Helen's Story

Squashercise Testing – Breaking News: Helen hits a ball

Wednesday, 31st July was a strange day; I found myself jumping round in gym kit with Cheska Hull from Made in Chelsea – and, if that wasn’t enough oddness, I found myself actively enjoying a sport that involved a bat and ball.

The reason I run a very long way is that I can’t do any other sport – I can’t catch things, hit things, pedal things, steer things, climb things or go in the same direction as everyone else in the room. I can swim but only in nice safe swimming pools. The other thing really left to me is long distance running! Despite this however, yesterday I headed off to Wimbledon for the launch of a new exercise regime called Squashercise.

Now squash terrifies me – it’s always the sport aggressive go-getter types play in movies and it looks all competitive, plus, if you grew up in the decade I did there was a terrible urban legend about a woman who got hit in the face with a squash ball and it sucked out her eye. I have no idea if that is even biologically possible – I’m seriously doubting it now with the wisdom of age – but even so that, and my inability to hit moving objects has put me off playing it.

Squashercise is aimed squarely at people like me. To get us over our fears and hopefully ease us into the sport proper. It combines different toning and stretching moves, agility exercises, pair games and ways to hit and catch balls in a mishmash exercise class designed to see you have fun while you burn calories. And fun it was.

We only did a taster class but there was only friendly competition, no-one attempted to aim a ball at my head and, because the ones we did have to hit were moving fairly slowly, I hit it back every time which gave me heaps of confidence.

The moves in squash also use far more planes of motion than running does and I think that would actually make it a great exercise for runners to do as it works your body in ways it’s just not used to. Although this is close to the Dumbo Double Dare I admit I did get a bit nervous doing lots of side-to-side moves that I could feel bending my knees in ways they don’t normally go.

Cheska was the face of the class – which was a bit concerning when at one point, I was having to throw a squash racquet toward her head while simultaneously trying to catch one coming at mine. Thankfully, I didn’t do her any damage and won’t lose my home in legal fees.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting her to merely turn up in gym kit and smile a lot for photos so I was impressed when she got sweaty with the rest of us (plus she had a lovely handbag).

Admittedly in my case getting sweaty was more because the court was so hot than because of any hugely vigorous movement on my part in this particular session, but apparently the full version does incorporate sessions of aiming to reach maximum heart rate and should blast around 600-800 calories per hour. I liked it, I’d definitely go again. If you want to give it a try, it’s rolling out across the country now.

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