Hot Sand’s studio buzzes with activity as instructors dip pipes into molten glass and then demonstrate how to blow the globs into recognizable shapes. Nearby, other students work on finishing their pieces, refining contours atop wooden blocks and polishing surfaces on a diamond wheel. Hot Sand's glass-blowing artists impart these techniques through basic walk-in experiences and immersive workshops, showing guests how to craft objects such as candy dishes, pumpkin-shaped ornaments, or one-time-use dodgeballs. Welcoming visitors of all ages, Hot Sand earned the distinction as a top kids' destination in New Jersey Monthly's 2012 Jersey Choice awards. The studio also expands the aesthetic tastes of the community through a gallery that showcases original works for sale.
As a former corrections officer, Victor Lashley’s career often immersed him in life-threatening situations, putting his self-defense skills to the test outside the safe confines of a gym. To empower others with the ability to fight back while getting fit, he now teaches myriad forms of martial arts at ICAT Triple Threat Training Center. He trains patrons in MMA grappling, Kali, and his own method Defensive Concepts, which blends kicking and close-range striking techniques from muay thai, Kali, and boxing into a fast-paced striking art that earned Lashley a state certification as a Defensive Tactics Instructor. With the aid of his fellow instructors, he helms boot-camp classes and one-on-one personal-training sessions that devour calories. Nala—a boxer-breed pooch—serves as the gym's mascot, security guard, and head instructor of drool-based self-defense techniques.
For more than 15 years, multi-instrumentalist Abdo Ades has striven to instill his love of music into students of all skill levels. Through The Home Studio, which conducts lessons at students' abodes, Abdo has helped pupils lay down funky bass riffs and rock out with drum fills. Though versed in rhythm instruments, his musical focus remains piano and guitar, whose fundamentals he teaches through a blend of classical, jazz, and rock styles. After reviewing basic scales and chords, Abdo moves on to more advanced techniques. Such skills ready pupils for The Home Studio's annual recitals, during which students showcase their achievements for family and friends.
With personalized curriculums designed for novices and virtuosos alike, Music Makers' range of lessons teach students ages 5 and older how to strum, pizzicato, and wail. Music Makers' handy tips for getting the most out of each class include pairing children in each age group with their ideal melodic noisemakers such as guitar, piano, drums, violin, school-band instruments, and recordings of auto-tuned frog croaks. University-trained instructors conduct each weekly lesson with a music-education and performance-based syllabus, focusing on styles such as classical, pop, and jazz. Music Makers sells and rents a symphonic stockpile of instruments, in addition to hosting community performances.
On June 19, 1946, a veritable herd of racing fans—18,724 of them, in fact—galloped through the turnstiles at Monmouth Park Race Track. It was a gathering fit for a historic return, and indeed it was: 53 years separated that moment from the last time the track had hosted a race. Originally opened in 1870 in an effort to increase summer trade and give horses something to do while not in school, Monmouth Park was immediately popular, earning the moniker “Newmarket of America," a reference to the famed course in England. Yet in 1894, the state of New Jersey banned wagering on horses, effectively ending the facility's operations. In the 1940s, though, a man named Amory M. Haskell lobbied to have that law reversed. Today, the track honors its legislative savior by hosting the annual Haskell Invitational, a 1 1/8-mile race limited to three-year-old horses who’ve just learned to race without their training hooves.
Green Flag Driving Experience deals in adrenaline. At its racetrack, novice drivers and advanced rubber burners alike get to feel the heady rush of epinephrine as they reach speeds in excess of 90 mph while manning the cockpit of a racecar. Drivers choose their rides from a fleet of Winged TQ Midgets or a selection of Legends cars, 5/8-scale replicas of autos from the Golden Age of American engineering when men were men and cars were powered by miniature locomotives. Before sliding behind their chosen wheel, each driver goes through an introduction and orientation that cover safety skills and handling basics. Then the Green Flag Driving Experience instructors keep watch as their pupils don provided helmets and suits, buckle up, and hit the pavement. Afterward, the instructors provide a thorough critique that helps the budding Andrettis maneuver with even more finesse on their next time around the track.
To help sugar artists of all skill levels take their desserts to new heights, Francesca Elmenshawy, owner of Francesca’s Cakery, joined accomplished cake designer Silvina Barboza to teach intensive baking courses. Though their 10- to 12-student classes range from Baking 101 to an intensive course held in Spanish, most of the lesson plans fall somewhere in the middle. Fondant classes, for instance, introduce the versatile cake-decorating and sculpting medium to cake decorators who prefer their art to be edible. A three-part series on gum-paste flowers targets lessons to specific skill levels, teaching beginners the basics of rolling and cutting material for the dessert flowers. The hands-on, accessible classes earned a mention on Food Babbles, a blog whose writer described the teacher as "a gracious hostess."