As they sweep the ice, most gas-powered zambonis also give off harmful carbon monoxide, which lingers in the rink for hours afterwards. But Skylands Ice World’s resurfacers are different—they’re fueled by propane, which means that, with the help of special converters and frequent tune-ups, they emit much lower levels of carbon monoxide. And to make them even more eco- and skater-friendly, the zambonis warm up in a separate, ventilated room before hitting the ice, which also helps carbon-dioxide levels in the rink stay well below EPA-approved standards. It might seem odd to put so much thought into the environmental and health effects of ice upkeep, especially since the state of New Jersey doesn’t technically regulate the air quality of skating rinks, but Skylands Ice World and its staff considers it worthwhile. Because in the end, a devotion to Mother Earth and its inhabitants is just as important as a devotion to sport and spectacle, which is also why the facility has recently installed an energy-saving, low-emissivity ceiling as well as high-efficiency light fixtures.
Knowing that the air and their consciences are cleaner than a personal trainer’s bill of health, visiting skaters can go for a care-free spin around the ice during daily public-skating sessions. Visitors can also groove to toe-pick-tapping music, which blasts out of a newly installed sound system during the popular Friday night Ice Jam event. And when they need a break from the figure eights and figure zeros, skaters can hop over to the onsite eatery, which dispenses Tim Hortons coffee and baked goods.
A quartet of regulation-size NHL ice rinks live inside Ice House. There, attentive zambonies smooth things over for hockey players, figure skaters, and recreational skaters. Youngsters, high schoolers, and adults can each sign up for amateur hockey leagues, and anyone can learn to turn, stop, and avoid flying flower bouquets in U.S. Figure Skating Association-sanctioned programs. If they stick with it, students may be able to follow in the blade-steps of Olympic gold medalists Tara Lipinski, Oksana Baiul, and Sarah Hughes—each of whom used the Ice House as their primary training facility.
Throughout the year, the rink at Danbury Arena stirs with such events as lessons, hockey leagues, and weekly public skating sessions. Instructors also lead lessons starting with children as young as age three, including an adult program that caters to varying skill sets with five different levels of challenges, from two-foot glides and stops to forward crossovers. Every Friday night, the arena transforms into a disco party, complete with live DJ music and special lighting, and an oversized rhinestone jacket for the Zamboni.
As a state-of-the-art indoor pond, Floyd Hall Arena provides ice so smooth and true that even the Zamboni drivers can't help but purposefully get their tongues stuck to it. After strapping on their skates, all ages and skill levels can practice figural flow, hone their hockey stopping, and improve their foot-cursive penmanship. For the especially graceful, the facility also rents Olympic-quality walkers ($3, not included in this Groupon) that turn any avalanching ice princess into an upright frozen duchess. Since opening in 1998, the arena has hosted more than a dozen NHL teams and countless quantities of avid skaters young and old.
The cool blades of skates have cut grooves into the ice at Hommocks Park Ice Rink since 1975. Skaters flock to the indoor rink during public-skate times curving into figure-8s, flying through the air doing axels, and laying down to imitate the most popular hockey mascot, a friendly boulder. Aspiring skaters aged 4 and older brush up on skills during group lessons. Meanwhile, when skaters need time on less slick surfaces, they can refuel with snacks and treats at the Slap Shot Café, which brims with the aromas of pizzas, chicken wings, and nachos.
Relaxing and working out don't usually go hand-in-hand, but things aren't usual at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. As soon as visitors set foot in the Mind Body Studio, they're set at ease by a modern lounge area, which boasts sleek bamboo floors, exposed brick walls, and sprigs of verdant plants. Inside the workout space, classes such as yoga and the barre method emphasize the mind-body connection. The Nalini Method classes also push students toward inner harmony with a combination of Pilates, aerobics, barre work, and yoga, helping students de-stress while toning limbs and burning calories without ever tossing any cheesecakes into open flames.