Cardio tennis. Is that the name of a new shoe or the title of the next best-selling fitness DVD?
It’s actually a beloved group activity that’s sweeping the fitness world. It takes the movements and techniques from playing tennis and applies it to all-around physical health.
Just like traditional tennis, you head to the court with a racquet and balls, but instead of focusing on your winning forehand or how to serve an ace, the focus is on getting in shape and transforming your body. Using tools like an agility ladder, transition balls, music, and heart rate monitors, the classes take participants through drill-based exercises, game-based exercises, and sideline exercises to burn calories and build strength. You’re running in every direction, hitting balls from high and low trajectories, and keeping your heart rate up in this high energy, cardio experience. The key is interval training: short bursts of very high intensity exercise interspersed with periods of rest. According to CardioTennis.com, "Participants consistently elevate their heart rates into their aerobic training zone. You can burn more calories than singles or doubles tennis." On average, women will burn 300 to 500 calories and men 500 to 1,000 calories. Not bad for an hour of play!
The best part? It's fun. You'll get a great workout yet barely notice the "work" part.
In the words of retired pro and 2002 Australian Open winner Anna Kournikova, “Tennis gives your whole body a workout and Cardio Tennis takes it to another level.”
It’s even been featured on an episode of NBC’s The Biggest Loser as a fitness activity for the show’s contestants. If you saw that episode then you know that you don't need to be a tennis pro (or even know how to play tennis) to participate in cardio tennis.
Cardio tennis started at an Athletic Club in Chicago in 1995, and soon became a grassroots initiative promoted by the USTA to spread more interest in tennis. It worked; since then, almost 2000 authorized cardio tennis providers sprouted across the states and other countries.
On CardioTennis.com there are several upcoming training courses to become a certified instructor as well as an option to publish and find classes in your area.
At the end of a cardio tennis experience, you not only walk away with better fitness and health, but also some interest and basic techniques to start playing a new sport.
What equipment do you need to play cardio tennis?
Cardio tennis is played with low-compression tennis balls (these special balls slow the pace of the game and allow for more accurate hits) and tennis racquets, both of which are often provided for you. However, you should call ahead and make sure this is the case.
Other items you will need:
Tennis Shoes: It is important to wear shoes actually made for tennis, you'll need the traction and proper ankle support.
We recommend the adidas Bercuda 2 for women and the Diadora S Star K IV AG for men.
Heart Rate Monitor: These help you determine if you need to increase or decrease your workout intensity. Most also have calorie burning counters which can really help with motivation.
We recommend the New Balance LifeTrainer.
Hydration: Proper hydration is key no matter what type of exercise you're doing, it will help you avoid cramps and recover faster.
We recommend the Camelbak Eddy bottle.