The cracks of baseball bats, the slaps of softballs meeting mitts, and the advice of an experienced team of instructors resound within Thunder Stix Baseball & Softball Academy's cavernous 11,000-square-foot facility. Baseball and softball players alike hone their cuts inside eight pitching machines that can be adjusted from 40 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour, and brush up on their fielding technique inside four netted astroturf tunnels. Robert Banner—the academy's owner and the head softball coach at Alexis I. DuPont High School—and his instructors use the well-appointed digs to help players of all abilities develop their skills in every facet of the game, including batting, fielding, base running, and agility.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.
Since 2006, the staff at Fusion Fitness Center has fostered a welcoming space for their members to come and find fitness, challenging and encouraging them along the way. Rows of elite Precor cardio machines fill the floor of the main room, including treadmills, elliptical trainers, and bikes. Tucked around the corner in the group fitness room, trainers challenge members with 45-minute F.I.T.—functional interval training—classes, where exercisers toss medicine balls, swing kettlebells and heavy ropes, and stretch TRX suspension bands until they cry uncle. The trainers limit F.I.T. classes to six people so they can dole out ample individual attention.
The staff also helps members hone in on individual fitness goals, such as losing weight or running a marathon, during personal-training sessions. To fuel sweat sessions, staffers mix up smoothies filled with nourishing ingredients to help bodies recover or add resistance to tongue-curls.
The Newark Film Festival hosts a wide collection of Oscar-nominated, independent, foreign, and limited-release films. Cinema darlings such as Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life share theater space with indie fare including the gospel music documentary Rejoice and Shout. The fest provides a valuable outlet for local filmmakers’ shorts and features, and hosts a 30-second commercial contest for members of Delaware Independent Filmmakers to out-advertise each other for cash prizes and World’s Greatest Grandpa mugs. This year, the Newark Film Festival introduces OUTflix, a fest-within-a-fest that exhibits LGBT films, ranging from Peru’s Undertow to A Marine Story’s gritty take on true events. Groupon holders can snag a quintet of friends for a single showing and post-film hide-and-seek game, or hoard the set for solo enjoyment of six different films.
It’s not uncommon to see large, sweaty men pulling trucks across the asphalt of The Training Center Gym’s parking lot. The gym is not only the training facility for many aspiring strongmen, but also the host of occasional competitions. To prepare athletes of every variety for big events, the staff offers powerlifting, bodybuilding, and sports-training services, plus boxing and boot-camp classes. For exercisers who want to go it alone, the facility stocks a plentitude of free weights and fitness machines from Life Fitness, Precor, Cybex, and Hammer Strength.