Structured workouts are hard to come by at 2 a.m.—except at VYGOR Fitness. The 24-hour gym’s automated Fitness on Request consoles store up to 45 unique workout videos, which can lead athletes through guided workouts to help them meet their fitness goals into the wee hours of the morning. During the day, patrons can work with human fitness experts during group classes in Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and cardio pump, which fuses jogging with pumping well water. More intimate I Inspire sessions, led by certified personal trainers, follow a more flexible curriculum and stay capped at 10 participants to ensure individualized attention.
For solo workouts, gym-goers can use cardio equipment such as Star Trac treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, or StairMaster steppers—ideal for training for on-foot trips to the moon. Alternatively, patrons can build muscle on a comprehensive array of weightlifting machinery. To complement workouts, the studio’s workshops—on topics ranging from nutrition and weight loss to specialty training areas—bolster fitness IQs.
With nothing but their legs, a launch pad, and a little wind, paragliders achieve mankind's ancient dream of flight without the help of motors or fancypants pilots. A dedicated revolutionary against the tyranny of gravity, paragliding instructor Jon Potter invites one and all to join him atop the hills of Pittsburgh for a flying lesson that can be tailored for students of any experience level. Potter gladly hurls himself from virtually any flyable hill in and around the city. Beginners start by taking wing from bunny hills, and more advanced gliders tackle the more challenging courses.
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.
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.
Steel City Rowing Club imparts sweeping and sculling competence on youth and adult rowers with classes designed to gradually build up confidence and ability. Certified coaches lead land and water training sessions that familiarize participants with the equipment and techniques used in rowing and foster a reliance on teamwork, a pivotal component in mastering mid-river games of musical chairs. Indoor rowing sessions build endurance and stability with rowing-machine practice, weight and core training, and yoga. Rowers then apply newly acquired skills amid the scenic, undeveloped wetlands of the Allegheny River, with training in multipassenger rowing shells as well as kayaks, canoes, and inflatable manatees. Each session holds a maximum of 32 students, with at least one coach per 16 rowers.