Amazingly enough, it’s almost that time of year again – Santa’s polishing his sleigh bells, and the new year fireworks are being stocked up ready to bang.

Of course, with new year’s eve come new year’s resolutions, and often most of us find ourselves regretting all those mince pies and vowing to get in shape in the new year. But it’s never as easy as just clicking your fingers and eating a few salads – it takes time and effort to get to where we want to be. But instead of making the same old resolutions, could it be time to crack out the tennis shoes?

Some of the more traditional ways of getting in shape just aren’t for everyone. Solo exercise habits like running or swimming are great for some people, but others find the solitude and repetitiveness boring, and struggle to find motivation. Even simpler activities like walking can be hard to form a consistent habit out of.

What works for many is dedicating their time instead to a more involved type of exercise – something competitive and exciting, where the time flies by and makes the raised heart rate and tired muscles almost unnoticeable while still offering the same benefits as going to the gym or for a run. This can be a great way to enjoy fitness with a friend or family member, as well as learning a great new hobby that you can enjoy year round and the world over.

So what do you need to get started playing tennis?

Firstly, it’s important to get the gear. While this will differ depending on where you want to play, some tennis clubs have stricter rules about what players must wear; sometimes specifying all white kit. Whether this is the case for your local lawns or not, it is important to pick up some quality tennis shoes. Running around on that court, whether grass or tarmac, isn’t easy (especially at speed!) and a good pair of tennis shoes can be the difference between a great return serve and a nasty fall.

Secondly, if you have the funds, investing in a tennis coach is a great way to get good at playing quickly. While casually enjoying matches with friends is a lot of fun, you will get more out of the sport if you have the technical skills to play well, and this will also give the game more scope to be physically challenging (which, after all, is the goal with exercise!)

Getting fit has to be one of the most common and most difficult resolutions – but hopefully, by trying something a bit different like tennis, this could be your year.