Katrina Wells was frustrated. The new mother loved spending time with her child but still longed for a place to relax and sip coffee. Family-friendly play centers had been widespread when she lived in South Florida, but they seemed entirely absent from her new home in Long Island. Undeterred, Wells took initiative and designed a business that would cater to children and their parents.
Across Le Play Cafe Indoor Play Area & Coffee Lounge's 2,000 square feet, imaginations spring to life at performance stages, dress-up areas, and pretend kitchens. A climbable play structure helps little ones to develop gross motor skills, and age-appropriate toys delight toddlers. On the other side of the play center, scents of fresh roasted coffee fill the café as parents relax, socialize, and share photos of their baby dolls. In addition to cheering children and adults, Wells' brainchild also puts a smile on Mother Nature's vine-covered face. Her eco-friendly facility boasts LED lighting and oversize windows that help to reduce energy costs.
The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.
Obnoxious Paintball offers 25,000 square feet of indoor, climate-controlled splatter heaven, with an X-Ball field (110'x125') equipped with labyrinths of inflatable rubber bunkers for strategy and shelter. Chromatic warriors brandish the exclusive, all-metal Planet Eclipse ETEK3 AM paintball gun, its compressed air tank rapidly ejecting a barrage of kaleidoscopic paint spheres that eliminate opponents from the game after transforming each one into a flesh-and-blood Jackson Pollock piece. Players can bring their own artistic armor or rent masks and chest protectors for $5 each.
With dozens of locations across the United States, Kickboxing FitClub helps guests tone bodies and improve cardiovascular health through kickboxing lessons for all experience levels. Whether in group classes of 10–20 students or private sessions, students learn stretches, resistance exercises, punches, and kicks appropriate for their skill level. Private appointments with staff nutritionists help individuals develop dietary plans that bolster health in tandem with workouts.
Founded by former UFC welterweight champion Matt "The Terror" Serra, Serra BJJ challenges students of all ages with different levels of Brazilian jujitsu, as well as Muay Thai, kickboxing, wrestling, and conditioning classes. Passionate instructors lead small group sessions from within two spacious facilities, which together, boast more than 7,500 square feet of mat space and modern locker rooms. The Serra BJJ facilities also equip professional-grade Muay Thai striking bags, and at the Huntington location, fighters can train inside a full octagon cage.
With more than 30 toe-tapping tutorials offered each week, Rhythms & Soul Dance Studio instructs eager pupils in the myriad languages of bodily grace and rhythm. Students can mix and match styles such as the hustle, hip-hop, belly dance, and Zumba for fitness leaners. During a social dance class, steppers perfect their waltzing technique and learn to replace upright broomsticks with human partners, who are much better for dusting chandeliers. A salsa lesson floods limbs with the hypnotic meters of Latin music, creating a squad of club-ready hip-shakers. Each one-hour session is led by a member of Rhythms and Soul’s phalanx of professional coryphées, who give students individual attention while maintaining a pressure-free, noncompetitive atmosphere. Check the Forest Hill calendar for the full list of classes and prepare to resist the lure of the beat no more.