Oh, the agony of staying in shape in Winter! Working out is next to impossible when it’s cold and dark out – the siren call of the couch is simply too strong. It doesn’t help that colder months beg for hearty meals, and thick sweaters and coats do a marvelous job at hiding the consequences. To make matters worse, the holidays are hellbent on derailing your healthy efforts: Halloween candy, Thanksgiving stuffing, Christmas cookies, New Year’s Eve champagne…
Whoever said Summer bodies are made in Winter is 1) kind of a giant jerk, and 2) also kind of right. Put in the hard work in colder months and you’ll reap serious benefits come Spring when you’re fit and strong and sleeveless-top ready. Same goes for your tennis game – matches are way more fun when you’re not gasping for breath! Let’s face it: staying in shape is a whole helluva lot easier than getting back into shape after a hiatus.
So you’re convinced? Great! Now the tricky part: adopting a strategy for actually getting it done. Here are our tips for staying in the best Winter tennis shape of your life. Put away the slippers and read on:
Join a league at a local tennis club
League is not only a great way to keep up your tennis game, but also an awesome opportunity to make friends who share your love of the sport. If you don’t already know of a local league then Play Your Court or USTA is an excellent resource. In addition to finding a ratings-based league that’s perfect for your skill level, you can also take advantage of discounts on tournaments and lessons.
Enlist a workout buddy
Find a friend who shares your commitment to staying in shape and plays tennis at your same level. Not only can you hit or train together, but they’ll hold you accountable on days when you have more excuses than will to workout. You’ll be far less likely to skip a session, slip into unhealthy eating habits or half-ass a workout if they’re watching.
Focus on Nutrition
The best fitness habits are for naught if you don’t back it up with healthy eating habits. You’ll perform at your best, recover more quickly and just generally feel better if you follow a balanced, nutritious diet. For more information, read our guide to tennis-specific nutrition.
Set goals and rewards
It doesn’t have to be as concrete as a number on the scale or finish time on a fun run, but setting achievable goals will keep you motivated. Maybe commit to playing tennis twice a week and hitting the gym once a week. Then for every week or month that you faithfully stick to the plan, you can indulge in a reward, whether it’s a new tennis outfit or a night out. Seems silly, but for some people (especially competitive folks!) gamifying their fitness efforts really works.
Book a Spring Break trip
Nothing motivates quite like a looming beach vacation. Book one now for late Spring and there’s no way you’ll let your fitness slide over Winter. Better yet, choose a tennis-friendly destination near the beach.
Utilize your lunch breaks
If you’re lucky enough to work near some indoor courts, then why not use them once or twice a week during your weekday lunch break? This is a great option for people who can’t manage to drag themselves out of bed for a morning workout but also find they have no energy to hit the gym after work.
Shake up your workouts
Remember to complement your tennis training with other forms of exercise, like weight training, running and swimming. Not only will the variety keep things new and interesting, but your tennis game will also improve as a result.
Sign up for private lessons
When was the last time you had a pro take a look at your game? Taking lessons is obviously a great way to not only improve, but also stay in shape. Plus, you’ll be much less likely to cancel on the appointments since they’re never cheap!
Take a tennis-focused fitness class
Mix it up with a group fitness class that incorporates tennis, like Cardio Tennis or inTENNSity. Both burn serious calories and are appropriate for players of all abilities. For those new to the sport, these classes will help improve your skills and movement on the court. For advanced players, you will get a sweat in while improving upon your speed and endurance.
Update your gear
Are you playing with outdated equipment? Like with any sport, the latest and greatest tennis gear can have a huge impact on your on-court experience and performance. Updating your racquet and shoes delivers the most noticeable results, but even just restringing your racquet or a new can of balls can make a huge difference.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how you stay in shape, so long as you just DO it. Consistency is key. All the effort will be worth it come Spring when you face off against all those couch potatoes who hibernated all winter long!