Having fun and keeping fit - these were the main drivers behind ex-professional dancer Samantha Gonzalez picking up a racket and she has not looked back since.
Today, on National Fitness Day, Badminton England wanted to celebrate all that our fantastic sport has to offer – and 36-year-old Samantha is the perfect advocate for why you should get involved.
Having previously been a dancer, appearing in music videos and even as part of a P Diddy tour, she was certainly not shy of fitness, strength and stamina.
However, when this career came to an end a few years ago, it was a No Strings Badminton session at her local gym that grabbed her attention and has had her hooked ever since.
The Kent-based player said: “People are not aware of how easy it is to get into badminton. When they think of badminton, they think they must hire a court themselves but if people were aware of the No Strings sessions, I think there would be more participants.
“No Strings is such a social event – you get to meet a lot of people, it is a good way to introduce yourself to the sport and then if you want to take it more seriously it also creates that avenue to do that.”
Walks of life
Not only this, but Samantha recognises the mental health benefits that sport can offer, having seen first-hand how badminton has helped people close to her.
“Sport and fitness - being active in general - is so important to mental health. I am massively for being active to avoid things such as depression, anxiety and loneliness.
“I know people that would have been really lonely without badminton; you get to meet people from all walks of life which is nice. You are creating a second family.”
With No Strings sessions held every day of the week, it couldn’t be easier to find a local court.
“It is good for fitness; it isn’t boring or monotonous like the gym. I know people that have lost weight through badminton, progressed onto amazing things and started clubs – you can take it several different ways,” Samantha added.
“No Strings is great for any age – regardless of if you have played before or want to start at 50 or 60, it is great for everyone!”
Transitioning from dancing to badminton, there were various different challenges however she admits that it is the strategic and tactical elements to the game that has kept her “addicted.”
She said: “There is always more to learn, you can gauge your progress, and as there are a variety of levels, you always get a variety of games. I am even now considering becoming a coach!”
To find your local No Strings session click HERE.