Since 1952, North Park Batting Range has facilitated outdoor baseball training on its open-air range. In each of 10 open-air baseball cages, automated pitching machines fire balls into the strike zone at 30–80 miles per hour. Five open-air softball cages loft pitches at various speeds for batters training for slow-pitch or fast-pitch leagues. On the 18-hole, par 40 miniature golf course, family-owned and operated since 1961, flourishing shrubs, sharp corners, water hazards, hills, and windmills create obstructions for golfers.
HappyFeet founder Andy Barney boasts a lengthy resumé: the Oxford, England, native was a semipro soccer player by the age of 16, studied physical education in college, and coached youth soccer for 10 years before moving to the U.S. In America, he coached at Avila University and wrote the book Training Soccer Legends, but one day he found his extensive experience challenged by an unlikely group—preschoolers. He had agreed to spend what he thought would be an easy afternoon leading tots in a soccer workshop, only to end up exhausted yet inspired to design a curriculum specifically for younger kids.
His research eventually led to HappyFeet, where instructors play with kids aged 2–6 using a proprietary lesson plan the company dubbed “story time with a soccer ball.” Each kid receives a ball, and beyond practicing basic skills such as dribbling, striking, and autograph signing in a noncompetitive setting, the incorporation of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs enables kids to exercise both physical and mental faculties. The 45-minute indoor classes, which were reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune, are held onsite at preschools and sports facilities such as PISA. Little ones can also be enrolled in HappyFeet’s leagues, where a 15- to 20-minute mini class precedes a 30-minute game.
At Lakevue Athletic Club, a staff of seasoned competitors breeds a love of fitness through tennis, group exercise classes, and personal training. Atop eight indoor courts and three outdoor courts, a fleet of tennis pros enacts lessons anchored in players' strengths. They specialize in QuickStart tennis, a recently minted method of play that emphasizes building the skills and confidence of child athletes without serving them trophy-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Within the walls of an 11,000-square-foot fitness center, personal trainer Kyle Waters shepherds clients through two downstairs cardio rooms with Star Trac treadmills and several weight rooms loaded with Cybex Eagle and Hammer Strength machines. Inside two studios upstairs, health gurus conduct classes in everything from yoga to step aerobics to kickboxing.
Staffed by former collegiate and professional baseball and softball standouts, All-American Baseball Center helps students dominate the diamond with expert instruction and three state-of-the-art practice facilities. At Baseball University, players from age 8 to the college level hone their hitting and fielding skills through a comprehensive curriculum of courses—such as Hitting 101 and 102—comprising four one-hour clinic sessions that players must complete before advancing to the next class. With more than 52,000 square feet in combined space, the center's two indoor locations provide ample space for independent practice sessions with batting cages, practice fields, bullpens, and facilities for weightlifting and speed and agility training. The North Campus features an indoor regulation infield for live-action baseball and softball games, which are also held at Sardis Park, a four-field outdoor complex occasionally visited by the ghosts of legendary cornstalks.
At Top Gear Bicycle Shop’s two locations, a team of master technicians tends to road and mountain bikes while a staff of avid cyclists outfits shoppers with appropriate gear for their riding surface of choice. Trek, Look, and Felt bikes stand out among the shop’s collection, which includes mountain, cyclocross, and pro-level road bikes.