Steve and Lisa Cooper haven't just vowed to stick together through sickness and health. The recipients of 2010's Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers award have made that pledge to their land, practicing sustainable, eco-friendly farming that yields Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze's wealth of produce. Through their community-supported agriculture program, the Coopers' pair members with weekly baskets of veggies, fruits, and meats such as free-range chicken, hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus-grade beef, and pasture-fed goat and Berkshire pork. Their farm store stocks the same locally produced goods alongside preserves, local honeys, dressings, and cured meats.
Tours of the family-owned farm give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the Coopers’ methods, along with wagon rides that wend through the property and goat and chicken walks that introduce visitors to the livestock. Elsewhere on their grounds, a 10-acre corn maze stymies attempts to navigate its labyrinthine twists, a pumpkin patch overflows with gourds ripe for picking, and horse swings let youngsters mimic galloping on small steeds without having to shrink a real horse in the dryer.
At Gymalaya, trainers introduce kids ages 18 months to 10 years to the fun and challenging elements of gymnastics. Two studios maintain kid-friendly workout zones marked by brightly coloured walls and equipment scaled down to accommodate tiny hands, huge imaginations, and average acrophobia. The gym's noncompetitive environment emphasizes fun; although more advanced classes teach difficult skills such as back handsprings and round-offs, all teachers maintain a focus on building strength and confidence.
The instructors at High Speed Hockey mould skilled hockey players through focused drills that aim to help them improve their skating, puck handling, and goaltending. The centre’s centrepiece is the Woodway Blade skating treadmill, a piece of equipment that, just like a running treadmill, can be adjusted for speed and incline to help skaters develop an efficient and explosive skating stride. While players glide on the ice-like belt, a video monitoring system provides feedback to help them identify the inefficiencies in their mechanics and works one-on-one with skaters to correct their stride.
Since outright speed is of little value if the player can’t score, instructors also lead shooting sessions to impart proper grip, release, and follow-through techniques. Meanwhile, net minders can practice their own unique set of skills during goalie training, which helps build net awareness, puck-tracking abilities, and the mental toughness necessary to face the most challenging shooter.
Kids may arrive at Panda Party Inc. in their parents? cars, but once inside, their transportation options include racecars, pandas, horses, giraffes, and a giant spiral slide. The last is connected to a two-story play structure riddled with tunnels and portholes. As kids zip across the padded surfaces of the indoor play space, they can pause for a little royal intrigue in a pint-sized castle or build their own castles from big, soft blocks and other geometric shapes.
In addition to open play sessions, Panda Party Inc.'s friendly staff host birthday parties and teach ZumbAtomic classes?a kid version of the popular Zumba dance-fitness classes, which incorporate Latin and international tunes. All the while, adults can keep an eye on their tots and discuss the latest Sesame Street developments with other parents between sips of cappuccino and vanilla chai lattes in the cafe.
Machi Training Center caters to badminton-lovers who prefer to finish Thanksgiving dinner with a rally or give friends a flurry of jump-smashed shuttlecocks for Christmas. That's because the space stays open 365 days a year. Seven full-sized indoor courts give athletes ample space to get a feel for the sport or refine a sliced dropshot until it causes their own shadow to leap in the wrong direction. The private club employs three experienced coaches who lead lessons for students of virtually any age or ability level. They introduce beginners to the fundamentals when they're not teaching seasoned players how to limbo beneath the net. Machi Training Center allows members and guests to reserve a court for private practice, but they can also drop in at any time to play a quick match against a new opponent.
The ProBatter Pitching Simulator?one of the crown jewels of Summer365 Indoor Sports Centre?can shoot at speeds of up to 100 m.p.h., but its functions extend way beyond those of the typical pitching machine. It simulates the nuances of real-life pitching scenarios, with 10 different pitch styles, and the capacity to imitate right-handed and left-handed pitchers, as well as pitchers that spit the ball out of their mouth.
The cutting-edge simulator is just one of the amenities at the sports complex, designed to allow athletes who play summer sports to hone their skills year-round. The vast facility also houses thousands of square feet of turf for baseball fielding practice, soccer fields made from FIFA-rated turf, and multi-purpose fields useable for football, rugby, and more.