Best of the 'Burgh 2011: Sports and Recreation

From the best zumba studio to the best indoor pool, our editors pick the best in Pittsburgh sports and recreation.


 

Best place to 1-2-cha-cha-cha

Latin Rhythmz
If you haven’t heard of Zumba, you must be living under a rock—one thick enough to block out the Latin music. Latin Rhythmz is the region’s only studio exclusively devoted to this spicy fitness craze. Fans swear by Zumba’s potent combo of easy-but-toning choreography, nonstop cardio and addictive grooves—including one Latin Rhythmz class member who recently lost 138 pounds. Come for the workout, but stay for the dance party (or is it the other way around?). —Celanie Polanick

  5500 Steubenville Pike, Robinson Township; 412/498-5406, latinrhythmz.net

Best local wildlife-preservation effort

The Pennsylvania Bluebird Society
This eclectic group of nature lovers is dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the Eastern bluebird in Pennsylvania—especially protecting this delightful little azure-and-pink symbol of happiness from the hostile invasive species that steal its nests (and sometimes peck the birds to death). The society is headquartered in Mechanicsburg, but president Harry Schmeider lives in Butler, Pa. Schmeider, county coordinators or one of numerous volunteers will happily give advice on putting up a bluebird house, which looks like a tiny outhouse placed on a 4-foot pole, in your backyard so you can help the birds spread their natural, blue-egged spring optimism far and wide. —C.P.

PO Box 756, Mechanicsburg; thebsp.org


 

Most relaxing way to feed a village

Spiritworks Yoga Studio
There are a great number of places to get your yoga on, but only one will let you send the good vibes you get from your downward-facing-dog pose halfway around the world. Spiritworks Yoga is a nonprofit that’s operated by Patricia D. Brown and Maureen McMahon. All proceeds from the volunteer-run studio are sent to Arlene Brown, Patricia’s mother who lives in Rwanda. Arlene’s Hope Made Real organization is the main source of support for 50 Rwandan children, and it helps 300 more obtain an education. Why not meditate on the thought of those kids eating and learning on your dime? —Sean Collier

  103 Yost Blvd., Forest Hills; 412/475-9642, spiritworks.org
 

Best spooky bike trail

Ghost Town Trail
Rural Pennsylvania is full of old towns, abandoned buildings and creepy ruins. For ambitious cyclists and runners, the 36-mile Ghost Town Trail is like riding through a dozen spooky campfire stories at once. During the warmer months, the trail is a gravel path with scenic woods and countryside all around, showcasing the rich wilderness of Indiana County and Cambria counties. But on a misty autumn morning, the trail may chill your bones as it cuts through forgotten work camps and past old mines and railroads. Delve into the history of this eerie region with a copy of the Ghost Town Trail Guidebook. Seeing the old black-and-white photographs of deceased miners will get you in the “spirit” of it. —Robert Isenberg

Ebensburg, Indiana and Cambria counties; indianacountyparks.org
 

Most dignified indoor pool

Carnegie Library of Homestead
When Andrew Carnegie built his public library in Homestead, he spared no expense. Set on a grassy hill, the building is a veritable castle that contains a track, a basketball court and a voluminous music hall. But one of the library’s most beautiful features is a subterranean pool, whose decorated walls and marble pillars are modeled on Roman baths. What’s remarkable is that this pool, built more than a century ago, still hosts swim programs and aqua-based fitness classes. —R.I.

  510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall; 412/462-3444, homesteadlibrary.org


 

Best hike location that looks like it’s out of a movie

Breakneck Falls at McConnells Mill State Park
The waterfall is stunning to behold, but find it at your own risk: No ravine is more aptly named than Breakneck Falls, the deadly jewel in the center of McConnells Mill State Park. The park’s 2,546 acres are all lovely, dark and deep, but adventurers will delight in Breakneck’s treacherous cliffs, angular boulders and freshwater pools littered with dead tree trunks. Descending the roots and rocks is dangerous, but if you can swallow your fear of heights and take it slow, the sight at the bottom will leave you breathless: Breakneck Falls pours crystal-clear water over a cavernous mouth, and on a clear day, sunlight trickles through the evergreens like threads of gold—as mythic as a landscape of Middle Earth. It has to be seen. —R.I.

  2697 McConnells Mill Road, Portersville, Lawrence County; 724/368-8091, dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/mcconnellsmill.aspx


More of Best of the 'Burgh:


Pool photo courtesy of the Carnegie Library of Homestead; Bird photo courtesy of The Pennsylvania Bluebird Society.

Hot Reads

Top 10

Top 10

Here are the 10 best things to do in Pittsburgh this November.
Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

The 412

CMU’s Newest Campus-Life Venture Is Decidedly Low Tech

CMU’s Newest Campus-Life Venture Is Decidedly Low Tech

Check your laptop (and your textbook) at the door and stop by the Mindfulness Room for a little zen.
Your Guide to Putting Together a Costume in Less Than 24 Hours

Your Guide to Putting Together a Costume in Less Than 24 Hours

Follow these steps to assemble your best Halloween getup yet.
Could ‘Green Light-Go’ Eliminate the Pittsburgh Left?

Could ‘Green Light-Go’ Eliminate the Pittsburgh Left?

The state-sponsored program looks to add $75 million in traffic-signal upgrades throughout the city.
Google Dedicates Today’s Doodle to Jonas Salk

Google Dedicates Today’s Doodle to Jonas Salk

See a tribute to the late scientist each time you go to look up something today.

Hot Reads

Top 10

Top 10

Here are the 10 best things to do in Pittsburgh this November.
Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.