Thursday, May 31, 2012

5 Unique Ohio Workouts

It's summer! It's time to bust out the beach body! If you find it daunting to keep up with the upkeep of perfectly chiseled body, you may need to introduce a few unique workouts into your routine. The key to sticking with a fitness regimen is to make it fun! So here are 5 fun ways to stay fit in Ohio.

1. Boxing: If you want to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, like Muhammed Ali, you will find that boxing is not just for the bulky, scrappy badass guys you see in the movies. Check out a listing of all of the boxing gyms located in Ohio by visiting I found some boxing facilities located nearby in Columbus. With the encouragement of one of my coworkers, Julie, I decided to take a boxing class after work at the Thompson Recreation Center near downtown C-Bus. I learned to jab, uppercut, and hook in under an hour!

2. Trampoline Parks: Indoor trampoline parks typically consist of a massive arena with a giant trampoline court, oftentimes with trampolines even on the walls! Exercising on a trampoline is extremely effective. In fact, one can burn 1,000 calories in one hour! Your legs are the primary muscle group being utilized, however your core also benefits from trampoline workouts, and you improve your balance and get a heck of a cardiovascular workout! The great thing is, you are having so much fun laughing while you are doing it that you don't even feel like you're working out.

3. Pure Barre: Pure Barre is a massively popular gym taking over the nation with new locations popping up every week! Each class incorporates ballet bars, weights, bands, and small medicine balls in a series of isometric movements, which, thanks to my trusty dictionary, are muscular actions in which tension is developed without contraction of the muscle. The motions are set to fun, upbeat music,  and instructors help guide you by giving demonstrations and thorough instructions on how to perform the moves correctly.

4. Bexa Body Fitness: Everyone has that local gym that they absolutely love. For me, it's Bexa Body Fitness in Westerville. It's not your typical cookie cutter, shoebox gym like Urban Active or Planet Fitness, which are found on seemingly every corner you look. Unlike those dime-a-dozen gyms, Bexa Body Fitness exudes energy, excitement, and entrepreneurship on a level that makes you feel like you're right at home working out and exercising with longtime friends. They offer unique workouts such as piloxing (pilates combined with boxing), power yoga, and boot camps!

5. Rock Climbing: Rock climbing is my FAVORITE of all fitness activities! If you think you're up for the challenge that is indoor rock climbing, there are a number of places in Ohio you can go to do it. Most of the time, indoor rock climbing facilities will provide the proper shoes as well as the harness (and sometimes a helmet...but that is usually not needed or utilized). All you need to bring in most cases is yourself, your wallet, and your energy! Instructors will be on hand to help belay you on the rock walls and teach you all you need to know to scale the wall like Spiderman!

5 Extreme Thrills in Ohio

If you came to OHventures looking for some action packed thrills (like the kind Jason Statham's character in "Crank" needs), here is a list of 5 of the most extreme ways to fill your need for speed in the Buckeye State!

1. Cedar Point (1 Cedar Point Drive  Sandusky, OH 44870): I remember going to Cedar Point ever since I was a little tyke. Back then, I never wanted to set foot on anythin that was higher than my dad's shoulders. But, as time went on, I grew up, "grew a pair" and grew tall enough to make it on the biggest and baddest roller coasters found at this massive amusement park! Cedar Point currently holds the record as being the "Best Amusement Park in the WORLD" and has held that title for the past 14 years. This is due to the fact that it has the most roller coasters than any other park on the planet, including the mammoth steel monsters: Magnum XL-200 (209 feet tall), Millennium Force (310 feet tall), and the Top Thrill Dragster (400 feet tall). There is also the Raptor (inverted coaster), Mantis (stand-up coaster), Maverick (95-degree drop coaster), Wicked Twister (inverted impulse coaster), and 9 other amazing coasters. Add to that countless other rides, a water park, and fantastic entertainment, and you have a thrill-seeker's heaven!

2. King's Island (6300 Kings Island Drive Mason, OH 45040): King's Island is the little sibling of Cedar Point, and is in fact owned by the same company that owns Cedar Point. It holds it's own, however, and is more accessible to those in the Southern part of the state. It's home to collossal coasters such as Diamondback (a floorless roller coaster), Firehawk (flying roller coaster), Vortex (looping coaster), and of course the famed wooden coaster, The Beast, which is the longest wooden coaster in the world (lasting over 4 minutes). King's Island also has a water park and tons of non-coaster thrills such as the Drop Tower, Slingshot, and Windsurfer. I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it!

3. Splatter Park Paintball (5560 County Road 109, Mount Gilead, OH 43338) Not many other activities can get as extreme as paintball! Players gather on either an indoor or an outdoor course to play on teams or individually. While many variations of gameplay exist, the general object is to avoid getting "shot" by paintballs, and to eliminate other players by hitting them with paintballs. It is evident when an opponent is out, as the bright neon colored liquid is splattered upon them. Sounds pretty intense! However, aside from minor welts, it is rare that any major injury occurs when paintball is played properly and with the appropriate safety gear. Splatter Park Paintball has been dubbed the "Best Paintball in Ohio" so if you're looking to play, head here for sure.

4. Ozone Zipline Adventures (5291 State Route 350, Oregonia, OH 45054): Ziplining consists of a series of heavy duty wires suspended in the air, typically connected to a tree or manmade platform at either end. A harnass straps the daring rider in and a pulley system allows the rider to hang from the wire and glide - or "zip" - across from one end to the other! This extreme activity offers thrills on a multitude of levels. The speed and height of the zipline varies throughout each "course" and beautiful views of Ohio's lush flora are consistent through and through! Ozone Zipline Adventures has been named the longest (6,000 plus feet) and fasted zipline course in the entire Midwest.

5. Skydive in Ohio (Various Locations): Skydiving is the holy grail of any adventurer. It's the zenith of most bucket lists, and it's pretty hard to outdo yourself after skydiving. After you go skydiving, you get stamped with a title of "badass" for the rest of your life. There are approximately 11 locations to skydive in Ohio. Do your homework to determine which location is best for you!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Geauga County Maple Festival

Photos by OHventures

Geauga County Maple Festival
Chardon Square
Chardon, OH 44024

When thinking of maple syrup and maple leaves, places like Vermont and Canada immediately come to mind. After all, Vermont is the leading maple syrup producer of all the 50 states, and the maple leaf is the national symbol for the Canucks. But Ohio is not far behind! According to the United States USDA Maple Syrup Production Report from 2010, Ohio produced 65,000 gallons of the gooey goodness, ranking 4th or 5th each year of all maple producing states. While maple is produced everywhere in Ohio from Ashtabula to Zanesville, a great deal of this maple made in Ohio comes from Geauga County, and, more specifically, Chardon.

This is why Chardon is the home to one of the largest and most-attended maple syrup festivals in the state. This year, the celebrations took place from April 26 to April 29 with each day chock full of sweet (no pun intended) activities for everyone young and old alike!

My friends Emily and Ben have family who are heavily involved in the Geauga County Maple Festival each year, so I was able to get a fantastic tour of all that the festival had to offer. Emily's stepfather even gave me an education on how maple syrup has been produced throughout history. He had an exhibit set up showcasing every technique used since the origins of maple syrup, which dates back to the Native American time period. Below, you can see part of the educational aspect of the festival.

Following the history lesson, it was then time to visit all of the shops and stands that lined the streets, where I came to find that maple is much more than just a topping for waffles and pancakes. Richard's Maple Products, for instance, offered a seemingly endless array of maple based products, such as: brittle, jam, jelly, mustard, barbecue sauce, meat seasoning, butter, and countless candy varieties. I purchased maple cream candy, balsamic maple vinegarette dressing, and maple flavored dog treats! It was remarkable to discover how versatile the sticky stuff can really be!

After a bit of shopping, it was time to taste the sugary sap for myself! My friends insisted I try the "maple stirs" which are apparently synonymous with the festival! They ordered me a "double stir" and handed me what looked like just a styrofoam bowl full of Aunt Jemima. However, this was anything but the typical mass-produced syrup found in the supermarket. This was authentic and organic maple syrup from right here in Chardon. But instead of eating it as it was, I was ordered to vigorously stir the hot goo until it transformed into a tan-colored creamy substance resembling peanut butter. It was an awesome and tasty treat, almost too sugary for me to stomach (apparently those in the Northern region of our state have built up a higher sugar tolerance). Regardless of a but of an upset tummy, it was a delight!

We washed down the maple stir with a few locally brewed craft beers from Chardon Brew Works on Main Street. The best beer I had was made with - you guessed it - maple! It was called the Pride of Geauga Maple Porter and was dark and smooth. The townfolk of Chardon certainly take this maple thing seriously!

Throughout the weekend, there are exciting contests to watch or participate in, including the lumberjack competition, tug-of-war, golf putting contest, and the granddaddy of all events, the infamous bathtub races! That's right. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Chardonites love to decorate old cast iron bathtubs, fashion some wheels onto them, and ride them up and down the road during the Maple Festival. How it relates to maple is beyond me, but it certainly is entertaining to watch, as evidenced by the enormous crowds gathered along the roads to cheer on their favorite team of tub trotters!

Walking around on the beautiful spring afternoon, I got to see the State Senator, the "Tooth Fairy," and most importantly a great deal of hometown pride from a city that suffered an enormous tragedy just a couple of months prior. There were touching dedications in the center of town for the students who were killed in the school shooting that had taken place at the high school in February. I was told that the festival was bigger than ever this year. It shows that how the city has come together and risen above the unfortunate events they had been handed.

It was a cool experience to see such passion, tradition, and positivity exuding in Small Town, USA. The Geauga County Maple Festival is certainly a unique culutral experience that any OHventurer should attend!

Splatter Park Paintball

Photos by OHventures

Splatter Park Paintball
5560 County Road 109 
Mount Gilead, OH 43338
(419) 946-4964

Not many other activities can get as extreme as paintball! Paintball brings the childhood favorites of Super Soakers, Nerf Guns, and Laser Tag to a whole new level by incorporating a certain level of danger on a sophisticated grown-up playing field. Players gather on either an indoor, or - in most cases - an outdoor course to play on teams or individually. While many variations of gameplay exist, the general object is to avoid getting "shot" by paintballs, and to eliminate other players by hitting them with paintballs. It is evident when an opponent is out, as the bright neon colored liquid is splattered upon them. 

Sounds pretty intense! However, aside from minor welts, it is rare that any major injury occurs when paintball is played properly and with the appropriate safety gear.

The "paint" in paintball is in reality a water soluble dye with a clear gelatin shell. The substance washes out very easily from clothes and skin, and the capsules are designed in a way that they are supposed to explode (or break) without trouble when they hit. In some cases, the shells do not explode, which ends up hurting quite a bit. It is usually nothing more than a stinging sensation.

All paintball locations require that you wear a mask at ALL times, unless in a designated safe zone (which is usually a tiny tent). Beyond that, it is up to the player to decide what else to wear. In my experience playing paintball, I have found that a good pair of gloves and multiple layers of clothing are essential. It's also smart to wear a hat or hooded sweatshirt, as the masks do not always cover your entire head (such as your hair). A turtleneck or other padding around the neck is also recommended. Depending on the weather, you will want to stay as dry as possible, so a good pair of hiking boots or steel-toe boots are the best bet if it is muddy or rainy.

Playing paintball without any of your own gear is rather inexpensive. To rent a paintball "gun" (which is powered by air), a mask, and ammunition, it costs as little as $25! The cost will depend on how much ammo you need, which will depend on how much time you wish to play and/or how well you are able to conserve the colorful bullets.

I have only played this extreme sport on a few occasions, and I have had a surprisingly amazing time. Once was with a group of fraternity brothers as we welcomed our friend and brother, Richard, back from active duty in Afghanistan. Needless to say, we had a badass time with a marine on our team. The other time I went was for a bachelor party consisting of both the groom AND bride! This paintball outing took place at Splatter Park located in Mount Gilead in Morrow County.

Splatter Park was buzzing with business, even on a very rainy Saturday morning when we arrived. The friend in charge of the event called ahead and booked us as a "private group" so that we would only be playing with each other rather than with strangers. The cost was approximately $37 for the amount of ammunition we decided to get. At any time, we would be able to purchase more ammo if need be.

A very professional and helpful staff assisted our group in explaining the rules and getting our rental gear checked for speed and functionality. Soon, we were all ready to tromp through the mud to annihilate our opponents (each other) with fluorescent green paint! Led by a "referee" of sorts, we played in a series of courses - all outdoor - on various terrain with various obstacles. Some courses had steep hills, others had a great deal of vegetation and trees to hide behind, and others were nothing but open fields with bunkers and mounds of dirt. The courses were almost always peppered with wooden barriers, forts, steel barrels, and even abandoned aircrafts that we could hide behind when strategically attacking our opponents.

It was great that Splatter Park was able to offer so much variety. The referee made sure we played a number of different types of games, such as capture the flag, King of the Hill, and good old fashioned "last man standing" format. I made some bold moves that sometimes cost me (like getting pelted in the back), and sometimes worked out for the better (like acquiring the flag and taking it to our base to win the game for my team). Agility, stamina, strategy, and sharpshooter skills are all key components to paintball.

As part of our package, we also received a meal of a hot dog, chips and drink during lunch. This may not be enough food for most people, so be sure to eat ahead of time, or pack a cooler of (non alcoholic) drinks and food to have at your base camp.

In all, the only downfall of my paintball experience was that the masks constantly fogged up due to the humidity and the rain. This limited our vision and made it very difficult to accurately identify targets and play the game to the best of our abilities. Aside from that, we all had an absolute blast at Splatter Park, which offers the "Best Paintball in Ohio."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Half Marathon Photo Blog

Who: You and 13,000 other endurance runners
What: Capital City Half Marathon
When: May 5, 2012
Where: Columbus, OH
Why: To challenge yourself to run 13.1 miles!
How: Bravery, determination, months of training, and lots of sweat!

Race Thank Yous

Now that the Capital City Half Marathon is complete, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of those who donated or helped along the way during this journey!


To my Family: Mom & Dad, Curt & Regina, Aunt Patty, Grandma & Grandpa, Grandma, Cousin Alison, Cousin Jacob, Aunt Carol & Uncle Denny, and Aunt Karen & Uncle Ray.

To my Fraternity Brothers: Matt S., Matt C., Richard, Talal, Andrew, Ben, and Jared

To my Capital Square Co-Workers: Abe, Megan, Bevan, Jason, Bridgette, Alex, Erin, Stephanie, and Ron

To my Supporters in NE Ohio: Ryan, Emily, Oleta & Jeff, Ron & Norma, Patti & Dan, Judy, Aaron, Janis, Natalie, George, Cyndi and Carrie.

To my OSU friends: Jenny, Steve, Kelly, Maria, Kate, Faye, Anna, Beth, Peter, Ali & Derek, and Vadim.

To Lauren Curl and all of her extended family: Clara, Christina, Craig, Anthony & Betty, Marlene, Tina, and Carlo & Jean

and last but not least, to Kristen, who is the one who inspired and encouraged me to enter the race back in January!! I wouldn't and couldn't have done it without her!


I also want to thank Meghan of American Cancer Society for all of her help and hard work organizing the events for our team, and helping handle donations.

My "cheering" section: Joe, Deanna, Butters, Cribb, Ali, Ryan, Bear, and Nathan.

And my fellow friends who ran: Christina, Joe, Spenser, Lyndsey, Faye, Beth, Matt, and Jason.

This was a great experience that was even greater because of all of the people I've listed! Can't wait until next time!

Half Marathon Recap!

Photos by OHventures

After months of training, including many setbacks and triumphs, the day had finally come for my very first half marathon, the Capital City Half Marathon in downtown Columbus.

The days before the race, I carb loaded with pasta and bread, stretched, and did some "mini runs" of 1-3 miles a piece. Attending the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Team Dinner at Buca di Beppo on Thursday night had helped not only fuel me with food, but fuel me with fire and determination.

The night before the big race, I went to bed extra early to ensure that I had a good night's sleep. I had a rabble of butterflies rumbling in my stomach and I had my fair share of tossing and turning in bed, fearing that I hadn't adequately trained, or that I would be too tired to complete the 13.1 miles before me.

When the alarm went off at 5:45 AM on May 5, 2012, it seemed that all of those nerves had been replaced with excitement and adrenaline. I showered, changed into my running shoes and singlet, and had a small breakfast consisting of a banana, almonds, and a 5 Hour Energy shot.

Expecting chaos in downtown Columbus, I had mapped out the best way to get to the parking deck near the Columbus Commons, where the finish line would be. It was not a bad drive at all, as I live just 15 minutes or so from all of the action. Because I had raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society, I was deemd a "VIP" runner and given a free parking pass, which was very helpful.

It was a beautiful morning, with a slight breeze by the starting line (located by the Scioto River). The sky was overcast and, while it was a bit humid, it was better than the bright sun beating down on us, or pouring rain!

Arriving at the American Cancer Society tent in the park, I met up with my team for a group photo and a much needed prayer. I wisely utilized the port-a-potty before the race (TMI?), attached my bib number (2108), and headed to the corral. To get myself in the zone, I threw on my iPod (attached to my arm band), and did some last minute ballistic stretching.

Once the horn was sounded, all 13,000 runners - or 26,000 sneakers - pounded the pavement, with folks cheering and applauding all around! This was it! The energy and excitement practically had me floating during the first mile of the race, as I high-fived my friends who were cheering me on by North Bank Park.