Badminton players at K2 Badminton Club by Lawrence Luk for Express
You’d better be ready to rock a shuttlecock if you walk into K2 Badminton Club (45805 Woodland Road, Sterling, Va.; 571-223-6006). The only dedicated badminton facility on the East Coast outside New York, K2 opened Aug. 1 with plans to serve the community — at speeds of up to 200 mph.

“The competition level is pretty fierce,” says co-founder Kendrick Liu, who joined forces with Kamesh Basavaraju (the other K in K2 and the general manager) after they got fed up with hunting for space to play at school gyms.

After three years of planning, there’s no more hunting for Basavaraju, Liu and the more-than 50 members who’ve signed on to use the 8,500-square-foot facility’s six Olympic-level courts. Annual memberships run from a $500 individual rate to $1,000 per family, but $80 drop-in packages and $5 to $8 daily rates are available, too.

Birdies by Lawrence Luk for ExpressK2 is open to all players: A junior champion from Thailand shares the courts with kids as young as 8 and recreational enthusiasts such as member Faisal Hussain, 37. “This is like a haven,” he says. “When this started, I was playing seven days a week.”

If you’re looking to improve your game, K2 offers private lessons and classes. “The first thing [to work on] is the footwork, because no matter how good your shot is, if you can’t get there, you can’t hit it,” Liu says. To practice shadowing an opponent, you can start at the middle of the 44-by-20-foot court and then run to one corner, pretend to hit a shuttlecock, return to the midpoint and then run to another corner, repeating the moves until all four corners are covered. Another popular drill is “picking up the birdie”: Shuttlecocks sit on either side of the court and you stand in the center holding one. You run to one side, drop your birdie and grab the one waiting, return to the center and do the same on the other side.

Wrist flexibility is also crucial, Liu says, because you can fake out an opponent by redirecting the birdie with a quick flick. To prep the joint, he tells players to “scoop the tofu” by cupping your hand with the palm up, moving it slightly to the left and then flipping the palm down.

But a match, which consists of three games and averages 25 minutes, works all muscle groups. Running around the court covers legs and cardio, and swinging the racket gets the upper body going. “I’ve changed my clothes three times in one day just because of the sweat,” says Angie Marcel, K2’s marketing director.

Ultimately, however, Liu and Basavaraju are most interested in child’s play. “Our dream is to build an academy where we can nurture the next generation,” Liu says.

Written by Express contributor Stephanie Kanowitz
Photos by Lawrence Luk for Express