The growth of racquetball in your Life Time
With new health clubs opening up almost every six weeks through 2019, and a third of those health clubs offering access to the fastest sport in the world, Life Time-Healthy Way of Life is continuing to popularize the sport of racquetball.
The Life Time-Healthy Way of Life Company, formally known as Life Time Fitness, is embracing and encouraging the participation in the sport of racquetball, in addition to all their provided health and wellness activities.
Doing anything and everything they can to make people’s lives better through health and fitness is the number one goal of Life Time. With over 1.8 million members and 127 health clubs in the United States and Canada already, plus 30 more clubs to open within the next 36 months, Life Time is continuing to grow expand.
With Life Time’s expansion comes the expansion in the sport of racquetball. 34 percent of Life Time’s health clubs include at least one racquetball court. Racquetball is played in 42 countries and is primarily played in private health clubs in the United States. Popular belief suggests that racquetball is in decline, but that’s not the case at Life Time as racquetball has actually grown in participation numbers over the last several years.
According to https://www.statista.com/statistics/191922/participants-in-racquetball-in-the-us-since-2006/, 3.59 million people age six and over participated in racquetball in 2014. In 2015, 3.88 million people age six and over participated in racquetball, showing an increase of almost 300 thousand people.
National Squash and Racquetball Manager, John Wilinski, has worked with Life Time for 10 years and has witnessed the growth of racquetball first hand.
“Life Time is doing everything we can to grow racquetball,” Wilinksi said. “We have junior and adult programs, we host tournaments like the U.S. Open and the junior worlds and we’re hiring junior coordinators and offering leagues and lessons.”
The U.S. Open Racquetball Championships have been hosted by Life Time in Minnesota for the last eight years since 2010. Wilinski said Life Time works with intermediate and experienced players, but is more focused on the beginners and getting more people involved in racquetball.
“What I’ve noticed over the years is that when people are on the racquetball court they’re usually smiling and having a good time,” Wilinski said. “But also racquetball players usually get involved in a community that makes it hard for them to leave the club. It’s a social sport and it’s the shared passion that they have for the sport that causes them to continue to want to come back.”
International Racquetball Tour (IRT) CEO, John Scott, said he’s encouraged by the news coming out of Life Time.
“For years we have all heard and had to deal with a lot of negative stories coming out of the sport,” Scott said. “If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about my thoughts on the decline of the sport, I’d be rich! We are on the rebound and are primed for a renaissance in racquetball, and Life Time is helping to lead that charge.”
Gearbox Sports, a composite/technology company founded by Rafael Filippini, has worked with Life Time for over a year and is dedicated to helping the sport of racquetball get to a mainstream spotlight. The engineering and production of top-of-the-line racquet equipment is one major function of Gearbox, as well as educating the racquetball community on all the benefits racquetball has to offer.
Filippini said his company is working with Life Time to promote the sport of racquetball through several grass-root programs.
“We take trips to all the clubs so we can have some type of interaction with individuals to improve their experience with racquetball,” Filippini said. “We take pro players with us and teach younger players more about their skills and techniques. We also provide them with resources on where to go to get certain training or equipment.”
Creating excitement for racquetball and doing it in a fun/affordable way for people to come out and have a good time is a big goal for Gearbox Sports according to Filippini. Filippini said their partnership with Life Time is successful because of how family friendly the health clubs are.
“A lot of clubs right now don’t allow younger kids to even step on the racquetball court and Life Time encourages kids to come out,” Filippini said. “We saw an opportunity to reach individuals who are practicing racquetball without limitations like being a certain age, at Life Time.”
Life Time currently has 43 health clubs that provide racquetball courts, 145 courts in total. There are 210 league sessions along with 62 tournaments per year at Life Time, which feature over 20,000 players participating.
Along with racquetball, Life Time provides many other health activities at every health club. Yoga and indoor cycling classes, recreational sports, certified personal trainers/overall health and wellness assistance, family and children events/camps and many other health benefits are available at Life Time health clubs.
For more information about Gearbox Sports Equipment, visit their website:https://www.gearboxsports.com.
For more information about Life Time-Healthy Way of Life, visit their website: https://www.lifetimefitness.com.
IRT STAFF WRITER