Former British squash champ brings new brand of fitness to Natick

Former British squash champ brings new brand of fitness to Natick

NATICK — One bang sounds off a racquet, then a second off the top of the walled-in court. A plum-sized rubber ball leaves skid marks with every hit.

The cycle continues, with the two contestants skittering quickly around one another other to take their turn striking the ball — until one can’t. 

Do that activity for 20 minutes and Cross Courts Squash and Fitness Center director and coach Nick Taylor promises one will have run a distance of 3,650 feet, burning more than 250 calories along the way.

Welcome to squash 57.

The game features two players — or four, in the case of doubles — using their racquets to strike the ball off a wall facing them, in such a way as to make it difficult for the opponent to retrieve it. 

The game is played within a tight space — no more than a half a basketball court.

The sport gets its name from the standard “squash,” which is played with a waterdrop-shaped racquet and a 40-millimeter (about the size of a golf ball) rubber ball. 

Now expand the ball to a bouncier 57 millimeters, but shorten and widen the racquet, and the sport becomes squash 57, which Taylor says as easier to play when compared to the original version.

“Squash 57 is not taxing on hips, knees, ankles like squash might be for some,” he said. “That makes it perfect for ages 40-50.”

And when it comes to athletic expertise, Taylor knows all about regular squash. Coming out of Manchester, England, he twice won the European Squash Championships, and at one point ranked third in England and 14th in the world.

A regular squash racket and 40mm ball, above, and a squash 57 racket and 57 mm ball, Sept. 10, 2021.

In July, Taylor began running his squash academy at Cross Courts; he previously taught the game in Sudbury. His wife, Sarah, serves as assistant director and is also a coach at the academy. 

Sarah Taylor  gets more from squash 57 than just a good sweat. She has been crowned national champion in England among those over age 45, and twice for those over 40.

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