Indoor activities can keep Pittsburghers moving through tough winter
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Many in Western Pennsylvania embrace cold-weather activities such as skiing and outdoor skating, but for those of us who prefer the warmth of the indoors, there are still plenty of ways to stay active through the frigid months without having to sign up for a gym membership.
From the long-standing Arsenal Lanes in Lawrenceville to the new center at Latitude 40 in Robinson, bowling centers offer an escape from the chill.
One of the most popular indoor participatory sports, it is built around leagues for all ages and even offers bumper lanes that prevent gutter balls for younger bowlers.
While representatives of the Texas-based U.S. Bowling Congress will argue that bowling has maintained its popularity, bowling centers have worked hard at attracting customers by offering “college nights” and presenting bands for entertainment.
Nonetheless, Mike Cannizzaro from the bowling league says records from the 2011-12 year say 71 million people bowled at least once that year in 5,047 centers across the nation. He also says bowling has kept its young audience with 5,000 high-school bowling programs that give spots to 50,000 student-bowlers.
— Bob Karlovits
Wintertime in Pittsburgh is the perfect time of year to work on your golf game — indoors. Get in some swings at Dave & Buster's at the Waterfront in Homestead, or under the dome at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island, at Corsi's Indoor Golf in Greensburg or at GolfTEC, an international company with franchise locations in Collier and Pine.
Some sites let golfers hit the virtual links, visiting courses such as Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Firestone.
GolfTEC (www.golftec.com) offers its members a chance to have their swings monitored frame by frame to help perfect their games. Simulators measure everything from ball speed to launch angle.
“It gives golfers a chance to play a round, even if it's done virtually,” says Joe Corsi, owner of Corsi's Indoor Golf (724-850-2400 or www.corsisgolf.com). “Even if the weather is bad, golfers still want to work on their swing, so they come here to do just that. It's also a great time to have their swings analyzed or to do some repair work on their golf clubs. We enjoy working with the golfers to help them improve.”
Jim Cichra, golf director of the RMU Island Sports Center (412-397-4480 or www.rmuislandsports.org), says while golfers are waiting to shoot from a tee box, they can practice sand shots or putts. There are 20 tee boxes on the upper deck and 22 on the bottom. A small bucket of balls is $5.50. There are membership options available.
At Dave & Buster's (412-462-1500 or www.daveandbusters.com), you can call to reserve a tee time on the virtual machines or stop in and sign up for one. The area is rented by the hour and ranges in price from $20 to $25.
“We have guys who come in just to practice their swing while other players come in and play several rounds,” says Paul Sachs, general manager of Dave & Buster's.
— JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Indoor climbing can help keep skills sharp for outside adventures or be part of fitness training, says Andrea Bureau from the Climbing Wall in Point Breeze.
But, she says, the site that's been around since 1992 also is a good place “to meet up and hang out” with people of similar interests.
With 15,000 square feet of climbing space, the Climbing Wall (412-247-7334 or www.theclimbing wall.net) offers classes and memberships and is the most-active rock-climbing site in the area. Right now, Bureau says, it has about 400 active members who can visit anytime they want and “a whole lot more” drop-in users.
For more casual climbing, another possibility is a visit to the REI store in the South Side (412-488-9410 or www.rei.com/stores/pittsburgh), where store staffers will help a climber up the wall in the corner of the store.
— Bob Karlovits
One of the newest places to burn off some energy is the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, which opened in May 2013 in Leetsdale Industrial Park.
Sky Zone offers five courts — including a dodgeball and basketball court and a Foam Zone, filled with foam blocks you can jump into — with a total of 34 9-foot by 9-foot jumping squares that can hold as much as 400 pounds. Only one jumper is allowed per square, though friends and family can get squares near or next to each other.
The trampoline park is open Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $10 to $20, depending on how long you want to jump.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park is at 740 Brickworks Drive, Leetsdale.
Details: 724-251-6100 or www.skyzone.com/leetsdale
— Sue Jones
A new exercise experience sandwiched somewhere between ice skating and skateboarding, carpet skating is easier to learn than either of those sports and it's done indoors.
It's not unlike sliding across the kitchen floor in your socks. But the thrills are increased by sliding down carpeted ramps and along rails with plastic “skates” attached your athletic shoes under black light.
The skate park is divided in sections based on skill level, and instructors offer introductory information to first-timers at all public sessions.
Right now, the Greensburg skate park is the only place you can do this. But a second Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park will open in mid-March in Ross. Admission is $10.
Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park is at 410 E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg.
Details: 724-219-3103 or www.funslidespark.com
— Alice T. Carter
There are dozens of indoor skating rinks in the area where you can glide and spin in relative comfort.
Public skate sessions allow you to indulge your Olympic figure-skating fantasies, do a little ice-dancing or simply burn calories with a graceful spin around the perimeter. More competitive types can join one of the adult pick-up hockey games offered at many rinks in the region.
Find a comprehensive list of skating rinks at www.rinktime.com.
— Alice T. Carter
Roller skating may bring back nostalgic memories of yesteryear recreation, but the sport still maintains a hard-core following of fans of all ages — enough to keep several rinks in the greater Pittsburgh region rolling.
Dan Kochman, general manager of Romp n' Roll skating rink in Shaler, sees a core clientele of skating enthusiasts year-round. But he definitely sees a spike in the winter, when people are looking for fun, warm, indoor fitness. In the average adult, roller skating burns about 600 calories per hour, and it has a low impact on your knees, he says. Skating also helps with the skater's sense of balance, kind of like yoga on wheels, Kochman says. Plus, skating is just plain fun and brings back childhood memories for many people, he says.
“It's something that you can do regardless of the weather,” Kochman says. “We always have music. It's a whole lot easier to skate and enjoy yourself to music. … You're not even realizing you're exercising. You have fun hanging out with somebody.”
Other roller skating rinks in the area include Neville Roller Drome on Neville Island, Eden Park Roller Rink in McKeesport, Valley Skate Center in Donora and Latrobe Skating Center in Latrobe.
— Kellie B. Gormly
Pingpong is more physical than most folks might think, local players say.
“You are going to get exercise like you never have before,” says Gary Egri, president of the South Park Table Tennis Club, one of two USA Table Tennis-affiliated clubs in the Pittsburgh area. “Not only does it involve hand and eye coordination, but movement to strike the ball and to get to the ball. You use all the muscles in your body. It's a great cardiovascular workout.”
Both the South Park club and the other in Oakland welcome visitors and new players of all skill levels.
The South Park Table Tennis Club, based in the park's Home Economics Building on Buffalo Drive, meets from 6:30 to 11 p.m Tuesdays for matches and Thursday evenings for informal practice. There's no charge to play the first three times. Membership dues are $40 a year.
The Pittsburgh/Oakland Table Tennis Club, based in the Central Catholic High School Gym, is open for play regularly from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays and at other fluctuating times throughout the week. Members are alerted to available times via email. The cost is $5 a day for newcomers with the first visit free. Annual dues are $100.
The local groups are seeking volunteers to help out at the National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships to be held from April 4 to 6 at the Club Sport and Health in Monroeville. This is the premiere college table-tennis event in North America, featuring more than 250 of the best college players from more than 40 colleges and universities.
— Rachel Weaver
There are plenty of people who ride their bikes all year long, winter included. Out of necessity, or sheer determination, they keep pedaling through the snow, the ice, the slush and the cold.
Many others just give their bikes a break for the winter.
Now there's another option — an indoor place to pedal full-tilt, over all kinds of unusual terrain. The smartly named Wheel Mill is an old warehouse/factory in Homewood catering to serious bicyclists, from BMX riders to mountain-bike enthusiasts. It's full of ramps, jumps and curvy, technical mountain-biking paths, re-created in reclaimed wood. There's even a foam pit, for those who want to practice their flips and tricks for X-Games without breaking bones.
Details: 412-362-3693 or www.thewheelmill.com
— Michael Machosky
With its neon-spattered battle rooms and 1980s-era technology, Laser Storm on McKnight Road doesn't look like it's aged a day since it opened in 1996.
It doesn't really need to, either. While paintball has stolen a bit of thunder from laser tag and its cousins, sometimes blasting away with lasers is preferable. At least they don't leave bruises. Laser Storm (412-364-3473 or www.laserstorm.org) also has arcade games, skee-ball, a climbing wall and enough other game-related stuff for a 12-year-old's birthday party or a college football squad's team-building exercise.
Other laser-tag locations include:
• X-treme Laser Storm, Robinson; 412-745-4545 or www.xtremelaserstorm.com
• Wildwood Highlands Family Fun Center Laser Xtreme, Hampton; 412-457-5517 or www.wildwoodpa.com
• LaZer Runner Laser Tag at Legacy Lanes, Whitehall; 412-653-2695 or www.legacylanes.us
• Laser Tag at Fun Fest Entertainment Center, Harmar; 412-828-1100 or www.funfestcenter.com
• SeaBase Family Fun Center, Greensburg; 724-838-8887 or seabasefun.com
— Michael Machosky
If baseball and softball are your passion, stop by the All-American Baseball Center (412-380-7000 or www.allamericanbaseballcenter.com) in Trafford and take some swings at one of the eight cages or on one of the company's two fields, including a full-size 90-foot regulation infield to play indoor games. Cage rentals are $45 an hour while the field charge is $180 per hour. The venue is open year round and also offers private lessons. Crossfit Integrated Fitness (412-835-4487 or if-fit.com) in Bethel Park has multiple batting cages, and the Greentree SportsPlex (412-922-1818 or www.gtsportsplex.com) in Green Tree offers lessons as well as batting cages. Prices start at $15 per half hour. There are also field rentals available.
— JoAnne Harrop
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