How to fill a mid-winter weeknight? It’s too dark after work to go for a worthwhile run. And something more violent than a yoga session is needed to wash away work-accumulated fury. If the Champions League isn’t on and the boys are waiting for the weekend to go to the pub, what to do? I wanted a mission, and for my sins, my friend Paresh gave me one: A game of squash.
Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things about squash:
Squash is hard. It torches more calories per minute than any other sport. In its base form, an aerobic workout with anaerobic bursts. Furthermore, it greatly improves reactions, acceleration and agility, which are invaluable attributes for runners. It’s relentless and stresses the lungs like little else. DOMS settled in my legs for forty-eight hours after last week’s session.
Squash makes you sweat. Forty minutes of rushing around the ‘T’ makes me sweat more more than my peak summer heatwave dalliance with yoga, sessions that reduced me to a trembling, red-faced wreck. Sweaty hands slap against the white walls to halt your momentum before you face becomes intimate with the concrete – last night I was an inch away from my cheek bone being broken like a stick of spaghetti. Racquets threaten to spill from slippery hands. If sweat is a crude gauge for a discipline’s effectiveness, then squash is faraway the best racquet sport for giving your fitness a powerful boost.
Squash is fun. It may seem discordant with the statements above, but because of its intensity and pace, squash is blast. Add some colourful banter in an enclosed space, while darting around the square space like Mexican jumping beans, and the unceasing exertion becomes manageable, even pleasurable.
When I’m an old man, I want two things to have happened. One, I’d like my own library, a sun-dappled room with ceiling-high windows, a comfortable chair, an acoustic guitar in the corner. Two, if I could be one of those old boys you see in the movies, financial high-flyers who use the squash court to sound out idealistic company climbers, I’ll be happy. A man who plays squash into his old age, all grey hair and spindly legs that look weak but in reality are more than strong enough to dart around the court with a child’s enthusiasm and energy.
I love the smell of the squash court on a Thursday evening.