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.
Instructors?including a former member of the Romanian national gymnastic team?teach students proper gymnastic techniques in 11,000 square feet of space. Classes for younger kids help improve their gross motor skills, while older students in high school learn more difficult moves. The staff also teaches a class for kids with special needs, and offers cheerleading and tumbling lesson as well.
Founded in 2010, the EHCL's Greenville Road Warriors don't have the rich legacy of their parent squad, the NHL's legendary New York Rangers. But judging from their first two seasons, the team is eager to make up for lost time. The Road Warriors took the league by storm in their debut season, earning the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference before losing in overtime of Game 7 in the second round of the playoffs. Their quest for Kelly Cup glory continued in the 2011–2012 season, when they yet again made it to the playoffs and fell in the conference quarterfinals. Although championship hardware may have eluded the Road Warriors in their short history, the squad has produced enough top-notch regular-season performances to keep NHL scouts, fans, and trophy-case carpenters on their toes.
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.