Sifu Ron LePree helps students of all levels learn to defend themselves with the Chinese martial art of wing chun kung fu. He trained in the United States, Germany, and Hong Kong, studying under the son of Grandmaster Ip Man—a notable wing chun instructor who taught Bruce Lee—as well as other experts in the field. In his classes, LePree teaches the fundamental tenets and moves of wing chun kung fu. He believes that a strong foundation is vital and builds on that structure during each class, introducing students to drills and interactions with an emphasis on mindfulness and concentration.
The dedicated instructors at Afro Brazilian Cultural Center of New Jersey see capoeira as more than a blend of dance and martial arts—they see it as a way of life. They train children and adults of all ages in capoeira's graceful movements through classes, therapy sessions, and afterschool programs, many of the instructors drawing from extensive training in Brazil and an understanding of Brazilian folklore and culture. But their instruction doesn’t end at capoeira—many of the Cultural Center's coaches specialize in disciplines including yoga, Zumba, salsa, and West African dance. Though many of the instructors were born and raised in New Jersey, others hail from places such as Guinea and Senegal and infuse their culture into their teaching style. The instructors hold classes at least once a week and more frequently for students preparing to dance-battle chaperones for control of the prom.
Kate Saab is a certified personal trainer, aesthetician, and massage therapist who’s had a passion for fitness her entire life. Today, she extends her love of health and wellness to others at Versa Fit & Spa. In addition to leading dynamic fitness classes, Saab orchestrates relaxing sessions in the SlimLine Oxygen Pod, which uses gentle massage, heat, and light to improve metabolism, detoxify the body, and, in special cases, transport clients to the planet of Pandora.
At Evolution Fitness, NASM-certified personal trainers and former college athletes Desiree McGhie and Anthony Lambo help clients exceed their personal fitness goals and build healthy self-confidence with one-on-one training and group classes. Boot camps help students build functional strength and burn calories through cross-training techniques, flexibility exercises, and core workouts. And specialized courses and events—such as cooking classes and lunchtime corporate workout packages—help them integrate healthy choices into their everyday lives instead of relying on fad diets and inflatable muscle suits to make them look good. A safe environment, direction, motivation, and intense workouts help customers see results quickly.
Having studied ballet, tap dance, and Greek folk dance in her youth, Maria Kyriakakis has cultivated a lifelong fervor for world music, movement, and fitness. When she discovered Zumba—which combines her passions into a single, energetic workout—she was immediately hooked and board-stomped her way into a certification.
Meanwhile, her future husband Pedro Concalves—a dancer trained at London Contemporary Dance School—had moved to New York to study Eagle Claw kung fu, becoming one of only six people in the world to receive certification from Grandmaster Leung Shum. Today, the espoused duo leads dance and martial-arts training sessions in a studio that looks for all the world like the setting for Neo and Morpheus' first fight in The Matrix. Inside, under a vaulted ceiling, a team of instructors holds Zumba dance-fitness classes, tribal-fusion belly-dance classes, and Northern Shaolin–style Eagle Claw kung fu classes.
Speed Weight Training Fitness Center's Michael Johnson and Paul Davis’s resumes are just as impressive as their muscles. They certainly didn’t come by their chiseled physiques over night: Johnson put in 33 years of Army service—as an Army drill sergeant and front-line soldier—and boasts a quarter century of law enforcement experience, and Davis is a decorated police deputy chief and champion bodybuilder. Drawing from their fitness-heavy backgrounds, they developed their Speed Weight Training technique in 2001, motivating students to simultaneously burn fat while building muscle through a fast-paced workout regimen.
During high-intensity boot camps for adults, Sgt. Major Johnson pushes students toward fitness and reduced waistlines with positive encouragement, never intimidating them with threats of latrine duty. The trainers work with the needs and goals of each client during personal-training sessions, measuring their potential through body-fat, endurance, and strength tests, whose results they use to draft a nutrition and exercise regimen.
Bodily alignment can help create order in the mind and heart as well, according to Omni Kitts Ferrara, the professional dancer who owns Yoga Montclair and sister studio Yoga Morristown. At the Yoga Alliance approved 200 RYS and 500 RYS studios, she and her team of Yoga Alliance–certified teachers shepherd students toward the peace and goodness that lie within using flowing movements and moments of meditation. They welcome students of all experience levels and walks of life, inviting them to stay "as long as the conversation intrigues [them]." To cultivate physical and metaphysical strength, classes pair inspirational words with poses as playful as a puppy fetching a red clown nose. Instructors begin each session with a mind-centering exercise before launching into stretches, balances, and breath work that melt stress and bolster flexibility. Basic and Gentle routines teem with beginner-friendly poses and alignment guidance, and Level I/II classes ready students for intermediate-level backbends, headstands, and handstands.