After hurting her ankle in 2008, Karen Huddle was looking for a sport that wouldn't exacerbate the injury. She took a "Learn to Row" clinic with the Virginia Boat Club (virginiaboatclub.org) , and now she's the group's treasurer. In addition to the clinics, which cover sweep rowing (also known as crew), the club also offers private lessons in sculling, a single-person form of the sport. The season generally runs from April through October, with the June 25 Rocketts Landing Sprints Regatta, the Oct. 8 Head of the James race and out-of-town events filling the schedule. The club has sweep boats and sculls at its downtown boathouse, and, says Huddle,"We try to put as many boats in the water as we have people."
For the 45 teams in the Virginia Adult Intramural League (vailsports.net), hoops is all about the stats. "People love reading about themselves," says owner/operator Reid Martin, who makes stats available online and puts out a "weekly sports page" featuring game recaps and predictions. (VAIL has three levels of play, as well as coed teams.) Of course, pickup games are a fixture of the YMCA (ymcarichmond.org). And if you want to improve, Sterling Dickerson, director of basketball at U-Turn Sports Performance Academy (358-2775, ext. 22, or u-turn.org) is open to the idea of private lessons.
If you didn't grow up playing pond hockey, Richmond Ice Zone (378-7465 or richmondicezone.com) is ready to improve your ice-hockey knowledge. The rink holds eight-week coed adult clinics year-round on Thursday nights, and the next one starts the first week of March. (It's $15 a session or $89 for the full clinic.) After that, think about joining the coed Hockey Night in Richmond (hnir.net), a league that plays on Sunday to Wednesday nights at the Ice Zone and SkateNation Plus (364-1477 or skatenationplus.com). "It's all no contact," says general manager Mike Lyons, "Everybody's got to go to work in the morning." If you're already playing at a higher level — ex-collegiate, say — there's a high-level pickup game on Thursday nights at SkateNation. Finally, for players over 30, there's the Thursday-night Grumpy Old Men league at the Lil Rink (lilrink.com), which runs from September through May. The cost is $10 per night, with discounts available if you pay for the season.
Jonnie Stone, the marketing manager at Richmond Volleyball Club (358-3000 or rvc.net), has been playing in its leagues since the early ‘80s, and she calls it "a social club with a volleyball problem." With more than 2,500 members, RVC offers four seasons of play for men's, women's and coed leagues at its 12-court facility, as well as a regular schedule of tournaments and quarterly preseason clinics focusing on a single aspect of the game. The deadline to register for volleyball through River City Sports and Social Club (307-7284 or rivercityssc.com) has passed, but the season starts in March, and if you call soon, they'll try to fit you in. Other leagues in the area include Chesterfield Adult Sports (304-2820 or chesterfieldadultsports.com), which offers winter and spring coed leagues on Wednesday nights at Manchester Middle School, and Hanover Co-ed Volleyball (278-4157 or co.hanover.va.us/parksrec), a recreational league meeting every Thursday.
Central Virginia Soccer Association (316-2591 or cvsasoccer.org) president Jesse Smith has good reason to appreciate his organization, which runs leagues in the spring, summer and fall: "I met my fiancée through this." No promises on the soulmate front, but with men's, women's and coed leagues, plus a 40-and-over league, the CVSA, which starts its spring season on March 6, has plenty of soccer. (Fees are $75 for spring and fall, and $65 for summer.) Another long-running local league, the Commonwealth Women's Soccer Association (cwsasoccer.org), has two divisions — open and 35-plus. There are no official practices, just games on Thursday nights for the veterans and Sundays for the open division, but these aren't glorified scrimmages. As CWSA president Ruthie Rosales puts it, "It does get pretty competitive." Finally, RISE (744-4600 or riseindoor.com) and SCOR (257-7267 or scor-richmond.com) both offer a range of indoor soccer leagues all year long.
What sport could possibly require you to master skills such as the "flick" and the "hammer" or to use "the force" and "lay out?" Welcome to the game of Ultimate, a seven-on-seven field sport where the object is to pass a flying disc (née Frisbee) from player to player until one teammate catches the disc in the end zone. "When I'm not playing Ultimate, I'm thinking about the next time I will," says Dan Hobgood, a Richmond attorney and president of Richmond Ultimate (richmondultimate.com), which organizes a summer league and tries to grow the sport. In the Richmond region, you'll find a competitive summer league that usually runs from June to August, as well as regular pickup games that welcome all levels of players. Get a full view of the scene at Richmond Ultimate's website.
Women have long dominated softball at the Olympic level (at least until the IOC dropped the fast-pitch sport), but in Richmond, softball leans male. Out of more than 600 adult slow-pitch softball teams in the Richmond metropolitan area, there are fewer than 30 women's teams, says Richmonder Frank Taylor, a former national president of the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA). (That said, coed leagues abound.) Despite the game's name, the standard softball is actually harder than a baseball. "There's no baseball that's made as hard as these alleged softballs," Taylor says. The Central Virginia ASA (centralvirginiaasa.com) organizes summer leagues in Hanover, Henrico, Richmond and Chesterfield, and the Virginia Adult Intramural League (vailsports.net) hopes to start a league this summer.
In rugby, the ball is always live — the action stops only if the ball goes out of bounds or there's a penalty — so the sport involves constant running. With that in mind, the men of the Richmond Lions (richmondlions.com) make an effort to stay in shape, with practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and games on the weekends for the upper-level A side and the developmental B side. "We do year-round fitness," says club president Ben Morgan, "and the training is usually 90 minutes of hell." With an eight-person coaching staff, plenty of instruction is available, and on May 29, the club will hold another Rugby 101 class for newcomers to the sport. (The club also hopes to develop a women's team, starting this month.) Meanwhile, the men's and women's teams of James River Rugby (jamesriverrugby.com) start practice for their spring seasons on March 1, and the Virginia Gentlemen (richmondrugby.net/Vagents.html) have spring and fall seasons for over-35 players. "After a while, those 20-year-olds, you can't catch them anymore," says club member Cary Kennedy, laughing.
The Right Fuel
Working out is great, but it's not the only tool you'll need to ive healthy. "Exercise is more effective and efficient if you eat well to support the type of exercise you are doing," says Jan Starkey, director of the nutrition clinic at VCU Medical Center.
If you have trouble staying on the nutritional straight and narrow, a professional can help. Elisabeth Peterson of Peterson Nutrition and Fitness, a registered dietitian, medical nutrition therapist and certified personal trainer, creates individualized plans for her clients after an initial 50-minute assessment ($100). It may include meal planning, guidance in reading food labels, dining-out ideas and nutrition-supplement recommendations, along with information on exercise.
"An expert ... helps you sort through the confusion and figure out what best works for you," Peterson says.
Trish Wilkins, a registered dietitian and nutrition therapist, tries to be flexible. "I may just take what the client is eating now and work around that," she says. "I can also prepare an individualized eating plan." Wilkins charges $150 for the initial nutritional consultation and evaluation (a 90-minute session).
If you want to work on your nutrition and fitness concurrently, a program such as The Zacharias Ganey Health Institute may be for you. The initial 10-week session ($799) includes a health assessment to provide a baseline. Founder Dr. Madge Zacharias provides lectures on health and nutrition, weekly support groups are available, and 30 supervised workouts are included. After the 10 weeks are up, you can continue on a month-to-month basis. Some local fitness centers, the YMCA and American Family Fitness, for example, also offer nutrition services at certain locations. —Joan Tupponce
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