Chasing a ball that is traveling at upwards of 180 mph is going to take your breathe away in more ways than one. For those who play the sport of racquetball they can attest to the skill and endurance it takes to play the game. The sweat dripping from their faces and their hands on their hips as they breath heavily after a heated match is a testament to how vigorous the sport truly is.
On the other hand, if you are positioned against the back wall of racquetball court to get some action photos of the sport during someone’s warm-up session, this can take your breath away as well…or at least very least it will cause you hold your breath and close your eyes. After all, the ball is moving fast, I mean really fast.
Though one can hardly control their body’s instinct to flinch, I feel quite assured that I am perfectly safe, but this is only because the person hitting the ball is Alvaro Beltran, the number three ranked racquetball player in the world.
“I wouldn’t recommend trusting just anyone if you want to get these types of racquetball photos,” Alvaro said with an entertained grin and a bit of laughter. “Are you sure you’re okay back there?”
I assure him that I’m fine, and that I have full confidence in his abilities. I tell him that it’s probably not in my best interest, anyway, to insult him at this point.
“I’m really glad I warmed up before you got here today,” Alvaro said (smiling).
He then winds up and cracks another shot against the wall that echoes with a thunderous pop.
After the photo session, I sat down with Alvaro at the LA Fitness Eastlake club in Chula Vista, California to talk to him about sport of racquetball and being a world ranked competitor:
How often are you in here practicing?
If I’m not in a tournament, you will see me in here every day practicing or working out. I practice playing twice a day here.
Why do you choose to train here at an LA Fitness club?
I love the way the courts are set up here, with the open glass, and they are right out in the open where the people in the gym can watch and see into the court, and the players can see out. It invites you and others to play. I spent my first 15 years playing without seeing anybody or talking to anyone when I practice because most of the time racquetball courts are hidden in the back with no windows. They are closed off from everyone. I just really do love playing here!
I love that on the days when I am feeling a little burnt out on practicing I can do so many other things. I go to the basketball courts and play, go swimming or do some cardio.
How are the quality of the courts here from a professional and regulation standpoint?
The courts here are professional courts from the measurements to the materials used on the walls and floors. It is a great place to play racquetball for pros or someone who just wants to learn. I have made a lot of friends here, I talk to a lot people every time I come in, and I see how much people enjoy playing here.
What do you think of the racquetball leagues here?
I think they are great for improving the sport and getting new people, and more people into the sport. It is a great sport for getting into shape; it is a thinking sport that takes a lot of strategy. I talk to many people who play here and they just love to play; the leagues offer a way for people to experience different competitors.
Do you play in the leagues?
No, (smiles) I don’t think people would like that; I don’t think it would be very fair.
What are things that you do outside of the court to train?
I like to work on explosive movements. Racquetball is one or two quick steps to get to the ball. I work on lateral movements and do a lot of bodyweight movements and exercises. I use a lot medicine balls and stability movements and work on hitting all different angles of motion.
I also have an LA Fitness trainer here that I started working with two years ago. He is very good and he was actually a two-time Olympic sprinter. I am very happy with him; he is exactly what I need for my training and conditioning.
For those who are curious about how much of a workout racquetball truly is, can you tell us how many times you have played the game without getting out of breath or dripping sweat?
Never (laughs). That never happens. It is such a fun sport, you burn a lot of calories and you work your whole body.
In your opinion, what is the best part about playing racquetball?
The one-on-one competition is so much fun and you don’t even realize that you are working out so hard because it’s so much fun.
Interested in trying out racquetball?! You can reserve a court today using your MY LA Fitness account. Just follow this link to log in or set up your account: https://www.lafitness.com/Pages/login.aspx