Ace week of Cardio Tennis for our Fit Factor slimmers

HE was so astounded by his amazing weight loss, this week’s super slimmer Ian Gibson couldn’t believe the scales.

Fit Factor finalists play cardio tennis
Fit Factor finalists play cardio tennis

HE was so astounded by his amazing weight loss, this week’s super slimmer Ian Gibson couldn’t believe the scales.

Our eight contestants have continued in their fight back to fitness, taking their total fat loss to just under 25 stone in total.

But it was Port of Tyne director Ian Gibson that really wowed at this week’s weigh-in.

The 46-year-old, of Wardley, Gateshead, has shed 22lb of fat in the past two weeks alone.

“I was gobsmacked,” he says. “I nearly asked to check if the scales were working properly. I’ve been doing a lot of extra training sessions and sticking to the healthy eating religiously as always but I was shocked.

“Last time I lost 12lbs so I was absolutely stunned. I feel brilliant.”

On Sunday the group tried Cardio Tennis – an all body tennis-based workout with drills and games to upbeat dance music.

Instructor Andy Burns, who sets up programmes for school children in his role as tennis activator for Durham County Council, says a one-hour session of Cardio Tennis can burn between 300 to 500 calories for women and 500 to 1,000 calories for men.

“It’s suitable for all shapes and sizes and ideal for people who want to try something a little bit different,” he says who was assisted by coach Gareth Haley and young volunteer Rachel Burgess. “You don’t need to have any specific tennis skills to take part either. It doesn’t matter if the ball goes in or out, it’s about working hard and hitting lots of balls. It’s very fast paced. Even when they’re picking up the tennis balls, they’re still working hard and still have to stay on their toes.”

Despite the hot weather Andy says our Fit Factor challengers had great fun. “They worked hard throughout the session and I was really impressed by their tennis skills,” he says. “Although they all did fantastically well the two who really stood out were Emma Roberts and Daniel Henderson. They really put everything into it. Hopefully some of them will come back down.”

The group’s mentor David Fairlamb was equally impressed. “They never stopped moving,” he says. “Even between shots they had to run on the spot or do squats – so it was a full-on workout.”

Emma Roberts, 22, from South Shields, learned she’d lost 8.7lb in this week’s weigh-in and put her success down to trying new activities like Cardio Tennis.

“I was over the moon with the weigh-in,” says Emma. “I’ve been doing much more activity so I think that’s what helped. The Cardio Tennis was good fun. I like anything sporty so I enjoyed it and I think I’d do it again. I also did a 5K run the other night.”

Business manager Claire Hancock, 40, from Billingham, says the Cardio Tennis was her favourite activity so far. “It was really good fun and we all had a good giggle so you didn’t actually realise how much you were doing,” she explains. “I’ve really enjoyed exercising out in the sun, as normally I wouldn’t be outside much. We’re going through gallons of water, which is no bad thing, and I’m loving it.”

She’s also been spurred on by her shrinking waistline. “It’s a bizarre feeling looking at myself and thinking ‘oh my god, I don’t look like me any more’,” she adds.

According to David Fairlamb, 32-year-old security officer Steve Mountain has a “never give up attitude” and that certainly came into play when he got stuck into Cardio Tennis. “It was fantastic – good hard work but loads of fun,” says Steve from Redcar. “Everything has gone well in the last two weeks. I’ve even managed a BBQ without straying off the diet. I’ve been doing loads of exercise and actually enjoying the hot weather instead of being a sweaty mess as I was whenever the sun came out before!”

NHS admin co-ordinator Dawnn Roe from Pelton, Co Durham “It was good fun teamwork and you had to be quick. While you were waiting to take a shot you had to jog on the spot or do star jumps.”

Dawnn’s also getting into cycling and persuaded most of the group to take part in a 5km run in Chester-le-Street. “It was all very professional and very scary,” says Dawnn. “When we turned up they were all doing stretches, but the people were so friendly and invited us to their running clubs.”

Daniel Henderson, 37, a police officer from Windy Nook, Gateshead, said: “The Cardio Tennis was really good, although I’ve never played tennis properly I have played badminton and squash and tennis is something I think I would enjoy. When I take part in any activity I like to give it 100%. Some may say that I’m a little competitive but I just try my best.

“After tennis, David put us through our paces with a 30-minute workout, which was extra tough due to the heat. All in all it was a good workout and an enjoyable day. Despite the heat I think being outside in the sun helped.”

Dad-of-two Nick Cotterill, 40, from North Shields, said: “I really enjoyed the Cardio Tennis. There was lots of running in very hot conditions but having to hit the ball gives you something different to focus on. I particularly enjoyed the mini-games included in the session. I just wish I was a better tennis player.

“I’m happy with the weigh-in results. I’ve started to up my training and am trying to get a base level of running fitness to build on in preparation for the Great North Run.

“I’ve done three 5km runs over the last week or so and will start to pick it up over the next few weeks. To maintain the level of weight loss I’ve had so far, I’ve got to increase the effort. Thankfully my fitness levels are improving all the time. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do all the exercise at the moment.”

Mum-of-two Jacqui Fahey, 36, from West Denton, Newcastle, said: “The Cardio Tennis was so good that we’re going back tonight as paying customers. Claire and myself really enjoyed it and I think I’ll keep at it even when the Fit Factor is over.

“The weigh-in surprises me every time. I was hoping to lose 5lb this time and then another 5lb at the next weigh in so that would mean I had lost two stone. However, I’ve exceeded that and I do remember saying I would try and lose 7lb every time and so far I’m not far off it.”

Immediately after the Cardio Tennis David Fairlamb took the group to a nearby field for another 40-minute exercise session to maximise their chances at Monday’s weigh-in.

“I never thought they would be able to train at this level during the 12 weeks so I’ve actually had to get them to eat more food because they’re working so hard!,” he says.

With the end of the challenge just four weeks away, the group are already putting in place new challenges to spur them on. Nova International have offered our Fit Factor group free places for The Great North Run this September – and all eight have agreed to take part.

“It’s given them a huge incentive to carry on after the 12-week challenge finishes and a massive focus,” says David Fairlamb. “Some of them will be doing a mixture of running and walking but I’m sure they’ll all complete it.”

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: You can play Cardio Tennis at Riverside Sports Complex in Chester-le-Street on Tuesday 6.30pm-7.30pm and Sunday 1pm-2pm. An hour session costs £3 and all equipment is provided. Tel 0191 389 0986.


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