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CONTRAPTION OF THE WEEK: Sliderobics. This is as close as you will get to skating in the privacy of your own home. The slide is a five- foot length of slippery plastic, with wedges of rubber bumper at each end to stop you hurtling off the thing. The booties, worn over ordinary trainers, mean that you can work up a swift head of slide energy for moves like the Dip, the Lunge, and the Funky Elbows. An accompanying video, The Ultimate Slide Adventure, is led by the American National Aerobics Champion, Kelly Gignilliat. Alarming though all this Yankee energy may be, this workout is a very good introduction to sliding. There's a long, easy warm-up, and when the team are explaining the moves, they do it as if to idiots, in such slow motion that they're hardly moving - reassuring for a novice.

From Leisuretime International, Central House, Upper Woburn Place, London WC1 (0171 388 2641). Slide plus bootees, pounds 49.95; Independent on Sunday readers will also get a free home workout video (normally pounds 17.90).

MAX HEADROOM: It might look like a garish lacrosse stick, but Dunlop are convinced that this is the shape of tennis racquets to come. The MAX Longbow is the longest racquet ever made - a whopping 281/2 inches, one and a half inches longer than a conventional racquet - giving you, say Dunlop, more power and more control, not to mention a greater reach, which will hopefully make fruitless flailing at swinging serves a distant memory. In fact, Dunlop are so convinced of the racquet's efficacy that they not only promise that it will give your overall game six per cent more power, they'll also refund your money if your strokes don't show a dramatic improvement. And that's no small promise, with the Longbow costing pounds 199.99, and its "sister" racquet, the MAX Marksman, coming in at pounds 149.99. Both racquets are in selected sports stores now, and should be generally available in a couple of months. Call 0171-931-9311 for details of your nearest stockist.

DIY TREATMENT OF THE WEEK: Oxy Blackout. Here's a handy addition to your sports bag - Oxy Blackout is the first blackhead treatment marketed at adults rather than afflicted teens. Its revolutionary system - apply the Blackout liquid, leave to dry, apply the special tape, and lift the grease, oil, dead skin cells and blackheads right out - should put an end to all that tiresome squeezing and gouging. Since it's vastly more effective to use after a shower, when the pores are opened, you can expect gyms to be full of post-workout types cackling delightedly as they peel away the layers of blighted epidermis ...

DRYING TONIGHT: Here's one American innovation it might just be possible to live without - the total-body air-dryer. Called Bodi Blo, the giant pyramid-shaped blaster, recently introduced in a selection of US fitness clubs, sucks in room air, filters it electrostatically, heats it, and then blows it all over freshly-showered punters, making the drying process a highly sanitary - not to mention an extremely communal - experience. A spokesperson for the Holmes Place chain of UK clubs reckons this bonding experience is not for shrinking Brits: "Frankly, it sounds quite unsavoury. We have no plans to introduce them here." Looks like the humble towel is safe, rising laundry bills notwithstanding ...

GERM WARFARE: As the cold and flu season descends, Swiss company Bioforce are hoping to keep us all germ-free with Echinaforce Resistance Drops, prepared from the North American herb Echinacea which, according to recent research, may stimulate the body's white blood cells and thus boost the immune system. Native Americans have long used the herb to help alleviate sore throats, coughs and infections. Available from health food stores across the UK, priced pounds 6.99, or by mail order. For details of stockists and mail order inquiries, phone 01563 851177.

NOT BATHING, BUT STRETCHING: The ultimate couch potato workout routine has been devised by American fitness guru Barbara Brandt: a few "simple stretches" that can be done while reclining in the bathtub. "Warmed- up muscles gain flexibility much more easily than cold ones," enthuses Barbara, whose sud-strewn routine runs thus: sit with your back against the end of the tub and bring the soles of the feet together so that your legs form a diamond shape, then gently push down on your upper legs for a few seconds to stretch the inner thighs. One word of caution: remember to remove rubber ducks, who could get swamped by the resulting tidal waves ...

WELCOME TO THE LEISUREDOME: International Leisure Industry Week, at Birmingham's NEC from Tuesday, promises to showcase the latest fitness innovations in a specially-built (and even more specially-named) PulsationStation. There will also be a vast range of new gizmos and equipment on show. For free tickets, call the Hotline on 0181 773 1313.

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