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Learn how to play the addictive game of Squash at Squash on Fire

When I think of squash, I think of spaghetti and butternut, or even squashing a bug. Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I had no idea there was a sport called Squash, or that it's an amazing workout!

When I heard about Squash I knew I had to try it. I signed up for a lesson at Squash on Fire with the best of the best, Elroy Leong who was a top national junior player in Malaysia before coming to the U.S., and his squash resume doesn't end there -- Elroy was a two time Malaysian National High School Squash Champion and awarded the Player of the Year in 2008. In the United States, he completed a Postgraduate year at The Taft School and helped the boys’ squash team to its highest ever ranking of #2 at the 2011 U.S High School Squash Championships and the recognitions go on!

Elroy met me on the courts, which are currently located in the Equinox on 22nd Street until Squash on Fire opens up their brand new state of the art facility in May, across the street on the corner of M and 23rd. He showed me how to hold the racket, explained the rules, and then we were up and running -- and by running, I mean literally running! Imagine doing suicides for a full 45 minutes, that is what playing Squash is like.

The squash court seems very small when you first step on but when you are running side to side, and back and forth over and over again the court begins to seem huge! Elroy says you can burn hundreds of calories, as many as a thousand in an hour without even realizing it because you are so focused on the game and strategy. I was sweating and breathing heavy within the first 10 minutes, but I didn't care. I just wanted to keep going and hopefully get one point in against Elroy -- I guess the competitive side of me came out!

Elroy and I played a modified game -- he served every round because I couldn't seem to get the racket to hit the tiny ball in mid air -- and we only played to seven. I lost ... zero to seven, but I will get you next time Elroy!

After my lesson, I talked with Elroy to get the 411 on the game of squash and what Squash on Fire has in store for the D.C. fitness community.

How would you explain squash to someone who has never heard of it?

Squash is played with two people in a four-walled space with a racket and a ball. It’s very dynamic, fun and is like chess at 100 mph!

Can you explain the rules of Squash?

A typical game is played between two players on the court. Each game is played to 11 points. A player scores a point when his/her opponent fails to strike the ball before it bounces twice, hits it out or on the tin, or the ball fails to hit the front wall.

How did you get involved in Squash and how often do you train?

When I was growing up in Malaysia, my family played squash. When my father retired from the police force, he became a full-time coach, focusing on developing squash players from the grassroots level. My oldest sister was a very successful squash player (World Junior #2 and Top 40 on the Women’s Pro Tour). As I got older, I fell in love with the sport and wanted to emulate what my sister achieved.

I started actively training for competition when I was 13. My typical training schedule would consist of two sessions per day (Each session of about 2.5 hours), five-six days a week.

What's the difference between squash and racketball?

Squash is to racketball what chess is to checkers.

Will Squash on Fire accommodate any skill level?

Absolutely. At Squash on Fire, people of all skill levels, abilities and ages will have the chance to get out on the court and take a lesson, clinic, or just play with a friend.

How much is a lesson/clinic/court time?

Pricing varies depending if you’re booking a clinic, or a small group or private lesson. Group clinics range from $39 with a squash pro to $59 with a head coach, small group lessons range from $39 to $109, and private lessons are between $89 and $179. We haven’t yet determined pricing for court time, but it will be competitive with other pay as you go facilities so that it’s accessible to everyone.

Why should someone try Squash versus just running or biking or any other form of cardio?

Squash is a very mentally stimulating sport. Combined with the physical aspect of the sport, it makes you think on your toes! Each time you play against your opponent, its never the same. You and your opponent will always try to come up with new ways to beat and tire each other out.

What do you hope Squash on Fire brings to the D.C. fitness community?

I hope that Squash on Fire introduces the sport to people who have never had the chance to play before. We are opening squash up in a brand new way, eliminating barriers that have traditionally prevented people from playing the sport, and it’s a really exciting opportunity for the DC community to pick up a racket and see what an amazing workout squash is!

Tell us about the new facility opening in May?

Squash on Fire will be a world class facility that will be home to one of the winningest coaches in the sport, Amir Wagih. Players will have the opportunity to train with the best in the beautiful new facility, or just play with a friend, and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat after. It will be a really unique workout experience, and we can’t wait to open our doors.