Rating the Suburbs 2014: Fit Bits
The stats: April 27, 5 p.m., 46 degrees, sunny The court: Best known for its outdoor theater performances, this Cleveland Heights park also cradles one full-size basketball court with solid white backboards. Residents need to flash a rec center ID card to access the fenced-in area. The competition: Fierce. From the regular high school and college crowd to the Sunday morning old timers, expect no mercy. "I've been coming here since eighth grade," says Shon Thomas, 22. "It's a great place to get a workout."
The stats: April 27, 2:30 p.m., 45 degrees, sunny The court: Nestled on the Lake Erie coastline, Lakewood Park has two half courts burrowed beside the skate park. Fresh rims on clear backboards and freshly painted lines make for a picture-perfect image. The competition: Sassy. Middle-school-age basketball players use good-natured bad-mouthing and take-it-to-the-hoop toughness to win. Ralph Fleming brings his grandson here to exercise after school. "I can drop him off and still get my walk in," he says. "It's very convenient."
North Royalton Memorial Park
The stats: May 4, 5 p.m., 59 degrees, cloudy The court: Floodlights tower over two side-by-side full courts, allowing for nighttime play. Although the blacktop has some cracks, the chain-link nets are in good shape. The competition: Friendly. High school kids filter in and out, playing more offense than defense. Abundant Life Community Church pastor Rocky Taylor runs basketball camps for kids here, too. "It's great to have that facility, because we do the camps for free and we don't have basketball courts in our church," he says.
Civic Commons SkatePark
The stats: May 2, 6 p.m., 56 degrees, cloudy The park: Set back from the road in a smattering of trees, Mentor's two-level park is adjacent to the city's pool, ice arena and high school. It is just as much a hangout as any of the recreational facilities around it. The vibe: Adventurous. One skater landed the same trick that three others biffed. "We're all friends," says skater Michael Bohonek, 19. "We've had a few barbecues here before."
Aurora Skate Park
The stats: May 2, 4 p.m., 54 degrees, windy The park: Part of Aurora's Kiwanis-Moore Park, it shares space with a playground and a baseball diamond. The vibe: Chill. It's a small park without a ton of features, so the vibe is less cutthroat than it is comradely. Twenty-year-old skater Brett Balog came back to the park after a 10-year hiatus. "I saw a guy throwing a skateboard away in a dumpster, and I was like, I need that board," he says.
Bay Village Skate and Bike Park
The stats: May 4, 4:15 p.m., 56 degrees, sunny The park: Across the street from Lake Erie, this is one of the only skate parks in Northeast Ohio with a bowl feature. The vibe: Diverse. The park was crowded by both amateur and admirable skaters, from kids on scooters to kneepad-sporting adults doing laps in the bowl. "It used to not be open on Sundays," says 21-year-old Jake MacDonald, "but I guess they just couldn't keep kids out."
Work It Out
The Gemini Center
The stats: May 1, 11:15 a.m., 55 degrees, breezy The center: Fairview Park's 6-year-old recreation center is home to a lively SilverSneakers program for seniors, Cleveland Clinic-run rehab center, locker and weight rooms, a competition pool and children's lagoon, and an indoor track. The vibe: Casual. The yoga room is packed for a senior class, but everyone just wants to be active and have fun. "The amenities here are unbelievable," says 65-year-old Jim Rieke. "There's almost nothing this center doesn't have."
The stats: May 1, 5:15 p.m., 54 degrees, dramatic clouds The center: Beyond the open-concept weightlifting area, there's a basketball court, racquetball courts, group fitness rooms and two swimming pools — one complete with a ceiling-high green tube slide. The vibe: Focused. The Cuyahoga Falls facility attracts people of all ages, but everyone seems intent on getting a workout. "It's really convenient," says Jeremy Glass, Cuyahoga Falls High School track coach. "I base our training around what we have here."
Wildcat Sport and Fitness
The stats: May 1, 6:45 p.m., 52 degrees, gray The center: This Mayfield Village spot shuts down from 2:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. weekdays so Mayfield High School athletes can train. Members get access to three basketball courts, a swimming pool, an indoor track and more. The vibe: Family-friendly. A children's basketball clinic takes up the center court. "There are so many neighbors here," says Mary Murphy. "It's tough, because you're gabbing away and it takes away from your workout!"
rating the suburbs
12:00 AM EST
May 16, 2014