Michael Donofrio, the founder and lead guide of Vertical World Adventures, maneuvers his limbs up vertical surfaces of all shapes and sizes. Since 1996, he has guided thousands of people on ice, rock, and mountaineering trips to destinations as close as Crow Hill in Leominster State Forest and as remote as the far-flung mountains of the American West. No matter the theme or location of the exhibition, Michael and his team of seasoned guides ensures the safety of all participants with certifications in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.
In addition to plotting trips and staying safe, guides also make sure that their charges have the skills to surmount even the craggiest cliffs through a full slate of climbing classes. Scaled for all experience levels, classes focus on overcoming challenges and improving communication skills. Popular courses include Basic Mountaineering, Learn to Ice Climb Locally, and Self-Rescue Skills, which imparts techniques for escaping the belay and using prusiks to ascend the rope.
When slender tree trunks don't offer enough protection, paintballers dive behind barrels, inch along behind rough-hewn wooden barricades, or crouch behind a dense pile of sticks. These are the barriers that ALLSTARR Paintball's playing field offers paintball warriors as they battle for supremacy. As soon as they don the necessary protective gear and grab a paintball marker, competitors can get out on the field and start splatting the field—and their opponents—with color.
Schartner Farms has a history that stretches even longer than its annual corn maze. After immigrating to the United States in 1902, the Schartner family settled in Bolton and opened a farm. For the next century, multiple generations of the family milked cows and filled the soil with seeds to grow fruits, vegetables, and cheeseburgers. The farm became something of a local landmark, and in 2006, the town of Bolton and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated it an Agricultural Preservation Restriction Farm.
Today, the fourth generation of Schartners runs the farm. Aside from the signature corn maze, they invite visitors to pick apples, ride ponies, and relax on hayrides, which wind past the property's forests, fields, and ponds.
North Ridge Mountain Guides founder Jamie Leahy first fell in love with scaling peaks while tackling the heights of Mount Washington. The Professional Climbing Instructors' Association–certified guru has since defied gravity on inclines of ice and rock around the United States and in Ecuador, summiting peaks of more than 19,000 feet to touch the sky and harvest his crops of clouds by following a simple philosophy: climb hard, climb safe. This mantra guides his approach to teaching the ins and outs of belaying and rappelling and steers the expeditions he leads up the less-traveled routes of Mount Monadnock. He also shares the art of ice climbing with pupils during introductory courses that delve into subjects such as crampon placement, swinging an ice axe, and how to read the ice, which often obscures its messages in Wingdings fonts.
To help women achieve their fitness goals, the certified personal trainers at Get in Shape for Women focus on four areas: weight training, cardio training, nutrition, and accountability. Each of their small-group sessions are tailored to each exerciser. The trainers modify exercises to suit up to four ladies' fitness levels, beginning by calibrating 30 minutes of strength-training drills—such as free weights, lunges, and squats—to each student's abilities. Then, they do 25 minutes of cardio—the trainers might start beginners with a walk on the treadmill or light elliptical training, and challenge more advanced exercisers to high-intensity interval-training sessions for increased results.
The trainers supplement the group workouts with nutritional planning centered around the concept of eating six small, balanced meals six days a week. They set aside the seventh day for a bit of indulgence, be it eating a favorite sweet or lusting openly after bacon. To track ladies' progress toward reaching their goals, the trainers measure their weight and body-fat percentage every two weeks.
Certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, the staff of climbing instructors at Boston Rock Gym teach torsos how to ascend altitudes with indoor-, outdoor-, and youth-climbing activities. The savvy instructors lead the way around the facility’s more than 40 ropes, which set the stage for both group and private indoor lessons, as well as open climbing sessions in which self-guided climbers reach for neon-colored handgrips while being supported by auto-belay devices. Outdoors, students learn to navigate nature’s authentic slabs during lessons and clinics that start with the basics and graduate up to advanced ice-climb maneuvers. Additionally, the facility’s youth programs cater to smaller grips and aim to boost self-confidence while preparing children for the physical-fitness portion of the SAT.
Divided between two locations in Manchester and Nashua, Vertical Dreams' 15,000 square feet of simulated mountainside are packed with obstacles and tough sections to challenge climbers of all skill levels. At the Manchester gym, gutted elevator shafts lined with hand grips extend four stories upward, creating 70-foot vertical surfaces. The Nashua location boasts 10,000 square feet of wall space, with textured surfaces that respond realistically to climber's hands and feet and fill their nostrils with simulated rock smells.
Vertical Dreams' staff of veteran climbers teaches students one-on-one or in groups. In beginner lesson packages, instructors show aspiring climbers the figurative and literal ropes involved in belaying, climbing, and knot tying, and the teachers in advanced top-roping and sport-climbing classes push their students' abilities to climb solo or in a lead position.