Squash an is an intense, physical game

If you put your heart into the game of squash, your heart will thank you if it could.

“Squash is one of the best cardio games there is,” said Jim Nowicki, the reigning club champion at Body Basics in Red Deer. “It’s really an intense physical activity. They say after an hour you can burn close to 1,500 calories.”

Aside from the heart health a person derives from the game Nowicki said a person can really feel it in other muscles following a hard match.

“It’s important you stretch out the Achilles and the butt and your groin before a game.”

After watching a game of squash you can see how that’s possible with all the lateral movement in a small space, using many muscle groups at one time.

Squash is a game which originated in England in the 1800s, started by a group of school boys. In the early 1900s the rules of the game started taking shape and more definition of the walls took place.

“Now it’s played by nearly 17 million people in 185 countries on over 50,000 courts.”

Nowicki said for him it’s tough to get really active and stay enthused on a treadmill for example but when he hits the squash court he can put in 45 minutes to an hour of intense work and not even notice he’s getting such a valuable workout.

He loves the one-on-one combat and the strategy which goes into moving your opponent around the court.

The rules of the game are simple enough for a beginner to pick up quickly and Nowicki said he often takes new members onto a court to show them the basics and have a friendly game.

“The idea of the game is to own the ‘T’ which is the centre of the court. So you want to run your opponent around the court and keep the ball in the back part of the court and keep him moving front and back all the time.”

Equipment is basic needing a good pair of court shoes, a racquet and the most important thing to bring would be some form of good eye protection.

“If you get hit by a squash ball you could lose an eye,” he said.

It’s also a bit of a gentlemen’s game in that you try your best not to hit your opponent with your racquet or the ball in such close quarters.

“The ball, if it does hit you, is going to leave a pretty good welt.”

If there is a chance for a kill shot and the other player is in the way you can call ‘let’ and stop the play with you getting the point but if it was just an obstruction which wouldn’t have caused a point you would just reserve it, he said.

There is a good mix of players around the club and Nowicki said they are a tight-knit community, using a former member as a prime example.

John Wood was tragically killed by an alleged drunk driver a year ago as he was riding in a cab on the way home from a night with friends at a bar.

“When we lost him the community really came together,” said Nowicki. “He actually won a builder’s award for Squash Alberta. He was really an instrumental builder in squash in Alberta so it was a really tough loss for everybody but we’ve all kind of rallied around it.”

The award will be at the Body Basics gym during their tournament at the end of October which has been named the John Wood Memorial tournament.