Recreation Corner - Serving up fun, fitness and friendship with table tennis

Table tennis offers a fun and easy way to burn calories (over 250 per hour!) and it's easy on the joints, unlike some other racquet sports.

It has been said there are two types of people: those who play ping-pong, and those who play table tennis. Some players approach the sport as a casual pastime, while others consider it an intense athletic pursuit. It is precisely this flexibility that makes the quaint and complex game one of the most revered racket sports in the world: it is remarkably easy to take up at any level and can be fun for all people regardless of age, size, gender, physical condition or previous skill.

Patrick Grandel agrees, and has seen the proof many times. A second- year student in fitness and health promotion at Fanshawe, Grandel discovered the College’s ping pong tables in 2020 shortly after beginning his studies.

“When I started my college experience I had 98 per cent online classes and I lived about an hour from the school,” he explained. “When I came to London I wanted to make my visits worthwhile and also get some semblance of a ‘normal’ college experience. Campus Recreation was still open at the time, so I started going every time I was in London.”

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Naturally outgoing and energetic, Grandel quickly made friends and began spending hours in the Student Wellness Centre playing at the tables.

“Ping pong has been my favorite activity at the recreation center because it was easy to play and easy to get started with friends,” he said. “I would play as much as I could, especially with my friends Scott and Abtin. Abtin rapidly improved, so Scott and I had a hard time beating him. Because of him, we also rapidly improved.”

Table tennis offers a fun and easy way to burn calories (over 250 per hour!) and it’s easy on the joints, unlike some other racquet sports. It is known to help stimulate mental alertness and concentration due to its fast pace, which demands constantly shifting and re-focusing attention to keep one eye on the ball and another on an opponent's movements. Enthusiasts are quick to point out the physical benefits too: the short-distance exchanges develop gross and fine motor skills while improving flexibility, coordination, balance and overall spatial awareness.

Most of all, many students use table tennis as a fun way to release stress and clear their heads without risking serious injury, while enjoying laughs with friends between classes.

“It is a great way to wind down, have fun and forget about school,” Grandel said. “Not only will you have a great time but it will improve your overall wellness to take a load off from the stresses of life.”

Another mental health benefit is the opportunity for social interaction, which Grandel enhanced by creating a Table Tennis Drop-in Group chat on Instagram.

“I kept meeting people playing ping pong and those people had friends who wanted to play and so on,” he explained. “So I decided to create a place where like-minded people could communicate and organize when to play together.”

The group chat and the recreational table tennis offerings have provided an outlet for these students to take a break from their daily tasks and meet new people from different walks of life. Grendel said it gives them something to look forward to and in turn helps build relationships while playing the sport.

“It is my proudest accomplishment because I have been able to see people make new friends and watch a community grow.”

Fanshawe students can take advantage of open tables in the Student Wellness Centre (available on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis) and paddles or balls available for rent at the service desk (J1003, London Campus). There is a place for both skilled and casual players. Even if you're not looking for a way to build strength, speed or agility, a recreational game of table tennis might just be the solution to help prevent stress, recover from burnout and improve overall wellbeing.

“My advice would be to try it at least once,” Grandel added. “Bring a couple friends and have fun!”

Contributed by Fanshawe College Athletics and Recreation