The crusade continues, this week looking at London’s best sports venues and clubs for L-ish sports:
Otherwise known as ‘LAX,’ lacrosse is a Native American game and hugely popular across the pond where it is played competitively by both men and women. In the UK it is predominantly played by women, although male clubs do exist. This physically demanding sport involves two teams of ten attempting to throw a ball into the opposing team’s goal using a specially designed stick. Think aerial hockey, but a bit more physical. To get involved, the English Lacrosse Association has a useful Lacrosse club finder and The Southern Counties Women’s Lacrosse Association (SEMLA) can also help locate your nearest lacrosse club. Good examples of friendly London lacrosse clubs are Blackheath Lacrosse, Putney/Chiswick based West London Lacrosse Club and Clapham Ladies Lacrosse Club. These are all open to new members.
If you ask any tennis professional, grass is overwhelmingly their favourite surface. However, most London lawn tennis clubs have moved to harder or synthetic surfaces, as they require less maintenance. Further bad news is that grass tennis courts are seasonal (May to September) and are almost always reserved for club members only. The most sought after London club for lawn tennis is the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club at Wimbledon; however, this also happens to be the world’s most exclusive. But good examples of private lawn tennis clubs include Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club, Holland Park Tennis Club, and Blackheath Lawn Tennis Club. The only exception is Old Deer Park in Richmond which can be used on a pay and play basis by non-members.
Bowls is notoriously popular amongst the elderly given its slow, low impact nature. However in more recent years it has seen a rise amongst hipster types, who enjoy spending a couple of hours on a bowling green, usually combined with a few beers. Most London bowling greens are open from May to September and are usually run by clubs on behalf of London councils. However, strictly speaking, most should be open to the general public. Favourite London bowls greens include Hyde Park, Dulwich Park, Hilly Fields and Bruce Castle Park. Openplay offers a useful London bowling club finder as does Bowlsclub.org.
How can you not possibly enjoy running around firing lasers at other people? Laser tag (lazer in American) usually involves two teams of up to 20 people aiming to shoot each other with laser guns to gain control of their opponent’s base. It brings out the James Bond in anyone, and London has a great selection of laser tag centres. The favourite is the unique Bunker 51 near North Greenwich which is set in a decommissioned nuclear bunker, deep underground. The object is to save the world from imminent nuclear attack. Star Command in Piccadilly’s Trocadero Centre also offers a fun experience where the object is win control of the Star Command space station. Other laser tag centres in or near London include laser planet in Watford, and Laser Strike has an easy to use online booking tool.
This is a rare martial art and extreme form of kickboxing which originated from Myrammar (Burma). Sometimes referred to as ‘Burmese boxing,’ it is similar to other, more widely known kickboxing forms such as Muay Thai. But lethwei is more hardcore. For instance head-butting is allowed and participants wear little to no protection. Unsurprisingly lethwei classes are extremely rare as most people are not prepared to lose their teeth, but Kung Fu Fitness in Canary Wharf does include lethwei techniques in many of its classes.
Land Yachting (or Sailing)
Land sailing involves a go-kart like contraption, a sail and ideally a long, flat sandy beach. Depending on the wind, it can be exhilarating or terrifying, but overall is excellent fun. While land yachting is virtually impossible in London, Kirrawee Land yachts offer introductory courses from £40 on the Romney Marsh in Kent, roughly an hour outside the capital. In the other direction, introductory sessions are available at Anglia Land Yacht Club near Huntingdon, about an hour north of London. British Land Sailing also has a list of all the UK’s land sailing clubs.
By Sam Parton
Part A: Aerobics, Aikido, Archery, Athletics, Aussie Rules Football
Part B: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bikram Yoga, Boules, Bowls, Boxing
Part C: Canoeing, Climbing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Cycling
Part D: Dance, Darts, Disc Golf, Diving, Dodgeball, Dragon Boat Racing
Part E: Equestrian, English Billiards, Eight-a-side Football, Endurance Running, Extreme Sports
Part F: Fives, Football, Fencing, Frisbee
Part G: Gaelic Football, Golf, Go-Karting, Goalball, Gridiron
Part H: Handball, Hang Gliding, Hatha Yoga, Hiking, Hockey, Hula Hooping and Hurling
Part I: Ice Climbing, Ice Hockey, Indoor Cricket, Indoor Football, Inline Skating, and Iyengar Yoga.
Part J: Jazz Dancing, Jianzi, Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Jogging, Jorkyball
Part K: Karate, Kiyaking, Kickboxing, Kite Surfing, Korfball, Kung Fu