Just two blocks from East Beach and down the way from Stearns Wharf, the crack of bats is a fitting addition to the soundtrack of the nearby crashing waves. Each day throughout the week, baseball and softball fans pop in at East Beach Batting Cages to get in a workout, perfect their swing, or shake off the rust from too much time between batting sessions. At the outdoor facility, seven baseball pitching machines wing balls at batters at 35–80 mph, and six softball pitching machines lob a choice of slow or fast pitches. After working up a hunger, patrons can indulge at Norton's Pastrami and Deli, located onsite, or take a stroll along the beach to see how the seals play their own version of baseball.
The batter casually taps the bottoms of his cleats with his bat, takes a warm-up swing, and steps into the batter’s box. He repeats this motion a couple more times, feeling the weight of the lumber in his hands. Knees slightly bent, the batter pulls the bat back and peers over his forward shoulder, eyes fixated on a small sphere as it rolls into the chamber of a pitching machine lying some 50 feet away. Suddenly, the machine launches the baseball from its metal clutches at a speed of up to 80 miles per hour, destined for the heart of the strike zone.
Such is the scene inside the batting cages at Camarillo Bat-R-Up, an indoor batting-practice facility. Ballplayers can choose from slow- and fast-pitch softball and baseball machines, which hurl strikes at 40, 60, or 80 miles per hour. Instructional sessions take place within the Pro Cage, where an ex-professional gives pointers on hip turns, waiting on strikes, and driving outside pitches to work in order to use the carpool lane.
James Deirmendjian had a decorated career as a brazilian jujitsu practitioner, winning martial-arts competitions and teaching submission grappling. He's parlayed that success into opening Fight Fit Training, where he helps clients get fit through boxing and kickboxing training, kettlebell workouts, and traditional lifting.
At So Cal Hitting Zone, former pro baseball players oversee a 7,000-square-foot training facility equipped with professional batting cages. Owner Will Skett and fellow coach Casey Snow—who played AA ball for the Toronto Blue Jays and at the AAA level for the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively—lead custom training programs for players of all ages, specializing in hitting, fielding, pitching, and strength and speed training. In the batting cages, Iron Mike pitching machines hurl fastballs, curveballs, and sliders, and the pro shop stocks professional equipment from brands such as Mizuno, Easton, and Rawlings.
No matter their athletic ability, kids aged 4–12 can get something out of Sports Champs' multiplatform day camps. That's because in addition to helping kids hone speed and strength in a number of sports––including basketball, field hockey, track, and volleyball––the CPR- and first-aid-certified counselors also encourage them to start thinking about sports-focused careers. Weekly guest speakers give fun and interactive lessons on broadcasting, management, nutrition, and physical therapy, to name a few.
All programs at Pinnacle Performance Institute spring from its foundational Youth Speed & Strength class, where middle-school-aged participants learn how to train for sports long-term, seeking to master correct training styles and avoid injuries later in life. High-school and college student-athletes build individual blueprints of their needs and goals in Athlete P.A.S.S., which not only measures their strength, flexibility, and biometrics, but also school performance. And AthleteFit classes grew out of a desire to also help adults, who can no longer get fit while playing tag, swinging on monkey bars, or lining up to go to recess. Tailored workouts target more mature bodies, mixing lifting, speed, agility, and other types of training to burn calories and tone muscles.