What’s all the racket about Padel in South Africa?

What’s all the racket about Padel in South Africa?
BY Virgin Active South Africa
Posted On 10 July, 2024

Elian Wiener, one of the founders of the Virgin Active Padel Club and a Padel enthusiast who represented South Africa in the Africa Padel Cup tournament in Egypt last year, is a self-described Padel addict. He describes the sport as a cross between tennis and squash, invented in Mexico in the late 1960s. He believes the sport’s popularity taps into how people want to socialise while they exercise.

“Padel is played on a court that looks similar to a tennis court, except that it’s slightly smaller and surrounded by glass walls,” says Elian.

In that way, it’s similar to squash, but the set-up is similar to tennis, with a net in the middle and two players on each side of the net. Padel is also scored in the same way as tennis, with points, sets and games.” The racket is similar to a large bat, made of wood and rubber-coated, without strings, and the ball is similar to a tennis ball, just a little smaller.
Instead of boxing you in, the glass walls bring a different dimension to the sport, in which power is less important than in tennis. And because the ball can go past you, bounce off the wall and still be in play, it makes mixed doubles or playing with older people more pleasant.

Padel is more accessible than tennis, and it’s quicker to get to a level of play where it’s fun. It’s a very social game, with up to four people on a court that’s small enough to chat while you play. Booking games on the universal Playtomic app allows you to find and book a court on the date and at the most convenient time. It also allows you to post a link to your game booking so that your friends can join simply by clicking the link.

Padel is more accessible than tennis

The Virgin Active Padel Club, launched in 2022, already has 700 members on its WhatsApp group, so you will be part of a community.

Elian gives more insight into the game and how you can participate:

Why join Virgin Active Padel Club?

If you’re a member of Virgin Active, you automatically qualify as a member of the Padel Club. And it’s free. Membership entitles you to discounts on court bookings and merchandise, preferential court bookings and the like.

Is Padel expensive?

Padel is quite reasonably priced – a game will cost you about R400 an hour. The Padel booking system allows players to pay for their portion of the game (R100 per person for a doubles game), and clubs offer a bat and ball rental service, too.

Where can I play Padel?

While most Padel courts are in Johannesburg and Cape Town, new venues are constantly opening up. There are clubs in Pretoria, Durban, Knysna, George, Plettenberg Bay, and Gqeberha. Virgin Active Padel Club has five clubs: Huddle Park and Randpark in Johannesburg and Epicentre, The Glen, and Durbanville in Cape Town. We have a pipeline of about 10 to 20 clubs nationwide that we will roll out over the next 18 months. Most of the new Padel clubs will be at Virgin Active gyms.

Is Padel a good workout?

Definitely! It’s an excellent workout. A throwback to our Health & Racquet roots, Padel is a great way to stay fit and active. It offers a fantastic cardio workout, helping to improve heart health, lung capacity, and overall fitness. Because it involves a lot of lateral movement, it can also help build strength in the legs, hips, and core. Your core gets a good workout due to the twisting motion of the shots. I’ve seen people burn thousands of calories during a match.

Regular Padel play also has mental health benefits. It provides a fun and social way to relieve stress and improve mood. Other benefits include improved hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and spatial awareness, all of which can benefit overall cognitive function.

Overall, Padel is an excellent sport for anyone looking for a fun and challenging way to stay active and improve their fitness. We hope that you get to have your day in court soon.

Padel is an engaging, social, and accessible sport that integrates the best elements of tennis and squash; it’s an excellent way to stay fit and have fun. The Virgin Active Padel Club offers members a fantastic opportunity to enjoy this sport with a supportive community, convenient booking options, and affordable rates.

Ready to join the Padel revolution? Learn more and book your court with Virgin Active.