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How to squash your fitness goals

By David Song, March 15 2016 —

When most Canadians think of sports, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t squash. We think of lacing up a pair of skates, kicking around a soccer ball or shooting some hoops. But squash, despite its relative obscurity, is one of the best and most overlooked ways to exercise.

Squash is easy for beginners to pick up. All you need is a racquet, a squash ball and some normal athletic gear — far less costly than pastimes like hockey or skiing. The University of Calgary also has some top-notch squash facilities, which are open for student use as long as bookings are available.

My own introduction to squash was during high school gym class. Despite having never played before, I soon found myself breaking a sweat and having a lot of fun. After all, I was hitting a ball against a wall as hard as I could — it wasn’t complicated. Squash is very beginner-friendly. It’s simple and enjoyable.

But squash is also a worthy challenge for those who are more athletic or competitive. Its simple gameplay belies the level of strategy and concentration required to excel in the sport.

Players must remain focused on both the tiny ball flying around the court and on their opponent’s position and movements in order to catch them off-guard. Attention must also be paid to the power and angle of each shot.

“The game never gets boring,” said second-year business student Philip Wahl. “Each person you play has a different style of game to adapt to and learn from.”

Squash also brings tremendous health benefits with it. It is an excellent cardiovascular workout, and much less repetitive than running on a track or  treadmill. Due to the nature of the movement brought on by the gameplay, squash also sharpens hand-eye coordination and increases agility. Add in the power needed to hit the ball effectively and you get a great way to tone muscle and maintain a healthy body weight.

“This is a sport that involves both strategy and focus,” said squash aficionado Rick McCallum. “You get a terrific workout and it’s a lot of fun, even for the beginner. I’ve been playing squash since I was a university student 25 years ago, and the U of C has some of the best squash facilities of any campus across Canada.”

Squash is an easy sport to pick up. So next time you’re looking for workout or a new activity to try with friends, pick up a racquet and head over to a squash court.

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