Having a ball

Racquetball growing in popularity as fun way to stay fit in Craig

Nineteen years ago, Steve Hafey and Danny Lowe were just looking for a fun way to stay fit.

Enter Trapper Health Club.

They looked no further. They found racquetball. And it had it all.

Fast-paced. Entertaining. An aerobic workout.

Now they're a force to be reckoned with.

Inside the white confines of a Trapper racquetball court, Hafey fired the blue ball off the opposing wall to Lowe, who lunged and rocketed the ball back.

This could go on for hours, and it has gone on for years.

And so could the trash talking.

"I enjoyed chasing the ball around as opposed to running on the treadmill," Hafey said.

These days, Hafey, who's retired from Trapper Mine, teaches racquetball as a physical education class at Colorado Northwest Community College.

The club pro meets with students twice a week for lessons, and once a week they are required to practice. Starting with the basics -- such as the different ways to hold a racquet, to the rules -- students get more than a college credit -- they get a true workout.

"You've got to have PE no matter where you're going to college," Hafey said, "so you might as well get it this way."

For those interested in learning about the sport and giving it a shot, Hafey gives complimentary lessons to pairs or groups of four through the fitness club. To sign up, contact Trapper Health Club, 824-6932.

"I'm always interested in new people who are interested in fitness," he said.

Once you get the basics, the club keeps a list by the court of racquetball players to help patrons find competitors.

"The better you get, the more you'll enjoy it," Hafey said.

The sport is not just a college-level activity. Hafey has placed in the top eight of the World Senior Racquetball Championships.

He said being able to place the ball is just as important as being able to move around the court. He was referring to Craig resident Pres Askew.

"He puts the ball anywhere on the court with an expert touch," Hafey said. "He can run Danny and me all over the court. He'll get a full workout and we will too."

Lowe enjoys the sport bec-ause it makes him feel better.

"If you get into the sport, it'll help you in life," he said. "It'll help you participate in other sports, if you hike, getting out of bed."

Hafey hooked a heart monitor up to himself for a few games to test just how much he was pushing his body. For an hour he maintained 140 heart beats per minute.

"It's good stress relief," Lowe said. "It's good exercise without going through the motions."

John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or jhenry@craigdailypress.com.

Statistics pulled from the United States of America Racquetball Web site. The average number of calories burned during racquetball play ranges from moderate at 640/hour to high at 822/hour. An average game takes 20 minutes, during which a player will run a distance of approximately 3,650 feet -- or more than two miles in one hour of play. Racquetball players work at a constant rate of 75 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate for the duration of a typical racquetball game.

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