CLEVELAND, Ohio – Some people have no idea. Others have known it forever. When it comes to outdoor sports and fitness, Northeast Ohio is a great place to live.
Between our many geographic blessings and a wide variety of sports and fitness organizations, here on Lake Erie we have more options than most to get or stay active. Hiking, running, volleyball, yoga, water sports. You name it, we have it.
This of course also means that this summer we will have fewer excuses to sit inside, not go outside and do something to improve our body, mind or spirit.
Below are some of the many options. If the only thing standing between you and an active summer is awareness of what to do, consider that obstacle removed.
Northeast Ohio may not have mountains, but it’s a hiker’s paradise. The Cleveland Metroparks (clevelandmetroparks.com) and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (nps.gov/cuva) provide easy access to a plethora of trails at all levels, including the state’s Crown Jewels, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, and Buckeye Trails. And while it’s relatively easy to do it on your own, it isn’t necessary. The Cleveland Walking Club (clevelandhikingclub.com) offers daily guided walks throughout the region.
Just because we don’t have legendary routes doesn’t mean this isn’t a good place to go climbing. Northeast Ohio is home to several indoor climbing gyms: Shaker Rocks (shakerrocksclimbing.com), Kendall Cliffs (kendallcliffs.com), Nosotros (gonosotros.com), Climb Cleveland (climb-cleveland), and the Rock Mill (rockmillclimbing.com). Together they have you covered for both bouldering and top rope climbing. Many also offer private and group classes, as well as general fitness classes. There is also a legal outdoor climbing area at Whipp’s Ledges on the Cleveland Metroparks’ Hinkley Reservation.
TO GO BIKING
The northeast of Ohio was already something of a paradise for bikers with the metroparks, the Summit County Trail system (summitmetroparks.org) and plenty of hilly farmland. But it’s even better now with the recent completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which allows one to cycle from Tuscarawas County to Lake Erie. You don’t have to drive alone either. Ask your local bike shop for help connecting to local cycling groups, charity rides, and tours. If you’re feeling daring, rent a bike and experience the thrill of riding a track at the Cleveland Velodrome (clevelandvelodrome.org). If you’re not the road or track type, contact the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (camba.us) for information on the area’s many off-roading options.
When it comes to losing pounds and getting healthy, there are few activities that beat running. Also in its favor: it is free and safe during a pandemic and does not require any specialist knowledge. If you are new to running, invest in a good pair of shoes from a running specialty store and start slowly. Most injuries result from going too far too quickly. If you’re interested in going faster, throw some intervals on a lane. If road or paved trails aren’t to your liking, consider forest trails. If you’re already a runner, sign up for a 3 mile or longer race that will be held by the Cleveland Marathon this October (clevelandmarathon.com), the Cleveland West Road Runners Club (clewestrunningclub.com), or Hermes Sports (hermescleveland) is presented. com). Do you feel particularly adventurous? Try the Tri Cle Rock Roll Run Triathlon (rockrollrun.com).
Sun. Sand. Exercise. Fun. Beach volleyball has everything you could want in a summer activity. Plus, it’s plentiful. There are the popular leagues on Whiskey Island, organized by Cleveland Plays (clevelandplays.com), but also leagues at Lakeview Beach in Lorain (lakeviewvb.net) and Mulberry’s in The Flats (mulberryscleveland.com) and NEO Sports Plant (indoors)) in Euclid (neosportsplant.com). Also, don’t worry about your skill level or your imperfect beach body. It’s not the Olympics.
The options for indoor yoga in Northeast Ohio are virtually limitless. However, now is the time to take it outside, and there are many options. To name a few, check out Inner Bliss Yoga for outdoor classes with music in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (innerblissyogastudio.com). The Tremont Athletic Club (tremontathletic.com) holds courses on its roof. And in Cleveland’s Public Square, Browns Fit offers free classes that combine yoga and drumming exercises once a month (thisiscleveland.com).
Don’t let boaters and jet skiers have all the fun. You’ll never reach their speeds on a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard, but you’ll be the one who moves great. Aside from the many options on Lake Erie Islands, check out Great Lakes Watersports (glwatersports), 41 North (kayak41north.com), Mentor Lagoon Marina (cityofmentor.com), and Hinckley Lake in the Cleveland Metroparks (clevelandmetroparks.com) good places to rent and use equipment.
Pleasant river experiences can also be made with Burning River or Cuyahoga Valley Adventures (paddletheriver.com) and Chagrin River Kayak & Paddleboard (phone number 440-477-0864). For a team atmosphere and tougher training, consider the Cleveland Dragon Boat Association (cledba.com) or a Western Reserve Rowing Association league (westernreserverowing.com).
HIGH ROPE COURSE
If you are afraid of heights, read no further. However, if you are looking for fun and challenge, read on. The high ropes course at Go Ape in Strongsville (goape.com) takes you deep into the trees and ends at a height of 15 meters. With climbing gear and firmly attached to a safety line, you will spend one to three hours overcoming air obstacles that require all nerves, balance and skill. Cool off with a gentle zip line down and a round of ax throwing.
Regular frisbee throwing ranks low on the exercise and thrill scale. Ultimate Frisbee is a completely different animal. Similar to soccer but based on throwing instead of kicking, Ultimate is a team sport that requires a lot of running, strategy, and agility as the players slide a disc across a field trying to score goals. Join a team and join a league or tournament through the Cleveland Disc Association (clevelandultimate.com).