Though Charlotte Checkers history dates back nearly a half-century, today's Checkers made their AHL debut just recently in 2010. As the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the team breeds young talent capable of performing in a professional environment while withstanding gale-force winds. Fans at Time Warner Cable Arena lend their support by drawing up backwards plays on the fogged-up glass, and mascot Chubby entertains the crowd by dancing and riding four-wheelers on the ice at intermission.
Benchwarmers Sports Complex helps athletes stay off the bench with a wide range of training facilities. Four pitching tunnels transform string bean arms into powerful cannons, while two automated batting cages and three live arm cages allow hurled baseballs to hone swings, instead of inflated puffer fish, which will just hone your fear of seafood restaurants. Elsewhere, its basketball court boasts adjustable rims and a gigantic electronic scoreboard, and its indoor turf fields feature granular rubber infill to support players as they work up a sweat during games of baseball, football, soccer, and lacrosse.
Elton John. Dolly Parton. Dave Matthews Band. Harlem Globetrotters. These are just a handful of celebrated acts that have descended upon Winston-Salem Entertainment Sports Complex over the years. The sprawling event center remains a go-to destination for visitors who want to catch a first-rate concert, root for their favorite sports team, or get an autography from their favorite gym towel.
It may be difficult to decide who has a better time at Energy Sports & Fitness: parents or kids. Adults not only burn calories with a huge selection of weights, on a full-size racquetball court, or in the circuit-training area, but also catch up on favorite shows in the cardio theater or at more than 100 cardio stations with individual televisions. Youngsters with a Kid Zone membership romp through more than 2,500 feet of supervised play space outfitted with a Wii, jungle gym, basketball court, and homework stations with computers. The area even has a video camera so parents can check in from their treadmills to see if their child is actually a vampire. Families refuel after a workout with fresh smoothies, chicken wraps, and supplements at the Grand Slam Cafe.
The staff—which includes the 2010 NPC Charlotte Cup novice division bodybuilding winner—opens the gym at 5 a.m. on weekdays and teaches group fitness classes ranging from Zumba to yoga. The crew also offers SilverSneakers, a program designed to encourage physical and social activity for older adults or people who have trouble working out in ruby slippers.
The instructors at Open Water Adventures reach out to swimmers of all levels with watery exploration from kids’ swimming classes to international scuba-diving trips. Alongside a dive-simulator pool for scuba students, the indoor heated pool hosts swim lessons in lanes along a 2-foot ledge for younger swimmers. Through it all, the experienced instructors—inspired by the likes of Jacques Cousteau and their childhood rubber duckies—impart tips on managing scuba equipment or doing the backstroke. The year-round swimming lessons educate youngsters of all abilities aged 3–12, drawing from the Swim Schools International program's standardized teachings, which focus on water safety and proper technique. After taking a dip, swimmers can scurry to club-style bathrooms with lockers and showers, or head to the onsite shop that sells gear from swim caps to guaranteed scuba equipment.
Breakaway Sports is a full-service indoor athletics arena. The rink hosts recreation leagues and competitive tournaments for inline hockey, often with teams coming in from all parts of the country to compete. They also schedule public skating sessions on Friday and Saturday nights, which can be a fun activity for friends or a more aerobically effective date activity than polishing your butter-knife collection. When skaters and hockey players give up the rink, they make way for indoor sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball as well as birthday parties. Breakaway is also equipped with meeting rooms that have TVs and WiFi.