Work up a sweat with a new way to play tennis

Professional tennis players like Maria Sharapova know their sport gives them a cardio work-out that's hard to beat
Professional tennis players like Maria Sharapova know their sport gives them a cardio work-out that's hard to beat
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There are tennis rackets, a ball and a court. But the tennis being played by those taking part in this fitness session couldn’t be any more different to the action going on down at Wimbledon from today.

While the professionals in SW19 will be wowing the crowds with their rallies, drop shots and mighty serves for the next two weeks, those taking part in this Southsea class don’t even need to know their forehand from their backhand.

In fact, qualified tennis coach James Bone says you can be a complete beginner and still get a lot out of cardio tennis.

Introduced by the Lawn Tennis Association earlier this year, the special classes use a series of tennis-based drills and activities set to music on a traditional court.

Being competent with a tennis racket isn’t important – the name of the game here is to keep your heart rate up, burn calories and have some fun.

Whether the ball goes in or out is irrelevant as the main purpose is to get fit.

There’s a warm-up, work-out plus cool down phases. During a recent hour-long session, James says one participant used more than 620 calories.

‘Everyone wears a heart rate monitor and you set the intensity of how hard you work,’ explains James, who set up his business Generation Tennis with his brother Alex Bone when he was still a student at the University of Portsmouth.

‘That might mean pushing yourself a bit harder by running a bit more. The emphasis isn’t on tennis, it’s about keeping your heart rate up.

‘You’ll be hitting balls to each other, doing drills and there’s music all the time.

‘It really is for all standards and abilities.’

The music is played to help create a high-energy atmosphere and to add motivation.

And James says that the sessions he runs at Southsea Tennis Club, in Clarence Esplanade, are already proving popular with those looking for a new way to get fit and have fun.

He’s just launched a Monday morning class, running from 9.30am until 10.30am, and there’s also a Wednesday class from 7pm until 8pm. It costs £5 per session to join in.

During Wimbledon fortnight, James will be hosting cardio tennis demonstrations in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square and he’s hoping that the buzz surrounding the annual tennis tournament will introduce more people to this high-speed variation of the game.

‘I think it’s a brilliant initiative,’ adds James. ‘You don’t have to be a great tennis player, if you miss the shot you carry on. It’s a bit different and it’s fun.

‘If you do play tennis, it’s good for developing your footwork because there’s a lot of running around.’

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