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.
Change can be terrifying, but at The Exercise Studio, owner Millie Miraglia and her team of seven instructors help students of all levels face their fears as they transform their bodies with classes that combine the principles of yoga with effective cardio workouts. The Brooklyn-based studio, with a classroom on each of its two floors, has been opened for almost three decades and offers women-only Zumba and fitness sessions—including total-body workouts and body toning—and Hatha and Vinyasa-style yoga classes are open to both women and men. Offering small classes with one-on-one instruction, the Exercise Studio even goes one step further to ensure students learn how to lead healthy lives by providing regular workshops and courses that have included classes on restorative yoga and how to balance one's chakra using just a paper clip and a stick of gum.
As a cancer survivor, Millie knows firsthand how negative emotions can impact the healing process, which is why she created The Exercise Studio's Pathways to Healing. The noninvasive stress-management program is designed to help clients bring balance back to their mind and body by using a blend of restorative yoga, meditation, and reiki modalities.
The hiss and clank of weight machines from manufacturers such as Cybex and Precor blend with the whir of recumbent cycles and treadmills to form the perpetual soundtrack at each of Dolphin Fitness Clubs’ 24-hour locations. To augment individual exercise regimens, nationally certified staffers teach aerobic classes throughout the week, with offerings ranging from classic step classes to low-impact yoga and pillow-fighting lessons.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
When Drita D'Avanzo, a cast member of VH1’s Mob Wives, enlisted for one-on-one training at Evolution Boxing, she was fresh off a rooftop brawl. Hoping to unleash her simmering anger, she teamed up with Anthony, a boxing instructor. "I've got to turn over a new leaf," she explained on the show, "I'm taking it from the rooftop to the ring." As she threw punches, she began to experience release—and control. Upon leaving, she concluded, "Now I don't have to hit anybody."
D'Avanzo successfully channeled her aggression into an appropriate outlet. In doing so, she proved Evolution Boxing's commitment to serving individual needs, whether through group or personal instruction. Instructors classify boxers according to experience and tailor all subsequent instruction to drive toward goals. They equip children for playground brawls with anti-bullying classes, help women defend against attackers with self-defense classes, and help everyday working professionals knock out lunch thieves with the Blue Collar program.
Experienced and novice yogis alike are welcome at the Yoga Spot, where the friendly, experienced instructors lead classes in a relaxing, noncompetitive space. Group classes have the feel of a private session, thanks to the instructors' careful attention to each student. They lead a variety of yoga classes as well, from invigorating Vinyasa sessions to prenatal yoga.