21 years ago, Ellie Herman worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, running her own company in San Francisco. She loved her work, but she had bills to pay. So, naturally, she took on a side job; she became the professional wrestler known as "Ruth Less." As soon as she began tossing fellow wrestlers around, she incurred a serious knee injury that threatened to end both of her careers. Luckily for her, the nearby St. Francis Hospital of Dance Medicine offered surgery-free rehabilitation through Pilates. Ellie did the workouts for months, and returned to her company an even better dancer than she'd been before her injuries. Later, as a masters student at NYU, Pilates once again helped her recover from hip pain. She discovered an ability to innovate within the bounds of Pilates, and resolved to become a teacher.
She opened the aptly named Ellie Herman Studio, where she continues to teach today. True to her inspiration, she uses Pilates as a basis on which to innovate better forms of corrective movement. So far, she's written nine books on the subject. She invented her own piece of equipment, the Pilates Springboard, which compresses the size and cost of the more traditional Pilates wall unit. She also developed a blend of Pilates and gait training, to help people stave of injury by becoming conscious of the way they move their legs in every day life, which helps to prevent things such as rolling ankles or randomly kicking strangers.
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.
The frames at J. Reznik Studios don't just immortalize old photographs and new college diplomas; they also keep the memories of fallen heroes alive. As the studio's in-house artist, Jodi Reznik has eased the pain of lost loved ones for dozens of families?such as those of Suffolk County police officer Glen Ciano and NYPD officer Russel Timoshenko?by memorializing them with brush strokes on canvas. Equal parts frame shop, gallery, and conversation space, the studio beckons art lovers of all stripes to interact with Jodi and her husband, Jeff, while they browse her work or select a frame for an existing piece. Expert print makers also enlarge and emblazon images on paper and canvas to forge eye-catching photo gifts, and staffers specializing in flower preservation enshrine bouquets from weddings or punish daisies with unpaid gambling debts behind quality glass. J. Reznik Studios has impressed not only walk-in customers, but online clients as well, earning an 86% customer-approval rating from Groupon users.
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.
Vel, a certified Climb & Spin pole-dance instructor, spent time shimmying across Japan, Europe, and Africa in order to expand her repertoire. To put her versatile expertise to good work, Vel founded Brooklyn's Finest Pole Dancing Studio as a women-only dance studio where she could help women to shake themselves free of inhibitions. Newbie, intermediate, and advanced pole-dancing classes give students of skill levels the ability to shimmy away their insecurities and find enjoyment onstage as they study under expert dancers. In addition to dance, the studio’s schedule also includes fitness classes and specialty sessions where students can learn the secrets to lap dancing and creating sultry dance routines around props such as chairs or airport-terminal seats. Vel's dedication to empowering women carries over to the studio's Women's Wellness Workshops, which bring industry professionals and eager students together to share and discuss issues of women's health and sexuality.:m]]
Barbecue ribs with a smoky rauchbier. A melon salad with a dark doppelbock. The folks behind Get Real Presents specialize in pairings like these, sharing the joys of craft beer and delicious, locally-sourced foods. In this spirit, its team of foodies and beer aficionados hosts festivals featuring more than 80 brews, as well as restaurant events that pair craft beer with regional foods. As unique as it sounds, they admit this isn't exactly a new idea—they take a page from other countries, such as Belgium, who actually anchor much of their cuisine around the effervescent beverage. Following this "cuisine a la biere" model, they aim to highlight all of the great things a freshly crafted brew can do to enhance an evening out on the town, such as highlighting the flavors of a complementary dish, spicing up a local chef's stew, or softening your dad to the idea of paying off all of your student loans.