Cousins Dean Del Prete and Paul Sattler started playing paintball for fun in 1986. Noticing a lack of places to play or find equipment, the pair took advantage of this business opportunity and founded Cousins Paintball the following year, creating a one-stop shop for players. They started out with the only paintball field on Long Island, and since then, they have grown to encompass 10 New York locations with scenario and speedball fields. Today, teams equipped with full mask and semiautomatic paint markers wander across their 20- to 80-acre spaces, searching for the opposing team's flag. Eco-friendly paint ensures trees do not suffer lasting damage, and themes such as hide-and-seek and cops and robbers add variety to a full day of games.
When combined, the thunderous rolling of balls, clattering of pins, and whip-like clashing of high-fives form the soundtrack for Maple Family Centers' string of family-owned alleys. Open seven days per week, each emporium's array of slicked lanes host everything from youth programs and leagues to birthday parties as competitors of all ages duel with or without bumpers. During cosmic bowling on weekend nights, Maple Family Centers honors the sport's discothèque origins with glowing lanes and thumping tunes. A full menu of pub fare re-energizes fatigued fingers, and on-site pro shops help improve players' games by providing the latest equipment or fitting older balls with new prescription glasses.
With whirling colorful lights and a top-40 playlist, Roller Kingdom could give visitors the illusion that they're in a nightclub. But instead of dancing on the floor, guests strap on rollerblades or roller skates to glide across it. Novice skaters can improve their form during lessons or trade in their skates for laser-tag equipment and duel it out with friends in order to win prize tickets and the right to wear a homemade laser-tag championship belt made out of tinfoil. Outside the rink and laser-tag den, guests can play arcade games or belt out their favorite songs on the karaoke stage.
Fully licensed by the New York State Department of Education, Allstar Bartenders Training educates students in the art and science of mixed-drink pouring and presentation. Apprentice mixologists get acquainted with the functions of different bar tools while learning which cocktails should be shaken, stirred, or whisked using a handful of uncooked angel-hair pasta. Allstar's seasoned tenders aid students in memorizing the recipes, garnishes, and matching glassware of the most popular concoctions. The school's classrooms resemble mock cocktail lounges with ample shot glasses and jukeboxes, giving students a realistic setting to practice drink vending. Allstar treats its graduates to complimentary lifetime job-placement assistance and refresher courses.
The patter of fists against a punching bag. The bass clang of weights in racks. Cardio and resistance machines from Matrix, Life Fitness and Hammer Strength purr in Soleil Total Fitness’s 20,000-square-foot facility as visitors work toward fitness goals. During more than 45 group exercise classes in three studios, a hush falls over yoga pupils and sweat leaps from the brows of Zumba and kickboxing participants. In the spin studio, stationary bikes help torch calories, and in a boxing and mixed-martial-arts area complete with a 20-foot boxing ring, patrons learn to fend off the punching bag stalking them in their nightmares. The gym’s team of certified personal trainers, alternatively, can tailor workouts to patrons’ fitness goals, whether they are trying to make their high school’s baseball team or the Olympics.
When she was 15, Heather had already been dancing for a decade, and she vowed to one day open her own studio. Later, while in school for interior design, she took her first-ever pole-dancing class and found it was love at first twirl; she installed a pole in her own home that very afternoon. Though she worked for a while as a professional designer, she felt compelled to step away from decorating other people's homes to pursue her teenage dream, swathing her newly opened studio space in hot-pink paint and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Today, it's a go-to hub for novice dancers of all ages, sizes, and experience levels and for barber's poles looking to switch careers. While Heather and three other instructors teach belly dance, aerial technique, burlesque, and fitness classes, though Heather's main passion still lies with pole dancing. She finds it rewarding to watch as students—who currently include spinners in their 60s—break past mental blocks to do moves they never thought possible. She grins each time her students report that they're feeling stronger and healthier just doing everyday tasks, like buying anvils at the grocery store. "I don't feel like it's a job," she says, noting the supportive environment created by her students and the joyous bachelorette and birthday parties—where, she maintains, the older guests always turn out to be wilder than the 20-somethings. "It feels like I'm hanging out with friends."