For some, the Olympics’ nightly broadcasts of beach volleyball has been the highlight of the Summer Games.
Indeed, since the sport joined the Olympics roster at the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996, NBC has devoted increasing prime time coverage to beach volleyball in subsequent Games. Team USA’s Misty-May Treanor and game partner Kerri Walsh’s hugging and fanny-slapping between points has earned more screen time over two weeks from the London Games than Michael Phelps’ week of winning five medals.
“The sport in general has been growing a lot since the first official beach volleyball tournament in the Olympics in Atlanta and worldwide has seen a growth,” explains beach volleyball coach and Equinox instructor Andreas Oleson, 35.
Oleson, who is from Denmark, has played the sport for 15 years in world competitions and tried to qualify for the Olympics, he said. He still plays tournaments in Florida and is doing his part to help make South Beach the epicenter of the sport’s growth. Oleson coaches a new, free beach volleyball class.
Equinox on South Beach sponsors the class, which is open to members and non-members at no cost. The idea is to give newcomers a chance to see what the excitement is about and for budding pros to polish their game. They all come together on the sands of Eighth and Ocean for two hours of instruction, along with inside tips and technical skills drills, such as practice in passing, spiking and serving the ball.
The class also includes stretching and boot camp-styled drills. The last hour incorporates partnered training exercises and, ultimately, a competitive volleyball match pitting two against two, three against three or four against four.
“All the students have a chance to implement all of those things that were taught,” Oleson says. “We welcome all levels. The whole concept is to come out and do something different than just being in a gym. You’re outside in the beautiful weather playing against and with others.”
A primary focus, Oleson says, is to make sure everyone is properly warmed up, through stretching and agility exercises on the sand.
“There’s a big difference to moving on the sand, it’s more unstable. While warming up we make sure, all the time, people are getting better at moving on the sand. It’s a great workout because you don’t have the harsh impact on the knees and spine as in indoor volleyball or basketball,” Oleson says.
Fitness enthusiasts, like Norm Caldwell, a financial planner based in Miami Beach who enjoys softball, tennis and basketball, have become devoted to the new Saturday morning ritual.
“It’s a great way to get out and meet people in Miami,” Caldwell says. “I’ve played a lot of other sports but this class has been great for many reasons as it’s allowed me to meet other people with similar interests and it’s a great exercise and the coaches are there so it’s not just a bunch of people not playing by the rules. I’ve grown a lot in my ability to play the game.”