After joining the South Atlantic League in 2001, the LakeWood BlueClaws didn't hesitate to make their mark. In less than a decade, the team won three league championships, including a landmark 2010 season in which they became the first club in SAL history to win the division in both halves of the season and go on to claim the title. As the Philadelphia Phillies' Class-A affiliate, the team has sent 50 players to the majors, including an eventual National League MVP and the 2010 Phillies' star 8-foot mutant crab at shortstop.
The indoor pool at Five Star Aquatics serves as a classroom for swimming lessons. In its 90-degree waters, certified instructors teach students to float, breathe rhythmically, and ultimately grow gills. Besides minting new swimmers, instructors lead classes for competitive and casual athletes, as well as individuals with limited mobility.
Other instructors at Five Star Aquatics teach dry-land classes such as yoga and Zumba. To further enhance vitality, massage therapists welcome clients into a private room for bodywork sessions that relieve aches and restore peace of mind.
The John Jack is a US Coast Guard–certified, 50-foot titan of the sea, operated by a friendly crew and knowledgeable captain. Two Caterpillar engines––each producing 800 horsepower––propel the red and white ship through the waves, staving off currents as passengers embark on chartered fishing and diving trips around the Point Pleasant Beach area. It can reach speeds of up to 25 knots and travel up to 350 miles between fuel stops, so it’s not uncommon to see the vessel docked in ports at Montauk, Cape May, Virginia, or Cape Hatteras. The interior is air conditioned, and houses a refrigerator, microwave, icemaker, and power outlets. Outside, quartz halogen lights illuminate the deck, creating a night atmosphere that still provides enough light for fishing, diving, or reading Magic 8-Ball responses.
When you set foot inside Centercourt Athletic Club of Marlboro's players lounge and see its mahogany leather chairs set around flat-screen televisions showing major international tournaments, it's clear the club takes tennis seriously. Here, there are six indoor climate-controlled Rebound Ace courts—easily spotted thanks to indirect halogen lighting—where you can take lessons from USPTA pro and founder Clay Bibbee and his fellow expert instructors.
When tennis players aren't engaged in leagues, private instruction, or casual play, they can use the fitness center's Life Fitness machines, adding the strength to put extra zip on a serve or incite intimidation during pregame flexing. Thanks to each of these amenities, the club boasts certification as a Regional USTA Training Center.
Hot Sand’s studio buzzes with activity as instructors dip pipes into molten glass and then demonstrate how to blow the globs into recognizable shapes. Nearby, other students work on finishing their pieces, refining contours atop wooden blocks and polishing surfaces on a diamond wheel. Hot Sand's glass-blowing artists impart these techniques through basic walk-in experiences and immersive workshops, showing guests how to craft objects such as candy dishes, pumpkin-shaped ornaments, or one-time-use dodgeballs. Welcoming visitors of all ages, Hot Sand earned the distinction as a top kids' destination in New Jersey Monthly's 2012 Jersey Choice awards. The studio also expands the aesthetic tastes of the community through a gallery that showcases original works for sale.
In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Each year, MudManX issues runners the world’s dirtiest challenge: a race across mud-slathered obstacles that test both agility and laundry skills. Designed with the assistance of US Special Forces and Mother Nature's cool sister who lets you play in puddles, the course features obstacles inspired the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. While exploring the course, runners travel through mud pits, past fiery trails, and over icy water before securing the boon of beer and live music. The post-race after party welcomes a steady lineup of bands and DJs and includes a MiniX obstacle course so children can finally discover the joys of getting dirty.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Red Cross, whose volunteers often rush through harsh and dirty conditions to deliver food, clothing, shelter, and comfort to those in need.