There's no dodging latest fitness trend

Ben Stiller movie puts new life into the old schoolyard game of dodge ball

Inspirations

This Week : Body

October 16, 2005|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN REPORTER

You know when Crunch Fitness, the hip national chain of 26 clubs, picks up on a trend, it's going to be the Next Big Thing. Inspired by Ben Stiller's hit movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Crunch has incorporated the schoolyard game into its fitness classes. Dodge ball 101 includes a warm-up, three to five rounds of the game, an abs workout and a final stretch. The clubs even hold dodge ball tournaments.

It's a lot more fun than the treadmill when the weather forces you indoors.

Locally, the Maryland Athletic Club in Timonium is a co-sponsor with WBAL of a charity dodge ball tournament in February. (The next one will be held Feb. 25-26.) Abigail Bradfield, the club's marketing manager, says the MAC encourages members to hold pickup games on the basketball court. All they have to do is let the fitness department know they want the court.

Maryland's social sports clubs sponsor dodge ball games in the area. Mike Cray, who heads the Baltimore Sports & Social Club Inc., says new people who join don't realize what a good workout dodge ball is.

"They think they'll just be throwing a ball around, but they come out of the arena drenched."

The club fields 36 coed dodge ball teams with 15 to 20 on a team; the teams play five-minute games for 50 minutes at Myers Soccer Pavilion. The players range in age from 25 to 30 years old. Check out the group's Web site (balssc.com ) for more information.

Chris Conway, who runs the Sports Clubs of Maryland (scofmd.com), says dodge ball will be a new sport for his group next spring, starting April 1, at Bare Hills Athletic & Tennis Club.

The rules for adult dodge ball are simple. Conway's group, for instance, will have coed teams of 10, with six starters. There are four balls in the middle. When the whistle blows, you run up, grab a ball and run back to your side. Then you heave the ball at someone on the other team.

If a ball hits you, you're out; if you catch it, the other person is out. When a player goes out, one of the extra team members takes his or her place. Whichever team has the most people left wins the game.

The games are played with foam balls, so injuries are unlikely.

You don't need much equipment to get started. Talk to your gym about getting a pickup game going, or maybe even organizing a dodge ball fitness class. According to Crunch, dodge ball targets the legs and arms, has cardiovascular benefits and can burn up to 500 calories an hour.elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

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