As we say goodbye (or good riddance) to 2016, it’s time for resolutions and plans to make 2017 the best year possible. For many their resolutions include fitness goals or to be more intentional with time spent with loved ones. Instead of the same old same old gym workouts or family outings, why not use 2017 as a time to think outside of the box? This is why you should give curling a chance.

OK, stay with me. You may be thinking, isn’t that the winter Olympic sport where people sweep a puck like object down the ice? This is all true, but if it was that easy, you would be missing out on one of the hidden gems of Charlotte.

Charlotte is home to the Charlotte Curling Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which specializes in growing the sport of curling through education, leagues, and special events. They have about 200 members who play in nine weekly leagues and various tournaments (known as bonspiels) at the facility (located at 6525 Old Statesville Rd.) and around the world.

I’ve heard curling is a great workout and that someone can burn up to 400 calories an hour curling. Games typically last two hours, so you can expect to burn 800 calories. After all the cookies and Prosecco I consumed over the holidays, I decided to go and try it out.

Walking into the facility, I met with a volunteer who greeted me and introduced me to the facility and the concept of curling. I was told the sport is a “social sport,” which was good because I brought a few friends with me. The facility features a full bar featuring wine, craft beer, and liquor and an area dedicated to those that would rather be spectators than participants. This area is also heated in case you were wondering.

During my tour I was told that curling is a game for anyone and was told that anyone can curl regardless of physical limitations. I learned that Charlotte has the largest number of wheelchair curlers of any curling club in the country.

After our tour, we went through a brief safety instruction and a stretching session. Stretching is key, as I was told, because of the various muscle groups we would be working. After our stretches, it was time to get on the ice.

dsc_7623Photo courtesy of Charlotte Curling Association.

Next we had an hour of on-ice instruction. Our team of four went through drills learning how to sweep, slide, and deliver rocks. Then we were able to have a game against another group of four and the competition was fierce. I would like to say we triumphed and won, but we lost by one point. It was a valiant effort by all the curling newbies.

When we finished our game, I was winded and my face was a lovely shade of red, but I had a blast. The next day I woke up sore all over, but in a good way. My thighs were burning, and my arms would not straighten, which made writing this article difficult. All of this was a definite sign that not only did I have fun, but I got a great unexpected workout.

I can’t wait to go back and would love to take others with me to expose them to curling. A night at the center would be perfect for a great date night, family outing, or night out with friends. Don’t forget to dress warmly as the rink temperature is kept at 45 degrees.

For the month of January, the center is hosting “Stone Cold Curling” sessions, a program for anyone 16 years and older that are interested in learning about curling for $25. Leagues, yes there are curling leagues, begin in February. The hope is that anyone that participates in the program will fall in love with curling and will join a league.

A New Year is an opportunity to experience something you’ve never done before and a hidden Charlotte gem. Why not try curling?

Header photo courtesy of Poprock Photography

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