Inside Mentor Heisley Racquet and Fitness Club’s 130,000-square-foot facility, guests can hone their ground strokes on the tennis court, practice dunking on the basketball court, or learn to breathe underwater in the heated indoor and outdoor pools. Alternatively, exercisers can join in on group fitness classes such as yoga, water aerobics, and spinning, work out in one of two cardio rooms, or train under the watchful eye of an experienced personal trainer.
Crooked River Adventures’ river adventures are leisurely, no-experience-required pleasure cruises that challenge the muscles while massaging the mind’s shimmering-blue waterscape dreams. Glide past verdant foliage, through glittering reflections of aged bridges, and into great blue herons’ great blue neighborhoods while the sun warms your skin, the wind blows through your hair, and your hair blows through your hat. All the while, you’ll be learning the proper strokes that propel floatmobiles to ultrafun, and you’ll begin to gain functional understanding of the strength of a body in fluid, powerful motion. Crooked River Adventures operates in conjunction with Kent State University Recreational Services’ Adventure Center, which has received statewide recognition for its boating program and outstanding handshakes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
The Soccer Institute's program director, Mark Mallon, has trained in English and Scottish FA coaching schools and has coached Division I soccer teams at Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, and he draws on that experience when training youth and teen soccer players. The rest of the coaching team has formidable experience as well—many of the instructors work at collegiate programs throughout the country. This well-versed coaching staff boasts expertise in nearly every area of the sport, from the role of the keeper to the role of the handlers who wrap the keeper back up in the goal netting every night.
The Soccer Institute's programs, which include youth soccer clubs and camps for both beginner and elite players, are based in American soccer methodology. But at the same time, they draw from the principles of European soccer schools to give students a well-rounded education in on-field strategy, basic maneuvers, kicking techniques, and an array of other skills.
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.