Cardio tennis serves up a satisfying workout
BY JIM HOOK For Sun-Times Media
Cardio class on the court: Those involved in cardio tennis at H-F Racquet & Fitness Club range in age from 9 to 70. | Supplied photo
The Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet & Fitness Club will celebrate its 25th anniversary in July with a series of programs and events called Tennisfest, which runs from July 11 to July 22. There will be free tennis and cardio tennis lessons and clinics, a pet contest and competitive tennis matches.
H-F Racquet & Fitness Club is located at 2920 W. 183rd St., Homewood.
For more information, call
(708) 799-1323 or visit the website at
Agility ladders, transition balls, blaring music and heart rate monitors are the last things you’d expect to see — or hear — on a typical tennis court.
But, then again, cardio tennis is anything but typical. It’s a fun, fitness craze that has come on strong since it debuted in this country about five years ago.
Josh May, manager of the H-F Racquet & Fitness Club in Homewood, said cardio tennis is a program designed to bring players to the court in a relaxed setting.
“You don’t need a lot of tennis skills to participate in cardio tennis,” May said. “In fact, you don’t need any tennis skills at all. A tennis racquet is really the only piece of equipment you need.”
May called cardio tennis a “fusion of tennis and fitness.”
Just don’t expect to follow normal tennis etiquette — because there is none. The music is loud, people are running around the court and the instructor is barking out drills.
Cindy Heidkamp, a tennis pro and certified cardio tennis instructor at the fitness club, said the point of the cardio tennis class is not to be successful at tennis, but to successfully raise your heart rate. Monitors are available to gauge individual heart rates during the 60-minute class.
Like an aerobics class, cardio tennis is designed to work at the individual’s own pace to elevate the heart rate and burn calories.
Instructors monitor students and adjust or modify the program to match the person’s age and ability levels.
Heidkamp said cardio tennis has been well-received in the years since it has been offered as a program at the Homewood club.
Class sizes range from 10 to 25 students, and those participating in the classes range in age from 9 to 70.
“With cardio tennis, the more the merrier,” Heidkamp said. “It’s about constant motion. Everyone is encouraged to move — and keep moving.”
Participants begin with a warm-up, then endure a series of drills intended to raise their heart rates, before ending with a cool-down period.
Heidkamp said most people who take the class enjoy the challenge of completing the workout.
“They also like the camaraderie with the other people in the class and the energy that flows through the drills,” she said. “Drills are stressed more than actual tennis.”
Heidkamp emphasizes variety in her classes.
“No two cardio tennis classes are the same,” she said. “I throw in a lot of creativity.”
Participants engage in skills that simulate actual tennis, like hitting forehands and backhands. But they also use jump ropes and agility ladders to perform various drills.
“That’s the fun of it,” Heidkamp said. “In a nice way, cardio tennis is organized chaos.”
May said one of the main health benefits associated with cardio tennis is that the exercise engages every body part.
“You’re using your arms to hit the ball,” he said. “You’re using your legs to run after the ball and you are using your core for strength and balance. You also develop good hand-eye coordination.”
The biggest difference between regular tennis and cardio tennis, May said, is that cardio tennis “isn’t meant to be quiet.”
“Plus, it’s a much better workout than regular tennis,” he said.
Cardio tennis classes can help women burn 300 to 500 calories per hour, and men can burn between 500 and 1,000 calories during the same time period.
Heidkamp said cardio tennis is a great way to be introduced to the sport of tennis.
Most cardio tennis classes consist of students of differing ages and abilities. Everyone gets a great workout because the instructor creates the right challenge to fit the participant’s fitness level.
“Cardio tennis is a fitness program,” she said. “It’s about getting people moving around and active and less about hitting great shots.”