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Tennis with a twist

Posted by Alexa Pozniak  February 18, 2013 05:30 AM

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Regular workouts keep me in decent shape. But I’m always looking for ways to get faster, stronger, and more flexible. There are a myriad of options out there, which can be overwhelming for beginners and seasoned athletes alike. I’ll play the role of guinea pig and review some of the new and unusual exercise classes being offered around the region, with the hope you’ll find one that appeals to you and gets you moving. If you would like to suggest a workout for me to try, tweet me @apoztv.

With each ball I sent soaring over the net, the competitive juices began to flow and the Woburn Racquet Club quickly morphed into my own version of Wimbledon. But this was no ordinary tennis match because my heart was beating out of my chest, sweat was dripping down my forehead, and my legs felt like they were on fire. That’s when it became clear - Cardio Tennis was living up to its name.

The idea behind Cardio Tennis is simple: improve your game while working up a good sweat. Tennis drills are interspersed with high-intensity bursts of cardio, similar to high-intensity interval training. After taking the class, I don’t know which got a better workout, my legs or my lungs.

We began with a warm-up to get the extremities moving. This included sprints along the baseline and across the court. Next, we formed a circle and, on the instructor’s call, shuffled side to side and front to back. You would think the warm-up would include some shoulder exercises. But instead it focused on the legs and feet because so much of tennis is dependent upon quick footwork. And the great thing about these drills is that you can apply the movements to any sport, such as soccer or basketball.

The primary workout lasted for about 45 minutes. The instructor, a certified tennis pro, fed the balls to each player, which we returned in the form of forehands, backhands, and volleys. As we sprinted back and forth between the two courts, we encountered what’s called a “ladder” to perform a whole host of agility drills, again working the feet (and the heart). By the second drill I was completely out of breath but I barely noticed because I was having so much fun and was extremely focused on hitting each shot over the net.
The class concluded with a cool-down that consisted of serving balls back and forth to each other.

The group was comprised of players of all ages and abilities. If you have never picked up a racquet before, this class may not be for you. It’s so fast-paced that it may feel more frustrating than fun. Beginners who can at least hit the ball over the net are mixed in with intermediates for all of the drills, but the instructor adjusts her shots to each player accordingly, hitting it harder if someone needs more of a challenge.

Many of the players tell me that the social component of Cardio Tennis is just as important as the physical challenge. With the exception of doubles, tennis is often an individualized sport. The camaraderie among the class participants is part of the fun. Everyone shares something in common: a love of tennis. The heart-thumping, top-forty music certainly adds to the enjoyable atmosphere.

I love the game of tennis but I hadn’t picked up my racquet in about a year. Over the course of an hour, I felt like my forehand returned to full speed, my backhand became slightly less embarrassing, and my body got the ultimate workout. Mission accomplished.

Woburn Racquet Club, http://woburnracquetclub.com/home, Cardio Tennis: Wednesday, noon. Drop-in rate for a class: $20 per session.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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