Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Debbie Coury was a child when she began dancing at Yvette Dance Studio. The passion cultivated in that community-focused studio catapulted her career, as she went on to dance on Broadway and in Atlantic City. Though she had a taste for the glamour of a big production, she was thrilled to return back to Yvette studio, which began as a focused training program in 1954, as head instructor. She has recruited professional dancers and certified-fitness instructors, along with guest Broadway dancers and choreographers to train children aged 3 or older and adults alike in dance fundamentals. Whether classical and barre ballet, tap, or jazz-funk hip-hop, they frequently incorporate character and lyrical work to familiarize students with all the elements of performing onstage and stomping out Morse-code commands to the band conductor.
In lieu of recitals, instructors dance alongside their youngest students in dance demonstrations, where students show their parents what they've learned without the pressure of performance or lights and makeup. Older children work out new techniques in front of judges for regular testing and receive specific feedback to foster a sense of accomplishment. With instruction spanning nearly 60 years, many former dancers now bring their own children to studio classes held in the original private home, a building that now hosts three private studios. Additionally, many former dancers have employed their movement skills to join companies such as the Rockettes, Alvin Ailey, and Geoffrey Ballet.
At Cranford Taekwondo Center, martial arts aren’t just about self-defense; they’re about self-esteem, self-discipline, and building character—though there’s a lot of kicking and punching too. The spacious facility employs experienced black-belt instructors to train children and adults in techniques ranging from footwork and forms to balance and hand-eye coordination. The school is also home to Cranford’s Combat Fitness boot camp, wherein certified instructors use heavy bags, kicking shields, and free weights to tone the body and build endurance.
Gamers Baseball Academy busts summer’s monopoly on the game, giving athletes an indoor, year-round destination where they can learn the ins and outs of both baseball and softball from a crack staff of college coaches, professional athletes, and college players. The 10,000-square-foot facility nurtures players with its collection of hitting and pitching tunnels, batting cages, defense areas, and a changing room for molting mascots.
Gamers Baseball Academy can adapt to meet the training needs of each individual boy and girl or an entire squad. Athletes can then put their newfound skills to work on the academy’s own baseball and softball teams to recreate the live games’ speeds and intricacies no matter the month.
Doug Petschow founded Strength and Fitness Club as a complete haven of healthy living. The 19,000-quare-foot club does the basics right?each piece of equipment on the cardio platform features USB ports for charging an iPod or cell phone, cooling fans, and a flat-screen high-definition TV on which exercisers can catch their favorite shows or watch their kids playing in the Mini Muscles Daycare through a special channel. Lock-and-load selectorized equipment eliminates the need for pins, and a nine-piece circuit training area guides members through a full-body workout in half an hour. The staff stocks the free-weight area with dumbbells, plates, Hammer Strength equipment, and power racks, and there's also a separate, padded ab area set up with BOSU balls, mats, and other equipment. Four fitness studios host boot camps, yoga, spin, and other classes on the bustling group-class schedule, including mixed martial arts in a dedicated space. Meanwhile, personal trainers help members home in on specific goals, such as toning their muscles or lifting their entire teddy-bear collection into bed at once.
But Petschow didn't stop there. He set up a juice bar where members could wash down turkey burgers with protein shakes after a hard workout. To help members look and feel even more fabulous, he set up a massage studio and tanning beds onsite. The staff keeps the locker rooms and neatly tiled showers sparkling, cleaning them twice a day.
Fit for Life Fitness Center presents visitors with three levels of exercise options. The ground floor is home to free weights and strength equipment, while the second and third floors host Life Fitness cardio machines, including ellipticals, treadmills, steppers, and bikes, which can be used alone or with the help of a personal trainer.
There's also the mirror-walled class studio, where students work off calories with festive Zumba routines and the boxing drills of Punchout. Several classes focus on the core, from Pilates to Awesome Abs, whereas others, such as Total Body Conditioning, incorporate a full-body workout to address all major muscle groups. The class curriculum is diverse enough to accommodate two boot camps, "Rugged" and "Kick Start." Rugged improves functional strength with varied weight exercises, and Kick Start combines those intervals with the fast-paced jabs, kicks, and angry cabaret lines of kickboxing. Other amenities—a protein shake bar and a supervised childcare room—add convenience to workout sessions.