Ryans Kids at Ricks, they were all confident, yeah we work out, blah blah. Well They started running around the courts to warm up. I blew my whistle and said that is NOT how HHP warms up. I put them in the bands and as you would expect after just 10 minutes of first step runs after our dynamic warm up they were gassed. I also showed them some cool partner standing core workouts they just loved, but I guess everyone loves them because they really feel it in their abs, deeply.
JL: If you could give some advice to those interested in using the Half Hour Power system, can you give our readers some tips on training and how it can benefit them for both the short-term and long-term?
HW: Don’t overdue it at first. Start with the basics. Don’t move up to the more advanced dvd until you can comfortably handle the first dvd. Don’T get to heavy a band. People always want to go heavy. Get the movements down and be able to go all out with the easier band first.
I always tell everyone, you know why the pros are so good, because they do the basics better than everyone else. I tell them their bodies will feel great. I don’t want you to get sore. Again, that’s not what I am trying to do., I can do that really easy, so what. The fitter you get, the harder it get!
JL: Do you offer one on one sessions at your location in Denver, Colorado for those looking to make even bigger improvements to their daily fitness and will you offer consultations via skype in the near future or offer online guidance through the Half Hour Power website?
HW: I do offer one on one sessions. A lot of times people start out with one on one sessions to learn how to do the movements properly and then move on to a class. That isn’t necessary though, they are all movements you would do naturally on the field.
It is hard for people who aren’t coordinated at first, but guess what, they learn to become coordinated because they are doing movement. I haven’t thought of doing anything with skype but sounds like a good idea. Or offering guidance through the website with video…
JL: In closing, how can potential companies and individuals contact you with regard to purchasing your system? Do you have a Half Hour Power quote or saying you'd like to add for our readers in conclusion?
HW: Companies can contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact, what a great system for companies as well, 30 minutes, intense, little space…I think I gave a lot of quotes throughout..My main one is 'We don’t play lying or sitting down why train that way'.
Thank you Howard for sharing your wonderful fitness wisdom with us today! I am sure that HalfHourPower will be an important part of the many lives you will positively affect both in the gym and outside of it. The value you bring to the sporting industry is incredible and any client or business would be lucky to have your product and service. I'd like to personally wish you much success, health and happiness in all that you do.