Get in Shape
6 Strange Sports to Boost Your Fitness
When Halim Haryanto slams a birdie, the rubber-and-feathers shuttlecock flies into his competitor's zone at more than 150 mph…and that's much slower than his hits as a professional a decade ago, he says.
"It's a really good sport. You have to use all of your body, all of the time," says Haryanto, a 2001 world champion who now coaches at Bay Badminton Center in Milpitas, CA. "You have to chase the bird. But you're also always thinking--how to beat my opponent."
Competitive badminton--like competitive table tennis--injects a classic rec game with blistering speed and power. Watching a Malaysian, Thai, Korean, or Chinese match on an off-brand TV network is to witness a wave of crowd sounds that ooh and aah with every smash and lob across the 44-foot court. These matches are riveting to watch, and can easily be found on YouTube, though Haryanto suggests trying the game before you watch.
"If you watch, maybe the beginner will think it's too hard to play," he says. "But everyone can play and everyone can enjoy it."
Where to Try It: You don't need your own equipment to start. Just use the club directory at the USA Badminton website.