It’s easy to forget amid all the skiing buzz this month that not all Idahoans like to play in the snow.
For them, winter recreation is a challenge — unless they can find a way to take their outdoor sport indoors.
One example: The Eagle Tennis Club, which opened in September with 12 indoor courts, has attracted hundreds of players through the doors who are eager to keep playing their fair-weather sport.
“It’s so interesting to have a sport where you don’t care what the weather is,” member Carolyn Casey of Garden City said. “... This is something my husband and I can share together. He hates snow. So when you hate snow, you have to find an alternative, and this is a great alternative.”
The club includes a fitness facility and sand volleyball courts. Future plans call for outdoor tennis courts, two swimming pools, a basketball court and a bunch of businesses that will support facility users, including a restaurant, physical therapist and day spa.
The complex is owned by Kara Hoge, who started playing tennis seven years ago after a bout with cancer and decided to fill an indoor tennis void in West Ada. Idaho has 5,500 U.S. Tennis Association members, which ranked No. 2 nationally in members per capita according to a report compiled several years ago.
“There’s a need, definitely, for indoor tennis,” Hoge said. “... There wasn’t anything on this side of town. It’s been a great response from the community.”
The club offers some events open to the public, including junior programs, monthly mixers and weekly men’s nights (4.0-plus on Tuesdays, 3.0-3.5 on Thursdays). A December mixer drew 48 people — enough for a doubles match on every court.
Men’s nights (two hours of tennis and a drink ticket) are $18 for guests. Mixers (three hours with food and drink) are $25. Both events are run by the club’s employees, who create and change the matchups.
The club’s indoor venue features high ceilings, pleasant lighting and a floating mezzanine between the two strings of six courts each to create a viewing area. It’s also fully climate-controlled with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.
“We want people to come in and try it,” Hoge said. “That’s our big goal.”
▪ More info: eagletennisclub.com
PICKLEBALL FINDS MERIDIAN HOME
Three basketball courts convert into eight pickleball courts every weekday morning at Meridian Homecourt (936 Taylor Ave.), providing an indoor home for the sport that is still trying to build a dedicated outdoor facility.
Pickleball is available from 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Sundays through the YMCA, which still uses parts of Homecourt through a shared-use agreement with the new owner, Meridian Parks and Recreation. The cost is $21.20 per month. The city separately offers pickleball during open gym from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays for $4 non-residents, $3 residents and $2 seniors per session.
“This has always been the hub of pickleball,” said Nick Leach, a local pickleball instructor.
The eight courts are split between beginner, intermediate and advanced players. That’s enough space for 32 players — matches are played two-on-two — and it’s common for players to sit out and wait their turn because as many as 50 show up.
Wayne Larsen of Boise, like many pickleball players, is a former tennis player. A friend had a pickleball set and suggested he try the sport.
“From that day forward, I was hooked like a big salmon,” he said.
That was a year and a half ago. In the first six months, he lost 20 pounds.
“It’s the best sport I’ve ever played,” he said.
Pickleball players are raising money to build a 12-court, outdoor complex at Hobble Creek Park in partnership with Boise Parks and Recreation. For more information, email hobblecreekpickleball @gmail.com.
▪ More info: 208-855-5711
SWING THROUGH WINTER
Desert Canyon Golf Course in Mountain Home holds an indoor, winter league. About 25 men and women are playing nine holes per week on a computer simulator. They hit their shots inside the warm confines of the teaching center with the computer extrapolating a result from measurements such as clubhead speed and clubface angle at impact.
“On a nice, solid shot, the machine is very accurate,” said T.J. Gomez, the director of golf at Desert Canyon.
League members play a different course every week, including places such as Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. Often, they stay after the league round to play the second nine, Gomez said.
He also rents the simulator for $30 for the first hour and $20 for each additional hour. It takes about two hours for a foursome to play nine holes.
One group reserved the machine for four hours on the day after Christmas for the second straight year. It was eight men who were going to play alternate shot in two-man teams.
Players laugh and taunt throughout their rounds, Gomez said.
“After playing nine or 18 holes on the simulator, you’ll have every emotion you have in golf,” he said. “You’ll be happy, frustrated, mad, sad, questioning yourself, rewarding yourself, laughing at yourself, you hate yourself.”
▪ More info: 208-587-3293
AVOID ICE. CYCLE INSIDE.
“Our brand is targeted toward more your general exerciser, but we’ve had a very large number of outdoor cyclists who have come in and taken our classes and they have really enjoyed them,” said JP Green, who owns the Meridian franchise of the national brand. “... I used to run the Axiom health clubs. We definitely see an increase in the usage of fitness facilities in the winter.”
CycleBar has 48 bikes in its “cycle theater.” Classes last 50 minutes and include use of shoes that clip into the bike (or bring your own), water bottles, towels and fresh fruit. Riders even get copies of the music that is played during the workout.
Spots are reservable. A single class is $23, but a new-rider special offers three rides for $29.
The interval-style workouts can include competitions, such as men vs. women, row vs. row, odd-numbered bikes vs. evens and more. Part of the CycleBar model includes offering non-profits the chance to use the studio for two or three charity rides per week.
“The feedback we’re getting from riders coming out is it’s the most fun they have getting in shape,” Green said. “They can’t believe they exercised at that intensity for 50 minutes and had a great time doing it.”
Green is working on plans to add a franchise in Boise. He hopes to open by fall 2017.
▪ More info: villagemeridian.cyclebar.com.