Halifax is often called the basketball capital of Canada and Haligonians sure love their hoops. Whether you're young or old, there are lots of options for where to play ball in the city.
The city recreation department offers co-ed basketball nights at the Chocolate Lake Centre (14 Purcell's Cove, 490-4607) and women's basketball at the Citadel High Community Centre (1955 Trollope, 490-3895). The South Park YMCA (1565 South Park, 423-9622) has a Friday night drop-in session for people 16 and over.
The Basketball Nova Scotia website (basketball.ns.ca) is the source for online information about basketball in the province and posts information and contacts for leagues.
For close to 40 years, Noon Hoops has featured the most original mix of players and rules on the local scene. Weekdays at Dalplex (6260 South, 494-3372), students, business people and retired profs alike gather to play starting at 11:30am. Even provincial New Democratic Party leader Darrell Dexter is known to play.
"What's cool is you have 70-year-olds that play and 20-year-olds that play," says Andy Leiper. He's been playing at Noon Hoops for eight years. "It's competitive, but not too competitive. It's a good break in the middle of the day."
Teams of four are formed in order of arrival and teams play half-court games on the two courts. Games go to 11 (by ones) and when one game ends, every game ends. Teams who win head up a court and teams that lose go down a court. Throw in other rules such as having to clear the ball "foul-line extended" and you've got the best hoops spot in the city.
Given the frequent mild stretches through the winter, outdoor ball is a possibility. Local expert Graham North says the court outside Citadel High features the best rims, meshes and caging in the city, but the biggest setback is "a deadly harbour gust that would make Michael Jordan call Halifax the windy city." ---Richard WoodburyBOWLING
It's possible that the closest some people have been to an alley is watching Ernie's floppy comb-over in Kingpin or Jesus' purple pants in The Big Lebowski. Don't let Bill Murray or John Turturro put you off one of the easiest to learn and most fun pastimes out there. Be prepared to do a little stretching of arms, legs, shoulders and glutes in advance, because bowling injuries are kind of embarrassing.
You can try the licensed Fairlanes Bowling (Halifax Shopping Centre, 455-5446) with its 34 lanes. It offers the only non-military facility in town for five-pin bowling, if the bigger balls and the set of 10 pins are too intimidating. There's also cosmic bowling, if you prefer bowling to be more of a nightclub experience, with glowing lights and music.
Bayers Road Bowlerama (Bayers Road Shopping Centre, 455-1519) offers 24 lanes of fun. There are leagues to join and tournaments and Bowlerama also has a South Centre location, with 20 lanes (16 Dentith Road, 479-2695) and 18 lanes at Woodside (31 Atlantic Street, Dartmouth, 466-4405).
There's also the Bedford Sackville Super Bowl (300 Sackville Drive, 864-6400), with 20 lanes and pool tables too, and 20 more at Beazley Bowling Lanes (613 Main Street, Dartmouth). If you have a group and want to reserve the whole place to yourselves, try the friendly armed forces: six spit-polished five-pin bowling lanes at Stadacona (721-8420) on Gottingen and eight at Shearwater (720-1075) in Dartmouth.
Wherever you bowl, inquire about all-you-can-bowl specials during weekdays and maximize your lane time. ---Carsten KnoxCIRCUS LESSONS
If you want to be part of the circus, but without the bearded lady and freaky clowns, check out Atlantic Cirque (30 Oland Court, Dartmouth, 457-2227)---it's the only place in Atlantic Canada where you can learn the ins and outs of circus performance.
Founder and cirque expert Anaïs Guimond and her team of professionals have been teaching their craft in HRM since 2002. While Atlantic Cirque offers camps and programs for children, there's plenty of room for the big kids, too. Adult classes (for 18+) are 90 minutes long and run on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. Cirque training is good for improving strength and flexibility and isn't just a sport, but an art form.
First, you'll be introduced to the many different avenues of circus performance: You'll have the chance to dabble in silks, trapeze, ropes, contortion, trampoline, acrobatics and stilts. Near the end of the course, students are given the opportunity to focus more on their preferred techniques.
Not sure you're circus material? You don't need to have any experience to join this class. Atlantic Cirque also offers private and semi-private lessons if you want extra attention, or can't slot weekly classes into your schedule. They're on demand and charge an hourly rate. Atlantic Cirque can also play host for corporate parties and special events.
If you're fit for the big top, or want to learn more, feast your eyes on atlanticcirque.com.
If Men With Brooms is the extent of your curling knowledge, don't worry. Jeremiah Anderson, executive director of the Nova Scotia Curling Association, says curling's the type of game that doesn't take a lot of skill to enjoy. Also: winners of a game buy the losers a drink!
The season runs from October to March and a casual player can rent sheets of ice with equipment. All clubs offer one-night-a-week options.
Halifax Curling Club (948 South Bland, 423-7857) is the oldest active club in Canada and rents sheets for $60/hour. A season of unlimited curling costs $399 for newbies and $549 for the experienced. It's about half price to join after Christmas.
Dartmouth Curling Club (35 Canal Street, 466-2770) has a full membership that drops to $330 after Christmas. Renting will cost $104 for two hours.
Mayflower Curling Club (3000 Monaghan, 454-0085) drops full memberships to $320 in January, or you can get two hours on a sheet for $96.
CFB Halifax Curling Club (Building 68 Windsor Park, 455-1444) rents the cheapest sheets of ice in the city at $90 for two hours, equipment included. Their full membership is also cheapest, at $410 for the season.
Lakeshore Curling Club (406 Glendale Drive, Lower Sackville, 869-2875) is the newest addition to the rinks. Full membership is $450 (tax not included). Memberships are also pro-rated.
The first place anyone looking to learn a few new steps should go is dancens.ca, where you can search for lessons and classes by style, teacher or school.
Belinda of Belindance (453-2888) once had a space at the West End Mall, but now operates out of the Ready to Rhumba dance studio (225 Herring Cove Road, 444-3129) that also offers ballroom, latin dancing, salsa fit and pole dancing, among other ways to shake your booty. Belinda suggests beginners to belly dancing try the 11am Saturday class, which is just for women, but there's also the unisex belly fit, which makes use of the moves of belly dancing for aerobic effect.
Belly dancing is also offered at Halifax Dance (1505 Barrington, 422-2006), along with ballet, hip-hop, jazz, tap, modern dance and a series of dancing-for-fitness options, with pilates as well. A slew of different styles are offered at the Maritime Conservatory (6199 Chebucto, 423-6995) including ballet (regular and pre-professional), Cecchetti classical ballet and dance for seniors, if you happen to be one. The Maritime Dance Academy (117 Kearney Lake, 443-3144, and at Sunnyside Mall, Bedford, 835-5776) has hip-hop and ballet for adults and Michel Dubé brings the ballroom, salsa and swing instruction at Dancing With Michel & Company. Call Bernadette (422-1040) to register for classes.
If you get your inspiration from sunny Spain, El Viento Flamenco School of Dance has a winter class that started last week---and going into April---at the King's College gymnasium. Call Megan (422-8978) for availability. Or try the Maria Osende Flamenco School (2540 Agricola, 476-8482).
Studio In Essence (1717 Barrington, 405-5500) is a "creative dance, Pilates and wellness centre" offering tribal-fusion belly dance taught by Best of Halifax winner Monique Ryan. You can burn calories with a hula hoop, pole dancing, break dancing and retro boot camp, the "best of In Essence" in a single class. ---C.K.HALIFAX SPORT & SOCIAL CLUB
Welcome (back) to gym class! If somewhere along the way team sports got too competitive for you, this may be the answer. The Halifax Sport & Social Club (431-8326) kicked off last September with about 320 participants, slightly more than the Ottawa club boasted in its debut season five years ago. The Ottawa club now has over 6,000 members and a similar explosion could happen in HRM once the word gets out.
"Our first season was a huge success," says HSSC Sport Manager Andrew White, "and we're looking at a big increase in participation this winter. Once we get that base of people widened, we can offer more sports on more nights."
The lineup this winter (January 26 through March 27) includes weekly basketball, dodgeball, floor hockey, indoor soccer and volleyball. All teams are co-ed with mandated gender ratios and all games are self-officiated. That's because the club's goal is fun, as opposed to humiliating your competition. The ideal HSSC evening involves working up a sweat before joining teammates and opponents alike at one of the sponsor bars for a beverage and munchies. C'mon, doesn't "dodgeball and drinks" sound a lot better than your usual Monday night?
In case you were wondering why you haven't seen the HSSC building on one of Halifax's main arteries, the club is a friendly organization, not a location. It books gyms across HRM, then divvies them up post-registration as demand dictates. Most games take place on peninsular Halifax, with none further than a 20-minute drive from downtown.
The Friday, January 16 deadline for this winter's sports applies to both individuals and teams. Would-be gym rats should note that discounts apply when you sign up for multiple sports, so consider this before you renew your health club membership. Check the website, halifaxsport.ca, for further specifics and online registration.
---Tim RobertsHEALTH CLUB DEALS
Exercise supposedly makes you happy, but in light of the current economic situation, spending money on a membership is a bit of a downer. Luckily, there's a way to put some lightness in your step and on your wallet.
If you're a student, a membership at the YMCA (1565 South Park, 423-9622) costs $26/month (compared with the regular $45.74) with a valid ID and if you're on social assistance, the YMCA creates a membership fee you can afford.
For anyone feeling the economic crunch, there are volunteering opportunities such as helping with group fitness or childcare programs in exchange for free memberships. Just fill out an application online or in person at the Y.
If you're willing to get your hands dirty, Nubody's (Park Lane Mall, 5657 Spring Garden, 425-2348) or the women-only location (Park Victoria, 1333 South Park, 422-6696) offer free memberships in exchange for folding towels or cleaning gym equipment a couple hours a week. Goodlife (3601 Joseph Howe, 453-7724) offers the same incentive for a free membership, as well as volunteering for their childcare program.
If you're interested in gaining some career experience along with a free membership, Nubody's and Goodlife offer volunteer opportunities for marketing, administrative work and job-shadowing. Contact Lisa from the Parklane Nubody's (225-7776), Melissa from the Women's Nubody's (468-8920 ext.226) or Anna from Goodlife at (453-7724) for more info.
There's no excuse not to get a new body and live the good life in 2009, 'cause it's fun to stay at the YMCA! ---Angelina ChapinHOCKEY
It's trite to say Canadians are obsessed with hockey, but the scarcity of available indoor ice in HRM suggests there's truth to the stereotype.
Most arenas are booked during prime weekday hours (4-11pm) and weekends, when youth organizations rule the roost. But renting ice isn't impossible. If you can round up the players, ice can be yours for $100-$200/hour, depending on the time. Friday and Saturday nights are probably your best bet, but try sniffing around halifax.ca/recreation/otherarenas and you could scoop up a late cancellation.
Don't write off joining an established game. Goalies are always in demand and being a ringer never hurts, either. Networking skills also help. Finding a game can be as easy as forming a loose social link to the person collecting the cash.
Shinny is a frequent afternoon offering for $5-$10/person, with participants varying by venue. The Metro Centre (421-1302), noon-1pm on Tuesday and Thursday, is dominated by the downtown business scene, Sackville Arena (91 First Lake Drive, 865-8898) caters to the 50-and-over crowd with a 1-2pm game on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the Dartmouth Sportsplex (110 Wyse Road, 464-2600) maxes out at 30 players for its noon-1pm shinny on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Dal and SMU students have it easy, since athletic fees cover the cost of shinny. Both Dal's Memorial Arena (email@example.com) and SMU's Alumni Arena (420-5440) rent ice to the public, but folks running both facilities admit the bulk of ice time is reserved for student programs.
It's 2009, and the perfect time to live out your New Year's resolution of being more like Chuck Norris.
If you've rung in the New Year with pent-up energy, check out Uechi-Ryu Karate Academy (2156 Windsor, 425-1645), a style of karate that comes from Chinese temple fighting. It's a combination of hard and soft movements and focuses on the pointed toe kick, circular block and the single knuckle punch (which is supposed to instantly kill you hours later). If kung fu is more your speed, become proficient in the art of Chinese boxing at the Halifax Academy of the Wei Chin School at the Citadel Community Centre (864-4211).
Choi Kwang Do Halifax (5303 Tobin, 441-3469) offers a non-competitive branch of tae kwan do that focuses on physical and mental health instead of training intensity, if you're more of a lover than a fighter. The movements are easy on the body and light contact only, though can be used as real self-defence skills. With classes that incorporate students ranging from three to 90 years old, anyone can trade their leather belt for a black one. Visit ckdhalifax.com for more info. Or perhaps a more Taoist approach is right for you. Call the Taoist Tai Chi Society (2029 North Park, 422-8142) for instruction on spiritual and "soft style" martial art.
And if the Canadian winter's getting you down, turn up the heat with Capoeira, a Brazilian creation that's part dance and part fighting. Pernambulando Dance Studio (2827 Isleville, 431-9377) offers regular and advanced evening classes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Think things can't get hotter? Teachers Ross Burns (of Gypsophilia) and Zak Miller (of Zumbini Circus) play traditional instruments to accompany the practice. ---A.C.SKATING
Halifax's unpredictable-by-the-day winters never allow its citizens to skate on frozen lakes and ponds for too long. Luckily, the city's public skate programs abound. There are more than 15 different arenas in the HRM---go to halifax.ca/recreation/arenas/skating to see them.
On a lunch-hour break, grab your skates and head to the Halifax Metro Centre (1800 Argyle, 421-8000, halifaxmetrocentre.com) Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the noon-12:50pm skate. It's $3, and a 10-day pass is $25. It's for those 16 and over, and check the website to make sure the skate's happening each day---Metro Centre events take precedence.
The Devonshire Arena (3395 Devonshire, 490-4633) has a free public skate Wednesdays from 4-5pm. It's for everyone, but bring your own, sharp skates---there's no option to rent or sharpen. The Bedford Arena (36 Holland Road, 490-4664) has an open family skate that's so popular, it's capped at 200 participants. It's Sunday from 2pm-2:50pm, and costs $2. Get there early!
The Dartmouth Sportsplex (110 Wyse Road, 464-2600) offers public skates Tuesdays 6:30pm-7:45pm, Saturdays 5:30pm-6:45pm and Sundays 3:30pm-4:45pm. It's $4 for kids, $4.50 for adults and $9 for the family. You can't rent skates here, but you can get them sharpened.
Want to have your own skating party? Call a rink and ask for ice rental prices. Some give discounts for late-night rentals---the Halifax Forum (2901 Windsor, 490-4500) gives cheaper prices for after-midnight rentals, and the attached Civic Centre does the same after 11pm. ---H.G.SQUASH
Squash is an extremely fast and fun racquet game, anointed in 2003 by Forbes magazine as the healthiest, most cardiovascular sport.
If you are keen to try smacking that little black ball around, Squash Nova Scotia vice president Andrew Sleigh suggests getting some coaching right off---he offers group and private lessons around the city (see below for more deets or call 830-6400). He's observed an interesting gender split with lessons: Women are more liable to take them while men won't admit they need the help and just play with their buddies, pick up bad habits, then look for help to improve later when their skills plateau. Guys can be so dumb.
Dalhousie's Dalplex (6260 South, 494-3372) has leagues and tournaments held in its five courts, and Sleigh will be teaching winter adult group lessons starting in the third week of January on Monday nights, Tuesday nights at the Saint Mary's sports facility The Tower (920 Tower, 420-5555), and potentially on Wednesdays at one of the four courts at Cole Harbour Place (51 Forest Hills Road, Dartmouth, 464-5100). The Dartmouth Sportsplex (110 Wyse Road, 464-2600) has a single court if you want to try it out, and there are two courts at the Dalhousie's Sexton Campus (1334 Barrington, 494-6053).
To get in a little deeper, Squash Nova Scotia has a helpful and informative website, squashns.ca. And if you've always wondered about squash's dark sibling sport, racquetball, it's out there, but with far fewer places to play in town. Check out West Point Racquet & Fitness Centre (6965 Bayers, 455-4016) or the YMCA (1565 South Park, 423-9622). ---C.K.SWIMMING
Maybe it's been a while since you've slapped on the ol' water-wings and taken a dip into a community pool. If you're bored of your New Year's resolution already, trade in the treadmill for a swim. Swimming is a different way to get a workout, and it's not only good for your cardio---a trip to the pool can be a full body workout.
Aqua-fitness (or aqua-aerobics) is a fun and challenging element to add to your fitness regime, but if you're more into working on your butterfly stroke alone, lane swims allow you to go at your own pace. The HRM is brimming with quality places take the plunge.
DalPlex (6260 South, 494-3372), Dartmouth Sportsplex (110 Wyse Road, 464-2600), Sackville Sports Stadium (409 Glendale Drive, 869-4141), Cole Harbour Place (51 Forest Hills Road, 464-5100), YMCA (1565 South Park, 423-9622) and Centennial Pool (1979 Gottingen, 440-7219) all have Aqua-fit and open lane swimming multiple days and times a week.
These pools also teach a range of adult swimming lessons---from little to no experience in the water, to stroke improvement for seasoned swimmers. These courses usually run 10 sessions. For the aspiring Michael Phelpses out there, Cole Harbour Place and Sackville Sports Stadium have Master's swimming programs and the Dartmouth Sportsplex offers Tri-Aqua-letes classes (good for triathletes and fitness swimmers).
And just for fun, test out your skills against the artificial surf during a wave swim at Spryfield Wave Pool (10 Kidston Road, 477-7665). ---A.S.Wii FIT
It may seem to you like the sneakiest way to get people off their couches, but Nintendo's Wii Fit is a phenomenon that blurs the line between video gaming and exercise.
The Fit game is just a board on the floor. You provide some personal details to the software (your weight and fitness goals, for instance) and it gives you a series of options, calculating your centre of gravity, measuring how you shift your feet (or hands) on the pad and translating that into movements on the screen. You can try yoga, strength training, aerobics and balance games, skiing, jogging, hula hoops, dance and more. Be aware though, the popularity of the game makes it a scarcity in local stores. (EB Games [6061 Young, 454-4913] offers them for $99.99 plus tax, but is out of stock after the holidays. Says the salesperson: "We don't know when they're coming in.")
Maybe the best part about it is its group potential, for families or friends. Web designer and former Coast contributor Iain MacLeod is a Wii Fit fan, in that it allows him and his partner more flexibility to exercise and have fun together, especially with their two-year-old daughter. "We're former gym-goers, and we thought this was perfect, a step in the right direction. We like that it gives you a certain amount of activities to do and as you get more involved it 'unlocks' more things to do." MacLeod also likes that it's less intimidating than a health club, which really isn't his scene. "It's a bit more interactive than the gym experience. It's social in a different way." ---C.K.YOGA
Despite being a full body workout, great at relieving stress, improving flexibility and strengthening muscles, yoga hasn't caught on with men in Canada. A recent Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey found that six women practice yoga regularly for every man who does. Men are missing out.
The gender gap is shrinking, though. "It might take a decade, but you'll start to see equality in the classroom," says Jody Manley of Ashtanga Yoga Halifax (2375 June, 225-2036). Manley thinks getting the message out that yoga is a great workout---whether as one's sole form of exercise or in cross-training---will help break down this divide.
"It's a completely balanced workout," says Manley. "Every muscle from the head to the toe is being worked."
Not many other forms of exercise can make that boast, while also being gentle on the body. There are lots of places in Halifax to do yoga, with some occasionally offering reduced-price classes to help you get started.
The Yoga Loft (5663 Cornwallis, Suite 301, 429-3330) offers two Community Yoga Classes every week for only $5 a class, and discounts for students all the time. Between January 19 and 25 all classes are free in celebration of the Loft's 5th birthday. Lululemon (5486 Spring Garden, 422-6641) has a free Sunday morning class inside the store, or if hot yoga is your thing, Moksha Yoga Halifax (1512 Dresden, 420-0888) offers a karma class Fridays. It's pay-what-you-can with a minimum donation of $5 and all proceeds go to charity.
Local gyms such as Nubody's (various locations) and Dalplex (6260 South, 494-3372) include yoga classes in the membership fees. Also check out the Yellow Pages or simply google to find a Halifax yoga studio convenient for you. ---R.W.