Workin’ Your Gherkin

Written by Marlena Sauceda Category: Health & Fitness Issue: March 2013
Group Free

Has gym boredom and team-sport fatigue left you in a fitness pickle? Pickleball may be the perfect sport for you.

Invented in 1965 by former U.S. Representative Joel Pritchard (and named after his dog), pickleball is played like tennis but with a whiffle-like ball, a lower net, a badminton-sized court and mini rackets.


When the USA Pickleball Association was established in Surprise in 2005, the Valley became a pickleball mecca for players across the country. “It’s easy to play. You can have a short lesson and then be on the court enjoying the game,” says Claire Keyworth, founder of the Fountain Hills Pickleball Club. The small courts appeal to older and less mobile players, but Keyworth says, “It’s a multi-generational sport.”

Buy equipment at Surprise-based, then visit to find pickleball courts and leagues all over the state.

More Scaled-Down Sports
Become a squash pro at Village Health Clubs and Spas. They offer free trial memberships and have equipment and lessons available for beginners. Join their six-week leagues, sign the kids up for Junior Squash, and compete in or just watch one of the four tournaments they host throughout the year. Three
Scottsdale locations.

Table Tennis
Develop Forrest Gump-like pong skills at the Phoenix Table Tennis Club. The sport is great for developing balance, and you’ll be amazed at the arm-toning benefits of a heated volley. The club plays at several rec centers and gyms throughout the Valley and hosts six tournaments throughout the year.

Bocce Ball
Enjoy the classic Italian lawn-game – sort of a miniature, lane-free version of bowling – at The Vig in Phoenix, or squeeze in a round while waiting for your dinner at Aunt Chiladas in Glendale. The Mexican restaurant hosts tournaments every Tuesday night, and winners receive $20 gift certificates. Multiple locations.,