This article was originally published on the Cullman Times website on July 16, 2010.
By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
Too hot to play outside? No problem; just take it inside. Cullman has its share of things to do when you want to break a sweat without Mother Nature doing it for you. Summer is a particularly good time to find local activities that cater to those who want to stay active indoors—where the temperature isn’t soaring.
At Sports Fit Wellness Center in Vinemont, there’s more for members to do than just pump iron. In addition to an indoor pool and outdoor basketball court, the health club features four glass-walled racquetball courts enthusiasts say are some of the best playing venues to be found in North Alabama. Better still, they’re air conditioned.
“That’s why we have a lot of people, especially from Decatur and Hartselle, coming up here,” said Sports Fit regular Ryan Summerford. “It’s because we’ve got a nice court facility.”Summerford and his twin brother Ross will be among more than 30 participants from Cullman and surrounding areas taking part in a racquetball tournament this weekend at Sports Fit, an event that draws its share of local—as well as regional—talent.
Although Summerford is an accomplished competitor in the sport, having won his most recent tournament this past April in Lousiville, he said racquetball is a welcoming activity for newcomers and those who just want to stay in shape—or get that way.
“I like the workout I get from it—it makes you sweat a lot,” he said. “It gets your heart rate up. And anyone can do it—I’ll play with anybody.”
The tournament—which runs Saturday and Sunday—welcomes spectators in addition to members, so the curious can get a glimpse of the indoor action—and, hopes Sports Fit manager Becky Pollard—see if it’s something they’d like to try.
“If we have people who are interested in seeing what’s going on, they can come by to watch—it might draw some more interest, and it might even get people involved in racquetball,” said Pollard. “When you’re inside, you’re meeting new people and making new friends, and with racquetball, you’re still staying active. The tournament is something we want to start doing two or three times a year—we hope we can start a league.”
If burning up to 600 calories an hour on a racquetball court sounds a little too wilting for some, there’s another indoor venue just a short drive north of Sports Fit with entertainment enough to make you forget you’re exercising at all. And, if you’re in your 20s, 30s and beyond, it might tug at your soft spot for nostalgia, especially if you’ve ever waited patiently on the carpeted sidelines until you heard a DJ say, “Let’s Allll Skate!”
Sportsworld Skate Center, located on U.S. Highway 31 in Vinemont, opens its doors to the public every Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 4 p.m. all Summer long. That’s in addition to the times the rink opens to private parties for those who want to reserve the venue for birthdays or other events during the day.
Sportsworld co-owner Linda Sandlin said Thursday the Summer does see an increase in traffic, especially among younger children.
“We have daycares coming in, and then of course we’re open to the public, and we have our regulars…but our regulars are always here,” she laughed. “They range in age from probably around nine to fifteen.”
But, she added, the rink sees its share of adults who want to strut their well-preserved backwards skating skills honed in the days when “Jam on it” and “Atomic Dog” boomed from the sound system.
“Oh, yeah; we have a lot of those,” she joked. “They haven’t lost it. We have an old-school night about once every two or three nights. We just will have a ton of people coming in from all the other skate centers in the areas around here; from Albertville and Decatur, and they all have a great time.” The rink also hosts frequent (usually monthly) all-night lock-in events, with the next scheduled for July 24.If skating is too strenuous—or just not your speed—you can still get active indoors while taking the sweat level down another notch at Cullman Bowling Center, where manager Anthony Cockrell sees a direct relationship between the thermometer reading and the number of summertime guests.
“The hotter it is outside, the better it is here,” said Cockrell Thursday afternoon. “It’s a good sport in the winter, too. It’s really just a fun thing people can do all year round.”
The bowling center opens its doors every weekday at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. On Sundays, the opening time moves to 1 p.m.
In addition to the regular lineup of tournament play, casual bowlers, and wallflowers who just like to hang back and watch the action from the snack bar, the bowling center features glow bowling on Friday and Saturday nights, when the place goes dark and anything white jumps out under day-glo blacklighting.
“It’s a good place to go compared to a lot of other things you can’t do when it’s hot outside, or when it’s raining,” Cockrell emphasized. “No matter how hot or how cold, it’s always a good time to come bowling.”
In general, Pollard reminded, it’s always a good time to exercise, and with so many outdoor—and indoor—options to choose, there’s an activity out there for everyone.
“It’s very, very important for everybody to be active; to exercise,” she said. “It’s the key to everything—it lowers cholesterol, speeds metabolism, and lowers your stress level. It does so many good things. Being active just makes you better.”
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.