Hit the tennis court to boost your fitness

The Australian Open might be finished for another year, but you can still indulge your interest in the game in a way that's more exciting than a standard rally.

While you might not be the next Djokovic or Azarenka, tennis is a great way to get fit - especially if you partake in Cardio Tennis, a workout on the court that really gets your heart pumping.

Tennis coach Jamie Swindells runs Cardio Tennis classes at the Fernhill Tennis Club twice a week and says it is a great fitness routine for both tennis novices and more experienced players. While it can be argued a regular tennis game is a cardio workout in itself, Cardio Tennis is designed so that there is no time to slack off. Each participant wears a heart rate monitor and has their target heart rate according to their age worked out and set before the 45 to 50 minute class begins. The monitors are checked every five to seven minutes, about eight times in all, to make sure people are working hard. If your heart rate has dropped, expect to be put through the paces.

"When we check them (the monitors) and someone's heart rate has gone down a bit we do what's called a cardio burst, which is an intensive sprint through the ladder or something like that to get them back up again," Swindells says.

A typical Cardio Tennis class is divided into four sections - a warm-up, 15 to 20 minutes of drill-based exercises, 15 minutes of game time and a cool-down.

The warm-up can include an obstacle course using ladders (the horizontal, not vertical kind), jogging and quick stepping, while in the drill section players pick up their racquets to work on shots.

"We do running forehands and backhands, volleys at the nets followed by lobs so they have to run back, changing up shots and keeping them moving through ladders on the sides and cones," Swindells says.

Basically, there is no time to rest even when others are playing a mini game.

To keep people motivated, music that has 120 to 150 beats per minute is played. The drills and specific exercises change every week, so no class is ever the same.

Swindells believes Cardio Tennis is a good workout because it improves your aerobic fitness while working on tennis skills and hand-eye co-ordination.

Although technical components of tennis grips and shot placements are not the focus of the workout, Swindells is happy to help people if they are uncertain or concerned about injury.

"I always ask before we start if anyone wants some technical assistance, or if there's something that stands out and jumps at me I'll let them know, but I try not to stop the whole class to do technical work because it's not the purpose of the class really."

It doesn't matter if your only previous interaction with tennis is shouting challenges from the couch during grand slams, Cardio Tennis is designed for all skill levels and ages.

"We use modified balls that slow it down and levels the playing field a bit. They are easier to rally because they are lower compression, [to] make it work for anyone."

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