Winter's icy grip is harshest in the water, yet the intrepid souls who sign up for the Cleveland Polar Plunge thumb their noses at Father Winter for a good cause and, of course, a party. Each pays for the privilege to dive into the frigid shallows of Lake Eerie, their money and that of the event's sponsors going to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Team Fox, the Parkinson's disease research organization founded by Michael J. Fox. After the event, each cold-weather diver warms up with a knit cap and happy-hour festivities with drinks and food at Liquid where Masters of Disasters will play a live set.
Designed in stages?just like the little ones they teach?the program at Little Aquanauts gets kids started early. Starting off in infancy, children first learn life-saving safety techniques, as simple as rolling on their backs and floating to breathe more easily or calling out to parents for help. Later on, they'll learn the more advanced mechanics of swimming and foundation-building exercises such as hoisting themselves out of the pool to make them feel confident in the water and assured they can quickly escape pool sharks.
Fairview Park Recreation Department at the Gemini Center hosts an impressive array of classes—20 each week. They take advantage of the brand new facility's amenities, holding spinning classes in dedicated cycling rooms or teaching aquatic skills in the aerobic studio. They also hold outdoor classes during summer months, taking advantage of the sunshine and green lawns. "It's great to see members push themselves and have fun while doing it," reports the Center's group-exercise coordinator.
Beyond fitness instruction, they also use the facility to host summer camps, athletic leagues, and families looking for a day at the pool. They even built a second pool, exclusively for leisure, with waterslides, a lazy river, and submerged beauty parlors.
The Five Seasons Family Sports Club houses tennis courts, a dining area, fitness facilities, swimming pools, and a full-service spa under one roof. Within air-conditioned indoor courts or on outdoor hard or clay courts, racquet slingers compete in friendly bouts to sharpen swings, refine backhands, and showcase grunting abilities. Members can also break a sweat in exercise areas speckled with modern cardio equipment and weights or cool off in an Olympic-sized pool with diving wells and wading areas. Before meeting others for a postgame beverage at the lively caf?, clients can wander to the spa for a relaxing massage or partake in a sports workshop to gain a firm grasp on game mechanics.
Michelle Alpern, an avid swimmer and Red Cross-certified lifeguard since high school, is the founder of the Kids and Infant Safety Swim (KISS) Swim Program. Tailoring lessons to each student?s needs, Michelle and staff lead sessions for infants, toddlers, kids, and adults, focusing on the swim-float-swim method in a fun, safe, and nurturing environment. She specializes in childhood education, and her training includes more than 175 hours of pool instruction, child psychology and physiology, and CPR and AED certifications.
Red Oak Camp has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a barn and boys' summer retreat in 1947. Today, the staff organize old-fashioned, weeklong outdoor adventures that help boys and girls—in age groups ranging from 7 to 14—develop cooperation and leadership skills and an appreciation for nature. At the original Red Barn boys’ day camp, counselors watch over campers as they fish and canoe in a pond, practice their aim on an archery range, test their coordination on a low-ropes course, and stockpile candy bars for the winter. At the equestrian center, girls learn the basics of horsemanship and barn management and frolic in their own playing fields and activities center. Older children may leave camp for backpacking trips, and even the younger visitors may embark on flora- and fauna-identification hikes or pitch tents and sleep under the stars.