As a personal trainer in London, I always encourage my clients to build more activity into their daily lives. What better than to take up a sport? You get fit and have some competitive fun at the same time, which overcomes the complaint of many people that exercise is boring.
That’s when I decided to set up Fitness Buddy, a social network for Londoners looking for a tennis partner or gym buddy or swimming buddy, or any one of 14 sports and fitness activities in the capital. As I’m a tennis nut, I’ll focus on tennis in this blog post.
Even if you join one of London’s hundreds of tennis clubs in London, you might not always find a tennis partner who is right for you, and who is available at the times you want to play. I’m a member of Aldersbrook Tennis Club in east London, and because I’m training my fitness clients most evenings and weekend mornings, I’m not around to play tennis when most of my fellow members are free to play.
Fitness Buddy enables you to narrow down your search for the ideal tennis partner. You can specify which part of London you want to play (based on postcode areas, such as NW3 or SW3, or N6 to give just three examples). You can specify the gender and age of your ideal London tennis partner. And you can specify the skill level: beginner, low intermediate, high intermediate, advanced. Finally, you can specify the days and times you’re available to play.
So for instance your search could look like this: male, aged 30-40, beginner, on Sunday afternoons. When you’ve selected these search options, simply hit the search button and the profiles of all those Fitness Buddy members who fit your criteria will appear. Then you can message them through the site and arrange a hit.
I’ve added my own profile to Fitness Buddy, and arranged games with people through the site who I would never otherwise have met if I just stuck to my local tennis club. I either encourage people to come to my club for a game, or I go to their club, or we play on one of London’s many tennis courts open to the public.
The only downside to public courts is that you can only book for 1 hour, which is never enough time for a decent warm-up followed by a best of 3 sets match. And booking two hours back to back can start getting expensive if you play a lot. Playing at a tennis club is by far the most cost-effective option if you play regularly.
Some of the best public tennis courts I’ve played at are Regents Park Tennis Centre, Leaders Gardens in Putney, the tennis courts at Paddington Rec in Maida Vale, and West Ham Park near Stratford E15. Because I go during the day, it’s easier to book a court, and quieter too.
When you find a tennis buddy in your part of London and who is roughly the same skill-level as you, it’s a great find. You can help each other improve, you can have really competitive matches, and you can make good friends through a common interest. Your tennis partner could even become your life-partner! There’s a great novel on this subject by Lionel Shriver, called Double Fault. If you’re into tennis I recommend it.
I’m debating whether to invite tennis coaches in London to join Fitness Buddy and select ‘advanced’ on their profiles, so that people can search for a tennis coach through the site. But the problem with that is that tennis coaches might send out marketing messages to everyone on Fitness Buddy who has selected tennis, which not all Fitness Buddies would welcome. What do you think? Leave a comment below and have your say.
Why not join Fitness Buddy now? It’s totally free, and you could soon have several London tennis partners who you play against regularly. Part of the fun of tennis is the fresh challenge of playing against a wide variety of opponents, so it’s worth cultivating several tennis partners in London rather than sticking just to one.
Dominic Londesborough is founder of Fitness Buddy on the Fitness4London website. He is also a personal trainer in London.