Serving Up Summertime Tennis Tips

Tennis is a year-round sport, but the difference between indoor and outdoor play can affect your performance in a big way.

“A lot of people go into hibernation mode in the winter and then come out in the summer and realize they’re not as prepared as they thought,” says Cooper Fitness Center Tennis Pro Corey Noel.

Whether for recreation or competitive, Noel offers tips to help ensure you’re prepared when it comes to playing during the dog days of summer.


During the summer months, almost every tennis league holds matches outdoors. To get 78479731_tennisacclimated to the heat, Noel says training outside is essential.

“If you’re not practicing outdoors and doing drills outdoors, you’re not going to be ready,” says Noel. Noel suggests practicing outside during the same time of day you’ll be competing. For example, if your tennis match is at noon, try practicing outside during that time.

“It’s going to be hot, but challenge yourself to stay out longer each time,” says Noel. “The first day, try playing an hour during the heat of the day and an hour and a half the second day. Eventually, you will notice your endurance increase.”

Remember, you can’t quit during a tennis match just because you’re too hot. Most importantly, be consistent with your play times. Noel recommends playing at least once a week in the summer to help acclimate your body to the heat as quickly as possible.

You Are What You Eat (And Drink)

When it comes to playing tennis in the heat of the day, what you eat and drink is important.

Noel recommends hydrating 18-24 hours prior to playing. As for food, try consuming a high-carb meal the night before. The day of play, eat something lighter, such as an energy or protein bar.

“I’ve seen people who are in great shape come out and play in the heat and they struggle because they didn’t prepare properly,” says Noel.

Noel suggests packing plenty of water, sports drinks and energizing snacks, as you will have breaks in between your time on the court.

“A tennis match is no finite amount of time, so if you’re only prepared for an hour match and it goes three hours, that can really have an impact on your performance,” says Noel.

Noel’s pre-match routine is to drink a combination of water and a sports drink, such as Gatorade, about 12-18 hours before he plays.


Take Advantage of Breaks

Tennis is a sport, like football, where players have designated breaks. Noel say it’s important to utilize that time to not only hydrate, but seek shade when you can, especially as you switch sides.

“You want to be out in the sun as little as possible,” says Noel. “Keep in mind, the surface of the court is 25-30 degrees hotter than the actual air temperature.”

That means on a 90 degree day, it can be as hot as 120 degrees on the court. Keep these tips in mind to help keep you at peak performance while on the court.

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Wear sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher
  • Wear a hat to help shade your face and protect your scalp from the sun

For more information about tennis programs at Cooper Fitness Center or to register for tennis lessons, visit

Categories: Cooper Updates

Why Everyone Should Try Pilates

If you have never participated in a Pilates class, the workout might seem a little intimidating. If you ask Cooper Fitness Center Pilates Instructor Sarah Paxton, she loves Pilates because it is unique, effective and anyone can do it.

The benefits of Pilates are unlike anything you can get from any other workout. When doing Pilates, you are not only getting stronger and fitter, you are also practicing corrective movement. The movements and exercises in Pilates train your body how to move without injury which can be beneficial in any exercise or everyday activity.Sarah Paxton_Pilates in Studio_3377_5x7

“You work from the inside out. A lot of people call it ‘the inner unit,’” Paxton said. “You’re working all the tiny muscles that hold your bones together – the muscles that people don’t really talk about.”

While most people are capable of performing Pilates, it requires a small learning curve considering the uniqueness of the workout. Students typically start on the most common piece of Pilates equipment, the reformer. It is a raised platform with an adjustable bar, springs to create resistance for various exercises and a mat to support the back, neck and knees.

At first glance, the equipment can appear complicated and hard to use. However, the “bells and whistles” are there to provide support. With the assistance provided by the equipment, it is almost impossible to perform Pilates incorrectly, which significantly reduces the risk of injury during your workout.

With an internal focus on strength and balance, many people find themselves using muscles they have never used before. The transverse abdominal muscles are the deepest layer of your abdominals, making them very difficult to activate with any other form of exercise. However, Pilates is designed to work these muscles to strengthen even the deepest part of your core.

“[With Pilates,] I feel like everything I do is more effective,” Paxton said. “Whether it’s walking or doing some pull-ups, I feel like my muscles and joints are safer. You can take the benefits of Pilates to all of your classes. That’s the beauty of it.”

Pilates is beneficial to all fitness levels. The exercises can be easily modified to accommodate your needs. It is also ideal for people with certain injuries or disabilities.Cooper_Pilates_9_9_162026

“My oldest client right now is 86, but I have trained a 90-year-old,” Paxton said. “Pilates equipment is conducive to people who have had injuries or maybe are missing a limb or are paralyzed. We have a client who is in a wheelchair. I have several clients who have Parkinson’s. The beauty of Pilates is there is no limit of your ability or age or size or limitations.”

If you are interested in giving Pilates a try, there is no better time than now. The benefits you gain from it are worth stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. For information about Cooper Fitness Center’s Pilates program, click here or call 972.233.4832. At Cooper Fitness Center, new members receive one complimentary private Pilates session to get acclimated to the equipment and movements.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Learning To Swim Later in Life

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 people in the U.S. die from unintentional drowning every day. Of these 10, eight are over the age of 14.

“Everyone should know how to swim, whether you’re doing it for safety reasons or for fitness,” says Cooper Fitness Center Swim Pro Marni Kerner.

While many think swimming lessons are just for kids, Kerner says it’s never too late to learn this important skill- one which may one day save your life.

Swimming Statistics

A 2014 American Red Cross survey found while 80 percent of American adults say they can swim, only 56 percent can perform basic skills needed to save their life in a water emergency situation. The five basic skills include:

  • Stepping or jumping into the water (over your head)
  • Returning to the surface and floating or treading water for one minute
  • Turning around in a full circle and finding an exit
  • Swimming 25 yards to the exit
  • Exiting the water without using a ladder

Kerner has taught swimming lessons for more than 15 years and says now more than ever, she has adults taking lessons.

“I think most get to a point in their lives where they say, ‘I have to get this figured out,’” explains Kerner. “Living in Dallas, people want to be able to go to a nearby lake or jump in a local swimming pool and be able to swim with their kids or friends.”

Lesson Plan

When it comes to swimming lessons for adults, the hardest part for many is getting comfortable in the pool.

“Most of the time when adults don’t know how to swim, it’s because they had a bad experience in the water as a child,” explains Kerner. “Together, we have to get them in

Happy woman taking swimming lessons with a teacher

the water and figure out their comfort level.”

Kerner says every beginner swimming lesson starts with a focus on breathing, as that skill can often be the hardest to tackle.

“Swimming is a cardiovascular exercise so you can’t hold your breath the entire time, but most people do,” says Kerner. “Often, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s my job to help them develop a breathing pattern.”

From there, Kerner transitions to life-saving techniques such as floating, treading, bobbing, kicking and eventually, specific swimming strokes.

Kerner says most beginner swimming lessons last approximately 30 minutes and it doesn’t take long for someone to learn techniques that can potentially save their life.

“I had a 23-year-old student who wanted to learn to swim because she was going on vacation near water,” explains Kerner. “In just four sessions, I was able to teach her swimming fundamentals and ultimately, make her water secure. It was rewarding because I knew she was going to be able to enjoy her trip so much more.”

Cooper Fitness Center offers private and semi-private child and adult swimming lessons year-round. For more information, visit

Categories: Cooper Updates

Mushroom Madness

From cremini to shiitake, visit your local grocery store and you will notice multiple types of mushrooms. Some, you may not have seen before. These often colorless fungi are low in calories, but pack a nutritional punch.

The Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team explains how you can make mushrooms  part of your favorite meals.

Mushroom Fun Facts

  • Though typically grouped into the vegetable food group, mushrooms are actually fungi.
  • Mushroom DNA is more similar to human DNA than plant DNA. In fact, mushrooms produce their own vitamin D from sunlight exposure, just like humans. Try sun-dried mushrooms for a boost of vitamin D.
  • “Chicken of the Woods” or laetiporus sulphureus is a type of mushroom famous for its lemon chicken flavor.
  • Armillaria or “honey fungus” is one of the largest living organisms on earth. In Oregon, this mushroom covers 2.4 miles.

Nutritional Breakdown

  • One cup of raw mushrooms contains:
    • 16 calories
    • 0 g fat
    • 2 g carbohydrates
    • 1 g fiber
    • 2 g protein
  • Mushrooms are a low-sodium food with only 4 mg per serving. This makes the fungi a great addition to anyone’s diet, especially if you have high blood pressure.Mushrooms
  • Mushrooms are high in niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folate. These B vitamins are important for nervous system functioning, red blood cell production and energy metabolism.
  • Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, which protects against skin damage.

Incorporating Mushrooms into Your Meals

  • Switch up your hamburgers by grilling a whole portobello mushroom in place of a traditional beef burger.
  • Use mushrooms to make lasagna, hamburgers, tacos or any other recipe that calls for ground beef. Combine one cup of diced cremini mushrooms with 1/2 pound of 98 percent lean ground meat in recipes that call for one pound of meat.
  • Add cremini or button mushrooms to omelettes along with onions, peppers and tomatoes for a colorful and filling breakfast.
  • Chop up oyster mushrooms and add to your favorite salad.
  • Enhance your risotto or pasta recipes with a variety of mushrooms such as cremini, portobello, button or shiitake.
  • Try sun-dried mushrooms in pasta primavera.

To save time on your next meal, pick up pre-washed and pre-sliced mushrooms. Mushrooms are best stored in a brown paper bag or cloth bag in the refrigerator to help preserve the flavor.

For more recipes, visit our health tips page.

Blog provided by Stephanie Altemus, Texas A&M University Dietetic Intern, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.


















Categories: Cooper Updates

Not Your Average Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

Chances are, you grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Not only is the traditional sandwich easy and inexpensive to make, but the peanut butter can certainly offer heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and ample protein (6 g to be exact).

For more sophisticated pallets and improved nutrient content, our Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team offers four alternatives to the class PB&J.

1. Seed-uctive Elvis Sandwich

  • 2 slices Seeduction® bread (available at Whole Foods Market)
  • 2 Tbsp. Jif® Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 small banana or 1/2 large banana, sliced

    Calories: 460, Saturated fat: 2.5 g, Carbs: 59 g, Fiber: 7 g, Protein: 12 g

The crunchiness and full-bodied texture of the Seeduction bread pairs well with the          smooth and creamy peanut butter. Adding a banana provides a good source of                    potassium, as it contains approximately 422 mg (12 percent of daily value).

2. Sweet and Spicy Date

  • 2 slices Pepperidge Farm® 15 Grain Bread
  • 2 Tbsp. Justin’s® Classic Almond Butter
  • 5-6 pitted dates, chopped into quarters
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

    Calories: 522, Saturated Fat: 3.5, Carbs: 76 g, Fiber: 11 g, Protein: 18 g

Dates are nature’s candy and offer up to 3 g of fiber and 260 mg potassium (8 percent        of daily value) per serving. The sprinkling of cinnamon on top of the almond butter is        an ideal combination. Almond butter is a nice substitute for peanut butter, as it                  naturally contains 80 mg calcium. Peanuts and other tree nuts contain only minimal          amounts of calcium. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is also sodium-free.

3. Thou Shalt Not Miss the Jelly

  • 2 slices toasted Food For Life® Cinnamon Raisin 7 Sprouted Grains Bread
  • 2 Tbsp. Jif® Natural Creamy or Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tbsp. raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped apple

    Calories: 402 calories, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Carbs: 22 g, Fiber: 7 g, Protein: 13 g

Traditional jelly will not be missed once you try this creation! The chewy raisins both        in the bread and sprinkled on top of the peanut butter pair well with the chopped              apple. The Cinnamon Raisin bread is flourless and especially delicious toasted. The            peanut butter will “melt” or soften when spread on warm, toasted bread.

4. Sunny and Safe (Free of peanuts and any tree nut)

  • 2 slices of 100% whole-wheat bread of choice
  • 2 Tbsp. SunButter® (sunflower butter)
  • 2 Tbsp. Polaner® All Fruit® spread

    Calories: 390, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Carbs: 47 g, Fiber: 8 g, Protein: 15 g

This option is ideal for anyone with a peanut or nut allergy. SunButter is made from          roasted sunflower seeds and is processed in a facility free from the top eight allergens.      For a “jelly” option sweetened with only fruit juice, the Polaner All Fruit spread is an        ideal jelly substitute.


For more recipes, visit our health tips page. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with a registered dietitian nutritionist, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.










Categories: Cooper Updates

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

If you’ve ever watched or practiced tai chi, you know it’s an art form that moves at a slow pace. While not necessarily aerobic in nature, research shows this ancient Chinese practice does more good for your health than you may think.

“I have students who have been taking tai chi for 15 plus years because they see the positive changes,” says Cooper Fitness Center Martial Arts Pro Mike Proctor. Proctor has been an instructor for more than 40 years and explains how tai chi can provide physical and mental benefits.

Physical Benefits

The flowing movements of tai chi can help strengthen muscles and joints and improve flexibility and balance. While tai chi can benefit athletes of all ages, Proctor says it can have a greater impact on older individuals.

“As you age, your balance becomes compromised which can lead to falls,” explains Proctor. “Tai chi helps you learn how to use your body in a way that improves stability, resulting in less falls.”

Tai chi focuses on a person’s gait, or the way they walk. In class, Proctor says students practice patterns to get their bodies moving in all directions. The art form also works every muscle and joint in the body.

Proctor says in most daily activities, such we walking, we use momentum to complete the task. In tai chi, the goal is to resist the momentum and gravity by performing slower movements over a longer period of time.

“It’s a lot like swimming,” says Proctor. “When you swim, the water provides resistance, which is why it’s so challenging. In tai chi, you provide your own resistance through slow movements.”

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it a great form of exercise for all ages and fitness levels.

Mental Benefits

Tai chi was once referred to as “meditation in motion,” as the series of movements are meant to be performed in a slow and graceful manner. While beautiful to watch, it can also be challenging for the mind.

“The art form works your brain because you have to remember what comes next,” says Proctor.

While your feet are doing one thing and moving one way, Proctor says your hands and torso may be moving a different way. He stresses patience, focus and obedience when practicing tai chi, which in turn can help manage stress.

“Tai chi can be complicated to the point that while you’re doing it, you’re not thinking about anything else,” says Proctor. “You’re so in the moment, it takes you away from thinking about what you did before class or the things you need to do after it.”

Proctor says tai chi is also an art form you can practice the rest of your life.

“We perform tai chi in a group atmosphere, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” says Proctor. “The goal is to teach you the skills you need so you can do it whenever and wherever you want.”

Are you interested in giving tai chi a try? Cooper Fitness Center offers three tai chi classes every week. Group ex classes are included in the fitness center membership and members can attend an unlimited amount of classes every week. View the schedule or call 972.233.4832 for more information.





Categories: Cooper Updates

The Madness of March Basketball

For many, the month of March signifies the melting of snow, chirping of birds and the final push toward summer vacation. But for college basketball fans, it’s a time to see what their team is made of.

“It’s a special time for fans and players because getting to the NCAA tournament is kind of validation on what kind of season you had,” says Cooper Fitness Center Basketball Pro, Coleman Crawford.

A former NCAA coach who’s made an appearance in the March Madness tournament himself, Crawford discusses why going to the “Big Dance” can be thrilling and create magic and madness for everyone.

Where It All Began

When you hear the term March Madness, you likely think of college basketball teams from across the country battling to be crowned national champions. But the term actually began at the high school level back in 1939.

Henry V. Porter, an assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association, began referring to the game as such after he saw participation increase from dozens of schools in the early 1900s to more than 900 by the late 1930s.

Porter was so impressed by the growth he wrote a poem and titled it, “March Madness.” That term gained in popularity, eventually being adopted by the NCAA.

The Players

 The madness and magic for both fans and players still holds true today. Crawford says in the weeks leading up to the tournament, there’s still a great deal of speculation about which teams are progressing and which teams’ seasons are coming to an end. For many, it can drive them mad!

“It creates a lot of anxiety for fans, for coaches and for players because you want to be one of the 68 teams that get selected,” says Crawford.

If your team is among the chosen, Crawford says that’s when the challenge really begins.

“Within about two days of getting selected, you have to turn around and prepare to play three different teams,” says Crawford. “You have to prepare for the team you’re playing and for the next two opponents, because you don’t know who will advance. It’s pure madness.”

At the same time, Crawford says the coaching staff is working to gain as much insight and film on the competing teams. Trying to then quickly incorporate what they’ve learned into their few practices before they arrive at the tournament is no easy task.

“Once you get to the tournament, your first practice is an open practice so you can’t really do a lot of strategy,” explains Crawford. “So you have to be prepared before you arrive. Once you get there, it’s more about getting familiar with the court and calming your nerves and your players’ nerves.”

And while analysts may have their favorites when it comes to who will take home the championship trophy, Crawford says it’s really not something you can predict.

“In college basketball, the roster is constantly changing. Each year athletes, some of whom are skilled players, are graduating while others are just coming in,” says Crawford. “The question really becomes which team can play the best for six games. In the NBA, it’s who can play the best in seven games. In the NCAA, if you lose one game, you’re done.”

The Fans

The madness isn’t just something coaches and players experience. For fans, wondering if their favorite team will get called on Selection Sunday can cause many to lose their minds.

“It’s always great to see the fans because everybody’s rooting for somebody, whether it’s their team or their rooting for the underdog to advance,” says Crawford. “Everyone likes a Cinderella story!”

Every year, millions of NCAA basketball fans fill out a bracket, competing against friends and coworkers and sometimes, hoping to win a little money. But just one bad night can take a bracket from blockbuster to busted.

“You’ll look at your bracket at the start of that day thinking you’re in great shape,” says Crawford. “The next day, you might lose four out of eight games!”

At the end of the day, Crawford says the memories both players and fans take away from the tournament can turn the madness into magical moments.

For more information about our sports pros or to schedule a session with them, visit

Categories: Cooper Updates