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Spring’s here, and it’s okay to skip the gym in favour of playing outside. Instead of hitting the treadmill to keep yourself in shape (and balance out that regular dose of rocky road ice cream), consider picking up a summer sport. Sure, you could run, bike or rollerblade, but for the ultimate warm-weather workout, why not try tennis? It offers great cardio, the chance to socialize with friends (and make new ones), plus cute clothes — and, if you’re lucky, cute tennis pros too.
"Tennis is available to absolutely anyone," says tennis coach Rob Antoun, author of
Women’s Tennis Tactics (Human Kinetics, 2007). Even if you’ve never played before — or haven’t touched a racquet since the class you took the summer after Grade 6 — with a bit of coaching and practice, you’ll be rallying in no time.
How to get started
"Tennis clubs are usually very keen to welcome new members," says Antoun. He suggests contacting your local club and inquiring about classes for beginners, which are also often available at community centres and university or college fitness facilities. Tennis Canada offers a
registry of provincial tennis associations, which maintain registries of member clubs. Membership fees vary widely, so make sure to find a club that fits your budget and needs.
You can also just start hitting a ball around a local court with friends, but Antoun recommends taking at least a few classes if you want to develop a solid tennis game. "Tennis requires quite complex coordination and motor skill learning," he says. "Getting the basics right at the beginning would allow a player to make much bigger strides over a shorter period of time." Classes also offer the opportunity to meet other players at your level, who will make ideal partners for friendly — or competitive — games outside of class.
How tennis gets you in shape
"The beauty of tennis is that it works so many different areas of fitness," says Antoun, adding that it helps with endurance, strength, speed, core stability, coordination and flexibility. A singles game can be an extremely vigorous cardio workout, especially if you’re focused more on rallying back and forth than on winning points. Doubles games are less intense, but a lot more social. And the best part? Unlike slogging away on the treadmill or elliptical, playing tennis is so much fun — and requires so much focus — that you’ll barely notice a 60-minute workout passing by. "You get lots of fresh air and get fit without really knowing it," Antoun says.
Image courtesy of Bob Gevinski/WireImage.com
Find the bikini that suits your body!Socializing on the court and off
Just like the tango, it takes two — or more — to play tennis. "There is plenty of opportunity to mix with and meet new people and form strong friendships with people with a common interest," says Antoun. Most tennis clubs organize social events and competitions where members can get to know each other off the court as well as on, so even if your current social circle isn’t into the game, you’ll have no problem making tennis friends.
What gear do you need?
Any sports clothing will work for tennis, although pants, shorts or skirts with pockets are a better choice as you’ll have somewhere to keep extra balls. But Antoun does recommend picking up a good pair of tennis shoes, since the game is high-impact with lots of stops and starts. He also suggests purchasing nothing more than a basic racquet to start with — you can get more specialized once your game moves to a higher level. "Most basic racquet models are light and easy to play with, and will give players lots of control," he says.
However, if you’re looking for an excuse to go shopping for new workout wear, there are tons of cute options that are tennis-specific. Here are a few of our favourite selections for tennis clothing and accessories.
Check out our slide show of must-have tennis gear on the next page!
Image courtesy of Bob Gevinski/WireImage.com
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Adidas Yoc dress
$48, Lululemon stores across Canada
Adidas Adilibria gym tank