Tennis players play to a beat

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Two Ecole Boreale students – Mia McKenzie-Steinwand, left, and Gavyn Lamoureux – participate in an exercise during a table tennis clinic last week at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Two Ecole Boreale students – Mia McKenzie-Steinwand, left, and Gavyn Lamoureux – participate in an exercise during a table tennis clinic last week at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

Some students in Hay River learned how to practise and play table tennis to music last week.

The unique way to learn the sport was brought to Hay River by Steve Rowe of England.

“The reason I’m here is I’m the founder of the worldwide fitness program called Aerobic Table Tennis,” he said. “Aerobic Table Tennis is table tennis movement to music and it’s a new way to try and get kids especially introduced to the real game of table tennis.”

Rowe instructed clinics for various classes on Jan. 9 and 10 at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

The instruction involved matching table tennis movements to music.

“So basically in table tennis we would do sidestepping movements,” Rowe explained. “However, in Aerobic Table Tennis they do this to the beat of the music to create good rhythm and good timing. Also, with table tennis strokes as you would play table tennis, the forehand and backhand they will play those to the beat of the music to create good rhythm and good timing.”

That practice helps players once they get to the tables and start playing real games.

Rowe said a certain type of music is best for Aerobic Table Tennis.

“You need the music that has to have a constant beat,” he explained. “It can’t be like nice gentle music or trumpets playing. It needs to be a constant beat with the drum playing.”

Rowe uses all kinds of music, including pop, rap and rock.

“As long as it’s got a constant beat,” he said.

Rowe has brought Aerobic Table Tennis to other communities in the NWT, and has been in Hay River once before in April of last year at Ecole Boreale and at Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve.

“The reaction I get is the same wherever I go. It doesn’t matter,” said Rowe. “Anywhere in the world the reaction is always absolutely fantastic.”

In the early afternoon of Jan. 10, a group of students from Ecole Boreale were at the Diamond Jenness gym for Aerobic Table Tennis.

“I thought it was actually pretty cool,” said Shayla Moore, a Grade 7 student from Ecole Boreale, who noted she also participated in April.

“It is a lot of exercise, but it’s actually about teamwork,” she said.

Declan Munro, another Grade 7 student from Ecole Boreale, was enjoying the table tennis clinic for the first time.

“It was fun and you actually got exercise, but you’re having fun while doing it,” he said. “So it didn’t actually seem like work. And also I got to improve on my ping-pong skills and I learned a few things about ping-pong.”

Rowe started Aerobic Table Tennis in 2011, and he noted there are now many instructors all over the world delivering sessions in schools.

His visits to the NWT have been the result of being contacted by Fort Providence’s Thorsten Gohl, the executive director for Table Tennis North.

Gohl was in Hay River last week for the clinics as a way to promote the sport.

“Get it out there,” he said. “Get people excited about the sport of table tennis.”

Gohl noted table tennis is part of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games, with the competition set to take place in Fort Smith.

After Hay River, Rowe and Gohl were to head to Fort Resolution.

Last week’s visits to the two South Slave communities were sponsored by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).

Fort Smith’s Peter Daniels, the regional sport and recreation co-ordinator for the South Slave with MACA, was impressed by the enthusiasm he saw from the students for table tennis.

“They love it,” he said. “They’re really engaged.”

Daniels noted it was MACA’s first youth tour of the South Slave involving Table Tennis North, and he would like to return to other communities like Fort Smith and the Hay River Reserve.

–Paul Bickford