Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave has always been a fierce competitor. The former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member—and, yes, daughter of rock star John Mellencamp—started riding horses at the age of four, showed professionally for more than a decade, and went on to become a nationally ranked equestrian. So when she learned about the sport of pickleball, Mellencamp Arroyave immediately knew that it would be more than a casual hobby.
She and her husband, security-company executive Edwin Arroyave, discovered pickleball at the home of their friends Robin and Andrew Friedman (you may know him as the president of operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers), and Mellencamp Arroyave was instantly hooked.
“Every Fourth of July they would have a tournament, and my husband and I would always be the big stinkers on the court,” she says. “We would always talk about upping our game but never actually do anything about it.” So last October, when they were moving into their sprawling new farmhouse-style digs in Encino, California, Mellencamp Arroyave recalls, “the first thing my husband said was ‘I love pickleball; I’m going to build a court.’”
Now pickleball has become something of a family obsession, as the couple has passed its love of the game on to the next generation: Isabella, 12; Slate, 8; and Cruz, 7. (Their 18-month-old daughter, Dove, may have to wait a while longer before joining them on the court.)
“One person subs out, and we don’t play by all the official rules, but it’s fun,” Mellencamp Arroyave says with a laugh. During the pandemic especially, pickleball has become a go-to activity, and they’ll invite other families over to play on the weekends. “It’s the perfect thing to do on a Saturday,” she says. “[Being] outside with your family, laughing, trying new things, getting stronger: Having that fun together is huge.”
Even her famous father is getting in on the action. In a viral Instagram post, John Mellencamp (aka “Cougs”) is playing doubles in his daughter’s backyard and shouts, “Who has it better than us?!” Just after his grandkids respond with “Nobody!” he reaches for a ball, steps out of bounds, loses his balance, and falls into the pool fully clothed. (Don’t worry: The caption ends with “He is ok now.”) Pickleball hasn’t been all fun and games for Mellencamp Arroyave, however: In January she broke her foot while playing at home with Edwin. “We were getting really into it, and I ran for a ball that I didn’t need to get, because it was going to be out,” she says. She made light of the situation with an Instagram post in which she appeared, complete with a medical boot, in a pharmacy aisle. She wrote, “The silver lining: It’s called a dancer’s fracture so I’m basically a ballerina now. Pickleball: 1. Teddi: 0.”
To recover, she had to wear the boot for six weeks, but in classic Mellencamp Arroyave style, she didn’t let that stop her work as a fitness guru, and she even turned her boot-friendly workouts into an Instagram Live series. “I brought in different personal trainers, and did core work, chair series, to that fun, upbeat music that gets your heart rate up,” she says. “I think as long as you’re moving and taking action, you’re going to feel good.”
BRAVO TO Pickleball!
TEDDI MELLENCAMP ARROYAVE isn’t the only reality star from the Bravo network to fall hard for pickleball. Her Real Housewives of Beverly Hills costars Erika Jayne and Kyle Richards played pickleball on a court at Richards’s house in a sixth-season episode.
“Pickleball is an actual sport,” Richards said. “I mean, that’s what my husband told me.” Meanwhile, Vanderpump Rules couple Lala Kent and Randall Emmett recently turned to a sister Bravolebrity, designer Megan Weaver from Flipping Out, for a renovation that saw them install a home court of their own. They’re such fans of the sport that they also partnered with Franklin Sports on a custom paddle displaying their illustrated faces.
Fitness has always proven healing when Mellencamp Arroyave faces physical or mental challenges. She gave up her professional equestrian career after she started having kids, and “was really struggling” after having several miscarriages and rounds of IVF. “Even before I had my son, I had lost a sense of myself,” she recalls. “I was looking to my husband or my kids to validate my day.” After she gave birth to her son, Cruz, she gained 80 pounds and had trouble losing the weight. So she decided to step it up a notch, posting daily to Instagram about her workouts and what she was eating.
“I started creating this big following, because people either want to see you succeed or see you fail,” she says. “People started reaching out once they saw my physical transformation happen, but once I saw my mental transformation, I just had, like, a spark to me. People were, like, ‘I want that shift, I want that change.’”
In 2014 she turned her love of fitness into an accountability-coaching business, All In by Teddi, which has worked with 15,000 clients. The program basically extends the personal trainer model to every part of a client’s life. “If you have a personal trainer you’re going to work out with, great; but then what are you doing the other 23 hours of the day?” Mellencamp Arroyave says. “We’re like a concierge service.”
BACK IN THE SADDLE
THOUGH PICKLEBALL is a current favorite, the pandemic granted Mellencamp Arroyave the chance to return to horseback riding—one of her first loves—and she’s sharing that passion with her children. Last fall, in honor of daughter Slate’s birthday, the Arroyaves welcomed a horse named Cherry (“such a love bug,” Mellencamp Arroyave posted), and the family began racking up the blue ribbons shortly after, with Mellencamp Arroyave writing in an Instagram post that she sees “a special different side of the kids when they are at the barn and [is] forever grateful.”
Despite her affinity for competitive riding, Mellencamp Arroyave has always approached the sport with a sense of humor, as evidenced by a Throwback Thursday post from 2020: “#tbt to the ol days when my biggest work concern was if I was going to get a blue ribbon or need to try to compose myself in the closest horse show porta potty.”
Last fall Mellencamp Arroyave’s three-season tenure on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills came to an end when Bravo declined to renew her contract. “I’m still friends with all the girls; I really appreciated my time on the show,” she says. “Of course the show is drama centered. I filmed five, six days a week, so there’s a lot that you didn’t see, and those memories I’ll remember forever.”
Post-Housewives, Mellencamp Arroyave is keeping her plate full with All In and her podcast, Teddi Tea Pod, which launched in 2019 as part of the iHeart Radio Podcast Network. She describes the show as “going down the rabbit hole” on pop culture topics as well as offering insight into Mellencamp Arroyave’s family life, and featuring guests ranging from health and relationship experts to fellow reality stars such as Kristin Cavallari and Lala Kent.
“I’m excited for things to shift, and to focus on other projects as we move forward” and out of the pandemic, she says. “But this past year, I really felt it was important for me to be there for my family and lean into that.”