Serving a cardio workout

A new program, Cardio Tennis, gets hearts pumping

A new program, Cardio Tennis, gets hearts pumping

October 31, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It looks like tennis and sounds like tennis, but what's cooking inside The Tennis Club outside Waynesboro is not quite, well, tennis.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Jamie Shrode jogged around an indoor tennis court, her heart racing, sweat dripping from her forehead. She was returning lobbed serves that had her sprinting from the front to the back of the court. At the same time she was jogging in place and making complicated hopscotch steps through rope ladders scattered on the floor - an exercise to increase agility.

Shrode, 56, of Hagerstown, is one of the newest recruits to an aerobic exercise program called Cardio Tennis.

"It's awesome," she said after stepping off the court from her first Cardio Tennis session. "Exercise is boring usually. (This) was an absolute fun way to get exercise. I'm drenched and I'm tired."


Shrode was one of nine participants last week in a pilot Cardio Tennis class held at The Tennis Club. At the end of the hour-long program, class members had each burned between 200 and 700 calories.

The new program combines high-intensity tennis drills with other aerobic exercises, all intended to give participants a thorough cardiovascular workout.

There are no scores in Cardio Tennis and it doesn't matter how well you hit the ball - or even if you get it over the net.

Cardio Tennis, designed and developed by members of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA), debuted in September 2005 as an alternative to gym-based cardiovascular workouts. The program is also an attempt by the tennis associations to get more people interested in picking up a tennis racket.

"In order to boost the popularity of tennis as a great fitness activity, the TIA and USTA decided to ride the fitness wave and create Cardio Tennis," according to a written statement from the Tennis Industry Association.

The program concentrates on getting a participant's heart beating at 65 percent to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate. At that level people will get the best workout, burning more calories, said Shana Ruff, a tennis instructor who is teaching Cardio Tennis.

Jane Wingerd, 76, of Chambersburg, Pa., said she often plays doubles tennis matches but doesn't feel she gets enough of a workout from the match alone.

She read articles about Cardio Tennis in tennis magazines and was anxious to give it a try.

"It's not that I feel that I don't get enough exercise, but I don't feel I get enough cardiovascular exercise," Wingerd said. That wasn't the case Wednesday after she completed the Cardio Tennis program. The senior, whose personal motto is "staying fit and having fun," was winded but had a smile on her face.

"It's a fun way to get exercise and work on your tennis technique," she said. That's in part because Cardio Tennis seeks to create a noncompetitive, group-oriented workout program. The only thing that matters is that each person pushes themselves to get the best heart workout.

Cardio Tennis isn't really about making tennis players better, said Bill Wissinger, owner of The Tennis Club.

"It's strictly a cardio workout. There is no instruction in Cardio Tennis," he said. That means that anyone can join in the workout, regardless of skill. Of course being in better shape naturally will help people with their game, he added.

At The Tennis Club, workout participants in one class ranged in skill level from novice to more advanced players. They also ranged in age from 19 to 81. Still, each was able to get a full, cardiovascular workout, Wissinger said. He could tell because each participant was hooked up to a heart rate monitor. The monitor measures the number of heartbeats per minute and lets Cardio Tennis players know if they are in their heart rate zone.

As high-energy, techno music rocked the indoor court space, Ruff could be heard shouting, "What's your heart rate?" Players dug in and focused on running the Cardio Tennis drills to get their hearts pumping.

A one-hour Cardio Tennis session includes a 5- to 10-minute warm-up with "dynamic stretching," Wissinger said. Then 40 to 50 minutes of cardio workout drills follow. There are about 100 different drills designed with the Cardio Tennis program, Wissinger said. Many of the drills require players to run in place before hustling to return a ball. In some cases, players will rush the net to return a lobbed ball that bounces just over the net. Other times, participants jogged in place while lining up at the front of the net, rushing to the back of the court to reach a far-corner ball.

About the program

The Tennis Club in the Waynesboro, Pa., area is the only site in the Tri-State area registered with the Tennis Industry Association to offer Cardio Tennis classes, according to information from the association. People interested in a Cardio Tennis workout at The Tennis Club do not have to be members or have much experience with tennis. For more information, call 1-717-762-3922 or go to More information about Cardio Tennis is available at

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