Best of the 'Burgh 2012

Our editors pick the best of the best in Pittsburgh.

(page 3 of 5)

Best Place to Play Disc Golf:
Deer Lakes

Disc golf is a free activity that’s easy to learn and takes place in a public park. Everybody likes throwing Frisbees. Everybody appreciates the basic idea of golf. So what’s not to love about disc golf? Players shoot for a wire basket as opposed to holes in the ground. But for fans, not every disc-golf course is created equal. Most local undergrads learn to play in Schenley Park, which is a grand place to start — but when they want something more challenging, they journey to Deer Lakes, where the woods are deep, the drives are long and one 18-hole game can take two hours. Steep hills and babbling brooks await the intrepid disc golfer, plus the occasional sightings of groundhogs. And it’s remote: Located 30 minutes from Pittsburgh, players may not run into another soul. — R.I.

1090 Bailey Road, Tarentum; 724/265-3520,

Best Place to Soar to New Heights:
JUKARI Fit to Fly Classes at FullBody Fitness Club

The gym can get a little tedious, especially with all that most workouts entail. If you ever find yourself mired in the workout doldrums, try FullBody Fitness Club’s JUKARI Fit to Fly classes. Developed in partnership with Reebok and Cirque Du Soleil, classes are designed to simulate the sensation of flight. Participants are temporarily suspended from the ceiling using a trapeze-like contraption. According to research, this activity benefits coordination, balance and core muscle strength. It's also the closest most of us will get to joining the circus. — N.L.

4070 Brownsville Road, Brentwood, Brentwood Towne Square; 412/692-1600,

Best Trend in Marketing:
Local Athlete Food Products

Have I ever thought about Pascal Dupuis while reaching for the mustard? Nope. But would I be more pumped about adding a little kick to my BLT if I felt like the condiment had his endorsement? Oh, yeah. See, some of our beloved hometown sports stars have been recently popping up in the grocery aisles. You can dip your nachos in Brett Keisel Salsa, pour milk on your morning bowl of Fleury Flakes or crack open a bottle of Bleier’s Brew (brewed and bottled at Penn Brewery). And, yes — you can now top your favorite sandwich with Dupuis Dijon. It’s the work of local sports marketing firm Koeberle & Associates, who know that our love for everything Steelers and Penguins extends beyond the living room and well into the kitchen. — S.C.

Best (and Most Inventive) Local Race:
Pittsburgh Triathlon & Adventure Race

We’ve seen a rash of unusual races lately — from The Ruckus Run to the Run For Your Life zombie race. They’re all fun, madcap and challenging, but none of them were invented here. The most inventive local contest is the Pittsburgh Triathlon & Adventure Race. A miniature version of the Pittsburgh Triathlon, the Adventure Race cuts the cruelty in half: Athletes bike 20 kilometers (instead of 40) and run 5 kilometers (instead of 10). The race also substitutes kayaking for swimming, since kayaks have become über-popular (and frankly, some of us would rather paddle than swim). Hosted by Friends of the Riverfront, the Adventure Race (which will be held July 28 and 29) is a showcase of our cityscape, put together by the people who know it best.
— R.I.

Best Place to Rebuild a Bicycle from Scratch:
Free Ride

Ineed a new bike,” people say. “I need to get back into shape.” The thing is, most people already have bikes — rusty, old Schwinns that take up precious garage space. Need a tune-up? Free Ride exists to reuse and recycle old parts. You’ll find stockpiles of seats, chains, gears and wheels. Under the guidance of Free Ride’s expert mechanics, you’ll quickly learn how to repair your old model. And after a little tweaking, you might try the ultimate Free Ride challenge: build an entire bike from spare parts. You may not know what a “derailleur” is, but after an afternoon in the shop, you’ll quickly catch on. Just be gracious and prepare to pay for the parts. — R.I.

Construction Junction, 214 N. Lexington St.; 412/254-3774,

Best Bargain in Sports Nosebleed Seats:
Behind Home Plate at PNC Park

Here in Pittsburgh, we’re fortunate enough to have a ballpark like PNC Park — somewhere to catch a game, gab with friends and eat some fabulous fare (try the chicken nachos). But the best part about major-league baseball season is that Pittsburghers can attend games at bargain basement prices. At PNC Park, grandstand seats behind home plate go for a mere $16-$18 (less for kids under 12); move left or right a few sections, and prices drop as low as $10. As a result, Pirates fans get tickets, snacks, and even a frosty beverage or two for less than the price of entry at other major league venues. A spectacular view of the city skyline rounds out the value-for-money proposition. — N.L.

115 Federal St., North Shore; 412/323-5000,

Best Boot Camp for Aspiring Jillian Michaels Types:
Panthro Fitness

When he was a kid, Reggie Dulaney wanted to have a physique like one of his favorite superheroes, Panthro from the cartoon series “ThunderCats.” Fast-forward into adulthood, and Reggie has achieved the physique for himself, and he’s helped a growing legion of loyal clients do the same at his Export-based Panthro Fitness. Dulaney and his staff help men and women by providing a balanced approach of “spirit, mind and body,” including nutritional counseling and meal planning. In addition to private, semi-private and group training, Panthro Fitness offers a popular (and intense) boot camp for women; gearing classes toward the dedicated, Dulaney mixes things up at each session. — J.W.

4491 School Road South, Export; 412/951-2906,

Best Beach Sport in the 'Burgh:
Pittsburgh Sand Soccer

Love the summery joy of beach volleyball but prefer working with your feet instead of jumping for a spike? Pittsburgh Sand Soccer is calling your name. The first organized beach soccer group in western Pennsylvania has courts at the Iceoplex at Southpointe and Blueberry Hill Park — and applications are being accepted for an eight-game late-summer session. Got a team? Lead them to sandy glory! Want to make friends? Register as an individual, and you’ll be placed on a squad. All age groups and experience levels are welcome, so you don’t need to be a Premier League addict to compete — in fact, you don’t even need to know what the Premier League is. Limber up and find those shin guards! — S.C.

Best Way to Get Fit Virtually Anyplace:
Cycling Fusion

Spinning classes are great — but only if you can make it to one. And when winter descends, the Steel City is no place for two-wheeled aerobics. So what’s a busy ’Burgher to do, when a tight schedule and endless sleet keep you indoors? Just subscribe to Cycle Fusion, bicycling for the Information Age. The actual exercise studio, based in Oakmont, occasionally offers classes on-site — but owner Gene Nacey has produced video DVDs around the world, starring some of the best bikers on the circuit. Budding cyclists can access them anywhere there’s Wi-Fi and learn techniques for breathing, pacing and climbing (not to mention stretching and dietary regimens). All you need is a bike of some sort. Nobody’s around to watch you sweat, and you get the finest instructors imaginable. The only thing missing: locker-room gossip.— R.I.

Best Place for a Timeout:
New Multiuse Facility (aka Highmark Stadium) for Riverhounds and Passion

After playing their home matches at Chartiers Valley High School Stadium for the past four years, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds finally have a place to kick up their feet and call home. Construction of Highmark Stadium, a new 3,500-seat stadium for Pittsburgh’s professional soccer team, is expected to finish in the fall or winter.  The primary users will be the ’Hounds, plus the Riverhounds Academy, the club’s youth development system of more than 650 players. But the Riverhounds won’t mind if guests get the artificial carpet dirty: The Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team, colleges, high schools and youth leagues will also use the stadium.  Situated on part of Trib Total Media Amphitheatre’s former site (along the Mon between the Fort Pitt Bridge and Sheraton Station Square), the new $10.2 million facility will revert to its roots and occasionally host concerts. — M.S.

Station Square Drive, Station Square;

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